Varadero International Meeting
was held in
Regrettably, the distance was too great for us so we did not go. The Varadero International website will give many deatils about VIM11.
All that we can offer you is information about what we did instead - and what fun we had!
We were aware that there was a French Varadero group. We had met some of their members at VIM9 in Northern Ireland and they seemed OK, quite a good bunch, friendly - despite the horrible weather. So, we summoned up our best school French and we asked whether we could join them for their Varadero meeting. They agreed! They did more than agree, they made us very welcome - despite our very poor language skills. An added bonus was their beautiful country.
OUR FRENCH ALTERNATIVE TO VIM 11
We share our experience of Varad'OC 2009 with you in the form of a diary and pictures.
For us a Varadero meeting begins at the point we leave home and ends at the same place. It is our adventure.
Our Varadero was an XL1000VA6. A 2006 silver model with ABS, centre stand, heated grips, panniers and top box. To that we added a 12 volt charging socket, a Baglux tank cover, a Baglux tank bag, an MRA screen, a Garmin Zumo 550 GPS system mounted on a desertstorm.de bar and Touratech mounting bracket. This is used in conjunction with our Bluetooth mobile telephone and a Cardo Scala Rider Teamset headset system.
Tuesday 5th May 2008
Weather overcast but dry. Packed our things and off, bound for France. To Folkestone and caught the Eurotunnel, on time at 1400hrs. The usual brief journey and out the other end, ready for our ride to the Etap Hotel at 60200 Compiegne. The GPS found it easy enough but, when T dismounted and went in to ask about parking she received a 'Non'. It was in the centre of a town with the usual dodgy types wandering around and with no obvious close-by secure parking. So we quickly decided to book into the Best Western Hotel next door, which did have secure parking but at 119 Euros instead of the Etap's 40 or so Euros. A nice comfortable room, shower and change and off out to explore our location and to find somewhere to eat. We found a nice brasserie, Brasserie Parisienne, in Art Deco style and enjoyed a Leffe beer each and an omelette apiece. Back to the hotel and had a Kronenbourg 1664 apiece at the bar with brief French conversation with the manageress. The first part of our 'Grand Aventure' had been completed. Tomorrow would hopefully be a more interesting day. 256 miles ridden. 175 miles fill up.
Wednesday 6th May 2009
Up and dressed and down to pay the bill, deciding to not have breakfast for some reason that later seemed unwise. 125 Euros. We had to drive to Clermont Ferrand today but thought, if the traffic wasn't too bad, we would go into Paris. We were soon hungry through lack of breakfast. On to the peripherique and the GPS took us to the Champs Elysees with little traffic difficulty. This was all new stuff for Theresa and many photos were taken. We went around L'Arc de Triomphe, ignoring the intimidating tactics of other drivers and back to see the sights of Les Invalides, etc, then to the Tour Eifel, where we parked up and had a look around. Harassed by ethnic types to buy their tat we headed off again for Notre Dame and then back on the road headed south. We stayed off the toll roads and eventually arrived at Riom's Etap Hotel. This time there was parking and the reception very good. A nice room too. We got washed and changed and went out to find somewhere to eat, finding a nice steak restaurant, Grill de Liberty, tacked onto a big supermarket. 45 Euros. Then back to our room to watch a little of the French version of who wants to be a millionaire. 587 miles ridden in total. Two coffees and something to eat at 91100 Corbeil at 1253 hours. 346 miles fill up at Evry. 21.27 l at 1.159 EUR/LTR 63200 Riom - 24.65 total, 17.12 l at 1.310 Eur/l at 91100 Corbeil - 22.43 Eur total, Etap 51.60 Eur.
L'Arc de Triomphe in Paris. A nightmare for non-Parisienne motorists. Organised chaos for Parisiennes.
Le Tour Eifel. A magnificent feat of engineering by Mr Eifel.
Notre Dame in Paris
The road south. Weather dry but overcast.
