Archive

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2009 (132)

  • March 26 - Watch This Space! (RTW 2009)
    Ride Round The World begins on 24/5/09, when two idiots will set off on a half-baked plan to ride a couple of old Yamahas about 30,000 miles through 34 countries, crossing Europe, Central Asia, Russia, Mongolia, Korea, and the Pan American highway from Canada to Argentina. We don’t really know ... Read More »
  • May 23 - We’re off! (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Today’s the day. No more time to worry about planning and preparing, if it’s not right now it never will be. We have passports full of visas, a bike full of fuel, it’s not dark and I’m wearing a tinted visor! Hit it!
  • May 24 - luxury (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    luxury, originally uploaded by Big Al!. First overnight in luxury. It won’t be like this anymore! Only two breakdowns on the first day, but we made it. Off through the tunnel at 10 today. My sister alison is making up breakfast at half 6 on a sunday morning!
  • May 24 - first night in france (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    first night in france, originally uploaded by Big Al!. We’re in france! What a day. 30 degree heat, bright sunshine, blue sky. Beautiful scenery, loads of bikers out with their friendly but nonchalant gallic biker wave, much cooler than a northern england nod, and right now i have a cold ... Read More »
  • May 25 - wierd trees (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    wierd trees, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Next to camp. All in straight lines, rows and rows of them.
  • May 25 - picnic (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    picnic, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Eating banana cake in the sun. Beats being at work! Having a good day today, so far. Navigational problems solved, weather amazing, roads perfect. Even managed to bodge a work around for the dodgy intercom. Loving it!
  • May 25 - camped by a lake (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    camped by a lake, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Camped by a lake. Not even really sure where. Lots of miles today. Incredible weather, 35 degrees plus. Fantastic roads. Now eating camembert and drinking red wine (one litre for 1.25 euro). Another really good day. 952 miles total. Even saw ... Read More »
  • May 26 - millau viaduct (RTW 2009)
    millau viaduct, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Amazing. Spectacular.
  • May 27 - Monte Carlo (RTW 2009)
    Monte Carlo, originally uploaded by Big Al!. We’re parked on the grand prix circuit by the marina. It’s very hot. On to italy next.
  • May 28 - lake como (RTW 2009)
    lake como, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Making good progress today, despite more electrical gremlins on dave’s bike. Skirting round lake como, heading for the stelvio pass. Had quite enough of riding a big heavy and awkward adventure bike through manic twisty little italian towns full of loons on mopeds, ... Read More »
  • May 28 - camping at lake como (RTW 2009)
    camping at lake como, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Nice. Very hot. Not cheap either. With this and the tolls on the autostrada our budget for today has been blown.
  • May 28 - lake como (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    lake como, originally uploaded by Big Al!. These phone pictures don’t do it justice, but since my laptop is broken i can’t really send a decent photo. This will have to do. Meanwhile, i’m having a beer sitting on a bench looking at this view.
  • May 29 - drama on the stelvio! (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    drama on the stelvio!, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Dave dropped his bike at the top of the stelvio. He’s fine, but the bike won’t go into gear. Tried various things at the side of the road at 7000 feet, no joy, so then a freewheel ride back down to ... Read More »
  • May 29 - delay (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    delay, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Somehow i convinced myself we were ahead of schedule last night, but now i realise that we were in fact only just on schedule. So as we sit here with dave’s bike broken (again), now getting behind schedule, i’m realising that we will need ... Read More »
  • May 29 - Top of the Stelvio (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Top of the Stelvio, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Made it, at the second attempt. 9043 feet above sea level. People have cycled all the way up here!
  • May 29 - Beer and Pizza (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Beer and Pizza, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Might not look like much in the photo, but this was the best pizza i’ve ever had! Mind you, anything would have tasted great after a day spent trying to fix a bike at the side of the road 8000 feet up ... Read More »
  • May 30 - Slovenia (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Slovenia, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Looks a bit like france. And someone seems to have left a williams formula one team truck in a lay-by. It was wierd crossing from france in to italy and seeing all the road signs suddenly change to a totally different language, but it’s ... Read More »
  • June 02 - Croatia (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Croatia, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Another croatia photo. Continuing the story, next day we head down the autostrada taking the fast way to the balkans. The usual insane italian drivers tailgating each other at 100+ and a long boring ride. Expensive too with all the tolls. Eventually we make ... Read More »
  • June 02 - Croatia (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Croatia, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Photo shows somewhere in the north of croatia. Actually writing this in a hotel room in Albania, but have a lot to catch up on. The last few days have been incredible. A few days ago, not sure when (i’m not even sure what ... Read More »
  • June 02 - Croatia (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Croatia, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Another Croatia photo, and now the pictures match the story. After half an hour transiting Slovenia, we head onto the coast road in north eastern Croatia, along the dalmation coast. It’s amazing how often on this trip i’ve thought "this is the best road ... Read More »
  • June 02 - Monte Negro (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Monte Negro, originally uploaded by Big Al!. It was only this morning but feels like days ago. We left Croatia and had the first border crossing that required more than a passport check. Registration documents, and having to buy insurance for 10 euros. Border guard police man very friendly and ... Read More »
  • June 02 - Albanian building regulations. (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Albanian building regulations., originally uploaded by Big Al!. Now in a hotel in albania, after a very long, tiring, wet, muddy and very wierd day. The shower is inches from a dodgy socket, hanging out of the wall with exposed wires. It’s nice to be inside, warm and dry, but ... Read More »
  • June 02 - Dubrovnik (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Dubrovnik, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Another blast down the coast road, straight to dubrovnik and missing a chunk of our planned excursion to Bosnia, but thereby getting a whole day ahead of schedule, which will be very useful. My bike has stn perfectly so far, while dave’s falls apart, ... Read More »
  • June 02 - Greece! (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Greece!, originally uploaded by Big Al!. I can’t believe we’re in Greece! This is Dave on his bike on the beach. Can you tell he’s quite happy to be here? Another really long day, out of albania into macedonia, getting stiffed 50 euros for insurance at the border. Pretty easy ... Read More »
  • June 03 - Back to civilisation (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Back to civilisation, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Leaving Albania was much nicer than entering! The road from Tirane towards macedonia was unexpectedly really quite good. A bit rough, but great views on both sides as the road snakes over a mountain pass. The macedonian border crossing was a pain, ... Read More »
  • June 04 - Turkey (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Turkey, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Left the relative luxury of Greece and set off towards the border, not really sure what the roads would be like or how far we’d get. Dave seemed quite keen on another night in Greece but Alexandroupolis wasn’t the sort of place to hang ... Read More »
  • June 04 - Best worst campsite ever! (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Best worst campsite ever!, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Sitting at the campsite in turkey, which is a bit of a hole and full of insects, but remarkably has wi-fi, and even more remarkably my laptop has started working normally again. It seems to be happy on a flat surface. ... Read More »
  • June 04 - Istanbul (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Made it to Istanbul! Feeling like real adventure bikers now! The bikes are chained up round a tree outside the hostel, and we’re enjoying beer and free wi-fi on the roof terrace. Just bumped into Nathan who is also heading round to Vlad and who was on the phone with ... Read More »
  • June 05 - Last beer in Istanbul (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Last beer in Istanbul, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Back on the bikes tomorrow. Worn out from wandering round istanbul. Now surrounded by backpackers. Would rather be on the bike.
  • June 05 - One more Istanbul shot (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    One more Istanbul shot, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Strange, not what i expected, but after a day of being an ordinary tourist i have very little to say and don’t really feel like i’ve done anything of note, not like after a day on the bike, which always seems ... Read More »
  • June 13 - 1 The longest day (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    1 The longest day, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Leave Istanbul through insane traffic, several near death experiences. Make it out alive onto toll road. Pick wrong lane at toll booth resulting in 30 euro shocker. Eventually leave motorway heading north to black sea coast, which is much more enjoyable. ... Read More »
  • June 13 - Camlick beach house (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Camlick beach house, originally uploaded by Big Al!. An early start. I wake at 5, dave is already up. We move on, and the road offers a little bit easier progress than yesterday. Something is rattling on my bike, so i stop to investigate. Dave seems totally unaware and just ... Read More »
  • June 13 - Turkey shows its better side (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Turkey shows its better side, originally uploaded by Big Al!. The further east we’ve gone, the nicer Turkey has become and the friendlier the people. People take interest in us, in the bikes. They stop and look. The ones that know a little english all want to know "where are ... Read More »
  • June 13 - Extremes (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Extremes, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Left our wild camping spot very early, which turned out to be a good move as we discovered that we had camped right next to some sort of military base. Heading towards the Yusufeli valley we were soon drenched in sun and dazzled with ... Read More »
  • June 13 - Georgia (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Georgia, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Woke up at 4.30 to the sound of another call to prayer, even though we’re seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Woke up again at 6 to a beautiful sunny day, clear blue skies and already warm. Dug out the laptop to plot a ... Read More »
  • June 13 - Azerbaijan (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Azerbaijan, originally uploaded by Big Al!. A strange day. Took advantage of being ahead of schedule to do some bike maintenance. Laptop decided to work again, hotel internet didn’t. Short ride to the border and a very slow transit through customs, then onto another dreadful road. Why are international border ... Read More »
  • June 13 - Baku (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Baku, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Azerbaijan has been miles of nothing but poverty, with mostly unfriendly people and very few facilities like cash machines, hotels, petrol stations that take credit cards. At one petrol station today, all the attendants had gold teeth, in numbers seemingly proportional to age. Albania ... Read More »
  • June 13 - Incredible Baku (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Incredible Baku, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Baku is astounding. An utterly astonishing oasis of western decadence in an otherwise barren and ugly country. The city is spectacular. We’ve only seen a small part, from the bike while concentrating on negotiating traffic, but it looks incredible. It’s like a mixture ... Read More »
  • June 13 - Farid and the Baku ferry (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Farid and the Baku ferry, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Farid arrives at the red lion, with his friend on a Fazer. We follow on our bikes at crazy speed through crazy traffic, even though farid is probably taking it easy for us. Good job he knows where the ferry ... Read More »
  • June 13 - Baku continues to astound (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Baku continues to astound, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Baku is incredible, too hard to describe. A new bolt of astonishment round every corner. Loads of ex pats here, but i bet none of them realise how astounding this place is because they will have flown in and just arrived ... Read More »
  • June 14 - Old Baku (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Old Baku, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Not much of baku seems all that old, but the old bit is quite nice, puts me in mind of a james bond rooftop chase scene. Baku seems to be gearing up for celebrations of some sort, I think tomorrow is a public ... Read More »
  • June 15 - Our last night in Baku (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Our last night in Baku, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Here we are with Farid after a spectacular meal. Our last night in Baku. It’s a shame we have to leave.
  • June 15 - Eating Azeri style (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Eating Azeri style, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Here we are with Farid (in the centre) and friends, enjoying chai after a great meal.
  • June 15 - Baku party (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Baku party, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Baku seems to be having a party. Not sure why. Dave is too ill to enjoy it, i’m too tired. Baku has been great, but i’m really hoping the ferry to Turkmenistan goes on time, and i can’t wait to get to "the ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 24 The Caspian Sea Ferry (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 24 The Caspian Sea Ferry, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Checking out of the Red Lion involved a moment of concern when the bill was announced as $700. After paying a much more reasonable but still more than planned $342, we took a 5 minute terror ride (in a ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 25 Still on the ferry (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 25 Still on the ferry, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Now at anchor off the coast of Turkmenistan. A long day, spent mostly trying to sleep in a very uncomfortable bunk. The boat isn’t going to dock today. We spend a whole day conserving food and water. It feels ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 26 Ferry customs (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 26 Ferry customs, originally uploaded by Big Al!. We spend another day waiting on the ferry. Running out of food, running out of water. Running out of patience. Why is nothing happening? Finally at 6 the engines start, anchors are pulled in, and we head for port. At about ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 27 Turkmenistan (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 27 Turkmenistan, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Today i have seen: 350 miles of desert. Camels. A man carrying a sheep while riding a motorbike. Temperatures in the 40s. Russian dumplings and "turkmen cola". The world’s biggest flagpole. And Ashgabat, a totally insane collection of pristine white tower blocks, ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 28 The Burning Gas Crater (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 28 The Burning Gas Crater, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Day 28. Hotel Asiya, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. A morning off, before an afternoon ride north into the desert. Peculiar breakfast, then flag down a random car in the street for a ride into town. Seems they don’t do taxis here. ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 29 Out of Turkmenistan (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 29 Out of Turkmenistan, originally uploaded by Big Al!. By morning i’m shattered and feel like death, i certainly can’t ride a bike in this condition. So i ride in the car while a local rides my bike to the border, for a fee. Dave gets stung by a ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 30 Hotel Nukus, Uzbekistan (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 30 Hotel Nukus, Uzbekistan, originally uploaded by Big Al!. The hotel is grim, but i’m mostly just lying on the bed, swatting away flies and trying to keep cool. The plan had been to ride up to the aral sea, but with dave ill, of very ill, and realising ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 31 Hotel Nukus, Uzbekistan (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 31 Hotel Nukus, Uzbekistan, originally uploaded by Big Al!. There’s no way i can ride the bike today, i feel like i’m not far short of needing to go to hospital. In desperation i ask the hotel if they have a better room, and remarkably they do, with air ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 32 The Crucible Of Terror (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 32 The Crucible Of Terror, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Still feeling horrendous but sick of Hotel Nukus, we get on the bikes and head into the desert. It’s incredibly hot, high 40’s, and harsh. Riding along thinking nothing but "please don’t break down". We manage to find enough ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 33 Amelia Hotel, Bukhara (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 33 Amelia Hotel, Bukhara, originally uploaded by Big Al!. A sleepless night. How can i be so wide awake when i’ve barely slept for 4 nights? By morning i feel much better, cooled by the aircon, and with only one trip to the bathroom in the night, instead of ... Read More »
  • July 01 - Day 34 – Michael Jackson Dies (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Wake to news that the king of pop is dead. Still in Bukhara, giving ourselves chance to recover full fitness. Really craving peanutbutter sandwiches again, and mum’s curry and chips. Not doing anything today, maybe some more digestion-friendly italian food later. Dozed and watched the endless Michael Jackson news loop. ... Read More »
  • July 01 - Day 35 Samarkand (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    One pannier rail mount has sheared off. Will require attention. Good, easy ride to Samarkand, feeling better, temp not so high. Looked up from sat nav at 60mph on a dual carriageway to see some loon on a bicycle coming towards me in the outside lane. Gave me a bit ... Read More »
  • July 01 - Day 36 Samarkand (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Great breakfast in the hotel. Long time since i’ve had meusli and scrambled eggs with toast for brekkie. Looking forward to another of those tomorrow. With the laptop continuing to work I spend the morning plotting our route as far as Almaty and load the waypoints to the Garmin unit, ... Read More »
  • July 01 - Day 37 Iskanderkul Lake (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Didn’t quite make it to the lake. Slow but easy border crossing and straight onto the very bad Tajik roads. Dave’s bike starts playing up, again. It gets worse. Progress slows. We have to stop a lot, but don’t know what’s wrong and just have to press on, hoping. It’s ... Read More »
  • July 01 - Day 38 Stuck with Dave’s broken bike (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Wake up at 6. Breakfast of porridge and coffee. Spend all morning working on Dave’s bike. No joy. Noodles for lunch. Take carb off my bike, fit to dave’s, bingo! Fit air filters, bad again. Swap carbs back, runs fine. Must be air filters. Try making temp filter, bike stops ... Read More »
  • July 02 - Dushanbe (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Up very early. Dave’s bike still not running right. Tried cleaning up the carb enricher which was a bit dirty inside. No real difference. Swapped in my carb, bike runs fine. Compared carbs side by side. Checked everything. Found a tiny beetle in the float chamber. Maybe that was the ... Read More »
  • July 11 - Day 40 Kulob (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Up early to fix the rear brake master cylinder on Dave’s bike that fell off and melted on the exhaust yesterday. Bled the system, all seemed ok. Dave found out he’s just become an uncle for the first time. Elected to take the southern route to Kalaichum as it’s apparently ... Read More »
  • July 11 - Day 41 Khalaikum (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Filled up with petrol in Kulob. No pump, just scooped out of a barrel. Then after asking half a dozen locals for directions we eventually found our way out on to the road to Kalaikum and quickly started up into the mountains. A quick a thankfully bribe free passport check ... Read More »
  • July 11 - Day 42 Khorog (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Off at 6.30 am in anticipation of a long ride. Bike feeling much better on the rough stuff with dirt tyres front and rear. Must have been some rain overnight, making the roads a bit slippery. After about 40 miles we came across a fresh landslide from last night’s rain, ... Read More »
  • July 11 - Day 43 Murghab (RTW 2009)
    Grumpiness on being woken at 5 by noisy people in the lodge soon gives way to exhilaration when we get onto the road up into the mountains. Stunning landscape and suprisingly good tarmac making it a contender for best riding day. We stop at 9000 feet next to the fast ... Read More »
  • July 11 - Day 44 Into Kyrgyzstan (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 44 Into Kyrgyzstan, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Up early and it’s a cold day at 12000 feet. Even colder when we’re soon up to 15300 feet for the highest point of the trip at the top of the Pamir highway. Downhill all the way from here, and we ... Read More »
  • July 11 - Day 45 Kyrgyzstan (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 45 Kyrgyzstan, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Kyrgyzstan is very green and quite pretty. The people have become progressively more chinese looking as we’ve gone east, and now we’ve turned north the Kyrgyz people look more mongolian. In the rural mountain areas they have yurts and there are lots ... Read More »
