Kirks Moto Travels

Travelling Africa on a KLR

Page 2 of 4

Sani Pass, Lesotho, and Golden Gate National Park

2016-11-28

On Monday I ride from Ballito to Underberg. I ride the backroads to avoid Durban traffic and end up in a very nice town called Wartberg that has a magnificently maintained main street. The air as I ride through the countryside smells sweet, I think it is the sugarcane drying.

Once in Underberg I pull up to a restaurant with an old Honda Africa Twin parked outside. I look for the rider but only see a woman dressed up in café racer gear on the patio, I head inside and get a cold drink as it has been sweltering hot all day. No one inside is wearing motorcycle gear so I head outside and introduce myself to Cindy.

Cindy is from Paris and is riding around South Africa for 6 weeks. Cindy has travelled in Brazil and India with L’èquipèe, a troupe of five female riders from Paris that make movies of their adventures.

Cindy is also going to ride Sani Pass the next day and we agree to meet up the next morning and ride the pass together.

About an hour after I arrive at the hotel the weather moves in starting with hail and progressing to downpour for half an hour all while the sun is shining.

Rain in Underberg

Rain in Underberg

2016-11-29

Cindy and I meet up in the morning and head toward Lesotho up Sani Pass. I have been advised by some fellow riders while at the HUBB meeting I went to earlier in the month that the road can be a little brutal if it is wet. We air down the tires once we get off the paved road for better traction and it is pretty rough so it helps with the bouncing around.

The road is pretty busy with Land Cruiser’s and Defender’s bringing tourists up the pass. Overall it isn’t the worst road I have ridden but the last section of 10%+ gradient tight hairpins on decomposing rock is a little brutal. Thankfully we both make it up without issue.

Sani Pass

Sani Pass

At the peak you go through Lesotho border control, South African Border control is just before the technical section of the ride begins. The pavement starts the moment you cross the border which is a sight for sore eyes. We pay our road fees and head to the highest pub in Africa for a quick drink. At border control we meet a Norwegian couple riding from Cape Town on vacation on R1200GS’s and a pair of backpackers from the Netherlands that have hitchhiked to the top of the pass.

Sani Mountain Lodge

Sani Mountain Lodge

After refreshments we head north on A1 which all I can say is a spectacular road seemingly made just for us as there is almost no traffic on it.

2016-11-29-13-37-54

Litseng Diamond Mine

Litseng Diamond Mine

Afriski

Afriski

Northeast Lesotho

That evening we head in to Clarens, South Africa to go to Golden Gate National Park in the morning.

2016-11-30

After grabbing breakfast in the morning Cindy and I head to Golden Gate National Park. The canyons are pretty impressive and we see Zebras and Wildebeest. After Golden Gate we head back to Lesotho and settle in early in the afternoon in Pitseng.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

Zebras

Zebras

Golden Gate National Park

Golden Gate National Park

When we arrive in Pitseng we go for a horse ride on Besotho Ponies through the village. Cindy is an experienced horse rider and is able to get some nice pictures. I have only been on a horse once 24 years ago so I focus on not dying. The ponies are able to handle some pretty steep terrain as they are bred for the mountains here.

Besotho Pony Riding

Besotho Pony Riding

2016-12-01

Today marks three months on the road. We head south toward Bokong Nature Reserve. Yet again Lesotho is nothing but beautiful roads through the mountains.

Typical Lesotho

Typical Lesotho

Pass Leading to Bokong Nature Reserve

Pass Leading to Bokong Nature Reserve

Waterfall at Bokong Reserve

Waterfall at Bokong Reserve

After Bokong we descend in to the valley that houses Katse Resevoir. Like all of southern Africa they are experiencing a drought here and the reservoir is at 40% of capacity.

Katse Resevoir

Katse Reservoir

Once we reach Katse Dam the road switches to gravel the rest of the way to Thaba-Tseka. After about fifteen kilometres Cindy pulls over. Two of her fender bolts are broken and the vibrations have caused the tire to grab the fender causing damage to both. No stress I take the fender off and we strap it to the back of the bike.

