Monday, August 8, 2011

Home Coming Ontario

Angela writes:

We first arrived in Canada in St. John’s Newfoundland where we got used to Canada’s funny, colourful money again and of course Tim Horton’s coffee.

IMG_1687 IMG_1689


We then arrived in Toronto, Ontario where my Dad and Step-Mom Doreen picked us up at the airport. It was so great to see them after a whole year.  Next we went to visit my Mom and my Step-Dad Terry who had kindly looked after our dog Echo while we’ve been on our adventure.  Echo is in great health and spirits and we can’t wait to take her home – once we get one! Thanks Mommy for looking after our “baby”.

IMG_1696 IMG_1704

I suspect our next and final post on our blog will be when our motorcycles arrive in Toronto which we are expecting to pick up in October 2011.  As always, thanks for reading - we will miss reporting on our adventure to you.  We’ll keep you updated on the condition of the bikes when they arrive. Stay tuned:)   

Digg this

Count Down to an End

Daryll writes:
As each day passes, it gets that much closer to us returning to Canada.  Over the last month, the reality has started to set in and we have both started to send our resumes out; so keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t have to wait long to pick up work.  Our last city on our Europe leg was going to be a visit to London to see the sights and that’s exactly what we did. 

IMG_1574 IMG_1680
Us with London Eye & Big Ben      London Bridge
Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace

Angela writes:
We were lucky to be in the city for the “One year to Go” celebration for the London 2012 Summer Olympics.  The new countdown clock and London City Hall below.  I was also very excited to see my friends who I used to work with at the Vancouver Olympics - Dave, Norm, Mike, Cam and Brie who now work for LOCOG.
IMG_1564 IMG_1670
Digg this

Saturday, July 30, 2011

If you’re not Dutch you’re not Much!

Angela writes:

If our visit to France was about us being tourists, and our visit to Germany was about visiting friends, than Holland was all about enjoying the company of our dear family!  Although no trip to The Netherlands could be complete without a quick trip to Amsterdam.
IMG_1461 IMG_1453
IMG_1463  IMG_1472
We arrived via train to Den Bosch where my dad’s cousin Maria and her husband Hans greeted us with open arms and the customary triple kisses on the cheek.  I last saw Hans and Maria in Ontario during the summer of 2009 but it was as if no time had passed at all.  I guess that’s a luxury of being with family. After stopping off at their beautifully renovated heritage home in Erp, and meeting their 7 month old puppy Yarah, we were whisked away to the Uden fair for food and laughs and more family.  We met my dad’s other cousin Hariet and her daughter’s Louisa and Simone a few days later.
IMG_1500  IMG_1492
We tried oliebollen (a deep fried dutch donut covered in icing sugar) and dubblesaut dropes (double salted black licorice) and washed it all down with some lovely port.  I even ran into another cousin Barry who was also at the fair who didn’t know that I was in the country yet. I’m glad we recognized each other after 19 years!  I’d like to think we haven’t changed much.  I met another cousin of my dad’s, Maria’s brother Martin and his girlfriend Herma.  We have now nick-named him “Juke-box Marty” after I asked him if he had learned to speak English after singing English songs.
IMG_1482 IMG_1490
In between the showers of rain we took a field trip to Kinderdyke for a lovely walk among the windmills. We also received a personalized tour of the mill that Hans works at that produces pig and chicken feed.  A very high tech process all managed by machine and computers.

Hans & Maria
It was with a heavy heart that we parted company with Hans and Maria with promises of seeing each other in Canada soon.  Daryll and I were warmly welcomed into our second home with Willy and Jose who I had last seen in Ontario in the fall of 2008.  They had arranged to have their sons and their families home for a joyous Sunday night dinner.  We laughed, told stories and shared photos well into the evening.
IMG_1556 IMG_1552
Willy & Jose, and dogs Triksy and Torsca
IMG_1540 IMG_1538
Barry, Karin & baby Minke                   Roel, Lizet & baby Teun
Next time we visit Holland we will have to make sure it coincides with a performance from my cousin Roel’s Metallica tribute band “The Unforgiven” who plays throughout Europe. 
We had a wonderful visit over a couple days and tried more yummy new foods like raw herring and bitterballen as we strolled through the quaint little city of Oss.
IMG_1544  IMG_1547
Willy and Jose kindly drove us to the airport in Eindhoven for our flight to London.  It was a tearful good bye with promises of seeing each other in Canada soon.
Digg this

“The Hills are Alive….”

Angela writes:

Our visit with Paul made Daryll’s BWM dreams come true and on our final weekend with him, Paul made my dreams of visiting Salzburg, Austria come true. Not only did I want to see the beautiful Alps but I wanted to wander the streets of the city where my favourite movie “The Sound of Music” was filmed.  I suspected that there would be hordes of tourists trying to invoke Maria while strolling through the city, like I secretly was, but  the presence of the famous musical was subtle and only the bike tours offered through the country side really focused specifically on the Sound of Music sites.
 IMG_1410  IMG_1415
The Alps “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”

The fountain Maria and the von Trappe children danced around singing the “Do-Re-Mi” song.
IMG_1381 IMG_1391

The garden where Maria and Captin von Trapp dance face-to-face, Schloss Mirabell Gardens.