  • July 11 - Day 46 Unforgetable (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 46 Unforgetable, originally uploaded by Big Al!. We spend the whole day riding a dirt road over a mountain, gravel all the way. Superb fun on the way up, scary on the way down. Dave’s bike gives out near the top, and we have to remove and clean the ... Read More »
  • July 11 - Day 47 Issyk Kol (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 47 Issyk Kol, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Dave’s bike is now smoking badly and burning about a litre of oil per 100 miles. It’s a bit of a worry but hopefully it will make it to Almaty and a bike shop. We’re just 2 days away and with ... Read More »
  • July 11 - Day 48 Sharyn Canyon (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 48 Sharyn Canyon, originally uploaded by Big Al!. First impression of Kazakhstan? Big. Very, very big. Fairly uneventful day, not much happening apart from the border crossing. Kyrgystan customs causes a fuss as we don’t have a customs declaration form. We weren’t given one on the way in at ... Read More »
  • July 11 - Day 49 Almaty (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 49 Almaty, originally uploaded by Big Al!. A quick of easy ride and we’re in Almaty. Find an internet cafe and hunt a hotel. A bit of guesswork and we find the hotel. Seems nice enough. Check in for 4 nights assuming that Dave’s bike needs attention and this ... Read More »
  • July 12 - Day 50 Sunday in Almaty (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 50 Sunday in Almaty, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Good breakfast in the hotel, best for a while. Then we go looking for MyTownMoto. Manage to find it with the help of a passing biker, and hang around for a while till the owners turn up. Another local helps ... Read More »
  • July 13 - Day 51 Monday in Almaty (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 51 Monday in Almaty, originally uploaded by Big Al!. 5 course breakfast. Lazy wander around Almaty. Take advantage of free wi-fi in the cafe. Just a relaxing day of doing nothing, thinking that i should really be changing my tyres back to the road tyres for the next leg ... Read More »
  • July 14 - Day 52 Tuesday in Almaty (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 52 Tuesday in Almaty, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Practicalites today. Manage to find a MapSource compatible satnav in a department store. If I can actually transfer maps and waypoints to it, it will be very useful and i’ll be pleased not to have to look at an empty ... Read More »
  • July 15 - Day 53 Still in Almatywood (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 53 Still in Almatywood, originally uploaded by Big Al!. It’s annoying that we’re still waiting for Dave’s bike to be rebuilt, but if you’re going to be stuck anywhere then Almaty is the place. It is incredible. The day starts well with peanut butter on toast for breakfast for ... Read More »
  • July 19 - Day 54 North of Almaty (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 54 North of Almaty, originally uploaded by Big Al!. The new satnav works great for getting us out of the city. A cop stops us, but fortunately just wants to chat and have a look at the bikes, and soon we’re on our way without any fine. Dave’s bike ... Read More »
  • July 19 - Day 55 Kazakhstan (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 55 Kazakhstan, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Nothing much to say. Fairly average day just covering miles heading for Russia. Kazakhstan is big. Big and flat and stormy. Watched some fighter jets doing aerobatics near a military base, found somewhere to camp, changed another tyre, had dinner, and that’s ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 56 Semey (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 56 Semey, originally uploaded by Big Al!. This was going to be another day with nothing to report but long hours in the saddle, cruising through miles of featureless plain with nothing of interest, until we hit Semey and by chance happen upon a hotel run by a motocross ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 57 Semey (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 57 Semey, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Morning is rough after too much vodka. We surface at lunch time and are served breakfast of omelette and coffee by the lovely Julia. We enquire by laptop translator about staying another night, being too hungover to ride bikes to Russia today. ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 58 Into Russia (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 58 Into Russia, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Getting up at 8 we discover no signs of life in the hotel / Igor’s house, so we settle in at the bar, make coffee and put CNN on the big screen tv. This is a wierd situation. It really does ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 59 Barnaul (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 59 Barnaul, originally uploaded by Big Al!. A late start by recent standards then a long ride to Barnaul, on superb tarmac through incredibly vast wheat fields, cutting it fine for petrol as we have no Rubles yet. New Dave has arranged to meet someone, who shows us the ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 60 The Altai (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 60 The Altai, originally uploaded by Big Al!. No sleep in the hot, wierd, noisy hotel with its peculiar communal bathroom and space age, ridiculously complex communal shower. Breakfast is also wierd, exactly like a buffet but you may only choose up to 120 Rubles worth from a menu, ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 61 Last day in Russia (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 61 Last day in Russia, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Cold start. Good roads. Dave’s bike breaks again, exhaust falls off. See the best camping spots i’ve ever seen and hope i can find one later on when it’s time to camp. Uneventful ride but nice to be back ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 62 Mongolia (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 62 Mongolia, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Another cold, early start, but with great anticipation. In a few hours we’ll be in Mongolia! Some apprehension, too. No idea how hard it will be to ride across wilderness, how hard it will be to find petrol, water. Will Dave’s bike ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 63 Mongolia Day 2 (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 63 Mongolia Day 2, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Mongolia is incredible. The vistas are huge, the land is empty and goes on forever. The road is a gravel and sand track, and it’s easier to ride on the smaller parallel tracks or just to straight line across virgin ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 64 Mongolia Day 3 (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    The most amazing day. Stopped in Khovd, which was remarkably modern with a reasonable supermarket, then on towards Ulaangom. Crashed my bike at about 30mph on deep gravel. Hit a thick bit and got an almighty tank slapper, violently whipping from side to side in ever increasing degrees until it ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 65 Mongolia day 4 (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 65 Mongolia day 4, originally uploaded by Big Al!. The day starts badly, and not with the hangover from last nights Mongolian firewater. I discover that i’ve lost my tools. All of them. That’s quite bad. I jump on the bike and spend two hours riding 40 difficult miles ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 66 Mongolia day 5 (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 66 Mongolia day 5, originally uploaded by Big Al!. More riding across the endless Mongolian plains. It really is amazing, unique. Early on, we follow a line of telegraph poles, in the middle of nowhere, miles from any population. There are eagles perched on top of the poles, sometimes ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 67 Mongolia day 6 – Lost! (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 67 Mongolia day 6 – Lost!, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Lost in Mongolia! The day started well with a fairly easy ride to Baraanturuun, where we find the only petrol station for miles. The manager has to phone somebody to turn on the electricity so that they can ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 68 Mongolia day 7 (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Heavy rain during the night has me worrying about the Mongolia northern route nightmare scenario number 1- mud. Fortunately it doesn’t last long. During the day it’s easy to see how hard it would be if the weather was against you. So many stretches are dry mud or empty river ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 69 Mongolia day 8 (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 69 Mongolia day 8, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Great progress today. Nearly ran over a golden eagle early this morning, that’s how frequent they are over here. Then a long ride through more mind boggling landscape. It really is hard to take it all in, some of it ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 70 Mongolia day 9 (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 70 Mongolia day 9, originally uploaded by Big Al!. It’s much hotter now that we’re further east and at lower altitude. Dry, sandy, dusty roads. The dust clouds we kick up are huge, they coat everything and make it difficult to see the bumps and pot holes in the ... Read More »
  • August 03 - Day 71 Mongolia day 10 (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Day 71 Mongolia day 10, originally uploaded by Big Al!. The day starts in spectacular fashion as an eagle swoops down just inches from my head, grabs something small and furry and glides away over the valley. Incredible. The speed, surprise and power is stunning. The road is reasonable, a ... Read More »
  • August 06 - Day 72 Ulaanbaatar (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Over breakfast Dave suddenly reveals he’s not going any further, he’s going to ditch the bike and fly off to meet his girlfriend, which leaves me on my own in Mongolia. I will only say that I’m quite disappointed and apprehensive about crossing the Amur highway on my own. I ... Read More »
  • August 06 - Day 73 Decision Time in Ulaanbaatar (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    So here I am in UB on my own. I have a look round the main square, which is unexpectedly grand compared to the size of the city, and visit the suprisingly good national museum where amongst many interesting things I discover that the big pile of rocks we camped ... Read More »
  • August 06 - Day 74 A New Adventure? (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Moving on after spending time in a city always feels a bit like starting a new trip, but this time it really seems like starting something completely new. I’ve ridden my motorbike all the way to Ulaanbaatar. Now I have to get to Vlad. From there, Korea, maybe a quick ... Read More »
  • August 06 - Day 75 Last day in Ulaanbaatar (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    I’m still in UB, partly because i’ve got the new laptop and can do a load of jobs i’ve been wanting to do for a while, but also because i’ve had a great time with the rally team and Dave A. It’s the people that make the difference on a ... Read More »
  • August 08 - Day 76 On the road again! (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Being back on the road actually feels great. Glad to put the recent disappointment behind me. The weather is ideal, and I quickly slip back into relaxed cruise mode, once I get out of the hectic city traffic. Not far outside of UB I see a couple of overland cyclists ... Read More »
  • August 08 - Day 77 Siberian Rain (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    I get up an hour later than planned because I’ve changed timezones without realising. Only came north so didn’t expect it. Breakfast is the usual Russian buffet of warm things that should be cold and cold things that should be hot, and that usually should be eaten at dinner time, ... Read More »
  • August 08 - Day 77 part 2 Lake Baikal (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Siberia is wet (wet like the middle of the Atlantic is wet) and rugged (rugged like Vladimir Putin on a horseback photoshoot). It’s definitely wild, and so is the weather today. The road out to Lake Baikal is pretty rough by Russian standards but I have a great time blasting ... Read More »
  • August 13 - Day 78 Ulan Ude to Chita (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Wow. This post could be as long as today’s ride! Let’s start with a picture of the delicious Maria at the Baikal Plaza hotel. Do you need any other reason to stay there?! When I enter the restaurant for breakfast I discover about 50 Chinese who have stripped the buffet ... Read More »
  • August 13 - Day 79 Chita to Khabarovsk part 1 (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    I wake at 4 when the cockadoodles start doing. They do all day long, from daybreak till nightfall, as far as I can tell. Breakfast is black tea and fried eggs with bread, sausage, cheese, etc etc. Natalya is putting on great spreads and I suspect a lot of it ... Read More »
  • August 13 - Day 80 Chita to Khabarovsk part 2 (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    I wake up to clear skies and have to put full bike gear on before leaving tent as there is still a maelstrom of mosquitos. I inspect the broken frame but there’s nothing I can do. In a futile gesture I use my two spare bungies to support it. I ... Read More »
  • August 13 - Day 81 Chita to Khabarovsk part 3 (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    The mossies show no sympathy for my plight as I try to make repairs. I use a spanner to splint one of the broken frame spars, lashing it together with cable ties. I use a tie down strap to support the pannier rail, but as I tighten it I notice ... Read More »
  • August 13 - Day 82 Khabarovsk (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    What a surprise, it’s raining hard again. Very hard. Looking out of the hotel room window I can see dark clouds, lightning, and rivers of rain water flowing down the streets. Standard for Siberia! It is wet season, but I didn’t think it would be so heavy or so persistent. ... Read More »
  • August 14 - Day 83 Khabarovsk (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Just as I decide to try Vlad instead, I get word via the HUBB that the road south is actually pretty bad, the road to the ferry port in Zarubino even worse. I’m simply going to have to get repairs here. I arrange for another night in the hotel, and ... Read More »
  • August 16 - Day 84 My Bike Is Fixed! (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    I spend the day lazing around the hotel room waiting for the bike to be ready, hoping it will be. Eventually the taxi driver arrives and takes me to the workshop, where I discover my bike still largely in bits but with a perfectly welded rear sub frame and pannier ... Read More »
  • August 16 - Day 85 Vladivostok! (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Vladivostok! Yes! I made it to Vlad! I’m absolutely elated! I’ve reached the finishing line in Vlad, I’ve gone as far east as I can realistically go over land, I’ve ridden my bike 15,000 miles across 20 countries in 85 days to the right hand side of the map. I’ve ... Read More »
  • August 18 - Day 86 Vladivostok (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Nothing very exciting, just practicalities. Found the ferry ticket office thanks to the very generous assistance of Kennichi, another HUBBer. Had a wander around Vlad and got various bad photos taken of me by helpful Japanese tourists (see, for example, the spike coming out of the top of my head ... Read More »
  • August 18 - Day 87 Still in Vlad (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    This is supposed to be a blog about riding a motorbike round the world, so I’m always a little unsure whether I should post something on days where I haven’t really done very much to do with that. It’s been more like a day off. OK, I’ve spent the day ... Read More »
  • August 21 - Day 88 The Dong Chun Ferry (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Very early start. Bike stops before even leaving the hotel car park, till I remember I turned the fuel taps off while it was parked. Then I nearly run out of petrol, forgetting I only put in 10 litres last time, not the usual 20, due to a translation cock ... Read More »
  • August 21 - Day 89 Korea! (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Public transport sucks. That’s the only way to see it. I’d rather be fixing a puncture in a thunderstorm than hanging around a ferry port. It’s all been quite easy, but there’s so much waiting and carrying luggage. Will have more of this with flights soon, not looking forward to ... Read More »
  • August 21 - Day 90 Seoul (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    OK, so this blog is going to go on holiday while I do. A couple of days in Seoul, a few days in Tokyo, 5 days in Vancouver. It will resume when I (hopefully) pick up the bike in Vancouver and get back on the road. But I couldn’t resist ... Read More »
  • August 22 - Day 91 Seoul (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Maybe I can’t break the habit of blogging. Maybe these photos through the windows of the Namsan Tower observatory are just too appropriate for me to resist. Seoul seems mind bogglingly huge at ground level, from up here it’s just incredible.
  • September 19 - Days 92-94 Tokyo (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
  • September 19 - Days 95-97 Vancouver (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
  • September 19 - Days 98-126 Whistler & Vancouver (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
  • October 05 - Day 127 Golden, British Columbia (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    After 4 weeks waiting for Pacific BMW & Yamaha to replace my damaged wheels, I finally have the bike back, at enormous expense. This sort of thing wouldn’t have happened in Russia! I’m pretty disappointed with how this has gone, but glad to be able to get back on the ... Read More »
  • October 05 - Day 128 Pincher Creek, Alberta (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Another lazy start, but it is icy cold early on, and doesn’t get much better. The scenery is still quite nice, though I’ve become a bit blase about it after where I’ve been. It’s a fairly uninspiring ride. The distances are too long, the roads too straight and well made. ... Read More »
  • October 05 - Day 129 Yellowstone, Wyoming (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    This morning it’s minus 3, icy and with a bitterly cold wind. Under the circumstances I’m glad to be in a motel with a warm shower and a hot breakfast, but if I could choose I’d be making my own breakfast in a campsite somewhere with a stunning view. The ... Read More »
  • October 05 - Day 130 Jackson Hole, Wyoming (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Old Faithful is more much more impressive than I expected, and the Fire Hole Geyser is even more spectacular. Bored of mixing it with retired Americans and their RVs, I head off towards Jackson Hole. The roads are nice, the scenery is fantastic with all the simmering geysers and billowing ... Read More »
  • October 05 - Day 131 Rock Springs, Wyoming (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Wednesday. I wake up to rain, and cold, grey skies. In theory I’m heading south for warmer weather, but as I ride it gets colder, wetter, and windier, until I’m struggling to keep the bike upright in 40mph side winds, the heated grips are being overwhelmed by the cold, and ... Read More »
  • October 05 - Day 132 Eagle, Colorado (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    The forecast morning snow doesn’t materialise, so after a quick motel breakfast of waffles and maple syrup I head back to highway 191 for a second attempt. Despite the bitterly cold weather it’s quite a nice ride with almost no traffic and some very nice scenery through Utah’s dinosaur country, ... Read More »
  • October 05 - Day 133 Clayton, New Mexico (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    A beautiful sunny morning but very, very cold, below freezing. No point starting early, I need to wait for the day to warm up, it’s going to be very cold in the mountains. Being right next door to the Colorado ski resorts of Vail, Aspen and Breckenridge, there is a ... Read More »
  • October 05 - Day 134 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    A long boring day riding under cloudy skies trying to cover enough distance to escape the rain coming up from the south to meet me now that i’ve eluded the northern snow. Just a long, long day of nothing but riding. I stop for gas (that’s American for petrol) and ... Read More »
  • October 05 - Day 135 Little Rock, Arkansas (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    I came south to escape the record low temperatures and have run straight into record rainfall. The southern states have been suffering a bad drought for months, now we have flooding. The cold and snow was bad, but rain is worse. It’s no problem for me, I stay dry on ... Read More »
  • October 12 - Day 136 Chattanooga, Tennessee (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    It’s a cool, grey, overcast day, but no rain. The ride through Tennessee is easy, and the scenery is nicer than recent days. Nothing spectacular, but nice houses and lots of trees. I stop for more health food, KFC this time. The drumsticks are the size of baseball bats, the ... Read More »
  • October 12 - Day 137 Johnson City, Tennessee (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    I pass through the last time zone change that will happen on the bike, into the very pretty countryside of North Carolina and the blue ridge parkway, where I get stuck behind slow moving RVs. The parkway has nice views with the trees changing colour, but feels artificial, like the ... Read More »
  • October 12 - Day 138 Harrisonburg, West Virginia (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Before setting off I adjust the wheel to tighten the chain, again. It’s pretty bad now. Not long later I stop for gas and notice that the chain is once again very slack. It’s badly stretched and the rear sprocket is almost totally worn away. I do my best to ... Read More »
  • October 12 - Day 139 Altoona, Pennsylvania (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    While confirming arrangements for the flight from New York I discover that it will take 10 days to clear the bike through customs before it can fly. From Toronto I can be out in 48 hours. It’s only a bit further to Toronto, so I change tack and head north, ... Read More »
  • October 12 - Day 140 Toronto, Ontario (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    I wake to torrential rain. It looks too bad to go anywhere, but I set off anyway, and the rain isn’t too bad, until I get to Canada. The border crossing is the fastest since Europe, and then I’m into the really heavy rain. I ride slowly, trying not to ... Read More »
  • October 12 - Day 141-146 Toronto, Ontario (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
  • October 16 - Day 147 – Home! (RTW 2009, Uncategorized)
    Harrogate, England, Friday October 16th, 2009. That’s it, done it, finished, all over. 19,000 miles around the world by motorcycle in 147 days. OK, it’s probably actually 146 if you account for the whole international date line thing, but technically I started a day early too, so 147 it is. ... Read More »