Sans Fender

Sans Fender

As we are leaving Thaba-Tseka we are joined by Jason on a Yamaha XT-660. As the Roof of Africa Enduro races are happening we join him camping that night as all the hotels are booked. One issue Cindy doesn’t have camping gear, so Jason and I share my two-man tent and she uses his one man tent.

Tenting at Romabanta

Tenting at Romabanta

2016-12-02

Cindy and Jason head to Roof of Africa and I head south to Qacha’s Nek. I make it through the borders easily but get held up by the South African border guard at the gate who wants to know all about my travels and adventures.

I ride the rest of the way in to Kokstad, South Africa and shut it down as I didn’t sleep well the previous night.

Lesotho Motorcycle Police

Lesotho Motorcycle Police

St. Lucia and Ballito

2016-11-22 to 2016-11-23

After crossing the border back to South Africa I head south on N2 to St. Lucia which is a resort town on the Indian Ocean. I was hoping to get out on a whale watching tour but the seas are too rough for the boat. So the plan changes and I decide to just relax for a couple of days and try to get out on the ocean later on in the trip.

It's a hard life writing by candlelight with wine on my patio.

It’s a hard life writing by candlelight with wine on my patio.

2016-11-24 to 2016-11-27

I am working my way towards Cape Town roughly along the coast and stop in Ballito just north of Durban for the weekend. Like St. Lucia it is also tourism oriented area with nice restaurants to try along the ocean. The only issue is I can’t find a decent Old Fashioned.

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Boat Wreck

Boat Wreck

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Swaziland

2016-11-21 to 2016-11-22

On Monday morning John and I track down an electrical issue for my battery tender connection that I use to connect my air pump. The connection I use is also meant to connect my jump starter battery so it has a rectifier in it and will not let power out the other side. It reads 12V on a voltmeter but it won’t keep a test light lit. In hindsight this is obvious so we rip the rectifiers out of the circuit as it is more important to run the pump (at the moment, fingers crossed.) After that John joins me on his Honda Shadow for the ride into Barberton. It is nice to see some BC plates again. As John has worked in Swaziland he is able to provide me with some good advice on roads to take in Swaziland.

John and his Honda Shadow

John and his Honda Shadow

From Barberton I head up to Belembu Border Crossing. The South African side is nicely paved windy roads up the mountain to Swaziland.

View toward South Africa

View toward South Africa

At the South African border I have to get my bike’s carnet stamped out of South Africa. As the Belembu Crossing is a lightly traveled gravel logging road crossing there is no South African Revenue Service officer. The police officer who is acting as SARS officer for the border has never dealt with a Carnet de Passage en Douane before so I coach him through the process as I am responsible for the paperwork being filled out properly.

The Swaziland side of the border is quick, painless, and friendly. I sign into the 20 km logging road and ride to Pigg’s Peak. The mountainous area of Swaziland has a lot of forestry happening in it.

Magus Dam Spillway

Maguga Dam Spillway

Maguga Dam

Maguga Dam

On my way south I ride by Maguga Dam which is a water storage dam for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.

Mountainous Region of Swaziland

Mountainous Region of Swaziland

I settle in that night in Manzini which is the biggest city in Swaziland.

The next morning I head across the street to Carson Wheels, the local Kawasaki (along with every thing else) dealer. I am looking for an interesting route to ride south but end up being told to just take the major highway. I get a chance to talk to a few of the employees and they insist on washing the bike before I leave. I am ushered into the BMW Motorrad dealers for tea and my bike is brought to the wash bay.

Most of the locals are riding 125 cc bikes so my 650 cc is impressive here and I am a local curiosity as some of them do not know where Canada is.

All Clean at Carson Wheels

All Clean at Carson Wheels

After disrupting work at the dealership I head out on N8 through miles and miles of sugar cane fields.