 The roads through the alps were every motorcyclist’s dream come true and next time we are there we vowed to be on two wheels!  Although riding in Paul’s luxurious BWM was a close second in great experiences.
Digg this

Thursday, July 14, 2011

BMW Welt

Daryll writes:

We’ve spent the last few days with Paul and his lovely wife Kathy and they have been absolutely incredible with their hospitality – another one of our extended families.  Even though just returning from a weekend trip to Berlin, Paul has made the time to show us around Munich and some of the smaller towns in the area to see the sights.  Germany is such a beautiful country and each day as we travel around by car, I wish I had our bikes with us as the roads are amazing, especially the smaller country roads.  No potholes insight and some nice twisties.  Well next time!  The country side is lush with trees and agriculture and there are quaint little villages as far as the eye can see.  There is so much history in this country that a few weeks isn’t enough to see everything and we would have to come back.  The people we have met are just so nice and if I could only speak the language, would definitely rank high on somewhere were I’d settle.  Spanish was so much easier to pick up listening to other’s, but German is another story all together.


No trip to Munich is completed without a tour of the BMW Museum, BMW World and the BMW Munich plant.  Paul used to work for BMW and arranged everything for us.  I was like a kid leading up to Christmas for a few days prior to us visiting BMW World and boy was it impressive.


We started in the Museum and even though the motorcycle part of the museum was closed due to some flood damage a few days prior, it was impressive.  From seeing the Art Car’s painted by world famous artists to some of the cars from yester-year to the Hydrogen Car, it was impressive.

DSC_6398 DSC_6404 DSC_6416
P1050913 DSC_6435 DSC_6459

Our next stop was a tour of part of the Munich Manufacturing Plant to see how the cars are built.  It was incredible to see all those robots moving around in such close quarters and handing parts to other robots to perform the tasks that they are programmed to do.  As you would expect, no photography was permitted.  As we walked through each of the different stages in the manufacturing process, I didn’t imagine the scale of production and the output of such plants.  Even Angela enjoyed the 2 hour tour.  It’s something that I won’t forget – thanks Paul!  We were also fortunate to meet Paul’s and Kathy’s children (Claudia & Tobias) for dinner.  Tobias has in my opinion the best job in the world – he is an engineer and developer for the motorcycle division with BMW.  Part of his job is to test out the parts that he has designed and every so often will get new bikes to ride.  He is leaving on a 3 week trip to the UK in about a weeks time on a 1200RT – tough life.  I hope that some day the entire family travels to Canada so that we can show them part of our country.

Digg this

An Extended Family in Germany

Daryll writes:

I think I may have brought this up previously, but motorcycle travelers that meet on the road share a bond that is indescribable and exceptionally hard to explain.  I think it is due mainly because only they understand the difficulties, the challenges, the hardships that one endures by being on the road for an extended period of time.  It is this bond that brings fellow travelers together and regardless of how much time you may have spent with them, they become automatic family.  It is this family that spurred our travel to Germany.

We left Paris on an overnight train to Berlin.  We thought we were wise to choose the seat option cabin, but maybe we should have gone with the sleeper cabin as it wasn’t very comfortable sleeping sitting upright in a 6 seat cabin with 5 other people.  There was one guy who tried to sleep and slipped completely off his seat.  He later left and decided to lay down in the bicycle storage compartment.  I’m sure he had a better sleep than us. 
We were going to visit our friend Wolfgang in Potsdam, a town on the outskirts of Berlin.  We had met him on our last day in Buenos Aires.  He had arrived the night before to the hostel we were at so only spent the morning chatting about our different experiences and swapped contact details.  Wolfgang was kind enough to meet us at the Berlin Hbf. train station as it would have been a confusing few hours for us to figure out the trains and subways to get to his place in Potsdam which used to be in East Germany till the unification.  He works as a chef and worked a night shift the night before and hadn’t slept and had to wait an hour for us as our train was delayed and he even took the next 2 days off so that we could spend together.  What an amazing guy.


The afternoon that we arrived, Wolfgang picked up his bike (a Honda Transalp) after having some work done on it in preparation for his next trip.  He is hoping to leave in October to ride to India – what a lucky guy.  He has his panniers already packed and gear ready to take off.  It made us extremely envious as we don’t have our bikes with us anymore.  Wolfgang explained the transport system to us and we managed to pick up a tourist map of the city and set out the next day to see the sights of Berlin.

Our first stop was the Reichstag, which now houses the German Parliament followed by the iconic symbol of East and West Germany, the Brandenburg Gate.  Thousands of East Germans flocked over to the West in November 1989 when the Berlin Wall started to come down.


After visiting the National Holocaust Museum in the centre of Berlin which was a sombering experience to say the least.  That afternoon, we took another train towards the East Side Gallery – a stretch of the former Berlin Wall where artists were given a section to express themselves.

DSC_6273 DSC_6290
That evening Wolfgang invited some friends over together with is son and prepared a lovely meal for all of us and we spent the evening going through his photos of his South America trip with lots of German beer.  Seeing his photos brought back a lot of good memories.


From Potsdam, we booked a train to take us to Erfurt (in the country) to visit another friend of ours Lutz who spent a few weeks with us in Vancouver before heading south as well.  We had last seen Lutz in Ensenada, Mexico for a day and had always known that we would visit him wherever he was in Germany.  It was by pure coincidence that the weekend we had arranged to spend with him was also his birthday and he had some of his friends from his home town visiting to celebrate as well.  So it was a filled house with lots of German/English translating going on together with German beer while we watched the women's world cup game between Germany & Japan.  Germany unfortunately didn’t make it through to the semi’s.  No riots in Germany though!


While somewhat planning what we wanted to do in Germany and the family we wanted to visit, we had arranged with another biker friend of our’s Paul who we had first met in Quito, Ecuador to pick us up from Erfurt so that we could spend a few days with him and his wife Kathy in Munich.  It was our first experience on the autobahn and cruising at a comfortable 160 km/hr didn’t seem that fast after all.


More Germany photos added to my facebook page.
Digg this