2011 (224)

  • June 08 - New trip, new bike (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Just a quick test to see if I can still update the blog from the road. Here’s the new bike that I’ll be riding through Scandinavia and eastern Europe.
  • June 10 - Day 1 of trip 2 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 1 of trip 2, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Typical hassles of motorcycle travel: ready to go to the ferry terminal and discover a flat battery. I suspect the bullet cam is draining power, or some part of my wiring for the gps isn’t playing nicely with BMW’s can-bus ... Read More »
  • June 10 - Day 1 at the ferry (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 1 at the ferry, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Made it to the ferry, even if I co at the back of the queue. Will the bike start tomorrow? Fingers crossed!
  • June 10 - Harry Potter (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    This is my Harry Potter scar. On August 1st, 2010, I went cycling and got hit by a car at 40mph. I suffered 4 skull fractures, a broken eye socket, broken nose, smashed teeth, ripped up knee, banged up ankles and a dislocated hip. My bike was destroyed. I was ... Read More »
  • June 10 - Another lovely scar (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    This is where I got bitten by a shark after I was shipwrecked on the USS Indianapolis during the war. It’s name was Jaws. Doesn’t hurt, much. Except when I try to run. Doesn’t stop me riding motorbikes though!
  • June 10 - Route for Part 2 of Ride Round The World (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    I had been planning another epic trip through Africa and the Americas, but that’s all on hold after the accident. So, part 2 is now a relatively easy jaunt through Scandinavia and Eastern Europe on a new (ish) BMW F800 GS. First stop will be the Nurburgring, my old favourite. ... Read More »
  • June 11 - Day 2 on the way to the ring (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 2 on the way to the ring, originally uploaded by Big Al!. It’s a bit cold and wet, but I’m warm and dry thanks to heated gloves and jacket. Bike started, glad I disconnected the wiring for the cameras and gps etc, will have to work on that later. ... Read More »
  • June 11 - Day 1 on the ferry (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 1 on the ferry, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Nice weather, calm seas, a little luxury and complimentary red wine in the commodore de luxe lounge.
  • June 11 - Day 2 Sunshine at the ring (Nurburgring, Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 2 Sunshine at the ring, originally uploaded by Big Al!. After a long ride in cold weather, heavy rain, and heavy traffic, the sun has finally come out. Hope it’s the same tomorrow so I can do a couple of laps. Stiff and tired after the first real day ... Read More »
  • June 12 - Day 3 Starts with my old favourite, a Dorint buffet breakfast. (Nurburgring, Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 3 Starts with my old favourite, a Dorint buffet breakfast., originally uploaded by Big Al!. This is just the first plate…..
  • June 12 - Day 3 The hills are alive with the sound of internal combustion (Nurburgring, Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 3 The hills are alive with the sound of internal combustion, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Sunny at the ring. Did 3 early laps while the track was quiet, but it soon got busy and then an accident closed it for about an hour.
  • June 12 - Day 3 A quick joyride to Cochem (Nurburgring, Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 3 A quick joyride to Cochem, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • June 12 - Day 3 Another old favourite (Nurburgring, Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 3 Another old favourite, originally uploaded by Big Al!. The always delicious steak on the hot stone at the Pistenklause.
  • June 15 - Days 4 and 5 – Nurburgring (Nurburgring, Scandinavia 2011)
    Days 4 and 5 – Nurburgring, originally uploaded by Big Al!. After a relaxed start to the trip, I’ll be moving on tomorrow.
  • June 15 - Day 6 Marburg, Germany (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 6 Marburg, Germany, originally uploaded by Big Al!. I start the first proper day of travel in relaxed style, making the most of kid hotel buffet breakfast. The relaxation does when I put my back out while loading the bike. Great. A few painkillers and I set course for ... Read More »
  • June 16 - Day 7 Herz mountains, Germany (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 7 Herz mountains, Germany, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Stopped quite early today when map and gps suggested camp now or in about 3 hours. Next time I do a trip like this I need much better information about camp site locations. On the first trip, I’d spent months ... Read More »
  • June 17 - Day 8 waren, northern Germany (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 8 waren, northern Germany, originally uploaded by Big Al!. The previous night’s rain lets up just in time for breakfast, and I leave in sunshine. It’s windy though, and this part of northern Germany is wide open, rural, and quite dull. It’s an event free day, and I find ... Read More »
  • June 18 - Day 9 1km south of Denmark (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 8 1km south of Denmark, originally uploaded by Big Al!. This photo is co attempt at capturing me sitting in a posh hotel restaurant surrounded by glamorously dressed wedding guests, while I’m wearing wet smelly biker gear. What a day! Northern Germany is crap. Crap weather, crap roads, crap ... Read More »
  • June 19 - Day 10 Odense, Denmark (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 10 Odense, Denmark, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Sorry Denmark, but if you’re going to lay on horrendous weather and make hotels so expensive that I need to sell a kidney, then I’m going to have to do what every other tourist does and go straight to Copenhagen for ... Read More »
  • June 20 - Day 11 Baltic coast (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 11 Baltic coast, originally uploaded by Big Al!. I leave the Ansgarhus motel (surprisingly good) in dry, but predictably cold, grey and windy weather, heading east. The wind and the kamikaze seagulls nearly take me out crossing the long bridge to Sjaelland, and then I turn north to see ... Read More »
  • June 20 - Day 11 Tivoli Gardens (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 11 Tivoli Gardens, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • June 21 - Day 12 Copenhagen (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 12 Copenhagen, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Nice, but very expensive.
  • June 22 - Day 13 Sunny Copenhagen (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 13 Sunny Copenhagen, originally uploaded by Big Al!. First sun I’ve seen in a while. Copenhageners don’t seen to work, they just sit around drinking expensive beer in Irish pubs or sunbathing or Kongenshaven. Me too.
  • June 23 - Day 14 Southern Sweden (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 14 Southern Sweden, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Quick lunch break (sandwiches made, and technically stolen, at breakfast buffet) overlooking the Baltic sea on the south coast of Sweden. Cold, windy, expensive, and busy, but at least dry. For now, anyway, though the large black clouds that have followed ... Read More »
  • June 23 - Day 14 Tranquility on Sweden’s Baltic coast (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 14 Tranquility on Sweden’s Baltic coast, originally uploaded by Big Al!. The heavy rain subsides by early morning and I leave Copenhagen in the dry, which makes navigating my way out of town a little easier, and soon I’m approaching the Oresund bridge to Sweden. On paper it sounds ... Read More »
  • June 24 - Day 15 Oland, Sweden (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 15 Oland, Sweden, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Guide book made Oland sound good, but it isn’t. It’s rubbish. And it’s windy, which just exacerbates the buffeting I get from the rubbish screen on the F800. It’s mid-summer’s day, which apparently is a big deal over here, but there’s ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 16 On the road to Stockholm (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 15 On the road to Stockholm, originally uploaded by Big Al!. TStayed in really bad hostel last night. In a country that experiences almost 24 hours of daylight, why do they have such useless curtains? The early start because of the early light at least gets me a hundred ... Read More »
  • June 25 - Day 16 Sensational Stockholm (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 16 Sensational Stockholm, originally uploaded by Big Al!. The rain eases and I leave the truck stop, heading north on empty roads, and enjoying the lack of traffic. All cars in Denmark seem to have had their indicators disabled. All drivers in Sweden seem to have had their brains ... Read More »
  • June 26 - Day 17 Stockholm (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 17 Stockholm, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Museum overload.
  • June 27 - Day 18 Scorching Stockholm (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 18 Scorching Stockholm, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Hot enough to be eating ice-cream today. Top tip for Stockholm – get the city card for free public transport and museum entry. Other top tip – go on a diet, start working out, and get plastic surgery to look like ... Read More »
  • June 28 - Day 19 Living in a train by a lake (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 19 Living in a train by a lake, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Glorious weather, glorious roads, glorious lack of traffic, glorious peace thanks to the quieter new helmet I bought in Stockholm this morning (many thanks for the glorious service delivered by the guy at Stockholm’s MC Varhus, ... Read More »
  • June 29 - Day 20 Off-road, Swedish style (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 20 Off-road, Swedish style, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Just enjoying some dirt roads on my way west.
  • June 29 - Day 20 Last day in Sweden (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 20 Last day in Sweden, originally uploaded by Big Al!. When you’re travelling by bike, some days are about just getting to the next place. Some are about visiting a new place. Some are about the challenge and the adventure. And some, like today, are about just enjoying the ... Read More »
  • June 30 - Day 21 Breakfast in the bay (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 21 Breakfast in the bay, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Delicious breakfast of boiled eggs spread on warm fresh bread rolls, fresh coffee, and fresh orange, in the morning calm at the harbour bay.
  • June 30 - Day 21 Another beautiful waterside cafe (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 21 Another beautiful waterside cafe, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Stopped for a coffee in Fjallbacka, which is on the Baltic coast, but with weather like this, could be in the south of France.
  • June 30 - Day 21 Oslo, Norway (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 21 Oslo, Norway, originally uploaded by Big Al!. The harbour was buzzing late into the night as the locals make the most of almost 24 hours of daylight, but it’s deserted and still, as is the water, when I surface for breakfast. Breakfast is in the Snackkan cafe, which ... Read More »
  • July 01 - Day 22 Oslo (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 22 Oslo, originally uploaded by Big Al!. This is a famous painting. Most people don’t realise that it depicts a tourist discovering what things cost in Oslo.
  • July 02 - Day 23 Still Oslo (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 23 Still Oslo, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Still wet. A bit boring. Top tip for Oslo? Don’t. Spent most of the day planning what’s next. Interesting chat with a chef from Florida who’d had a serious brain injury after falling down the stairs. Ate some elk. The usual.
  • July 03 - Day 24 A view of 1/6th of Norway from Gausta mountain (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 24 A view of 1/6th of Norway from Gausta mountain, originally uploaded by Big Al!. I leave Oslo thoroughly bored of cities in general and Oslo in particular. It’s wet (normal), but I don’t mind because the roads are scenic, even if there is always a caravan spoiling the ... Read More »
  • July 04 - Day 25 Egersund, Norway (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 25 Egersund, Norway, originally uploaded by Big Al!. I wake to the sound of heavy rain. Breakfast is an MOD ration pack which I eat sitting outside under the eaves of the lodge. A duck and a squirrel join me to eat and watch the rain. I don’t know ... Read More »
  • July 04 - Day 25 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 25, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 04 - Day 25 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 25, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 04 - Day 25 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 25, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 04 - Day 25 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 25, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 04 - Day 25 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 25, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 04 - Day 25 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 25, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 04 - Day 25 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 25, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 04 - Day 25 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 25, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Do you see faces?
  • July 04 - Day 25 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 25, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 04 - Day 25 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 25, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 On the road to Priekestolen (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 26 On the road to Priekestolen, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 On top of Priekestolen (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 26 On top of Priekestolen, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 Sheer magnificence (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 26 Sheer magnificence, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Some days of bike travel, everything seems to go wrong. Other days, even when it’s gone wrong it goes spectacularly right. I leave camp quite early after noisy residents wake me up. There’s always someone noisy in a camp site, but ... Read More »
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011, Uncategorized)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 05 - Day 26 (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 26, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 06 - Day 27 Waffles and coffee at the Hardangervidda visitor centre (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 27 Waffles and coffee at the Hardangervidda visitor centre, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Did you spot the goat on the roof?
  • July 06 - Day 27 Ferry across Eidfjord (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 27 Ferry across Eidfjord, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 06 - Day 27 Monstrous mountains near Eidfjord (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 27 Monstrous mountains near Eidfjord, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 06 - Day 27 It’s bleak 4000 feet up Hardangervidda (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 27 It’s bleak 4000 feet up Hardangervidda, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 06 - Day 27 Bergen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 27 Bergen, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 06 - Day 27 Bergen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 27 Bergen, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 06 - Day 27 Bergen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 27 Bergen, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 06 - Day 27 Bergen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 27 Bergen, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 06 - Day 27 Bergen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 27 Bergen, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 06 - Day 27 Bergen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 27 Bergen, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Utterly awful weather forces a change of plan so I head for Bergen. Several southbound bikers (German and dutch, mostly) that I’ve met recently all said Bergen was nice, and although it’s a budget blowing experience, camping in these conditions is out ... Read More »
  • July 07 - Day 28 Another great view to enjoy over coffee and waffles (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 28 Another great view to enjoy over coffee and waffles, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 07 - Day 28 Nice place to stop for coffee at the side of the road (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 28 Nice place to stop for coffee at the side of the road, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 07 - Day 28 Hardangervidda glacier (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 28 Hardangervidda glacier, originally uploaded by Big Al!. In the background, at least. Bit hard to ride a motorcycle onto a glacier.
  • July 07 - Day 28 Hardangervidda (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 28 Hardangervidda, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 07 - Day 28 Hardangervidda (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 28 Hardangervidda, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 07 - Day 28 Voringfoss (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 28 Voringfoss, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 07 - Day 28 Voringfoss (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 28 Voringfoss, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Not much excitement today. Lots of mindbending, disorienting pitch black tunnels that go on for kilometers, some corkscrewing up through the mountain, cold, wet. The darkness and sensory deprivation makes then dizzying. One is almost 5 miles long, and the coloured arcs ... Read More »
  • July 07 - Day 28 View from hotel perched above waterfall (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 28 View from hotel perched above waterfall, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Nice, when it’s not obscured by rain. Sitting here, in a 1920’s style lounge, above one of Norway’s most visited natural landmarks, doing a bit of route planning, enjoying a local beer, enjoying even more the view ... Read More »
  • July 08 - Day 29 Cruise through Naerofjord (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 29 Cruise through Naerofjord, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 08 - Day 29 Flam railway (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 29 Flam railway, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 08 - Day 29 Flam railway (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 29 Flam railway, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 08 - Day 29 Chinese tourists (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 29 Chinese tourists, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 08 - Day 29 Naerofjord (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 29 Naerofjord, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 08 - Day 29 Osterbo (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 29 Osterbo, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Decided to do the tourist thing and see the fjords from the water. What should be a peaceful way to enjoy inspirational scenery is a little spoiled by the disgusting behaviour of hordes of obnoxious Chinese tourists, shouting, pushing, showing more interest ... Read More »
  • July 09 - Day 30 The Snovegen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 The Snovegen, originally uploaded by Big Al!. This view beats any I saw on the Fjord cruise, and there are absolutely no tourists here to spoil it. Chinese or otherwise. Just solitude, the sounds of cascading water, and an utterly magnificent, majestic landscape.
  • July 09 - Day 30 The Snovegen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 The Snovegen, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Another candidate for top 20 world’s best biking roads. Desolate isolation, snow banks lining the road, frozen lakes. The road surface has deteriorated in parts, bumps in the braking zone on the descent into a tight hairpin bend, covered in water ... Read More »
  • July 09 - Day 30 Another scenic picnic (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Another scenic picnic, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Eating breakfast buffet sandwiches again. Usually it’s "frowned upon" to snaffle food from the buffet, but last night’s camp even provided sandwich bags and cling film. Very enlightened.
  • July 09 - Day 30 Lunch by the emerald green Lustrafjorden (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Lunch by the emerald green Lustrafjorden, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 09 - Day 30 Geraingerfjord from the Eagle’s Way (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Geraingerfjord from the Eagle’s Way, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Sensational.
  • July 09 - Day 30 Geraingerfjord (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Geraingerfjord, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 09 - Day 30 Glaciers on the Sognefjellvegen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Glaciers on the Sognefjellvegen, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 09 - Day 30 Sognefjellvegen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Sognefjellvegen, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 09 - Day 30 Geraingerfjord (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Geraingerfjord, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 09 - Day 30 Geraingerfjord (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Geraingerfjord, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 09 - Day 30 Geraingerfjord (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Geraingerfjord, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 09 - Day 30 Trollstigen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Trollstigen, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 09 - Day 30 Trollstigen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Trollstigen, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 09 - Day 30 The best one-day bike ride in the world? (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 The best one-day bike ride in the world?, originally uploaded by Big Al!. A day that was all about riding begins with more suffocating tunnels emerging into breath-taking scenery, before a thrilling ride up the snow road. A graceful cruise alongside the vivid, vibrant green Lustrafjord, before another ... Read More »
  • July 09 - Day 30 Andalsnes Camping (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 30 Andalsnes Camping, originally uploaded by Big Al!. My tent is in the middle, right by the water’s edge.
  • July 10 - Day 31 Atlantic highway (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 31 Atlantic highway, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Just started the Atlantic highway and bumped into the English bikers I met at Priekestolen, who have been delayed due to a broken chain.
  • July 10 - Day 31 A quick trip to Hell (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 31 A quick trip to Hell, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Apparently you can eat and sleep there, so it can’t be that bad.
  • July 10 - Day 31 Arctic Highway, just south of Mosjoen (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 31 Arctic Highway, just south of Mosjoen, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Just a day of burning petrol. I’ve seen everything I want to see in Norway and all that’s left is the arctic circle and Nordkapp. The overnight rain lets off just in time to make breakfast and ... Read More »
  • July 10 - Day 31 Atlantic highway (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 31 Atlantic highway, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 10 - Day 31 View from cabin at midnight (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 31 View from cabin at midnight, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Not quite into midnight sun territory yet, but it’s still broad daylight at midnight. It’s bright enough inside to read without any lights on. Very weird.
  • July 11 - Day 32 Welcome to the Arctic circle! (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 32 Welcome to the Arctic circle!, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 11 - Day 32 Somewhere near Alta, northern Norway (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 32 Somewhere near Alta, northern Norway, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Wake to much clearer skies than yesterday, though still grey and cool. Shower, breakfast, pack, load bike, load coffee flask, hit the road. Early light, light traffic, enjoy being out early, as does the wildlife. Through Mosjoen, ugly ... Read More »
  • July 12 - Day 33 Nordkapp (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 33 Nordkapp, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 12 - Day 33 Northern-most point of mainland Europe (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 33 Northern-most point of mainland Europe, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Beyond, the Barents sea.
  • July 12 - Day 33 Nordkapp (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 33 Nordkapp, originally uploaded by Big Al!. This is facing just left of the tourist crap they’ve ruined the place with. This is what it should look like.
  • July 12 - Day 33 Into Finland (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 33 Into Finland, originally uploaded by Big Al!. First glimpse is nothing to write home about.
  • July 12 - Day 33 Sodankyla, Finland (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 33 Sodankyla, Finland, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Looks nice, doesn’t it? Little known fact; Finland means "Land that is wetter than Norway". What did I see today? Lots of wild reindeer, and lots of wild rain, dear. Went to Nordkapp. No real point to doing it. Just because ... Read More »
  • July 13 - Day 33 My bike at the end of the world (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 33 My bike at the end of the world, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Ok, The top end of the European mainland, same difference.
  • July 13 - Day 34 Lapland – looking north (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 34 Lapland – looking north, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 13 - Day 34 Lapland – looking south (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 34 Lapland – looking south, originally uploaded by Big Al!. This is one of the most sparsely populated areas of Europe. There really doesn’t seem to be anyone here but me and the reindeer. Road has been like this for miles and miles.