Normally the GPS displays the speed limit; however, in Swaziland it seems to only read 60km/h despite what the signs are saying. At one point I am cruising along approaching a town and don’t notice the speed limit change from 80 km/h back to 60 km/h. Luckily one of Swaziland’s finest indicates to me that I need to pull over, oops! I pull in where all the other tourists (South African plates) are collecting there tickets and paying their fines. The police officer informs me I have been caught speeding and the fine is 60 Rand ($6 CAD) at this point I am like okay where do I get my ticket. I think he is expecting an argument and insists I look at the speed camera reading for my bike. After that I am directed to the officers doing collections and issuing receipts. It seems legitimate (and I was speeding) so I pay the fine and carry on.

An hour later I arrive at the border which is extremely well organized, you are handed a checklist, told where to park, go inside the building and work your way down the line until you are all signed off, go back to your vehicle, drive to the border guard hand him your checklist and away you go. Same thing on the South African side. Whoever is running those posts has a good system in place.

I carry on to St. Lucia on the ocean in Kwa-Zulu Natal that evening.

White River and Kruger Park

2016-11-19 to 2016-11-20

I was fortunate enough to be hosted by John and Sue in White River on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday we went on a day long safari through Kruger Park which was amazing. We were fortunate enough to see all of the big five, a cheetah, and fifteen million impala. Which I made sure to point out every time I saw one.

Zebra

Zebra

Warthog

Warthog

Vervet Monkey

Vervet Monkey

Steenbok

Steenbok

Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros

Big Rhino

Big Rhino

Monitor Lizard

Monitor Lizard

Lion

Lion

Leopard

Leopard

Leopard Turtle

Leopard Turtle

Kudu

Kudu

Impala

Impala

Male Hyena

Male Hyena

Hyena Family

Hyena Family

Cheetah

Cheetah

Juvenile Baboon

Juvenile Baboon

Young Baboon

Young Baboon

Hippopotamus

Hippopotamus

Out of the water

Out of the water

Adult Giraffe

Adult Giraffe

Young Giraffes

Young Giraffes

Grazing Elephant

Grazing Elephant

Playing with water

Playing with water

Dung Beetles

Dung Beetles

Crocodile

Crocodile

Last sight of the night

Last sight of the Trip

 

Sabie

2016-11-15 to 2016-11-19

Monday night in Hoedspruit I received a call from Christopher at the Woodsman, he is hosting a party for local orphanages in and around Sabie on Friday. He has asked me if I would like to take part in the event and has offered to host me at his house until then. For me this is a great opportunity to spend time and learn about local life so I happily accept.

On Tuesday, I ride into Sabie via Lydenburg. Shortly after I leave Hoedspruit I have my first encounter with South African police, which I have been warned by locals about a propensity for wanting money. Fortunately I have just pulled out of the gas station so I haven’t even had a chance to do anything illegal. The officer asks me for my drivers license and road tax disc, I provide my license and because South Africa honours other countries road tax I tell him mine is covered by the fact that my license plates are valid until next year and he goes with it. We spend a bit of time chatting about what I am doing and he tells me he wishes to do the same thing, so I tell him to hop on but he doesn’t accept. After handing back my license he asks for lunch money. I say no as corruption is an issue in South Africa and I don’t want to be part of the problem. I also didn’t feel truly at risk as I already had my documents back and he said everything was fine.

After riding to Lydenburg I begin the ascent up Long Tom Pass (in this case a Long Tom refers to an artillery weapon used against the British by the Boers in the Second Boer War not a gravity separation device for gold.) The weather has moved in now and the road quickly enters into the clouds. At first water forms on the visor, no issue, but the temperature is dropping rapidly to point that I am afraid the visor may begin icing due to speed. I make it to the top of the pass and begin descending, which is welcome news as the temperature is increasing.

Once I get into Sabie, Christopher and I have lunch then head to his house where he shows me my room. When the kids get home from school we take them caving at one of the local caves. Nina, Cassidy (the daughter of Oscar, who is a shift manager at the Woodsman), and Joshua are with Christopher in the picture below. While we are caving I try my best to explain cave formation (sorry geology friends, I probably messed this up) to the kids but I don’t think they listened. That evening we have excellent Cypriot barbecue, actually the whole week the food was excellent.