Thursday 7th May 2009
Up and dressed with calamitous result. Theresa's ample belly (good living since VIM10) decided that the trousers were not up to the task. At 11 stone 6lb, the heaviest she has ever been, the zip gave way and great misery was inflicted both from the point of view of the state of her body and the difficulty of wearing trousers that no longer could be done up. A nice breakfast in our hotel and then off, headed for somewhere that we might be able to buy some new trousers - but mainly to visit Le Puy de Dome at Clermont-Ferrand. On the way we saw a billboard advertising a bike shop and we searched for it fruitlessly, not having realised that there were two roads with the same name in CF. We found the wrong one. And so to the P de D, to the top and a wander around. Magnificent views from the top! On the way back we saw the billboard again and checked the address which enabled us to find the correct location this time. Shop found, Theresa was much happier when she emerged with some large sized trousers. We continued on our journey, weather still good, down to Millau, on the A75, where we wanted to see the magnificent Viaduc de Millau. We were not disappointed. It was a truly amazing sight although the journey across it was a disappointment due to the lack of side vision caused by the wind slats. Then we headed on to try to get to Michel's house in Bezier for 5.00pm. We didn't need to meet him but he had offered to travel the final leg with us. When we got there, thanks again to the Garmin Zumo 550 GPS, he had left. So we did the final leg to Alenya alone. We arrived at Mas Blanc at around 6.30pm and immediately spotted the bikes and some of the people with whom we would be spending the coming few days with. I saw who I thought was Michel and, sure enough, as we pulled up and dismounted, we were greeted and welcomed by him. Here we go! French mode! He made it easy for us with a little English and discussion about how we had missed him at his house. He had to leave early, with a little fear about the weather which was overcast but quite dry. Gradually we began to meet all the others, with the ladies offering their cheeks for the customary kiss on each. A delightful custom, so unlike our women at home. We were truly in a different place. Michel took us to reception to sort out our accommodation and with keys in hand we went to find our room. Mas Blanc is laid out like a holiday camp with blocks of four apartments scattered around the massive site, in amongst the trees and bushes. A lovely location. Our room was excellent with a kitchen, wc with shower, a double bed in a curtained off area, a main room with table, chairs, sideboard, and an outside patio with furniture, looking out across the landscape. We got out of our gear, had a shower and off out to find out what was doing. Over to find the restaurant and bar and to meet our hosts. We seated ourselves in a corner, at a table laid out with what looked like oysters. We were feeling a bit awkward, as we had the feeling that 'the bloody English are here and we all have to speak English'. We were joined at our 6 table by two couples and the ice was soon broken and conversation ensued, mainly in French with a touch of English from Christoph, an oil industry worker. We could not have been better accepted. It was a superb experience, with the dining room buzzing with all the happy campers of which we were only a small part. We didn't fancy the oysters, or the bulot (whelks or snails) that followed. This was followed by crevettes which Theresa loves. I tried a couple but it is not the sort of food that I like. There was plenty of salad and other foods to choose so there was no problem. Also the wine was part of the meal so that was good. The room was called to a hush by the staff as a huge cake was set alight, a flambé. We got a piece later and it was delicious, an ice cream base. Christoph explained the art of the oyster and how you had to test that it was alive before you ate it. The wine was part of the meal and was dispensed from a tap, that you simply had to help yourself from. You don't get that sort of thing in blighty! So we adjourned to a back room behind the bar, where karaoke was in full swing, for our welcome address, Le Chef taking charge. Varaderomania himself, Jacques. A god! All in French, of course, and we picked up the main theme with plans for tomorrow. Michel made sure that we had understood what was being said. A great bunch of people! Then to the bar for a beer and to observe the French at karaoke. Some of our ladies got up and sang as a group and then some of the lads. Great fun! These people are very different from what we are used to and lovely to be with. And so to bed, a good day. 940 miles ridden, 353 miles today. 587 miles fill up at Riom. 792 miles fill up. 28.07 Eur for fuel at 1606 hrs at 34520 Le Caylar. 6.00 Euros peage at 2104 Millau. 7.80 Euros peage.
Le Puy de Dome near Clermont-Ferrand. Weather much better today
A view from the top of the exctinct volcano. This is the region where Volvic mineral water comes from.
Altitude 1442 metres.
Further views from the top.
Le Viaduc de Millau. Truly magnificent to view from a distance but uninteresting to ride across due to screening.
After we arrived at Mas Blanc (base camp) and enjoyed our dinner, we attended the welcome meeting. Le Chef explained the grand plan for the weekend.