  • July 13 - Day 34 Oulanka national park, Finland (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 34 Oulanka national park, Finland, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Photo is just me mucking about on Finnish dirt roads. Wet, muddy, treacherously slippery, but still good fun. Pointless and silly, but good fun. This eastern part of Finland, on the border with Russia, is home to the remaining ... Read More »
  • July 14 - Day 34 Finland looks a lot nicer in the sun (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 34 Finland looks a lot nicer in the sun, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 14 - Day 35 Kayaking and hiking in the Finnish wilderness (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 35 Kayaking and hiking in the Finnish wilderness, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Proper wilderness stuff with endless pine and spruce forests, lakes, rivers, bears, elk and wolves. Didn’t see those but did see a reindeer, happily munching at the swampy bushes and ignoring the hikers. Not a biking ... Read More »
  • July 15 - Day 36 Winter war monument, Raate road (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 36 Winter war monument, Raate road, originally uploaded by Big Al!. A monument to the Finnish and Russian soldiers who died in fierce fighting in fearsome conditions during the Winter War of 39-40 on and around the Raate road that stop just a few miles to the Russian border.
  • July 15 - Day 36 Winter War relics (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 36 Winter War relics, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 15 - Day 36 Not the sort of transport you expect in Finland (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 36 Not the sort of transport you expect in Finland, originally uploaded by Big Al!. A Bentley.
  • July 15 - Day 36 What most of Finland looks like (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 36 What most of Finland looks like, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 15 - Day 36 Another glorious camping spot (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 36 Another glorious camping spot, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 15 - Day 36 Lieksa, lakeside camping (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 36 Lieksa, lakeside camping, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Sit back and relax. Even Finland’s back roads are long and straight, fast and flat. The scenery never changes. All of Finland seems to be one gigantic pine forest, punctuated by lakes. When the weather is nice (20 degrees today), ... Read More »
  • July 15 - Day 36 Blissful, tranquil water (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 36 Blissful, tranquil water, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Relaxing, right on the water’s edge, with this view, warm sun, and not a sound except for the occasional bird in flight or on the water.
  • July 16 - Day 36 Lieksa sunset (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 36 Lieksa sunset, originally uploaded by Big Al!. After a very enjoyable evening relaxing in the sun and chatting with Jim and Chris the cyclists (http://ironcurtainrider.wordpress.com), and a Swedish biker whose name I didn’t catch, the sun sets. The camera doesn’t do it justice, but I haven’t seen the ... Read More »
  • July 16 - Day 37 Somewhere in Finland (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 37 Somewhere in Finland, originally uploaded by Big Al!. It doesn’t matter where because it all looks exactly the same. Tomorrow, Helsinki.
  • July 17 - Day 38 Helsinki (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 38 Helsinki, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 17 - Day 38 Even the beer is angry in Finland (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 38 Even the beer is angry in Finland, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Just like the dickhead drivers who are even more incompetent than the Norwegians, who are worse than the Swedish, who are awful. It’s not dangerously aggressive like the Italians, nor dangerously busy and chaotic like in ... Read More »
  • July 18 - Day 39 Planet of the apes? (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 38 Planet of the apes?, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Weird church-in-a-rock thing in Helsinki. Inside is like being in a UFO.
  • July 18 - Day 39 Helsinki (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 38 Helsinki, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 19 - Day 40 How to be able to afford to eat in Scandiwegia (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 39 How to be able to afford to eat in Scandiwegia, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Finland is noticeably cheaper than Norway, and even Sweden, but that still leaves everything ludicrously expensive. Even a street vendor kebab will cost a tenner or more. So, top tip to eat without ... Read More »
  • July 20 - Day 41 Tallinn (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 40 Tallinn, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Short ride from hotel to ferry terminal. Long wait to board the ferry, bored on the ferry. Then Tallinn. At first glance nicer even than Copenhagen, until rounding the corner to discover the mass of tourists. Germans, Russians, English stag parties. Give ... Read More »
  • July 21 - Day 42 Tallinn (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 42 Tallinn, originally uploaded by Big Al!. I was going to post another cliched photo of the red roofs of the old town, and it is very photogenic, but I thought it’s more interesting that you can eat bear round these parts. I had bear in Helsinki, so I’m ... Read More »
  • July 22 - Day 43 Riga, Latvia (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 43 Riga, Latvia, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Tallinn’s old town? Wonderful. The rest of Estonia? Shite. Photo shows the most interesting thing I saw all day, when after finding no reason to stop, no place to stop, and nothing to see, the planned three day trip dissolves to ... Read More »
  • July 23 - Day 44 Riga (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 44 Riga, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Latvia feels like the sort of place you need to be able to look after yourself, so I’ve taken up shooting.
  • July 24 - Day 44/45 Riga (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 44/45 Riga, originally uploaded by Big Al!. With Danielle and Liz and the dutch boys in some nightclub in Riga
  • July 24 - Day 45 Amazing Riga (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 45 Amazing Riga, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Photo of Matt, Charles, and the Latvian girls, Marina, Sabina, Dace and the other one.
  • July 25 - Day 46 Sigulda (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 46 Sigulda, originally uploaded by Big Al!. A day out from Riga, canoeing with Danielle, Liz and Ieva, in Gauja national park.
  • July 25 - Day 46 Sigulda castle (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 46 Sigulda castle, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 26 - Day 46 Canoeing (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 46 Canoeing, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 26 - Day 46 Sigulda Castle (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 46 Sigulda Castle, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 26 - Day 46 Riga (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 46 Riga, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 26 - Day 47 My own private beach near Riga (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 47 My own private beach near Riga, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 27 - Day 48 Riga (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 48 Riga, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Sheltering from torrential rain.
  • July 27 - Day 48 Riga (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 48 Riga, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 27 - Day 48 Riga (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 48 Riga, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 27 - Day 48 Riga (0) (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 48 Riga, originally uploaded by Big Al!. With Brisa, from Mexico.
  • July 27 - Day 48 Riga (0) (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 48 Riga, originally uploaded by Big Al!. My two Turkish friends.
  • July 28 - Day 49 Karaoke in the Victory Pub, Riga (0) (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 49 Karaoke in the Victory Pub, Riga, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • July 30 - Day 50 Somewhere in Poland (0) (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 50 Somewhere in Poland, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Realising that Riga can’t be beaten, I decide to finish on a high note, load up the bike and make for home. A quick blast through Latvia, Lithuania, and a sizable chunk of Poland, leaves me with two or three ... Read More »
  • July 30 - Day 51 West of Berlin (0) (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 51 West of Berlin, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Best view I’ve had all day is the one from an anonymous motel room outside Berlin, because I’m dry in here and not peering through a rain soaked visor, after spending the day nearly drowning in torrential rain and seeing ... Read More »
  • July 31 - Day 52 Calais (0) (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 52 Calais, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France. Three tanks of super, one currywurst, two pints of coffee, one conversation with an inquisitive German, two with curious Belgians, one singing session with German truckers. The sun is out in France! Dry out, mostly, and check ... Read More »
  • August 01 - Day 53 Home! (0) (Scandinavia 2011)
    Day 53 Home!, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Today is exactly one year since I suffered near-fatal head, face and leg injuries when a car hit me at 40mph, and it’s also the end of this leg of my worldwide travel adventure, after more than 10,000 miles through 12 countries. ... Read More »
  • September 09 - South East Asia Day 1 (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    South East Asia Day 1, originally uploaded by Big Al!. This is the inside of an Airbus A321. I’m going to have to get used to this sort of view for this trip. This blog started as a record of my round the world bike trip. When I decided I ... Read More »
  • September 11 - Day 2 Air America (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 2 Air America, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Flying to Vietnam is tedious, but it reminds me of all the books and films about the Vietnam war and makes me glad I’m arriving in peace time with stewardesses serving me wine, instead of on a troop transport delivering me ... Read More »
  • September 12 - Day 3 Saigon (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 3 Saigon, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Crazy traffic. Endless streams of mopeds and taxis and you just have to step out in front of it and start walking, calmly, pretending there’s nothing there, letting them avoid you. And every ten yards, "Massage, sir? Happy ending?". Saigon.
  • September 13 - Day 4 Saigon (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 4 Saigon, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Up at 6 for a session in the hotel gym. English breakfast followed by American breakfast followed by Vietnamese breakfast. Onto the bikes and to the Cu Chi tunnels. Into the specially widened for tourists tunnel, which still gives you a good ... Read More »
  • September 13 - Day 5 Mui Ne (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 5 Mui Ne, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Out of Saigon on the bus, till we reach the "quiet" back roads. Hot ride through scenery of rice paddies, banana trees, coconut trees, and dragon fruit plants. Getting used to being on the bike. Fast and slow groups emerging. Back ... Read More »
  • September 13 - Day 5 Mui Ne Beach Resort (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 5 Mui Ne Beach Resort, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 14 - Day 6 Dalat (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 6 Dalat, originally uploaded by Big Al!. One of the nicest things about cycling in Vietnam is all the kids that wave and smile and shout hello, looking either very happy to see us or very amused at the crazy white people cycling in the midday heat. Mid 30s ... Read More »
  • September 15 - Day 7 Nha Trang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 7 Nha Trang, originally uploaded by Big Al!. 63 miles of cycling today, including some long climbs, thankfully cooler up in the mountains, a long fast descent that was great fun, then a real soaking over the last 15 miles through the rain, which is so warm it’s like ... Read More »
  • September 16 - Day 8 Nha Trang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 8 Nha Trang, originally uploaded by Big Al!. A rest day after the big ride yesterday. Blisteringly hot, blue skies. A boat ride out to the islands, for swimming, snorkeling, and lunch on the boat. A walk around the Buddhist temple, where the 93 year old head monk gives ... Read More »
  • September 16 - Day 8 Nha Trang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 8 Nha Trang, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 16 - Day 8 Nha Trang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 8 Nha Trang, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 16 - Day 8 Nha Trang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 8 Nha Trang, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 16 - Day 8 Nha Trang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 8 Nha Trang, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 16 - Day 8 Nha Trang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 8 Nha Trang, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 16 - Day 8 Nha Trang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 8 Nha Trang, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 16 - Day 8 Nha Trang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 8 Nha Trang, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 16 - Day 8 Nha Trang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 8 Nha Trang, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 19 - Day 11 Hoi An (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 11 Hoi An, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Early breakfast before hitting the road on a rented moped. Exhilarating ride out of the city, not really knowing the way, overwhelmingly manic traffic. At the marble mountains a local woman tries to sell me a six don’t marble Buddha statue. ... Read More »
  • September 19 - Day 10 Hoi An (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 10 Hoi An, originally uploaded by Big Al!. First a visit to the museum at the site of the My Lai massacre. Then a ride through small villages, kids shouting hello and giving high fives to the riders, adults frying rice on the road and herding ducks, busses weaving ... Read More »
  • September 19 - Day 11 Hoi An (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 11 Hoi An, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 19 - Day 11 Hoi An (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 11 Hoi An, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 19 - Day 11 Hoi An (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 11 Hoi An, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 19 - Day 9 Quy Nohn (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 9 Quy Nohn, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Leaving Nha Trang we follow the coast north, enjoying blazing sun and dazzling views of the south China sea, islands and fishing boats, before stopping for lunch at yet another idyllic beach. Afternoon brings challenging climbs and a cruise through a ... Read More »
  • September 20 - Day 12 Hue (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 12 Hue, originally uploaded by Big Al!. First two legs of today’s cycling are along the roads I rode yesterday on the motorcycle. As usual, I finish each leg about 15 minutes before the rest, some as slow as 30 more minutes over 20km. The third leg is up ... Read More »
  • September 21 - Day 13 Hue to Hanoi (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 13 Hue to Hanoi, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Rainy cycle tour of Hue and the citadel, boat ride on the perfume river. Phone wet in heavy rain, now broken, using backup which is rubbish. Overnight train to Hanoi. Interesting…
  • September 23 - Day 14 Halong Bay (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 14 Halong Bay, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Halong Bay, Vietnam, is stunning. Our boat is superb, a triple dealer with en-suite cabins, a bar and restaurant, and sun loungers on the top deck. After a lunch of freshly caught fish and sea food, Vietnamese style, we sail to ... Read More »
  • September 23 - Day 15 Hanoi (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 15 Hanoi, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Morning on the boat in the bay, with more incredible views and fantastic food, before a long bus ride back to the craziness of Hanoi. The insane traffic and buzzing night market are indescribable, an assault on all the senses as you ... Read More »
  • September 24 - Day 16 Siem Reap (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 16 Siem Reap, originally uploaded by Big Al!. An early start and the hotel taxi is ready and waiting. Even at 6am the city is humming with a million bikes and the traffic is the usual criss-crossing, seemingly impossible, interlocking whirlwind of completely calm riders, drivers and walkers, that ... Read More »
  • September 24 - Day 16 Siem Reap (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 16 Siem Reap, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 24 - Day 16 Siem Reap (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 16 Siem Reap, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 24 - Day 16 Siem Reap (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 16 Siem Reap, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 24 - Day 16 Siem Reap (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 16 Siem Reap, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 24 - Day 16 Siem Reap (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 16 Siem Reap, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 25 - Day 17 Temples of Angkor (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 17 Temples of Angkor, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 25 - Day 17 Angkor (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 17 Angkor, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 25 - Day 17 Siem Reap (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 17 Siem Reap, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Siem Reap is under several feet of water. After a day exploring the temples, venturing into town requires donning shorts and flip-flops and going wading.
  • September 26 - Day 18 Siem Reap still drowning (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 18 Siem Reap still drowning, originally uploaded by Big Al!. Tuk-Tuk drivers earning danger money today….
  • September 26 - Day 18 Pub Street, Siem Reap (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 18 Pub Street, Siem Reap, originally uploaded by Big Al!. View from the Red Piano, not normally a riverside bar…
  • September 26 - Day 18 Angkor (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 18 Angkor, originally uploaded by Big Al!. At least the major temples aren’t flooded.
  • September 26 - Day 18 Victory Gate, Angkor Thom (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 18 Victory Gate, Angkor Thom, originally uploaded by Big Al!.
  • September 26 - Day 18 Ta Prohm (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Day 18 Ta Prohm, originally uploaded by Big Al!. A tuk-tuk ride along flooded roads takes me to the ruined temple of Ta Prohm, overrun by jungle and tourists in equal measure. Take your own path through the maze and soon you’ll be alone with the sound of monkeys and ... Read More »
  • September 27 - Day 19 Phnom Penh (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Heavy rain through the night means the flooding is even worse. Mixed reports suggest the ferry quay is unreachable, and as it’s a public holiday it’s not clear if busses will be running, so I order a taxi to the capital. The taxi is the obligatory Toyota Camry, ubiquitous in ... Read More »
  • September 28 - Day 20 Phnom Penh (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    PP isn’t anywhere near as manic and frenzied as Vietnamese cities. It’s big and sprawling, the streets are wide, there are more cars than bikes but it still seems quiet. There are traffic lights, and drivers mostly pay attention to them. Crossing the road is easy compared to Vietnam. There’s ... Read More »
  • September 29 - Day 21 Chiang Mai (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Flight went as planned, and from the air I didn’t see any suggestion of flooding. On the ground it’s a different story. The area around the river is flooded, and the river is very high. More rain and it will spill over the walls and make things very difficult. The ... Read More »
  • September 29 - Day 21 Chiang Mai (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Chiang Mai is bigger than I expected, but relaxed and much more modern than Vietnam. Spectacular Buddhist temples of gold and red with orange robed monks, and I forget my camera battery… mobile phone isn’t really up to the job. The place seems very quiet. It’s still too early for ... Read More »
  • September 29 - Day 21 Chiang Mai Saloon (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    The most happening place in a very quiet town…
  • September 30 - Day 22 Chiang Mai (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Flood waters receding a little. Today mostly involves mountain biking from the top of Doi Suthep with a couple of californian vegan lesbians…. Pretty hairy ride to the top in the back of an overloaded pick-up truck with a crazy driver. Bikes equally lacking any efforts towards health and safety. ... Read More »
  • October 01 - Day 23 Chiang Mai (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Typhoon Nesat has been down graded to a tropical storm but is still heading towards northern Thailand. The flood waters in Chiang Mai have receded and clean-up crews are out, but heavy rain to the north might cause problems tomorrow. Today is mostly sunny, so I rent an ER 6 ... Read More »
  • October 02 - Day 24 Chiang Khong (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    7 hour bus ride made tolerable with noise cancelling headphones. No sign of floods in Chiang Khong, but no sign of any other people either. Hotel seems empty. Still, here on schedule and ready to cross to Laos, which I can see from the balcony of my hotel room, in ... Read More »
  • October 04 - Day 25 Luang Say Lodge, Pak Beng (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Arriving at Thai immigration at 8 am, I get my exit stamp and pay 40 baht for the ferry to Laos. It’s a tiny, unstable, overloaded little boat that is almost submerged in the silted brown waters of the Mekong, but a few minutes later we’re across and still dry. ... Read More »
  • October 04 - Day 26 Luang Say Residence, Luang Prabang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Two rashers of richly flavoured, melt-in-the-mouth bacon and two fried eggs, layered between warm, soft toast, thickly spread with butter. Freshly squeezed orange juice, ice cold. Steaming hot coffee made from locally grown beans. Clouds hanging in the west between the steep hills either side of the river, sun rising ... Read More »
  • October 05 - Day 27 Luang Prabang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Beautiful temples, beautiful old houses, beautiful old cars. Delicious food, delicious fresh fruit shakes. Spectacular night market of paper lanterns, silver jewellery, silk clothing, jade Buddha statues, lacquer paintings, hill-tribe coffee beans, going on forever. Peaceful monks, quiet traffic, relaxed market sellers, no pestering from tuk-tuk drivers. Cheap, comfortable, characterful, ... Read More »
  • October 07 - Day 28 Luang Prabang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Easing into the LP way of life: relaxing calmness lubricated with Lao coffee, punctuated with the occasional cake. The official name for the country is the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, but the locals say that the initials PDR really stand for Please Don’t Rush. The ride in the back of ... Read More »
  • October 07 - Day 29 Luang Prabang (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Extensive breakfast of eggs Benedict, enjoyed in the luxurious surroundings of the hotel gardens. Exhilarating ride on a rented Honda XR250 with dodgy brakes, wobbly steering, no protective gear, and roads full of free-range pigs, chickens, buffalo and children. Swimming practice in the luscious pool, then reading, drinking and sun ... Read More »
  • October 09 - Day 30 Ko Samui (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    French twin turbo-prop aircraft surrenders on the runway when engine number 2 goes on strike. Disembark. Watch for several hours as 8 men sit around the plane, looking at it, 3 more walk around the plane, looking at each other, and 2 men climb up a ladder to look at ... Read More »
  • October 09 - Day 31 Ko Tao (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Last night’s rain has gone, so with blue skies and white sands I swim in the warm waters with a view of Ko Phangan, before heading to the ferry pier. The ferry is a modern, high-speed catamaran, filled to the brim with backpackers. Luggage is heaped in a big pile, ... Read More »
  • October 10 - Day 32 Ko Tao (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Theory session completed. Swimming pool intro completed. Medical release from GP not received, so actual scuba diving in doubt. Too busy and too much underwater to take any photos today, so here’s another rubbish one of the view from my hotel room.
  • October 12 - Day 33 Ko Tao (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Still no medical clearance from gp, so I visit the local clinic. The first says don’t even ask us, we’ll just say no. The second says, yeah ok whatever, I’ll sign you off. So I get to spend the afternoon doing the confined water session in the pool, swimming around ... Read More »
  • October 12 - Day 34 Ko Tao (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    I decide not to do any more scuba when I don’t feel safe or confident, so instead I circumnavigate the island by boat, stopping to snorkel in all the best bays. We see all sorts of fish that swim right up to you and swarm around you. Eventually I’ll upload ... Read More »
  • October 13 - Day 35 Ko Samui (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Ferry back to Samui. Another beach front hotel. A bit of kayaking, a bit of swimming, a bit of shopping, a bit of laughing at dirty old sex tourists, a bit of local food, a bit of relaxing at the beach.
  • October 14 - Day 36 Kuala Lumpur (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    A short flight to Phuket, limestone karst islands looking spectacular in the turquoise Andaman sea, like Halong Bay from a different angle. Equally short flight to KL. It takes as long to fly to KL from Phuket as it does to get to the front of the queue at immigration, ... Read More »
  • October 15 - Day 37 Kuala Lumpur (0) (SE Asia 2011)
    Looks good in the dark. Hard to navigate. Obviously wealthy. World’s highest concentration of Mercedes S-Class. Shopping malls the size of small countries. Chinatown, little India, Menara tower, etc. Good food, good bars, amazing shopping if you’re loaded. Done. Airport, home, work, plan next year’s pan-American bike trip.