Christopher and I spend the rest of the week preparing for the event by picking up vegetables from local farmers, a large barbecue from Christopher’s parent’s, visiting Nelspruit, and taking the kids to the swimming pool. In the evening we chat about travel and finish a few glasses of beer and scotch along the way.

Friday is the big day. Tabo, Doctor, Norma, Christoper, and I spend the morning delivering the food and barbecues to the fairground. Thankfully the staff at the Woodsman (which also has a catering division) has prepared all the salads and readied the chicken on the rotisseries. Jon and Sue (Canadians from two posts ago) have brought in the inflatable slip and slides and bounce house from White River. Once there we are joined by a few other volunteers to cook the food and entertain the kids. William has brought his Jeep Wrangler for the kids to ride in, I end up as line monitor for the Jeep. The Jeep is easily the biggest attraction, and I am kept busy breaking up squabbles, and keeping something resembling order to the lineup. The local equestrian club has also brought four horses for the kids to ride on. As the kids are eating I start rinsing dishes but am soon chased off by the ladies at the dish pit to get lunch for myself. All in approximately 175 kids from the local communities showed up and had a great time at the event. Chris and I clean up and head back to the house.

Chistopher, Jolene, Nina, Joshua, Dushi (Jolene’s mom), and Gran have entirely incorporated me into their family and when I go on Saturday to leave I feel like crying as I will miss being part of their family and have greatly appreciated every moment spent with them.

This week has been interesting because it brings up the point that I don’t know how I will be able to go back to my regular life and “forget this place” when I go home but I guess that is the point of this journey.

Exploring Caves

Exploring Caves

Christopher and I

Christopher and I

Party in Sabie

Party in Sabie

 

Hoedspruit

2016-11-13

Alex and I head out early in the morning to ride around the lodge and see the animals. After our ride we feed the rhinos and buffalos as the area has had a severe drought and not enough grazing land is available.

Giraffe

Giraffe

Hungry, hungry hippos

Hungry, hungry hippos

Bikes on Safari

Bikes on Safari

Mother Rhino and Calf

Mother Rhino and Calf

Buffalo Chasing Me

Buffalo Chasing Me

Alex, the reason we are being chased

Alex, and the reason we are being chased

Even when they are calm they look annoyed

Even when they are calm they look annoyed

After a morning with the animals I head out to do some riding around Hoedspruit.

I head towards Mariepskop mountain on my bike. Shortly after the first turn off on to gravel  I come across a broken down Land Cruiser. The driver flags me down and asks for a ride to the gas station near the edge of town. I bring him back and while there run into two families heading up the mountain on quads and dirt bikes. The children insist I ride with them so I head back towards Mariepskop with them. To say the least the kids are a little haywire. They are constantly revving their two-stroke motors which is quite annoying as I am trying to have a conversation with their dad.  Within a kilometre the first bike needs the spark plug replaced which is pilfered from the slowest bike, so at least as a group we speed up. We carry on up the hill stopping to wait for the quad and truck to catch up. At one point I wish I was a kid without any fear of breaking my vehicle or myself but to make it through Africa (and because I am a wuss) I will play it safe and take it easy heading up the mountain. We reach a small area of lodge houses and start up the braai (bbq), there is no point carrying on up the mountain as the top is clouded in. While we wait for the braaiwors (sausage) to cook we head to an abandoned military post and check it out. It is three abandoned buildings that are quite eerie looking in the mist. After our braai we head down the hill this results in the quad being flipped over backwards and one of the dirt bikes engines seizing. Proving slow and steady wins the race I make it to the bottom first and without injury.

Dirt Biking

Dirt Biking, this kid was actually a pretty good rider and handled the jumps in the sand pit well.

2016-11-14

Alex and I go out with two other rangers trying to track down two of the buffalo that are in the back forty. This turns into a three hour forced march through the bush. Being on the motorcycle most days has not improved my physical conditioning (not that it was good to start with) and I am pretty tired by the end. We stop for a break to rehydrate and Alex and I opt to stay at camp instead of continuing on tracking the buffalo. I really don’t understand how an animal that big can move through brush like that. Because we never found any buffalos I am attaching pictures of termites nests. I didn’t do anything else exciting that day as I am coming down with a cold.

