So we boarded an overnight ferry in Bar, Montenegro for Bari in Italy. It was a ship that was pretty upmarket once upon a time...probably at the time Frank Sinatra was still a star. The bedsheets weren't the cleanest and the word 'bed-bugs' ran through my mind all night.
But at least we had a better bed than this guy...This is economy class - Soviet style ;-)
After getting through the morning rush-hour traffic in Bari, we stopped outside of town for some breakfast (mainly because the breakfast on the ferry was pretty gross).
We'd noticed some pretty ominous clouds behind us getting off the ferry, but now it looked like the end-of-the-world scenario. Pitch black clouds pretty well had snuck up on us and we had to push on to Pompei. We sped a bit to try to get ahead of the clouds but no luck. It came down that heavy we had to slow down to 60kph as you couldnt see anything. It was so hard it was stinging me through my goretex jacket and gloves...and as we were on the highway there was no choice but to suck it up and drive on.
But it started to clear up as we got near our destination (as it inevitably does) and the sun even started to shine....hooray!The BnB we found was right next to the Pompei ruins and had a pool. The lady asked us if once we'd finished unpacking and had a swim, whether we'd like a true Italian lunch....yes of course!So out she comes with a nice antipasto which was really nice....and a glass of wine, why not? But we were surprised that was just a starter, then she makes us a big salad...thank you i'm getting full but... ok. No - then comes the pasta. At this stage the rain came down again and we were actually glad to have an excuse to drink more wine, rub our bellies and feel lazy and pleased with ourselves. Oh and watched Germany play Portugal in the World Cup. It was good just to see Ronaldo cry (nothing against Portugal - just Ronaldo ;-) )
With the continuing rain and a few more wines under our belts, there seemed little point seeing Pompei until the next day so we repeated the whole process again until late in the night.Getting up early the next morning we finally did a whirlwind tour of old Pompei. I'll not go on about the history of the place - but here's a few pics:
OK from here the weather gods seemed appeased by our visit to the ruins and we started getting nice days again, so we headed up to Castiglione Del Lago in the centre of Italy.
Again we got rewarded with good food and wine, although the local special brew flogged off to us was pretty damned awful...we should have known by the fact that it was being sold only to tourists. But it didn't dent our enthusiasm (gosh I'm starting to sound like an alcoholic here ha ha ).The town is beautiful and historic with a cool old castle on the lake...but I'm sure at some time in history the townsfolk pissed off Moses because there is a plague of mosquitoes around that town that just do not go away.
From this point we headed up past Lake Garda...
...and then on the final tunnel getting into Switzerland there was just one lane at a time going through. So you would have to wait 20 or so minutes for one side of traffic to come through from Switzerland before the traffic from Italy could go through. It was at the moment we got our green light that Mark and Ron took off first... but my BM-Trouble-You died. All the cars passed me and went along the 4 km Munt la Schera Tunnel and I was wondering whether the lads checked their mirrors at any time after they got out of the tunnel. Turns it it was a while before Ron came back. At this stage I'd asked every passing motorist if they had jumper cables. Most looking frightened at me and winding up their windows. One or two at least going through the motions of looking through the car boot.
Whoops! Sorry I stuffed it up - ha ha! How could I forget the Passo Gavia before we reached this point?! OK before we crossed over to Switzerland we took this amazing route via the Passo Gavia (2,640 high) and west via Bormio and Livigno..
Well from there we spent the night at one of Mark's friend's place in Switzerland. We had a great trip... but as always - too short. The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We had to chew up a bit of rubber on the autobahns back to Holland as Mark had to get back to work. The fun didn't end for me there though. I started back where I finished. At the mechanic. All the way along Italy I'd been getting a vibration through my back that I could feel through my right footpeg. I couldn't work it out. I guessed it had something to do with my drivetrain. Something between clutch, gearbox and driveshaft. It wasn't until I got it back to Rotterdam and took the bike to work the following Monday that I found out what it was. I got 4 km down the ride and heard a horrible clunk and grind coming from the driveshaft. I pulled over and called a truck to come pick it up. So I decided once and for all to have my reliable BMW GS1150 checked out by a non-BMW mechanic. The electrical problem I asked them to check the starter motor - and sure enough there was a short in the solenoid. The clutch was worn and the drive shaft completely bollocksed. Touchwood the gearbox is fine and the engine works well...but basically everything that could break has done so in the 6 years I've had it. So technically I should have a brand new bike now ;) So let's see what next year brings. I didn't take a big trip this year sorry - but stay tuned for more later! Hope you enjoyed it!