2013 (233)

  • August 06 - Day -2: It’s Not A Bike! (0) (Euro 2013)
    Bored with work, made a snap decision to head off to the Nurburgring and the last bits of Europe I haven’t done yet. Then I got thinking about travelling by car for a change. I’ve done 24,000 miles of commuting by bike in the past 15 months, and got rained ... Read More »
  • August 08 - Day 0: Ferry to Amsterdam (0) (Euro 2013)
    Commodore de luxe class, of course.
  • August 09 - Day 1: Nurburgring (0) (Euro 2013, Nurburgring)
    Old Timer Grand Prix.
  • August 09 - Day 1: Nurburgring (0) (Euro 2013, Nurburgring)
    Ring toys.
  • August 09 - Day 1: Nurburgring (0) (Euro 2013, Nurburgring)
    Obligation fulfilled.
  • August 09 - Day 1: Nurburgring (0) (Euro 2013, Nurburgring)
    Hotel in the Eiffel mountains.
  • August 09 - Day 1: Nurburgring (0) (Euro 2013, Nurburgring)
    On the B258.
  • August 10 - Day 2: Nurburgring (0) (Euro 2013, Nurburgring)
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  • August 11 - Day 3: Nurburgring (0) (Euro 2013, Nurburgring)
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  • August 11 - Day 3: Nurburgring (0) (Euro 2013, Nurburgring, Video)
    Here’s the moment someone decided to jump on the brakes heading to Fuchsrohre, causing me take to the grass. Started out reasonably quiet for once, just a few slowcoaches to pass around Flugplatz, then I see the Ring Taxi coming and slow right down at Schwedenkruez to let it through, ... Read More »
  • August 13 - Day 4: Nurburgring (0) (Euro 2013, Nurburgring)
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  • August 14 - Day 6 (0) (Euro 2013, Nurburgring)
    Day 6, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr.
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    s/”>Big Al! on Flickr.
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    kr.
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    French motorway…
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    English motorway. Sigh…
  • September 06 - Day 29 (0) (Euro 2013)

2014 (22)

  • August 27 - I Got Published! (0) (RTW 2009)
    Check out the October 2014 edition of Bike Magazine. I entered their annual travel story competition with an article about travelling through the ‘Stans. I didn’t win, but I did get published, one of the 8 final stories. Not bad for a first attempt, though that first prize would have ... Read More »
  • September 12 - RTW 2009 Photos (0) (Photos)
  • September 13 - Scandinavia 2011 Favourites (0) (Photos)
  • September 13 - Scandinavia 2011 Photos (0) (Photos)
  • September 13 - Asia 2011 Photos (0) (Photos)
  • September 13 - Asia 2011 Favourites (0) (Photos)
  • September 13 - Euro 2013 Photos (0) (Photos)
  • September 13 - Day 1 (0) (Portugal 2007)
    Arrive at airport. Rent DT 125s. Arrive hotel. Hotel is pretty good. Head out of town and immediately find awesome off-road routes. Having a bloody great time! End the day with a well-earned beer.
  • September 13 - Day 2 (0) (Portugal 2007)
    Bike starting troubles. Found a new playground. Rest stop. First water crossing. Local lunch – best ham and cheese ever. Locally caught fresh fish for dinner. Nom nom nom. Not exactly high season. Beer seems particularly refreshing after a day learning to ride off-road.
  • September 13 - Day 3 (0) (Portugal 2007)
    Sunny start to the day at the marina. Seafront with a storm coming in. Sunny evening back at the hotel and marina. Heading out to find a bar. Dave has his own! Crap interior decor, Dave… Has a pool table though. Ah, burger! Another sunny evening beer. Perfect end to ... Read More »
  • September 13 - Day 4 (0) (Portugal 2007)
    Another day begins. Bikes all ready for another day on the trails…. …if the damn thing will start. Back on the road Still some rain. Mostly sun. Another roadside refreshment. Bikes to bed for the night. Bedtime beckons, but first… To the balcony… …for a victory beer.
  • September 13 - Day 5 (0) (Portugal 2007)
    Another great looking day. Blissful peace. back on the trail Scenery First disaster of the day – chain off and stuck. No tools cos we’re on rentals. Stranded miles from town. With Dave’s bike stuck, I went off and found a mechanic at Moto Salir. Cool workshop. Moto Salir to ... Read More »
  • September 13 - Day 6 (0) (Portugal 2007)
    Looks like another perfect day for trail riding. Amazing rides everywhere we look. Dave sees some pigs… Then crashes into a ditch. No harm done. More refreshments. Brilliant day of riding. Reward. Can’t wait. Now for a bit of sophistication.
  • September 13 - Day 7 (0) (Portugal 2007)
    Wander round town. Locals. other locals. Final sad photos. Goodbye, portugal. Airport. Airport beer helps with pain of leaving. The end.
  • September 15 - Euro 2013 – Boxster Trip (0) (Euro 2013)
    Euro 2013 by Alistair Todd | Make Your Own Book
  • September 17 - On being published (0) (RTW 2009)
    Old friend from uni I haven’t seen in 20 years was reading my article in Bike Magazine on his way to work today.
  • September 21 - 10 years at the Nurburgring – 2004 to 2014 (0) (Nurburgring)
    Here are a few shots from dozens of visits and over 1000 laps in the past ten years. Usually too busy lapping to take photos, but there are a few nice ones in here.
  • September 28 - Portugal Trip Video (0) (Portugal 2007, Video)
  • September 28 - Inside my brain (0) (Other Stuff, Video)
    On the first of August, 2010, I went cycling and got hit by a car at 40mph. I suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, several skull fractures, a broken eye socket, broken nose, broken teeth, a dislocation of the hip that my orthopaedic surgeon describes as “almost a traumatic amputation”, ... Read More »
  • October 09 - Progression (0) (RTW 2009)
    1975: 2009: 1975: 2009: 1976: 2009:
  • November 27 - Where I’ve Been (0) (Other Stuff)
      It all depends what you count as a “country”, but I’ve been to: 97 of 195 Sovereign States (The UN list) = 50% 2 of 11 Disputed States (The UN list) = 18% 110 of 236 Countries and Territories (The Matador Network list) = 47% 114 of 327 Countries, ... Read More »
  • December 06 - Bike Travel Story Competition 2014 (0) (RTW 2009)
    I was one of 8 published finalists. Not bad for a first go.

2015 (86)

2016 (101)

  • January 02 - Cycling Cuba – Photos (0) (Cuba 2015, Photos)
    Click on a photo to view the album in full screen on Flickr.
  • January 09 - Cycling Cuba – Videos (0) (Cuba 2015, Video)
    Firework festival in Remedios on Christmas Eve… Some videos made automatically by Google+ Photos…
  • January 09 - Ireland Road Trip – Photos (0) (Ireland 2016, Photos)
    Click on a photo to view the album in full screen on Flickr.
  • January 09 - Ireland Road Trip (0) (Ireland 2016, Photos)
  • February 02 - Iceland – Photos (0) (Iceland 2016, Photos)
  • February 02 - Iceland (0) (Iceland 2016)
  • February 02 - Northern Lights – Iceland (0) (Iceland 2016)
  • February 02 - Land of Ice and Fire (0) (Morocco 2015)
  • April 03 - Rome and The Vatican (0) (Rome 2016)
  • May 21 - Vilnius, Lithuania (0) (Lithuania 2016, Photos, Video)
     