Termite Nest

Termite Nest

Baboons opened up this termite nest

Baboons opened up this termite nest

 

Panorama Route

2016-11-11

I finish riding to Sabie in the morning and head in to the Woodsman, which comes highly recommended from other motorcyclists I have met for coffee or a beer. I park next to some other motorcycles where I am met by Chris the owner of the restaurant. Once he finds out I am from BC he tells me about a trip he took there with Canadian friends of his. He buys me a coffee and sets me up with a table. The next thing I know I am making plans to meet Sue and John (Canadians) for lunch the next day.

After lunch I check into my tent hotel and drop my bags then head out to the local waterfalls.

Bridal Veil Falls (I wonder how many times waterfalls are called Bridal Veil)

Bridal Veil Falls (I wonder how many times waterfalls are called Bridal Veil)

Lone Creek Falls

Lone Creek Falls

Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls

Sabie Falls

Sabie Falls

Sabie River

Sabie River

That evening I enjoy a Wildebeest steak and local craft beer for dinner.

Wildebeest Steak and Sabie Beer

Wildebeest Steak and Sabie Beer

2016-11-12

Sue sounds the “call of the north” as she enters the bar, so I figure out who I am meeting pretty quickly. They moved here fourteen years ago when John was working with the UNDP to improve efficiency at a local sawmill. We talk about all the hot Canadian news topics like Vancouver housing prices and Justin Trudeau. John provides a great understanding of the local forestry industry. Here they grow pine trees in a quarter the time it would take in Canada, but much of the industry is ruled by old thinking causing production to suffer.

After lunch I ride to God’s Window, where they claim you can see the Indian Ocean from across Mozambique. I am not sure if I see the ocean but the view is impressive none the less.

God's Window

God’s Window

The Indian Ocean is somewhere over there

The Indian Ocean is somewhere over there

On my way to Bourke’s Luck Potholes I spot a motorcyclist on a KTM 1190 parked on the side of the road with a truck stopped to render assistance. I loop back to make sure they don’t need assistance as I am carrying a wide array of tools and may be able to help. Once there I meet Anna from the Ukraine who has been traveling the world for three years already and have a quick chat. Turn’s out her bike just toppled over when she stopped to take a picture but the bike is already upright so I head out.

Anna and her KTM

Anna and her KTM

http://ihaveadreamtravel.com/en/

Bourke’s Luck Potholes is the confluence of two streams where waterfalls have carved impressive pothole structures in the canyon. Bourke was lucky because he found gold in the holes.

Bourke's Luck Potholes

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

I ride to a lodge in Hoedspruit where Alex, who I met at the Horizons Unlimited event the other week, works as a guide. Don’t worry the next post has impressive wildlife pictures coming.

Johannesburg and Horizons Unlimited South Africa

2016-11-01

My flight lands around 11 a.m. local time after de-boarding I find my way through customs and get a cab to my guesthouse.

There I meet Deon and Merida my hosts. After unpacking Deon drops me off at the agents building to clear my bike through customs.

The agents proceed to run around and get paperwork signed off. They tell me the bike needs to be inspected and there is no time to do this today so I head back and have a nap as I haven’t properly slept yet.

2016-11-02

Back at the agents I am told everything is ready. I inspect the paperwork and realize my Carnet de Passage has been filled out incorrectly. I ask the agent to go back to customs to fix it. She comes back fifteen minutes later and claims it is correct.

I then go to pick up the bike from the cargo terminal. I am told I am missing paperwork, which I am, but after insistence they release the bike anyways.

At this point I am certain the paperwork has been done incorrectly and return to the agent and demand to speak to customs myself. Reluctantly they take me down and get the customs officer. I explain my dilemna to the customs officer who asks for a form which I don’t have. She then apologizes and says no stress, turns to the agent and reams her a new one for not handing in the right paperwork. The paperwork takes fifteen minutes to complete and after visiting the customs officer again the paperwork is now correct.

