Varadahu 2010 and VIM12

Jess and Theresa's Account

 This was to be our great adventure. Both the Varaderomania (French) meeting and VIM 12 were to be held in the Alps so we decided to attend both. We asked permission to join with our French friends and they extended us a big welcome. We had enjoyed their Varad'OC in 2009 and we had had a wonderful time with them. So, we decided to take two weeks for our Varadero adventure.

We summoned up our best school French and set off on the first leg of our journey, to Dover, to catch the Eurotunnel train.

We share our experience of, first, Varadahu 2010 and, second, VIM12, 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 is/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, a Puig/MRA combination screen, a Garmin Zumo 550 GPS system mounted on a bar and Touratech mounting bracket. This is used in conjunction with our Bluetooth mobile telephone and a Cardo Scala Rider Teamset headset system.



13th to 16th May

held at La Clusaz in France


110510 Tuesday - Up and to the task of finding everything that we need. Mowed the lawn and back field, did a few odd jobs and then we loaded up and headed out. Aunty Mary in charge and the dogs bewildered. Took 1750 train to Calais.

Fill up 35m, Brentwood. Short ride to our first hotel stop at the St Omer Etap, peage 1.30E.

A meal at the nearby Buffalo Grill to the droning tones of Johnny Cash. We had come to France only to hear English words in song. A good night's sleep.


120510 Wednesday - Petit dejeuner a volonte (a breakfast without end). Set off for Dijon. Cloudy but dry. Listened to news on TV of our new prime minister, Cameron, with LibDem Nick Clegg as deputy PM in our new coalition government. The GPS took us via the Ardennes, into Belgium & out again. We eventually arrived at our Etap hotel near Dijon around 7pm, the GPs finding exact spot. Booked in tired after a long ride, seeing Klavs & Marika's Varadero in car park, wondered what room they were in and went down to ask but they arrived in he lobby soon after. A great reunion with our Varadero friends who had come to stay with us in Fordham last year as part of their 'Grand Tour of the UK'. They complained that it was warmer in Scotland than it was in Dijon & blamed us. We were hungry so we walked a short distance to a pizza restaurant. 4 pizzas, 4 people. Then we had a problem. I felt ill and had to rush to the toilet. It got worse outside, I passed out. When aroused I managed to walk as if drunk back to the hotel. A very bad night and a big worry to us both as we were a long way from home. Others OK.


130510 Thursday - Woke very weak & feeling very bad. Klavs and Marika offered to go find a chemist for me. It was a public holiday and shops were shut. We debated what to do. A second night at the hotel or pull yourself together and get on the road. So we got on the road after a dose of Paracetamol & other palliatives that were purchased by Klaus and Marika in Dijon city centre at the only pharmacy open. We had talked about meeting Mikeadero and his group from Belgium at a filling station near Langres, so we headed that way and eventually easily met up with them at second station in Langres. So off we went as a group of 8 bikes, with Michael in the lead. He had it all worked out. T was very hungry but there was nowt to be had en route. We soon found ourselves in some beautiful countryside progressively mountainous. Then finally up and up to La Clusaz at some 1400 metres. All the other Varaderomaniacs were already there and we re-affirmed some old acquaintances from last year's Varadoc. Didier, Nooky, Le Chef, Alain, Sebastien, etc. Putting on a brave face I said my Bonjours and went to our room, me very weak and feeling quite ill. We supposed it was food poisoning. There I stayed with a very worried looking T. Sent her off to get something to eat but she was too late. Horreur! She came back and got into bed and we slept the night away. It was only 8.30pm.