Later we went to the bar where a karaoke was under way. Some of our team decided to sing something.
We were very impressed that Varadero riders could sing. Not a beer to be seen! It would never happen like this at a VIM!
Friday 8th May 2009
Up and ready to ride, out early to seek fuel to start off with a full tank. Ended up go far afield to find some, led by one of the others. We got back to find the main group had already left but Jean-Luc waiting for us. He knew how to head them off and we soon got into the group. Last night, the 'tiroir' system had been explained to us, similar to that used by Harv when we went out on a Cotswolds event some years age. The group of around 35 bikes is led by one bike (Alain, je pense), who, at every deviation or junction, indicates for the following bike to stop as a marker. At the rear are two bikes each with yellow jacketted rider to indicate the last bikes. When the sentry sees the two at the back, he pulls out in front of them and joins the group as third from the end. That keeps happening as the second bike takes its turn to mark the way the others went. It's a great system and the word 'tiroir' is so appropriate for the way it works. The weather was overcast but dry. The route had obviously been pre-planned and was designed to give us some good riding and sights. On the way we stopped at a town for no apparent reason and were encouraged to go and get a coffee. We ambled up the road and happened upon an amazing little patisserie, a cake shop. The sold coffee and so we decided to have a coffee and a baguette and to watch with fascination as the ladies of the shop set out their wares and various customers, mainly women, come in and choose a cake and take it away to enjoy in the comfort of their home, later. T recalled that some of the larger cakes were 20 Euros. So we finished our 'grand cremes' and headed back to the bikes. Then back on the road for some more great riding, pulling in, in the middle of nowhere, up a dirt track, into some woods. It was here that we were to have lunch, armed with our pique-nique'. However, as we had not had breakfast due to our lateness earlier on, we didn't have a picnic, which was just as good that we had had a baguette at the last stop. It was here that I got to have a proper look at Varabien's Varadero. A remarkable example of added gadgets. He travels with clearly long suffering wife and their dog Nooky.
Le tiroir system is in place. We were about 25 Varadero's altogether. The Varad'OC adventure has begun.
OC is the initials used for the wine region certification - we think!
We were heading into the Pyrenees and the scenery was spectacular. We crossed into Spain.
Le tiroir system worked very well expect for just one time, when the stupid English went wrong - soon recovered and hopefully forgiven!
The line-up of 23 Varadero's was adjusted very carefully. Never done so well at a VIM. The French have this perfectly.
The next stop found us on the France/Spain border, in a place that looked something like a modern day version of a wild west town. Here, it was explained, you could purchase tax free items. It was a tacky place and we didn't care for it at all. What was fascinating was the snow storm of cotton wool type clusters that were coming from the trees. I went and grabbed a few unburst pods and put them in our bag. The air was filled with it and I would like to know what the tree was. Perhaps plane trees? A bit of quick thinking from some of our group when an empty car started to roll forward without the brake on. They caught it in time and one of them opened the door to get at the handbrake, only to be confronted by the car owner who thought the worst of what he saw. It could have done a lot of damage had it got up to speed on the hill that it was on. Then on into Spain for more riding, stopping again at a seaside resort called Rosas. It was a bit like high season in any Mediterranean resort, very busy with people enjoying their day. We parked our bikes on the pedestrian area and there were no problems with that. Everybody was happy and we couldn't help wondering how different it would be in England. Then back on the bikes for the ride along the coast and back to Mas Blanc. It had been a long ride, approx. 170 miles, but too enjoyable to notice. We were pleased to get back and to get a shower and changed. To dinner and joined at our table by Christoph and Natalie again but this time Michel came and sat with us. He wanted to speak some English and to have a chat generally about things. He knew that we are keen to have a VIM in France and he offered suggestions about how it can be done. The starters were mussels (moule) with a creamy sauce, that T enjoyed very much - but not me! The main course was what we call Shepherds Pie but what they call 'hache par montier'. Very nice and accompanied but a huge choice of side dishes from the buffet and plenty of wine that we had discovered was self serve from a set of taps, white, rose or red. Very civilised. The restaurant was packed full, yet again and a very happy sound to hear. These guys know how to enjoy themselves. What a difference to what we know at home with our dour, by comparison, countrymen. This is obviously much to do with the site management who were very attentive to everybody's needs. After the meal we all adjourned to the bar for beer or coffee and then outside on the terrace. An excellent day! 16.88 Eur, 14.08 litres, at 1.199 Eur/L, 21.19 EUR 66100 Perpignan. 1110 miles to date, 170 miles approx. ridden.