Now that I have my bike I run some errands and pick up some supplies like chain lube and engine oil that I wasn’t allowed to ship with the bike.

2016-11-03 to 2016-11-06

I ride to Potchefstroom for the Horizons Unlimited South Africa Meetup at Elgro River Lodge. Horizons Unlimited is a website dedicated to overland travel with forums that are pretty essential to anyone doing a trip like this. I arrive early in the afternoon and check-in to the lodge and begin meeting the other attendees. The founders of Horizon Unlimited, Grant and Susan Johnston, are from Abbotsford, 45 minutes away from where I live and have also travelled to the meeting this year. I think the three of us win the prize for longest distance attendees. Kobus Fourie and his daughter Claudine Kidson are the local hosts and put on an excellent and very well organized event. In the mornings we have the chance to go on game drives in the morning where we see zebras, giraffes, antelope, and ostriches. Sorry for the lack of photos, I forgot how to change the focus from area to point on my camera so I have a bunch of in focus trees and out of focus animals in the back ground from the first day, and it poured rain the second day.

Ostriches, sorry they are overexposed.

Ostriches, sorry they are overexposed.

You can't see the Sable on the other side of the road but they are staring each other down.

You can’t see the Sable on the other side of the road but they are staring each other down.

For me the highlight of the weekend is meeting all the other travellers. Many have travelled all around the world, some are just starting like myself but all are great to speak to and have excellent stories and advice, or provide assurance that we all start out not knowing what we are doing and not to worry about it for me while travelling South Africa and Africa in general.

On the first night I eat with Richard and Steph from Australia who are riding two up from South Africa to Richard’s homeland in the Netherlands where they are moving to. I am not sure if a Triumph Tiger is a great moving van but what an awesome way to move from one continent to another. Richard and Steph will be about a month and a half ahead of me for most of the trip and will make an excellent source of up to date information on border crossings and security.

Richard and Steph

The Aussie's and my bike

The Aussie’s and my bike

Two travellers Philip from France and Juan from Spain have recently completed trips through multiple countries in Southern Africa and are an excellent source of current information which is sometimes hard to come by even in the age of the internet. I am fortunate to eat a couple of meals with them and glean as much information as possible from them.

2016-11-07 to 2016-11-10

I take the opportunity while I am back in Johannesburg to have a service done on the bike and get some camping gear on the advice of Juan and Philip. On the 9th we have a very severe thunderstorm which washes away cars. Even I get caught in the storm and have to ride through water above my knees to get where I am staying. Unfortunately the flash flooding results in six deaths as peoples cars were washed away.

On the 10th I am trying to get out of town and begin touring. I am finally able to sort out a local SIM card so I can have access to the internet as hotels here have limited / non-functioning internet. I then realize my headlight is burned out again so I head back to the motorcycle shop and replace it.

I stop by Touratech to get my panniers hammered back in to shape as they leaked the night before during submersion

At 3:00 pm I finally get on the road which is way too late given the thunderstorms come in the afternoon here.

Hoping to make it to Sabie for the evening I come up short and end up staying at a hotel 50km west of Nelspruit as the rain is quite heavy and construction on the road is causing massive delays.

United Kingdom

2016-10-20

Getting the bikes off the boat is a mess as they have us parked the wrong direction so we have to turn ~80 bikes around on a wet surface with cables run all over it. I head through customs fairly easily, the customs officer is interested in my trip though so I delay everyone else’s customs check.

2016-10-21

I spend the day in Plymouth as I am still sick with the flu. Plymouth is a really nice town that is set up well for tourists with shopping, hotels, and restaurants all within short distance of the ocean. I mostly use the day to re-acquaint myself with the English speaking world replacing my shoes that have been falling apart for a while now and getting a haircut and a shave.

Pre-cut in Plymouth

Pre-cut in Plymouth

2016-10-22

I am still sick and it is quite cold here so I do a short ride in to Yeovil.

Post-cut in North Curry

Post-cut in North Curry

2016-10-23

I finish the drive in to London and stop at Stonehenge on the way.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge Again

Stonehenge Again

2016-10-24

After repacking all of my non-motorcycle related stuff into my hand luggage I drop the bike off at the shipping company so they can ready the bike for shipping.