  • June 04 - Liechtenstein and Luxembourg (0) (Liechtenstein 2016, Photos)
  • June 18 - Into The Desert (0) (Jordan 2015, Photos)
    Cycling through Jordan, May 2015. Click image to view full size.
  • July 13 - Touring the Balkans – part 1 (0) (Balkans 2016, Photos)
    The plan – Visit the three Balkan countries I hadn’t really done before: Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia. Also re-visit Kotor in Montenegro, which was shrouded in rain and fog when I passed through on the RTW trip and couldn’t see. Then enjoy the Croatian coast road that I knew to be ... Read More »
  • July 13 - Touring the Balkans – part 2 (0) (Balkans 2016, Photos)
    Day 5 – Kotor to Mostar to Split – 225 miles Great view, great weather, incredible ride from Kotor into Bosnia. Average food. Still a whole day to enjoy the coast road back in Croatia and on to Split. Early start leads to stunning views, stunning roads, and not a ... Read More »
  • July 13 - Touring the Balkans – part 3 (0) (Balkans 2016, Photos)
    Day 8 – Davos to Basel via the Swiss alps – 300 miles A tour around the Furka, Susten and Grimsel passes, which all link together into a perfect loop of biking heaven. Except, on a summer Staurday there are so many bikes out it becomes a pain. Switzerland is ... Read More »
  • August 28 - African Adventure (0) (Africa 2016)
    The plan: Fly to Cape Town. Collect a Ford Ranger with a tent on the roof. Then visit: Namibia Zimbabwe Zambia Botswana Swaziland Lesotho Including The Fish River Canyon Sossusvlei The Skeleton Coast Etosha National Park Victoria Falls Livingstone Okavango Delta Moremi Game Reserve Isandlwana Sani Pass Cape Agulhas and ... Read More »
  • September 10 - Off-road Africa… from the air? (0) (Africa 2016)
    In preparation for travelling through southern Africa I picked up the 3DR Solo drone. Very pleased that my “upgradeable, future-proof” drone will now most likely not receive any software updates, warranty support, or replacement parts, after the lead developers and CEO of 3DR all suddenly left the company, and 3DR ... Read More »
  • September 12 - Day 1 – LHR (0) (Africa 2016)
    Ok, all I’ve done is drive to Heathrow, but let’s call this day 1 of the African adventure, just so that I have an excuse to see if I can get spherical panoramas working on the blog. Complimentary upgrade to a club room at the always excellent Sofitel, good workout ... Read More »
  • September 13 - Day 2 – Oslo (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 2 – Oslo, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr. Beer and a view at the Radisson SkyBar. Hotel gym has no weights and 3 fat people. Hotel pool is wide enough for about one person but deep enough for about ten… Don’t care. Off to Africa tomorrow. Had ... Read More »
  • September 15 - Day 3 -Oslo (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 3 -Oslo, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr.
  • September 15 - Day 3 – Oslo (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 3 – Oslo, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr.
  • September 15 - Day 3 OSL to DOH (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 3 OSL to DOH, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr.
  • September 15 - Day 3 – OSL to DOH (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 3 – OSL to DOH, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr.
  • September 15 - Day 3 – OSL to DOH (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 3 – OSL to DOH, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr.
  • September 15 - Day 4 – Cape Town (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 4 – Capetown, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr. A long but luxurious flight on a Qatar 787 Dreamliner in business class from Oslo to Doha, then to Cape Town. Champagne, Australian Shiraz, Martini, Baileys. Arabic mezze, seared fillet of fish with lemon and spring veg, white chocolate ... Read More »
  • September 15 - Day 4 – Cape Town (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 4 – Cape Town, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr. Picking up the truck at the Avis Safari depot. It’s far too big to call it a car so it will be truck from now on. “Monstrous behemoth” takes too long to type.
  • September 15 - Day 4 – Cape Town (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 4 – Cape Town, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr. Wedged it into the only available space and then later moved it onto the pavement directly in front of the hotel entrance. Not as easy as biking in places like the ‘stans where you get invited to park ... Read More »
  • September 15 - Day 4 – Cape Town (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 4 – Cape Town, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr. Drone arrived intact and, except for a few worrying moments of the dreaded “magnetic interference” error, it soon picked up the new GPS position and said “ready to fly”. Looking forward to getting it in the air, but ... Read More »
  • September 16 - Day 5 – Cape Town (0) (Africa 2016)
    The Beast takes pride of place in front of the Cape Town Hilton I’m writing this post from my laptop. This is notable because when I tried it last night my laptop was broken. At home, pesky little annoyances like that quickly make me irritated, but here, just as it ... Read More »
  • September 18 - Day 6 – Namakwaland (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 6 – Namakwaland, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr. Finally out of the city and heading into the veld
  • September 18 - Day 6 – Namakwaland (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 6 – Namakwaland, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr. First wild camp! It’s going to be much harder to update this blog now. No phone signal at all, never mind data. I leave CT very early, knowing that the first day on the road in a strange vehicle ... Read More »
  • September 18 - Day 6 – Namakwaland (0) (Africa 2016)
    Day 6 – Namakwaland, a photo by Big Al! on Flickr. First excursions off road
  • September 20 - Day 7 – Into Namibia (0) (Africa 2016)
    (Big backlog of great photos and experiences to post but it’s proving very difficult to upload a photo over phone or wifi in Namibia, and it won’t get any easier in ever more remote areas and then Zimbabwe…) Great sleep in very comfy tent restores wild camping confidence and the ... Read More »
  • September 20 - Day 7 – Namibia (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 20 - Day 7 – Fish River Canyon (0) (Africa 2016)
    Crossed into Namibia with ease in just 45 minutes. Compared to most borders I’ve crossed, exiting SA and entering Namibia were both well organised and friendly. It’s amazing the contrast in emotion on different sides of a border. No matter how many times I do it. The approach makes me ... Read More »
  • September 20 - Day 7 – Fish River Canyon (0) (Africa 2016)
    Canyon Roadhouse
  • September 20 - Day 7 – Fish River Canyon (0) (Africa 2016)
    These posts will probably all be out of order because of wifi craposity. Fish River Canyon. Impressive, but it can’t compete with the grand canyon. Where it wins in the vast Martian landscape you have to cross to get to it. Very windy but I risked flying the drone for ... Read More »
  • September 20 - Day 7 – Fish RiverCanyon (0) (Africa 2016)
    Canon Roadhouse bar and diner is full of old vehicles. With country and western on the stereo, I enjoy a glass of Namibian Erongo Mountain Shiraz and an Oryx steak. Apparently in Namibia service is always with a smile and a “glass” of the house red is half a bottle ... Read More »
  • September 20 - Day 7 – Fish River Canyon (0) (Africa 2016)
    Campsite at the Canon Roadhouse. Canon with an accent so it’s really canyon. Canon Roadhouse is incredible. It’s surrounded by emptiness but has a pool, a bar, great food, and a campsite that is well equipped with showers, toilets, and electricity, water and light at your designated spot, but in ... Read More »
  • September 20 - Day 7 – Fish River Canyon (0) (Africa 2016)
    Namibian roads are quite unforgiving.
  • September 20 - Day 8 – Sesriem (0) (Africa 2016)
    Early morning on the road in Namibia
  • September 20 - Day 8 – Sesriem (0) (Africa 2016)
    These corrugations are a bloody nightmare. Shake rattle and not much roll. May not look too bad but it goes on and on and drives you insane. Bound to break The Beast eventually. Endless vision blurring bouncing, thumping, and pounding.
  • September 20 - Day 8 – Sesriem (0) (Africa 2016)
    Lunch at a place which is actually marked on the map as “shade tree picnic spot”
  • September 20 - Day 8 – Sesriem (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 20 - Day 8 – Sesriem (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 20 - Day 8 – Sesriem (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 20 - Day 8 – Sesriem (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 20 - Day 8 – Sesriem (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 20 - Day 8 – Sesriem (0) (Africa 2016)
    Amazing evening at Sesriem and Sossusvlei, capped off with Ostrich burgers on the camp fire and Namibian red wine. The dunes are huge, and it’s very tough to climb to the top of Dune 45, but I did. Sadly the place is overrun by tourists (OK, so I’m a tourist ... Read More »
  • September 20 - Day 9 – Swakopmund (0) (Africa 2016)
    My GPS said this sign is in the wrong place, but still. Thanks to the driver of one of the “Overland Adventure” buses full of miserable looking German tourists for taking this photo. Miserable cos they’re all stuck in a bloody bus all day long.
  • September 20 - Day 9 – Swakopmund (0) (Africa 2016)
    The Beast had some issues today…. When the roads became tarmac again just outside Swakopmund I stopped to increase the tyre pressures from their gravel settings, I discovered one rear tyre badly shredded. Thanks to quick efforts from Avis and with the luck of being on an easy staging day ... Read More »
  • September 21 - Fish River Canyon (0) (Africa 2016)
    Mute the sound. Forgot to silence the noise of the drone’s propellers…
  • September 22 - Day 10 – Skeleton Coast (0) (Africa 2016)
    Google Skeleton Coast shipwrecks and look at some of the photos. You’ll quickly understand why this area was one of the main inspirations for this trip. Sadly, the most impressive wrecks are in private concession areas that require a lot of time and money to get to. In the short ... Read More »
  • September 22 - Day 10 – Skeleton Coast (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 22 - Day 10 – Skeleton Coast (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 23 - Day 10 – Spitzkoppe (0) (Africa 2016)
    Look really closely in the lower left hand corner and you’ll see my truck parked in tonight’s simply incredible camping spot under the rocky outcrops of Spitzkoppe that rise up out of the desert plains.
  • September 23 - Day 10 – Spitzkoppe (0) (Africa 2016)
    This camping spot is surrounded by more of the same in all directions. There’s nobody else here, just me, a distant Eagle, some sort of deer, and what my imagination wants to call a zebra but was probably a cow. I flew Solo to get some aerial shots, found some ... Read More »
  • September 23 - Day 10 – Spitzkoppe (0) (Africa 2016)
    After a few hours completely at ease in the wilderness, exploring, drone flying, spotting wildlife and rock formations, it suddenly starts to feel different as the sun sets and I realise darkness will soon take hold with a very tight grip. It’s a race to get a camp fire going ... Read More »
  • September 23 - Day 10 – Spitzkoppe (0) (Africa 2016)
    Wow. It’s dark! It’s really fu#@!ng dark, and so quickly. I make sausages wrapped in bacon, and little sweet red peppers stuffed with cheese and also wrapped in bacon, because, hey: bacon, on the camp fire. I scoff them very quickly with a glass of red, sense of ease reducing ... Read More »
  • September 23 - Day 11 – To Etosha (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 23 - Day 11 – To Etosha (0) (Africa 2016)
    (Imagine a photo of 2 big rhino and a baby rhino at a waterhole. Uploading photos out here takes hours and usually fails right at the end) Today was only meant to be a staging day, with an easy cruise up to within striking distance of Etosha National Park and ... Read More »
  • September 23 - Day 12 – Etosha (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 23 - Day 12 – Etosha (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 23 - Day 12 – Etosha (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 23 - Day 12 – Etosha (0) (Africa 2016)
    Giraffe, elephant, zebra, buffalo, ostrich, and countless antelope type things. Not bad for a first day self-drive safari attempt. Missing the big cats. Tomorrow’s plan has me moving to an extravagantly luxurious lodge in a private game reserve where I’ll take the safari drive and hopefully the guide will find ... Read More »
  • September 23 - Sossusvlei (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 23 - Day 12 – Etosha (0) (Africa 2016)
    Well screw the Namibian pigs who stole my drone, I’m more interested in the less common forms of Namibian wildlife. I’m so glad I managed to get a place in one of the in-park campsites. If you’re not staying in the park, you have to be out by sunset. When ... Read More »
  • September 23 - Driving in Namibia (0) (Africa 2016)
    Driving in Namibia from Alistair Todd on Vimeo.
  • September 24 - Day 13 – Etosha (0) (Africa 2016)
    Let me tell you, when you’re surrounded by a herd of elephants and one turns directly towards you and from about 5 metres away throws his head back, raises his trunk, and blasts his trumpeting noise, oh jesus christ that’s fucking terrifying!
  • September 24 - Day 13 – Etosha (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 24 - Day 13 – Etosha (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 24 - Day 13 – Etosha (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 24 - Day 13 – Etosha (Africa 2016)
    It’s the times when things don’t go to plan that you end up with the best stories. Like the story of how I spent the last 5 hours in the company of this Namibian police woman… I’m sure you remember, dear reader, that the police at the western gate impounded ... Read More »
  • September 25 - Mission Control (0) (Africa 2016)
    Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
  • September 25 - Namakwa (0) (Africa 2016)
    Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
  • September 25 - Fish River (Africa 2016)
    Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
  • September 25 - Spitzkoppe (Africa 2016)
    Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
  • September 25 - Onguma Tented Camp (0) (Africa 2016)
    Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
  • September 25 - Day 14 – Onguma Tented Camp (0) (Africa 2016)
    Here’s my “tent”… Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA And here’s my pool… The local wildlife have their own pool in the background. At breakfast time there were impala, warthogs, countless birds with colourful ... Read More »
  • September 25 - Day 14 – Onguma Tented Camp (0) (Africa 2016)
    If you look closely you’ll see the tables laid out along the decking for dinner. This is instead of them all being in the restaurant space at one end. It means I am at one end and the loudmouthed German idiot is right at the other end. The staff have ... Read More »
  • September 26 - Day 15 – The Caprivi Strip (0) (Africa 2016)
    Today I drove 400 miles in a straight line on an empty road. Well, not completely empty. There was a goat. Overlanding is all about the journey, but there are some days when the only challenge is staying awake. Just 39 degrees C today. Ended at Ngepi Camp with an ... Read More »
  • September 27 - Day 16 – Zimbabwe (0) (Africa 2016)
    I’ve been through many border crossings, and plenty of them more expensive, tedious, slow, or intimidating, but none quite so chaotic. Today required two crossings. First the exit procedures from Namibia and entry into Botswana, then later exiting Botswana and entering Zimbabwe. Botswana entry was slow because I arrived just ... Read More »
  • September 27 - Day 16 – Victoria Falls (0) (Africa 2016)
    Hawkers and scam artists everywhere.(Always called Moses. Always have a brother with diabetes who hasn’t eaten today. Always with a cellphone and gold studs in their teeth and a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses but still too poor to feed their 15 children…) Quite unpleasant. (Although I do understand that ... Read More »
  • September 28 - Day 17 – The Smoke That (Sometimes) Thunders (0) (Africa 2016)
    In Zimbabwe, even getting a ticket to enter the falls requires waiting for someone to complete a form by hand, in triplicate, using carbon paper. Then you make your way to the falls. I just expected it to be flat and empty at the top, like grass or a carpark, ... Read More »
  • September 28 - Day 17 – Zambia (0) (Africa 2016)
    A too-long walk in 38 degree heat across the Victoria Falls Bridge for a quick visit to the Zambian side of the falls, a purchase in the gift shop, and a tick in the Zambia box. Based on what I saw, I’m not missing much by not exploring further, and ... Read More »
  • September 28 - Day 17 – Vic Falls (0) (Africa 2016)
    This is more like it. A sunset cruise on the Zambezi. Barman making sure my Martini doesn’t run dry, comfy arm chair, “Signature Deck” at the top, away from the plebs, elephants, crocodiles, and hippos in the water, and a waitress bringing me delicious canapés (such as crocodile on a ... Read More »
  • September 29 - Day 18 – Kasane, Botswana (0) (Africa 2016)
    Namibia massively exceeded my expectations for the entire trip, but Vic Falls was a big disappointment. Instead of staying there another night I decided to get the border crossing back into Botswana out of the way, to have an easier drive down to the Okavango Delta for the next phase ... Read More »
  • September 30 - Day 19 – Maun (0) (Africa 2016)
    5:30 am and it’s 22 degrees. By 3pm it will be 39 degrees. I leave Kasane past fleets of safari jeeps with 3 or 4 rows of seating on raised rear decks, each seat occupied by a German tourist dressed head to toe in brand new khaki trousers and photographer’s ... Read More »
  • September 30 - Zambezi Crocodile (0) (Africa 2016)
    Honest…
  • September 30 - Sossusvlei (0) (Africa 2016)
  • September 30 - Skeleton Coast (0) (Africa 2016)
  • October 01 - Day 20 – Okavango Delta (0) (Africa 2016)
    Took a very bumpy flight over the delta in a little Cessna. The delta is unusually dry like everywhere else in this region, but still an impressive sight. Huge herds of elephants and buffalo, many scattered smaller groups of giraffe and zebra. With the bumpiness of the ride it was ... Read More »
  • October 02 - Day 21 – Moremi Game Reserve (0) (Africa 2016)
    At 6am my new Botswanian (Botswanese?) friend Sadie and I climbed into our safari car, worryingly a Land Rover instead of the more reliable Landcruiser, and began the 3 hour drive to Moremi on a very badly corrugated and rutted sand road. At first Moremi doesn’t compare well to Etosha. ... Read More »
  • October 03 - Day 22 – Back in SA (0) (Africa 2016)
    Overlanding in Africa involves a lot of parking under trees, a baobab in this case. There’s a tree in Botswana that the locals call the rain tree. If you stand under it, you might think it’s starting to rain. It isn’t. There is a certain type of insect that lives ... Read More »
  • October 07 - Day 23 – En route to Swaziland (0) (Africa 2016)
    Just when you get ahead of schedule you get a 2 hour road closure to bring you back to reality. Not much of interest today. Saw more interesting signs than sights. Including the ones that say “High crime risk – Do not stop your vehicle” Hmmm. And being back in ... Read More »
  • October 07 - Day 24 – Swaziland (0) (Africa 2016)
    More delays with road closures but then a swift border crossing into Swaziland with immediately distinctive scenery. From the desert in Namibia, through the bushland of Botswana, and now into mountainous and pine-forested terrain of the kingdom. An early arrival at the campsite inside the Mlilwane wildlife reserve means I ... Read More »
  • October 07 - Day 25 – Zululand (0) (Africa 2016)
    Fugitives Drift monument Quick drive to the border and then on into kwazulu-natal and the battlefield sites of Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift. The standard of driving has been predictably poor, but in Namibia and Botswana there’s so little traffic it doesn’t matter. In South Africa, people drive like they don’t ... Read More »
  • October 07 - Day 26 – Sani Top, Lesotho (0) (Africa 2016)
    The Sani Pass. A 90 minute, first gear drive up to over 9000 feet on the roughest little track, with tight hairpins, steep climbs and big drops. Parts of the road are falling down the side of the mountain. The photos don’t do it justice because I could only stop ... Read More »
  • October 07 - Lions in Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana (0) (Africa 2016)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmqZ4uGjrcA
  • October 09 - Day 27 – The Great Karoo (0) (Africa 2016)
    Last night at Sani Top Lodge was memorable, with a fantastic dinner of roast lamb with all the trimmings, including mint sauce. Just like home, and more difficult to believe given that we’re at the top of a rugged mountain pass in the kingdom of Lesotho. Followed by a great ... Read More »
  • October 09 - Day 28 – The End (0) (Africa 2016)
    Cape Agulhas. Southernmost point of Africa. Indian ocean on the left, Atlantic on the right. As is my habit on reaching oceans, I dipped a toe in each. Sadly a little difficult to dip wheels in the water. And it’s the end of the trip. A quick jaunt up the ... Read More »