Saturday 9th May 2009
We had thought ahead this time and filled our tank yesterday. We went to breakfast and made sure that we collected our packed lunch this time. The group assembled at the gates and we set off on our day's touring. A short while into our ride and we stopped at Thuir where it had been arranged for us to visit the 'Cave de Byrrh', a 'cusenier' where wine is taken in and converted into a stronger product. Dubonnet, Cinzano, etc. were among the ones we knew. A very attractive young woman named Fanny seemed to be in sole command and she took our group around, explaining how the place worked. Her microphone was playing up and Varabien jumped to the rescue, amid cries to keep him away. We had been gradually aware of this man with his remarkable Varadero. He was clearly a man who enjoyed tinkering with things mechanical and a clear clown. Fanny showed us the biggest 'Cuve' in the world, with a capacity of 1,000,200 litres, made of oak (Chene) and with many steel bands to hold it together. They built the building over it after its construction. It was a very interesting visit with much joking from the group. We had a tasting at the end and Theresa bought a bottle of something that tasted of chocolate.
So off we went, leaving the townsfolk a little bemused by such a large group of bikes, to our next stop on the D612 where a piece of road had been selected as a good place for the fast riders to do just that, ride fast. The men were sorted from the boys and they set off at 30 second intervals along a stretch of road that we would be following later. The 'boys' were a large group so we fitted in well with them, as we had no interest in scratching our knees on corners. There were concerns that 3 riders had been killed at previous events so the key word was 'prudence'. The macho men enjoyed their blast. We were getting to know by now, who the 'characters' were, the jokers, etc. The next stop came after we entered the region of the Galamus Gorges. Truly spectacular! Fantastic overhanging rock faces that looked as if they could fall at any time. We parked at a designated spot and enjoyed our packed lunches. There was a hermoitage of some sort built into the cliff face. There was a lot of interest in Varabien's bike and the telltale 'contre Gendarme' pall of smoke was sent up to great hilarity all round. He had devised a means by which some sort of oil could be injected into the exhaust system at the flick of a switch. You could see that his wife was tired of the joke, having, presumably, seen it many times before. A group of off-road riders turned up and amongst them was a TT250R, just like mine.
Off again and the next stop was a the Chateau de Peyrepertuse. From the car park where we all parked up, we could see the castle built onto the top of the sheer cliff. A select few, around 21 of us, foolishly agreed to walk to the top. At the cash desk, somebody announced in English, probably for our benefit, the cost each, to which a chorus of the Marseillaise was trumpeted. It was just another very funny moment that we had had with these crazy guys. It was a hard slog but well worth the view when we got there. Much joking on the way about adopting the 'tiroir systeme' and about 'chercher l'ascenseur'. We took group photographs at the top. 4 Euros each for the privilege of almost killing ourselves! Coming down was easier. Back on the road and we later stopped at a village somewhere en route. I would like to know where it was as I would like to visit again some day. We were directed into a small square and Jacques set to work on arranging the bikes to encircle the little tree centred island that stood in front of le Maire and next to a sleepy little brasserie. It reminded us of Renee's bar on the TV programme Allo Allo. 'Madame Edith' came out to see what was happening and made straight for Theresa to ask her. The only English woman there and Theresa was the choice. Anyway, her little bar was the welcome recipient of many customers asking for a beer or coffee and I am sure Madame was very pleased by our visit that otherwise unremarkable day. As I went to the bar and Theresa sat at a table to wait for her beer, Theresa was approached by a woman who clearly thought that Theresa was both a bike owner and a lesbian, much admiring Theresa's bling. Very funny! The regulars were an odd looking set of characters, two old boys inside quite undistracted from the TV programme that they were watching, a skinny drunk with tattoos and an agressive bloodhound dog. The lesbian lady and her drink befuddled group. Various children of the place watching the frantic activity of the adults/staff/parents? A billiard bar at the top of the adjacent building was an ideal place for one of the group to climb to for an aerial shot of the scene below. Varabien climbed the tree to get a picture, with much more joking. Then back to Mas Blanc skirting north of Perpignan and down along the coastal route. This must be a great place for a holiday in the summer season. Washed and changed and to the restaurant for our final dinner. We found ourselves on a table, joined by a happy bunch that we had not spoken to before and good conversation was enjoyed, mainly in French. More lovely people but I wish I knew their names. [What did we have to eat Theresa?] The evening ended with an address from le Chef, Jacques, the Communicator and we were once again thanked for coming so far. The welcome that we have had has been quite remarkable. It is a truly genuine offer of friendship. There were many goodbyes and kissing of cheeks. I could get used to this sort of company. And so to the bar for a drink and a beer and then to bed. Varad'OC est fini. 1208 miles ridden in total, 98 miles today.