I then tube into town and check in to my hostel.

That evening I meet Carly, a friend of mine from residence advising in university for a ‘Jack the Ripper’ tour. The tour is interesting but all in all a little morbid and as far as I am concerned not very respectful of the dead even if they are over one hundred years old.

At the end of the tour we end up at the “The Bell” to have a drink and more importantly use the washroom that JTR used.

2016-10-25

Carrying on with my cleaning myself up to look less homeless, I use a laundromat for the first time which is nice as I normally just wash my clothes in the sink but my room has no space, hangers, and is too cold for the standard operating procedure. Later in the day Carly meets me and we go to Camden where we get some delicious burritos and watch a canal gate be manually operated.

After grabbing some grub we go to the RAF museum. It isn’t quite as impressive as the museum in Tucson but has an impressive selection of World War I planes.

We then head down to see the sights in down town London which involves a lot of walking.

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Lockheed Martin F35, BaE Harrier, Gloster Meteor, Hawker Hart, Messerschmidt ME-262

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Albatross

Vulcan

Vulcan

 

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

Big Ben

Big Ben

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Palace of Westminster

Palace of Westminster

London Eye

London Eye

Thames River

Thames River

2016-10-26

Today I spent most of the day trying to get my banking and motorcycle shipping details sorted, very frustrating.

Afterwards I head to the Churchill War Rooms. This is the bunker Churchill ran the British war effort from during World War II. It is interesting to see how the people would have lived as the place is very well preserved, many of the rooms were simply left exactly as they were following Japan’s surrender.

Bunk Room

Bunk Room

Meeting Room

Meeting Room

Map Room

Map Room

I also went to see Buckingham Palace that afternoon. Unfortunately the Queen didn’t greet me.

St. James Park

St. James Park

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Admiralty Arch

Admiralty Arch

2016-10-27

On the 27th Carly and I went to Cambridge to see the colleges, Polar Museum, and Fitzwilliam Museum. Interestingly most of the colleges charge to come on the grounds, this is avoided by starting at the back entrance. I don’t know what kind of colleges these are but I notice a severe lack of drunk college students.

King's College

King’s College

River Cam

River Cam

Houses along the River Cam

Houses along the River Cam

Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs

2016-10-28

On Friday I go to the Imperial War Museum and the British Museum.

Attacked Journalist Defender

Attacked Journalist Defender

V2 Rocket Innards

V2 Rocket Innards

Bronze Eagle from Reich Chancelry

Bronze Eagle from Reich Chancelry

The British Museum contains artifacts “collected” from around the world, with extensive collections from Egypt, Greece, and Syria. The whole time I am there I can’t help but think that the vast majority of the collection should not be here but it is nevertheless interesting.

Egyptian Lion

Egyptian Lion

 Lion Mural

Assyrian Lion Hunting Mural

Greek Ruins

Greek Ruins

AK-47 Chair from the Modern African Art Exhibit

AK-47 Chair from the Modern African Art Exhibit

Easter Island Head

Easter Island Head

Cleopatra

Cleopatra

British Museum

British Museum

2016-10-28

On Saturday we head to Eastbourne to walk along the chalk cliffs. A marathon is being run along the trail. There is a fair bit of up and down and for a guy who has spent the last two months sitting on a motorcycle and it is hard work. The cliffs are amazing and the pictures don’t do them justice. The cliffs contain chert  which erodes out onto the beach. Chert is very cool because it can easily be worked in to stone tools. Carly is nowhere near as amused by this as I am so I am only able to spend ten minutes banging rocks together like a caveman. After reaching Birling Gap we head to the town of Dean and grab a half pint before catching the train back to London.

Beachy Head

Beachy Head

Marathon Running along the Cliffs

Marathon Running along the Cliffs

Carly and I at Birling Gap

Carly and I at Birling Gap

That evening we head to the Maple Leaf, which is a vaguely Canadian themed bar. There I am able to have some poutine, and a rye and ginger to remind me of home.