2017 (36)

  • May 08 - Malta (0) (Malta 2017, Photos)
    Full Album:
  • May 08 - Gibraltar (0) (Gibraltar 2017, Photos)
    Full Album:
  • May 08 - Egypt (0) (Egypt 2017, Photos)
    Full Album:
  • May 08 - Cyprus (0) (Cyprus 2017, Photos)
    Full album:
  • May 08 - Israel (0) (Israel 2017, Photos)
    Full album:
  • May 08 - Ukraine (0) (Photos, Ukraine 2017)
    Full Album:
  • May 08 - Chernobyl (0) (Chernobyl 2017, Photos)
    Full Album:
  • May 08 - Moldova (0) (Moldova 2017, Photos)
  • May 08 - Belarus (0) (Belarus 2017, Photos)
    Full Album:
  • August 28 - Faroe Islands 2017 (0) (Faroes 2017, Photos)
  • November 09 - Day 1 – Grand Place, Brussels (SE Asia 2017)
    Fun fact: Brussels’ Grand Place in the evening stinks of burgers
  • November 10 - Day 2 – In the air (SE Asia 2017)
    Two glasses of £100 champagne before we even take off Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
  • November 12 - Day 3 – Yangon (SE Asia 2017)
    A bit of a delay means arriving after dark but it’s raining anyway so no big loss. First impression of Myanmar is skewed when one of my 2 drivers in the hotel limo on the way from the airport casually mentions that there is free WiFi in the car… and ... Read More »
  • November 12 - Day 4 – Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon (SE Asia 2017)
     
  • November 13 - Day 5 – Yangon (SE Asia 2017)
  • November 14 - Day 6 – Bagan (SE Asia 2017)
    https://youtu.be/Kd8IJofqFLc
  • November 15 - Day 6 – Bagan (SE Asia 2017)
  • November 15 - Day 7 – Bagan (SE Asia 2017)
  • November 17 - Day 8 – Inle Lake (SE Asia 2017)
  • November 17 - Day 9 – Inle Lake (SE Asia 2017)
  • November 19 - Day 10 – Hong Kong (SE Asia 2017)
    After piecing together 3 of these, including a delay that sees me running across Yangon airport to arrive at the jetway at the last possible second, just as they’re starting to close the door: and 2 of these: I finally make it to my Hong Kong hotel, where my room ... Read More »
  • November 19 - Day 11 – Hong Kong (SE Asia 2017)
    With bad weather, bad planning, and lack of skill, I’ve failed to get one decent photo of Hong Kong so far. I have had copious amounts of superb dim sum and dry martinis though, so not all bad, and HK is stunning to look at and be in even if ... Read More »
  • November 20 - Day 11 – Hong Kong (SE Asia 2017)
    Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA The spectacular view from my spectacular room at the Kowloon Shangri La
  • November 20 - Day 12 – Hong Kong and Macau (SE Asia 2017)
    If Wikipedia didn’t tell me this was a genuine historic ruin, I would happily believe that it was a fake church front erected as a backdrop for selfies. You have never seen so many people taking selfies for so long and in so many ludicrous poses until you have visited ... Read More »
  • November 21 - Day 13 – Singapore (SE Asia 2017)
  • November 22 - Day 13 – Singapore part 2 (SE Asia 2017)
  • November 22 - Day 14 – Weligama Bay, Sri Lanka (SE Asia 2017)
    https://youtu.be/Peru4eHilos
  • November 22 - Day 14 – Weligama Bay, Sri Lanka (SE Asia 2017)
  • November 24 - Day 15 – Weligama Bay (SE Asia 2017)
  • November 24 - Day 16 – Ella (SE Asia 2017)
  • November 25 - Day 17 – Ella to Nanu Oya (SE Asia 2017)
  • November 26 - Day 18 – Sigiriya (SE Asia 2017)
    When my motorcycle rental fell through before I even got to Sri Lanka, I wasn’t bothered because I’d seen the weather forecast. It’s been even worse than forecast with heavy rain for most of each day and ceaseless rain for the past two. My backup hire car got upgraded 4 ... Read More »
  • November 27 - Day 19 – Sigiriya (SE Asia 2017)
    The weather forecast is for a day of crap, so off early to the Lion Rock to be first in and beat the coach loads of Chinese tourists, even though it’s still shrouded in cloud. Sod off, local people, your cultural heritage isn’t for you. There’s only one other visitor ... Read More »
  • November 28 - Day 20 – Colombo (SE Asia 2017)
    I could tell you all about how very difficult, dangerous, and unpleasant it is to drive in Sri Lanka, where this is an unusually quiet moment on a major intercity highway: and where even this counts as a major highway (photo taken shortly before nearly being killed by a bus, ... Read More »
  • December 01 - The end bit (SE Asia 2017)
    Some random notverygood photos
  • December 02 - No. 91 – Qatar (SE Asia 2017)
    91st country visited: Qatar

2018 (32)

  • February 21 - Sunday Times Travel Magazine Photo Competition Winner (Photos, SE Asia 2017)
    I won the Sunday Times Travel Magazine reader’s photo competition for April 2018 with this shot from the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar And here it is!
  • March 23 - Day 1 – Paris (Middle East 2018)
    Air France went on strike but I still got to Paris where I am now in possession of this magical piece of paper: If I was a “proper” travel blogger I’d say this is the view from my hotel room: But I wouldn’t mention that it only looks like this ... Read More »
  • March 24 - Day 2 – Doha (Middle East 2018)
  • March 25 - Day 2 – Doha (Middle East 2018)
    Champagne. Caviar. I’ve never taken a photo of the loo on a plane before but this one seemed worthy Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
  • March 25 - Day 2 -Doha (Middle East 2018)
    Qatar Airways Al Safwa first class lounge where I got my own private “quiet room” that had a bed, TV, and a bathroom with shower. It was nicer than most Ibis or Premier Inn
  • March 25 - Day 3 – Muscat (Middle East 2018)
    When you fly first class and have to take an airport bus to the plane, it’s still a first class airport bus My ride for the next few days. Gulf of Oman from the hotel room. Familiarisation drive and a little off-roading in the Landcruiser to prepare for tomorrow before ... Read More »
  • March 26 - Day 4 – Sharqiya Sands (Middle East 2018)
    Over the mountains and into the desert, overnighting at the Desert Nights Camp and still with a damn dust spot on my lens.
  • March 27 - Day 5 – Al Jabal Al Akhdar (Middle East 2018)
    Spending a night in the desert is great. Just you and the sand. And a hundred Toyota Landcruisers More superb mountain roads: Remains of an RAF De Haviland Venom that crashed during the Jabal Akhdar war in the late 50s: Always join the hotel loyalty program, even if you never ... Read More »
  • March 28 - Day 6 – Al Jabal Al Akhdar (Middle East 2018)
    Some people come here to hike or sit around the hotel pool, but why, when you can drive loads of trails over the plateau with not another person in sight?
  • March 29 - Day 7 – Jebel Shams (Middle East 2018)
    Another day, another mountain. The photos don’t show how steep and difficult some of this was. Low-range 4WD for long, rough, and narrow climbs and descents twisting through the mountain on slippery sandy trails with no room for error, often over crests so sharp as you go up all you ... Read More »
  • March 30 - Day 8 – Jebel Shams (Middle East 2018)
    Yesterday was 4×4 heaven. Today there were times I would have given my kingdom for a motorcycle: Tonight’s camping spot on top of the mountain: Spot the car: No sleepwalking here!
  • March 31 - Day 9 – Dubai (Middle East 2018)
    Obnoxious traffic cops who think they’re dealing with a first-timer (Ha! Fools!), incompetent baggage handlers, screaming children, and delayed flights were only capable of spoiling my day until I finally arrived at the Intercontinental Dubai Marina, albeit a lot later than planned. Country number 93 achieved, my free (on points) ... Read More »
  • April 01 - Day 10 – Dubai (Middle East 2018)
    Regular sized skyscrapers look like toytown from the 148th floor… Could be a photo taken from an airplane, not a building. No idea why there’s a moss covered Land Rover in the middle of the historic district
  • April 02 - Day 11 – Yerevan (Middle East 2018)
    Yerevan, Armenia, and in the background, Turkey’s Mount Ararat. I came to Armenia because of course it’s on the list of countries I haven’t been to yet and because the ticket from Dubai was dirt cheap. After experiencing the shittest travel experience ever, I now know why “Fly Dubai” fares ... Read More »
  • April 03 - Day 12 – Yerevan (Middle East 2018)
    Armenia is like Borat’s Kazakhstan. At one of Yerevan’s premier attractions, Victory Park, there is a funfair that by night is very popular, but during daylight looks like the set of a zombie film (and the staff all look like they’ve been dead for several years). It’s in worse condition ... Read More »
  • April 04 - Day 13 – Dubai (Middle East 2018)
    It’s my birthday so the Radisson Blu Yerevan made me a birthday cake that I didn’t have time to eat before my escape from Armenia. Eventually to the SPG Grosvenor House hotel where they upgraded me to a 2 bed residence, because birthday. Amazing views across the marina and all ... Read More »
  • April 06 - Day 14 – Dubai (Middle East 2018)
    The Royal Suite I’m in costs £2700 per night. These guys parked outside the hotel probably think that’s cheap.
  • April 06 - Day 15 – Bahrain (Middle East 2018)
    Pop quiz: whats the capital of Bahrain? 10 points if you said Manama. 5 points for saying anything at all. Done well today, in all aspects except taking photos. Lazy morning in my private sauna and then on the private beach at Le Meridien, sister hotel to the Grosvenor. The ... Read More »
  • April 07 - Day 16 – Manama, Bahrain, and Kuwait City, Kuwait (Middle East 2018)
    I thought Bahrain would be crowded with tourists because of the Grand Prix. All the hotels are sold out, but the only people I’ve seen at mine is a handful in Ferrari team uniforms. (Just the plebs. The drivers stay somewhere private.) Maybe because it’s a night race everyone else ... Read More »
  • April 08 - Day 17 – Kuwait City (Middle East 2018)
    Morning view from the hotel room: But only if you open the window and poke your camera through the gap, precariously dangling from the 17th floor. Otherwise, the “spectacular sea views” offered by the hotel look like this: Hotels out here have a hard time keeping the windows clean because ... Read More »
  • April 09 - Day 18 – Beirut (Middle East 2018)
    Beirut, Lebanon. I can’t hear the word “Beirut” without also hearing the prefix “war-torn”, but although the building next door to the Intercontinental Phoenicia has suspicious looking damage: the rest of Beirut that I’ve seen consists of car parks full of Ferraris next to marinas full of expensive power boats ... Read More »
  • April 10 - Day 19 – Byblos (Middle East 2018)
    Byblos is much nicer and has much more to offer than my shitty photos make it appear.
  • April 11 - Day 20 – Beirut (Middle East 2018)
    There are frequent power cuts in Lebanon. Twice I’ve been stuck in lifts, but the worst was in the cable car, the Teleferique, which came to a sudden stop and started swinging wildly over the biggest drop, setting my heart racing, leaving me wondering how good Lebanese safety standards are ... Read More »
  • April 12 - Day 21 – Beirut and Abu Dhabi (Middle East 2018)
    There are two sides to Beirut. The downtown area has been rebuilt post-war by a private company called Solidere that was given exclusive rights by the government and has bulldozed any remaining history and small business. It reeks of corruption and foreign (Saudi) money and influence. At first you think ... Read More »
  • April 13 - Day 22 – Abu Dhabi (Middle East 2018)
    None of the above existed 30 years ago, not even most of the land. Now there are islands, 10 lane highways, high-end hotels, including one of the world’s biggest and most expensive, helipads, marinas, malls, ferris wheels, beaches, 60 storey apartment and office blocks, and a golf course, all created ... Read More »
  • April 14 - Day 23 – Abu Dhabi part 1 (Middle East 2018)
    Saved the most photogenic day till last, so two posts for day 23 because I can’t reduce the shortlist of photos any further. Abu Dhabi is deserted because it’s a weekend and a special religious holiday. Nobody in the Club lounge at the Rosewood, which by the way takes club ... Read More »
  • April 14 - Day 23 – Abu Dhabi part 2 (Middle East 2018)
    Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi. It’s spectacular when you arrive: And it’s interesting to see how “physically disabled” translates around here: As the light fades it gets more and more photogenic: And keeps getting better until you’re torn between staying for more photos or racing back to the hotel ... Read More »
  • April 16 - Day 24 – Etihad First Class Apartment (Middle East 2018)
    This will be a long post because when you fly on a £9000 ticket there’s a lot going on! First, you’ll probably have breakfast. For me, that was in the superb Manor Club lounge at the Rosewood. Just save some appetite for what’s coming. (Rubbish photo but incredibly delicious French ... Read More »
  • September 04 - 2019 Travel Plans Taking Shape (Island Hop 2019)
  • December 29 - Frankfurt (Island Hop 2019)
  • December 31 - Burg Frankenstein (Island Hop 2019)
  • December 31 - Schloss Heidelberg (Island Hop 2019)

2019 (88)