Thuir - The home of Byrrh. A fortified wine, very popular in France. We were booked in for a guided tour.
French Heroes. Their names liveth for evermore.
These men and women worked for Byrrh and had died for their country. It was pleasing to see that the French revere their war dead as much as we do in Britain.
The museum and factory was very interesting to see.
The process explained.
One of the huge vats made entirely in oak, over 7 metres tall, 455 tonnes when full.
Typically French advertisements were all around the museum. This is just one example.
An information board in Thuir town centre.
We all set off to see some gorges at Galamus. This photograph shows a hermitage set into the hill side.
This is an incredible place to visit. The gorges are amazing.
Varabien (Didier) and his two co-riders. Nooky and Sylviane.
The land of the Cathars. Warring medieval kings and lords.
We arrived at the car park below the Chateau de Peyrepertuse.
Jess and Theresa have a short rest before the climb.
The way up using 'Le Tiroir' system.
A rest is needed!
Not everybody climbed to the top.
Some stayed at the bottom.
Some more good riding.
.... and a rest stop.
Where was this place? It was typically French. The billiard room was at the top of the town hall and we were an amusement to the players.
Le Chef has a good sense of order. The black Varadero's were placed together. The helmets were also set in colour order.
An Englishman with a grand moustache!
An Englishwoman of short size. The bar was busy for a time.
We liked this place. If only we knew its name!
Un petit renard de petite taille!
Nooky and Didier.
The de-brief at Mas Blanc and new instructions for tomorrow.
This new model is based on the fully tested and much admired 1999 red model. It was felt that the extra gear and the fuel injection were unnecessary features and have therefore been deleted.
Here you can see quite a few changes to the engine layout. Bottom right is the reservoir and pipework that delivers the 'Anti-Gendarme' package. Market research showed that, if a huge ball of smoke was used, at a critical moment, a Varadero could avoid being photographed or the rider arrested by the police for speeding. This device was demonstrated on several occasions and found to work extremely well.
Also, less dramatic, but very useful, is the Varabien system for measuring cooling water pressure with inbuilt safety check devices.
A little further along, Varabien has added an attractive storage pack area, ideal for sandwiches, a fire extinguisher, in case your sandwiches catch fire, a 220 volt socket outlet (max 2 amps) for watching television during your ride. If you look carefully below the 220v socket you will see a traditional drink dispenser tap. In this instance, the tap dispenses pure Calvados (enjoyed by several during the tour and better used if you lie on your back underneath the tap). The drink reservoir is held behind the windshield for ease of refilling. See other views.
Also shown to the left of the tap is the hand operated power generator that will provide sufficient power for emergency lighting for one minute. This emergency power system was not working during our evaluation but we are assured that production models will have a fully operational system.
The new Varadero model incorporates two exciting new technological additions at the front. The first is a towing cable with easy attach clamp in the unlikely event of a breakdown. The second is the anti-radar device. This has not been fully tested and needed a kick by the rider to make it work. More information about this feature will follow.
The speedometer and rev counter and cockpit mouldings have been removed to make space for cuddly toy, drinks reservoir, digital rev counter, motorised GPS in throwaway paper format, analogue water temperature gauge, analogue water pressure gauge and digital speedometer. Essential stickers advertising sponsors and legal requirements have been added at strategic positions to attract maximum exposure.