2016-10-29

On Sunday I go check out Tower Bridge and the Natural History Museum.

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Tower Bridge

Stegosaurus at Natural History Museum

Stegosaurus at Natural History Museum

2016-10-31

I head to Gatwick Airport to take my flight to Johannesburg via Dubai. This brings the number of continents visited to three and the number of countries visited to seven  in the first two months of travel.

So far my favourite ride was regional highway 307 between Ourzazate and Demnat in Morocco followed shortly by riding in the Pyrenees.

The most impressive individual piece of scenery I have seen is one I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture of Montserrat in Spain as the autopista doesn’t have pullouts.

Spain II

I am sitting down quite late to write this instead of writing every couple of days so it may nothave as much detail as other posts in the past.

2016-10-14

I ride from Estepona to Cordoba. Its a fairly short ride but I am wishing I put my jacket liner in as it is fairly cool high in the mountains. Cordoba was a former Roman settlement with a number of buildings from the Roman era.

I manage to find my way in to the center and check in to a hostel. After that I find my way around the cities historical core.

The Roman Bridge is very impressive and makes a great viewpoint to see Mezquita Cathedral and Calahorra Tower

Roman Bridge

Roman Bridge

Roman Bridge from the South Bank

Roman Bridge from the South Bank

Calahorra Tower

Calahorra Tower

From the bridge you can also see the foundations of the old mills on Guadalquiver. The 11 mills were built in the middle ages and vary in completeness from just foundations to complete.

Waterwheel for Mill

Waterwheel for Mill

Mill

Mill

Beginning my ascent in to the town I go through the Mezquita Cathedral was built as the Grand Mosque of Cordoba during Moorish reign. Following the Reconquista the Mosque was converted to a Cathedral leading to some mixed architectural elements.

Campanario Tower

Campanario Tower

Mezquita Cathedral

Mezquita Cathedral

Mezquita Cathedral Bell

Mezquita Cathedral Bell

Roman Temple

Roman Temple

After touring the rest of historical district I settle in at the local craft beer brewer to give the local beers a try then wander back to the hostel.

Califa Brewery

Califa Brewery

2016-10-15

Ride in to Madrid, it is a long ride and I am glad I have left my liners handy as it is quite cold the whole day. As my hotel is quite removed from the main city I decide to check out the nearby mall to see if it is different from North America, which it isn’t other than you need to speak Spanish.

2016-10-16

I have developed a serious stomach flu but head in to Madrid to see the Museum of Archeology and a number of other sites in Madrid. if you are wondering how I visited an Egyptian temple in Spain, the Temple of Debod was rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser and gifted to the people of Spain for assisting with rescuing antiquities in Egypt.

National Library

National Library / Archaeology Museum

Austrolopithecus Afararensus

Austrolopithecus Afararensus

Lady of Elche

Lady of Elche

Royal Palace of Madrid

Royal Palace of Madrid

Temple of Debod

Temple of Debod

Madrid Skyline

Madrid Skyline

2016-10-17

My stomach illness keeps me at the hotel but gives me a chance to tear apart and reassemble the pannier racks that I mentioned in the previous post.

2016-10-18

As the Northern Hemisphere is getting colder by the day I have decided to take a ferry from Santander Spain to Plymouth England and ride to Santander.

2016-10-19

I collect some supplies in Spain before heading to (more) expensive England then head to the Ferry dock. I meet a number of interesting riders in the line-up including a young guy from Dover who has ridden his Honda C90 all the way to Morocco and back (at 45 mph.) By comparison to his bike I look like a wuss riding my comparatively modern and powerful motorcycle. Another rider Jules who has spent 6 weeks on the road in Europe on his Suzuki GS550 from the 70’s joins us along with 80+ guys on BMW’s who aren’t interested in speaking to those missing the blue and white logo. Jules and I settle in at the ferry bar for the evening and swap road stories, troubles, and gripes. It is nice to speak to the other riders doing trips similar to what I am doing especially since most of us have been weeks since seeing other riders.

Honda C90

Honda C90

Santander Spain

Santander Spain

 

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