  • January 01 - Zurich (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 02 - Swiss First Class, Zurich Airport (Island Hop 2019)
    I booked Lufthansa First from Frankfurt to Shanghai and at no extra cost was able to add a connection from Zurich on Swiss. That meant I would be able to use the Swiss first class lounge, although sadly only the main terminal lounge, not the exclusive premier First lounge for ... Read More »
  • January 02 - Lufthansa First Class Terminal (Island Hop 2019)
    It’s actually not quite as good as the Swiss First Class lounge at Zurich, but the service is impeccable. All you can eat gummi bears, for some reason: but of course, I have to try the Wiener Schnitzel, and, of course, it’s better than any you would find anywhere else. ... Read More »
  • January 03 - Lufthansa Boeing 747 First Class (Island Hop 2019)
    Another Private Porsche to take me to the aircraftand my seat which is one of just 8 in the nose of the lower deckIt’s not as private as the modern generation of fully enclosed suites on the likes of Etihad and Singaporebut it’s spacious and better once the privacy screen ... Read More »
  • January 04 - Shanghai (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 04 - Shanghai (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 04 - Shanghai Wonderland (Island Hop 2019)
    I had planned to go to the viewing deck at the top of the Shanghai World Financial Centre, the second tallest building in the world (or something – Google is blocked in China), but there’s not much point when you can’t even see the building. It is on the right ... Read More »
  • January 05 - Shanghai Wonderland (Island Hop 2019)
    First order of business is breakfast in the club lounge, where the menu is impressive: And the food is utterly delicious: The pot sticker dumplings are especially delicious. The hotel’s GM stops by for a quick chat about my impressions. If you want breakfast in the main restaurant there is ... Read More »
  • January 06 - Shanghai (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 06 - Zhujiajiao (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 06 - Zhujiajiao (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 07 - Shanghai (Island Hop 2019)
    If you visit Shanghai, spend an hour on the Bund. You’ll get the same photos as everyone else, and everyone else will be there. Walk a mile in either direction and you’ll have the exact same view. Then go over to Pudong, at night, climb over the gate into the ... Read More »
  • January 07 - Shanghai (Island Hop 2019)
    Pudong at night is so much better than the Bund, if you have a camera. You’ll walk around, seemingly the only person outside in a city of 24 million, and every time you turn round you’ll think “oh wow, look at that”
  • January 08 - Beijing (Island Hop 2019)
    Beijing. Twinned with Sheffield. Except that these bikes aren’t in a ditch or being stolen by a spice junkie… How I got here. 2 hours by air from Shanghai. It’s a big country: Apparently Trump is in town. Not sure where he’s staying though, because I got upgraded to the: ... Read More »
  • January 08 - The Forbidden City, Beijing (Island Hop 2019)
    These photos are bad because it was minus 10 with wind chill to minus 15. The moat is frozen. Hands stay in pockets, only briefly emerging to operate the camera… The Forbidden City is: Getting in requires navigating some security checks and finding where to buy a ticket in a ... Read More »
  • January 08 - The Forbidden City, Beijing (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 08 - The Forbidden City, Beijing (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 08 - The Forbidden City, Beijing (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 09 - The Great Wall Of China (Island Hop 2019)
    Early start at the wall, where it’s minus fifteen degrees. So early, that I have to wake up the cable car operator. I ride in the exact same carriage as Michele Obama. Not at the same time, obviously. First glimpse of the wall. Not really. The first glimpse is all ... Read More »
  • January 10 - The Great Wall Of China (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 10 - Beijing (Island Hop 2019)
    Stumbled across “sunset corner”. People pushing and shoving trying to get to the exact corner of the wall around the moat, as if a metre or two makes any difference to the shot: It’s not really all that good: Probably better a little earlier and with a tripod and technique. ... Read More »
  • January 11 - The Summer Palace, Beijing (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 11 - Cathay Pacific First Class, Beijing to Hong Kong (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 11 - Cathay Pacific ‘The Wing’ First Class Lounge, Hong Kong (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 12 - Beiyi Road, Taiwan (Island Hop 2019)
    Leave the hideous sprawl of Taipei behind with an early start on to the Beiyi mountain road. Pretty good road, too: Better if you’ve got one of these, though: Or how about three: Or how about a few million quid’s worth of choices: I’ve accidentally joined in with the crazy ... Read More »
  • January 13 - Taroko Gorge, Taiwan (Island Hop 2019)
    Interesting road: Good luck in your Lamborghini when this happens, though: Or this:
  • January 14 - East Coast Taiwan (Island Hop 2019)
    The location is definitely tropical but the weather is more like the west coast of Ireland. Oh damn, I’d been looking forward to a bit of fish bombing…
  • January 14 - South Coast Taiwan (Island Hop 2019)
    The north of Taiwan is mostly city, but the south is mostly nature. Here are the only people I saw all morning, except for a petrol station attendant, at the southernmost point of a wet and windy island: I walked for three hours through Kenting Forest national park, and saw ... Read More »
  • January 15 - Henchung, Taiwan (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 15 - Henchung, Taiwan (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 16 - Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 16 - EVA “Royal Laurel” class, TPE-MNL (Island Hop 2019)
    Never heard of EVA and given the price I didn’t expect much. The lounges were poor, and seating is 2-2-2, but with few passengers up front, I could choose a window seat without anyone sitting next to me. The service was surprisingly very good. Delivered with a grace a professionalism ... Read More »
  • January 17 - Sangat Island, Philippines (Island Hop 2019)
    Above is Sangat Island. A small dive resort is the only occupant of the island, and part of that is a private villa with its own private beach. To get there from Manila first you need one of these: Then you need a minibus. When the first thing you see ... Read More »
  • January 18 - Sangat Island Private Beach and Villa (Island Hop 2019)
    The resort has a nice bar perched on an outcrop reached by a boardwalk.The more interesting walk starts at the other end of the main beach:The villa has 3 levelsHammocks underneathBeds and bathrooms on the first floorMaster bedroom on topYou can also go down into the cave showerAnd then there’s ... Read More »
  • January 18 - Sangat Island (Island Hop 2019)
    The main resort is very nice But my private beach is nicer And my nearest visible neighbours are at sea Ok, sometimes a bit closer But mostly it’s all mine Heading for dinner along the walkway in the dark and the monkeys came out to say hello. Darker than the ... Read More »
  • January 18 - Sangat Island (Island Hop 2019)
    Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA Add a helicopter and I’m Richard Branson. Remove the walkway and I’m Robinson Crusoe. If the 360 image doesn’t work, try here http://theta360.com/s/pUWDSLXkKDc0ZKTRvJ9JhC3YC
  • January 19 - Todd Island, in the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines (Island Hop 2019)
    Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA If the 360 image above doesn’t work for you, try here http://theta360.com/s/lileDars82KK84o0XeKJtv1HQ Off for some snorkelling and jet-skiing now
  • January 19 - Sangat Island (Island Hop 2019)
    Above is the view from my front door. Never get tired of it. It’s hot. Damn hot. Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA If the above 360 image doesn’t work, try here http://theta360.com/s/qlt7LshN9HuSCVOTlcDRE3Ws8 Never knew bamboo grew this big:
  • January 20 - Lunchtime at Sangat Island (Island Hop 2019)
    After a plateful of steamed freshly caught grouper and red snapper, and delicious salad made with pomelo, grab a beer and head to the cave: Climb up through the rocks: and discover a secret vantage point: Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA https://theta360.com/s/nIlqs66r9dBKqZfp7IaYLAXNk#
  • January 20 - Sangat Island, Philippines (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 21 - Sangat Island Dive Resort (Island Hop 2019)
    The food is really excellent. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, has been a completely different menu like this every day I’ve been here, and it’s a buffet so you can have everything. Nice. Photos don’t come close to doing it justice. Imagine something really fresh and delicious. Now imagine 6 different ... Read More »
  • January 21 - Sangat Island (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 21 - Sangat and Manila (Island Hop 2019)
    It’s a quiet morning, the water only disturbed by the resort staff arriving from Palawan for the day shift. Sadly I have to leave. Another boat ride, another bumpy minibus ride, and another delay from Cebu Pacific Air. Fortunately I have a hotel car booked for my delayed arrival. Even ... Read More »
  • January 23 - MNL-KUL-BNE, Malaysia Airlines Business Class (Island Hop 2019)
    Another one of these: To leave behind the hell-on-earth that is Manila: Seating is outdated and 2×2, but luckily an empty seat next to me, good food, good service, and on time: A different view of KL: When all anyone really does in KL is take (always disappointing) photos of ... Read More »
  • January 24 - Fiji (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 25 - Fiji (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 25 - Fiji (Island Hop 2019)
  • January 26 - NAN-VLI Fiji Airways Business Class (Island Hop 2019)
    The big problem with Fiji is that it’s quite close to Australia. The flight there involved a scummy australian family with absolutely no manners turning the business class cabin into a playground for their scummy kids with absolutely no manners. The Shangri-La Resort was also overrun with australian families with ... Read More »
  • January 28 - Tanna Island, Vanuatu (Island Hop 2019)
    The aircraft for the flight from Port Vila to Tanna is rather compact: Tanna’s Whitegrass airport is nothing more than a landing strip and a tin hut, so it probably needs to be a small plane. Instead of “this is your captain speaking”, he just turns round and says hello: ... Read More »
  • January 28 - Tanna Island, Vanuatu (Island Hop 2019)
    The last 2 miles to my accommodation takes about 25 minutes on roads like this and worse. The rougher, bumpier, steeper stuff is too hard to photograph through the grimy window of a pick-up as you’re being thrown about like you’re in a washing machine, and so like 99% of ... Read More »
  • January 28 - Yasur Volcano, Tanna, Vanuatu (Island Hop 2019)
    One side of the volcano is an alien landscape of black volcanic sand and brown pillowy lumps of solidified lava flows: To get to the top you go up the other side, which is strangely much more lushly vegetated, on a very steep and rough trail that requires low-range 4WD ... Read More »
  • January 29 - Vanuatu (Island Hop 2019)
    Welcome to Vanuatu At the Holiday Inn… you can have one of these in the bar and try not to step on one of these in the lagoon Then you can visit the very laid-back capital, Port Vila A drive all the way around the island, stopping off here and ... Read More »
  • January 30 - Vanuatu to New Zealand, Air Vanuatu Business Class (Island Hop 2019)
    VLI (Port Vila, Vanuatu), to AKL (Auckland, New Zealand). The VIP Club Lounge at VLI is nothing to write home about, but it does have air-con unlike the departure lounge, so that’s nice. Another one of these The seats in the business class cabin are nothing special, but I do ... Read More »
  • January 31 - Rotorua (Island Hop 2019)
  • February 02 - Christchurch (Island Hop 2019)
    Fly to Christchurch (18th flight so far). Pick up a hire car (6th). Go to a hotel (24th – has a great sunrise view, above). Then explore Christchurch, full of charm and character but also really obviously showing the scars and reconstruction efforts following the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, ... Read More »
  • February 02 - Arthur’s Pass (Island Hop 2019)
    Miles of brilliant traffic-free roads through the mountains via Lewis Pass and Arthur’s Pass. Hire car, almost free with Hertz points, is a Toyota Highlander, the LandCruiser’s smaller sibling. With a three and a half litre V6 it’s ideal for the endlessly twisting roads. At times raining so hard the ... Read More »
  • February 02 - Arthur’s Pass (Island Hop 2019)
    Some people come to New Zealand to walk through the scenery. I came to drive through it. If you love travelling with your own vehicle, whether car or bike, you might understand how much fun I had with ten hours of twisting roads through great scenery and almost no traffic. ... Read More »
  • February 03 - Aoraki (Mount Cook) (Island Hop 2019)
    Mount Cook (NZ’s highest) and Mount Tasman (second highest) almost free of the clouds that hung around the peaks all day. Franz Josef Glacier: What used to be full of ice in the 1940s: Where it is now: Fox Glacier: Mount Cook from Lake Matheson: View from my motel room ... Read More »
  • February 03 - Wanaka (Island Hop 2019)
    A couple of vids if you want some idea of what it’s like to be able to cruise at 70-ish mph through great scenery pretty much unimpeded by any traffic for 10 hours. If you like that sort of thing (I once did it for 20000 miles and 6 months, ... Read More »
  • February 03 - Wanaka (Island Hop 2019)
    Above was an amazing spot for a picnic lunch by the river, somewhere on the west coast between Fox Glacier and Wanaka. Nobody there. Unfortunately, lunch was me, and the only ones having a bite to eat were a million sandflies. Below looks like a badly photoshopped fake, but that’s ... Read More »
  • February 04 - Milford Sound (Island Hop 2019)
  • February 05 - Queenstown (Island Hop 2019)
    Let’s go to Queenstown. Some nice views in the area: And some great roads on the approach, including this one at Devil’s Staircase: Found a quiet little beach at the bottom of a steep gravel trail. Quiet for about 60 seconds until a jeep full of Chinese arrived to shout ... Read More »
  • February 06 - CHC-AKL (Island Hop 2019)
    Not much of a day, just a long drive back to Christchurch, in order to fly back to Auckland, in order to fly to Tahiti (Yay!) Good roads at the start (would be better on the right sort of bike), but once you get into the Canterbury plains it’s the ... Read More »
  • February 08 - AKL-PPT-MOZ (Island Hop 2019)
    Auckland-Tahiti-Moorea if you don’t know your airport codes, the last two being islands in French Polynesia. A flight with Air Tahiti Nui first: Business class on the 787 is 2x2x2 but there’s nobody in the seat next to me: The menu sounded a lot nicer than it actually was: Some ... Read More »
  • February 08 - Moorea, French Polynesia (Island Hop 2019)
    It’s a bit cloudy in Moorea, but my standard room booked on points got upgraded to a “premium one-bedroom suite overwater villa” with direct access from the deck into the lagoon, and I’ve seen sea-turtles and bottlenosed dolphins:
  • February 08 - Moorea, French Polynesia (Island Hop 2019)
    Some of the early morning visitors to the villa included: Baby shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo. If you don’t know that bloody song, consider yourself lucky… Sharky was about a metre long and very fast. The only problem with this villa is that it’s on the ocean side ... Read More »
  • February 10 - Bora Bora, French Polynesia (Island Hop 2019)
    Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA Sunset glass of wine at my stunning £1450 a night overwater villa at the Intercontinental Thalasso in spectacular Bora Bora. However good it looks, it’s 1000 times better in reality. Link if the above 360 image doesn’t work for ... Read More »
  • February 10 - MOZ-BOB (Island Hop 2019)
    Moorea to Bora Bora, a 50 minute flight. If you sit on the left you get to see the stunning turquoise lagoon inside the coral reef from the air on approach: There’s only one way from the airport to the resort and that’s by boat, so here’s the most expensive ... Read More »
  • February 10 - Bora Bora, French Polynesia (Island Hop 2019)
    Above is my villa from behind. The rest of the resort is equally spectacular: Obligatory cocktail on the beach photo, but at £20 a go there might not be so many. These are £4 in the Philippines! Living room has a coffee table over a hole so you can look ... Read More »
  • February 11 - Bora Bora , French Polynesia (Island Hop 2019)
    Taking a break from jetskiing around the lagoon. Look at how the clouds form as the air rises over Mount Otemanu. A couple of hours chasing speedboats to jump their wakes, then a break on a “Motu” (island) to crack open some coconuts for a drink and a snack. Trying ... Read More »
  • February 12 - Bora Bora, French Polynesia (Island Hop 2019)
    Here’s the view from the breakfast restaurant: Bora Bora is very small, so there’s not much light pollution. Here’s my villa from a different angle: There’s only a little light from the resort: Hardly any light on the motu: So at night you can lie on your lagoon terrace and ... Read More »
  • February 12 - Bora Bora, French Polynesia (Island Hop 2019)
    The best views in Bora Bora are anytime the sun comes out. Above is my villa. Below is the resort. At the end of each pier is the insanely huge Brando suite. My villa is enormous, but the Brandos are ridiculous and have their own big pool. Apparently Marlon Brando ... Read More »
  • February 15 - Conrad Bora Bora Nui (Island Hop 2019)
    Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA I thought the InterContinental Thalasso was spectacular to look at, but the service and facilities left a lot of room for improvement. It’s the one most talked about ... Read More »
  • February 15 - Conrad Bora Bora Nui (Island Hop 2019)
    These are quite fun for a bimble around the island, though there’s not very much to see because the place is tiny: So let’s catch the Conrad taxi and leave the main island for the Conrad’s private island: The place looks good in the brochure: On arrival, first impressions are… ... Read More »
  • February 15 - Bora Bora at night (Island Hop 2019)
    Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360uk – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA The milky way, with some clouds in the way, and a few annoying lights, and from a low-res 360 cam, but still, there it is. So much more impressive in person though
  • February 15 - Conrad Bora Bora Nui (Island Hop 2019)
    The overwater villa is sensational: This was my terrace and view at the underwhelming Intercontinental Le Moana: But take a look at what you get at the Conrad. It’s even bigger than the Thalasso, the water is even clearer and bluer and has more fish, it’s even more private and ... Read More »
  • February 15 - Conrad Bora Bora Nui (Island Hop 2019)
    The entire resort is beautiful. The pool is incredible, there are full size tennis courts and miniature golf, the usual kayaks and stand-up paddle boards, a swim-up bar, several world-class restaurants, pristine white sand beaches…. It’s unbelievable.
  • February 20 - Easter Island (Island Hop 2019)
    More will follow when I return to civilization. You might say considering what a remote and tiny spec of land this is, that it’s amazing I can show you a photo at all, but really that’s down to economics, not science. The technical capability is 50 years old. (I’m at ... Read More »
  • February 21 - PPT-IPC – Tahiti to Easter Island – LATAM Business Class (Island Hop 2019)
    After a quick halt at the Intercontinental Tahiti (above), a 3am flight is the only option because Tahiti to Easter Island is not the busiest route in commercial aviation: LATAM don’t have a lounge at Tahiti, only Air Tahiti Nui do. It’s in the Priority Pass network, so I could ... Read More »
  • February 21 - Rapa Nui (Island Hop 2019)
    Easter Island. Isla De Pascua. Rapa Nui. If you go to Ahu Tongariki for sunrise, every tourist on the island will be there, and there’ll be an awful lot of this: and this going on:
  • February 21 - Easter Island / Rapa Nui (Island Hop 2019)
    If you ever have lots of time on your hands (lots and lots) and decide to visit Rapa Nui, then I highly recommend Haitonga as a restaurant where you can get ok food, decent cocktails, annoying reggae music, and the fastest WiFi on the island:
  • February 21 - Easter Island / Rapa Nui (Island Hop 2019)
    What’s this? A photo from Easter Island that isn’t a giant rock face man rock? Yes, there are two kinds of long faces on this island. When the sun comes out, there are moments of prettiness. Don’t let it fool you though, it’s an ugly volcanic stain in the middle ... Read More »
  • February 24 - Santiago, Chile (Island Hop 2019)
    My flight from Easter Island to Santiago should have been on LATAM’s 787, but it was swapped at the last minute due to the 787 engine trouble affecting many airlines. Sadly, swapped to an old Singapore airlines 777 that last saw a new interior 20 years ago, and has had ... Read More »
  • February 24 - Santiago, Chile (Island Hop 2019)
    Forget the tourist hop-on/off bus tour or being ripped off by taxi drivers, every Sunday in Santiago several miles of city roads are closed to traffic so you can go out on your bike, scooter, roller blades, or running shoes and cruise around enjoying the sun and the free water. ... Read More »
  • February 25 - Buenos Aires, Argentina (Island Hop 2019)
    More transport service failings. First, a very rare let down from Blacklane, the usually excellent and reliable limo service, when my business class car (“Mercedes E Class or similar”) is a shitty little Hyundai driven by a Chilean peasant wearing a dirty potato sack and carrying a pig, and featuring ... Read More »
  • February 25 - Iguazu Falls, Brazil (Island Hop 2019)
    Wasn’t sure I’d have enough time to get into Brazil, especially when Aerolineas Argentina delayed my flight for 90 minutes, but my local driver was very quick and got me through the border really fast. Heavy storms began as soon as I got into the Iguazu national park, but even ... Read More »
  • February 27 - Iguazu Falls, Argentina (Island Hop 2019)
    The Brazilian side was so impressive I considered not bothering with the Argentine side. The sunrise view from the splendid hotel room revealed two things that encouraged me to go anyway: better weather and the falls are in such force that the spray forms lasting clouds. The hotel is in ... Read More »
  • February 28 - Second time around the world (Island Hop 2019)
      Germany, Switzerland, China, Taiwan, Philippines, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Zealand, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Easter Island, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Points & Miles used – 1,843,200 Cash Value – £48,382 Flights – 30, 115 hours, 37000 miles Airports – 23 Airlines – 18 Cars – 11, 2500+ miles Hotels – 40 ... Read More »

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