The pipe rack, much favoured by Easy Rider, and men of a certain age, is available as an extra, upon request.
An essential requirement for animal lovers is the Baglux accessory. The maximum weight for dog, cat or piglet is 12kg and they must be attached with a suitable harness. Nooky, shown in picture, agrees that this is a very fine modification indeed. Also shown here is the cockpit layout used for maximum visual and ergonomic access.
Note the Calvados reservoir tucked discretely behind the cockpit instrumentation and the use of odd scraps of metal recovered from the scrap bin.
Also included on the new model is a user friendly charity collection box for personal drinking funds - or any charity of your choice. An added feature is the Coca-Cola dispenser for mixing with the Calvados - or whatever other drink of choice.
The Varabien 2010 prototype blends easily with earlier models when in a typical bum rest situation. Note also the handsome Englishman leaning against the tree.
We hope that you will agree that these technical improvements will put the Honda Varadero high up on the list of adventure tourers for the discerning rider.
Up and to breakfast for the last time with the guys. We had already said most of our goodbyes yesterday but now came a few more. We felt as if we had really been welcomed by our French brothers and sisters. All loaded up, we headed for a day touring around before we were to end up in Carcassonne where we were booked in at an Etap hotel. We went to see the gite at Rue de l'Etang in Marseillette (where we had holidayed last year) but Pauline and Ken were out. We stopped by the lock at 'l'ecluse' and remembered our week spent here last year with our sons Lewis and Harry. Then back to book into our hotel and then out for a meal in La Cite. We were surprised that ir was all shut up, much to do with it being cold and miserable. Completely unlike how it was when we last visited. We found a nice little restaurant called the 'restaurant le cinq Place du Petits Puits, La Cite' and had an enjoyable meal and a bit of a chat with one of the staff. He told us that the poor weather was 'une catastrophe' for business. 1392 miles ridden, 184 miles today. One pizza and two coffees in a run down sort of cafe at 1.20pm. 1262 miles, fill up at Prades. Etap 56.40 Eur,
Varad'OC was finished too quickly. We had enjoyed it very much and now we had to go home. We decided that we would visit some interesting places on the way. The village of Castelnou is a beautiful place to visit.
Snow in May?
Another gorge on the way to Carcassonne. Name?
Monday 11th May 2009
The plan today was to ride to Rocamadour and then on to our Etap at Blois. We left Caracassonne at 9.00 with the weather overcast but dry and headed north. En route, we visited Le Chateau de Castelnou, paying the entrance fee to climb up to the top of the castle and resting awhile at set points that are provided for the visitor to enjoy the nature and the views. Various rooms are set out to display the history of the place together with an expensive looking restaurant. Only the French can do this sort of thing with such class. We followed the GPS but ended up on some very poor roads, in the middle of a forested area, petrol light on and very frustrated. We ended up backtracking to where we had come from and got some fuel and then tried again. This time we ignored the GPS and followed the good roads, arriving Rocamadour after 2.00pm. We rode up a track to high level, saving ourselves a hot and sweathy walk from the designated car park. What a wonderful place! We visited the various chapels and sat a while to contemplate and give thanks for our safe journey. T lit a candle for her mum. We had a beer in a bar and overlooked the gorge, before setting off agin northwards for Blois. We had intended to visit a chap name Phil who lived near Sarlat but time was short and we had a long way still to go. We would make our apologies later. We arrived in Blois around 7.00pm and the view as we crossed the river was magnificent. This was clearly a very historic place. And so, booked in to our hotel, found secure parking, washed and changed and out. We found a lovely little brasserie and enjoyed a pichet of wine and an omellete each, before heading back to get some sleep. 1850 miles total, 458 miles today. 15.38 l at 1.3 EUR/LTR 19510 Masseret. 21.52 l at 1.229 Eur.ltr 81140 Castenau de Montmiral (SP98) at 1210 hours. We tried to buy 95 but the pump was empty. 1490 miles fill up. 1663 miles fill up. Peage 1.60
We were determined to visit Rocamadour on our way home. We were not disappointed. What a fantastic place to visit! Set into the hillside.
The narrow streets. The lovely bars and shops.
An information board.
We ate here in Blois at the end of a hard riding but hugely fascinating day.
Tuesday 12th May 2009
Blois. Up and down to a, by now familiar, Etap breakfast. Paid our bill, retrieved the bike from the underground car park and decide on a little wander around Blois. We stopped at a magnificent church whose door was open and went in to explore. We soon discovered that the door was open because a funeral was about to start. We got some curious looks from people who perhaps thought that we knew the deceased. Theresa lit another candle and we left before the service got under way. So then we hit the road for home, getting some horrible drizzly weather north of Paris. Quite miserable! Arrived at Calais in good time and got straight on the train. The weather was a bit better and we had a dry but blustery ride home. The adventure was over and everybody seemed pleased to see us, especially 'nos petits chiens'. Fill up 1860 miles. Fill up 2087 miles. Peage 8.70. Meal at 60120 Hardvillers. Etap 60.60 Eur
Wednesday 13th May 2009
Back to work.
Merci boo Monsieur le Chef et tes amies!
We had travelled in three countries
ENGLAND, FRANCE, SPAIN
Our VIM Comment.
This was our 8th Varadero meeting (7 VIMs and 1 France). Each one has been enjoyable for so many reasons.1. Luxembourg was good because of the countryside, the castles, the roads - but bad because of the rain and the horrible damp accommodation. We were in a caravan and the bike fell over in the wet ground and our windscreen shattered.
2. Vienna was good because of the beautiful ride to get there and the impressive riding that we were shown. The guided tour of Vienna was superb. We didn't enjoy this VIM so much because we were separated from the main group due to our accommodation. We don't do tents or dormitories!
3. Germany was good because of the biker motel at Holtgast. The food was excellent (those schnitzels!) and the organisation was superb. It was bad because we were separated again by our accommodation, but Bernard and Karinda made up for it with their taxi-service. It is not Germany's fault either that there are no mountains or scenic routes in that area, making the riding a little dull.
4. Portugal was exceptional because of its location in the mountains and the beauty of the country. The riding was superb and the organisers were a great team who really knew how to guide us on the various routes. It was bad for us because our accommodation was so far away from the base camp and because we ate at restaurants away from the site, thus preventing us from enjoying the beer properly. The sun shone and we were bowled over by the beauty of the country. Despite the limitations of the base camp, this was the best VIM for us because of the sun and the excellent food and the beautiful hotel that we stayed in - and of course, the riding.
5. Poland will never be forgotten by us because we took our children with us. The base camp that was chosen was superb, the best location that we have ever experienced at a VIM. Our accommodation was comfortable and everybody was able to be together. The organisation was excellent, the food was brilliant (best breakfasts ever), the entertainment was great, the barmaids in the bar were beautiful, the area chosen was lovely to explore. But it was wet! It was the wrong time to visit Poland for us.
6. Northern Ireland was unique. We expected rain and we got rain. In fairness, we had a superb ride to the site and the first evening was sunny and warm. We felt really sorry for the organisers as they had everything planned perfectly. What they could not plan was the weather. We had a lovely time meeting our fellow Varadero friends and the sightseeing was excellent, especially the trips to Londonderry and to Carrickfergus Castle.
7. Hungary! What can we say about Hungary? It was the 10th VIM and the best VIM for us. We had good weather, great company, a splendid location with everybody together, splendid organisation, trouble free riding, nice food, cheap beer, varied entertainment, a great tour guide in Gyorgy and Jana, good riding to and from VIM, mountain passes, nice places to stay, etc., etc.
8. France. This was very special for us. We didn't know how the French would react to us. We were the only foreigners - les deux anglais. We thought that the English have a bad name with the French. But we are not typical English. We speak school French and we like to meet people and to absorb the culture of different peoples - especially the food! This was special because we had the chance to use our French, to communicate with real French people, to live as they do, to observe their ways. Our new found French friends were marvellous. They know how to enjoy life. They are very relaxed and have great humour. They were extremely friendly to us and they made us very welcome. The organised rides were superb. The food and the atmosphere equally so. We love France and cannot wait until we visit again - we are now booked for Varadahu in the French Alps in May 2010! Au revoir!
For our previous experiences at other VIMs, please see below.
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