140510 Friday - Too much sleep but still not feeling good. All I had had for 24 hours was water. Reluctantly went down for breakfast and had some coffee, juice and a bit of bread and jam. T made up for her crash diet and did some eating for England. After a short while I felt better. We set off at 9am for 250km ride around the alps and I was soon back to normal. Fantastic views but La Clusaz was in the clouds. Lower down it was cloudy but dry. We got back into the swing of 'le systeme tiroir' and we had a superb day being part of our French brothers and sisters event. Everybody is sso friendly (and tolerant of us). Whilst stopped I counted 49 bikes on our tour. We were doing 'les routes' others (number unknown) were doing 'les chemins'. Indeed monsieur le chef was true to form when we stopped for our 'pique-nique', in lining all the bikes up 39 Varaderos, 6 BMW's, 4 autres? check pictures. Then the ride home stopping for fuel at Bonneville at 995 miles travelled. Cloud a little higher on the mountains, revealing that we have cows in the field opposite. T managing to take loads of pictures from back of bike. Shower each and to writing diary. Then to bar and to beer and conversation. Despite our poor French speaking, we jog along reasonably. In the bar we had an entertaining lady quiz mistress who dispensed drinking vouchers for correct answers, 5 correct earned a drink. As we were in total ignorance of the answers (or the questions) we won zilch. Then to the restaurant for our first evening meal here. We were not disappointed. A nice bowl of soup and bread first ably guided by M. Zebulon we understood the devices on our table. The main object was a raclette/grill/crepe. The other was a little shovel with a spatula. This was to use to melt the cheese, on which our potatoes were to be chopped and covered. This was joined with various cold meats and salad. We sat with Klavs and Marika and disussed the day with some joking about pizza. Dessert was cheesecake or strawberries, with ice cream, if we wanted. Vin rouge a volante. All very good and very French. We had a briefing for tomorrow and then to the bar. A glass of wine each and to bed.

Le Chef has a tradition. He meticulously places the Varaderos in a line, according to model and colour. The about photograph shows the whole group, bikes and riders, with some bike shots below.

The BMW line-up.


A bum rest and fag break.










The hotel and base camp at La Clusaz.


Our view from our room.


Our room.


A quiz in the bar.


Klavs and Marika from Latvia.


Theresa from England.


Note the raclette on the table, used for a variety of table cooking


Monsieur Le Chef addresses the team.


Didier dancing. The man is a legend!




150510 Saturday - A good breakfast and making of our pique-nique and off at 9.30. Still a lot of cloud and some light rain. As we got lower down it got drier and brighter. Did a lot of mountain road riding and met up on the way with a herd of cows. Several stops and views of a huge lake (Annecy we think). Stopped for lunch and a coffee and then off again. then the group split and we took the option to visit Annecy. We parked in front of the town hall and watched a wedding party arriving. It is the custom that all the cars arriving for the wedding honk their horns all the way along the route. A beautiful place indeed and very busy. It must get very busy in the summer, we thought. In Annecy we stopped for a drink and had a wander and found a bank machine. Then back to La Clusaz in the rain. No problem at all, our wet gear works well. We found ourselves riding alone on the way back, the pack badly split at Annecy with all the traffic lights. Refuel at 1144 miles. Back by 6.30pm. Pity we couldn't have spent more time looking around Annecy, a very beautiful old town. Shower and to the bar. Quiz again, then to dinner, seated with the other foreigners (non-French), Klavs and Marika. Next to us Sebastian and Gerard. Very funny discussions in French. Soupe de l'oignon, salade, steak and ships, ratatouille, dessert that we never got because we were talking so much. Great fun. Finished the pitchers of wine. Tombola, speeches, etc. Cashed in our tokens for a Planteur (type of drink) at the bar. Talked with Tin-Tin about a French VIM but he said it would be too difficult to arrange. Had offer to stay in Grenoble with Herve. 2 bikes down today on high level tour with Ricom. Hopefully not bad injuries. Refuel 1254 miles.


A stop alongside Lake Annecy


A chateau on Lake Annecy



Horse Power v Cattle Power


Jess with stupid face!


Klavs with stupid face!




Didier and his travelling companion Nookie.


Arriving back from a superb day's riding


Le Chef, Jacques Segret, addresses the multitude

For 2011, the Varadermaniacs are in the Ardennes in Belgium.

Please click on the links below for details of this and the French and Belgian forums.

The French Forum

The Vararadennes Page;topicseen

The Belgian Forum

and a video of clips from Varadahu 2010.

Aussi à Merci SKYBIKE!


160510 Sunday - Up and to breakfast for last time in La Clusaz. Much reduced numbers as many went yesterday. Sat with Klaus and Marika. Packed our things and departed. We followed Michel and Cathi to their house in St Pierre de Faucigny and unloaded. Planned our route and then Michel and Sylviane on 2 BMW's went to Yvoire, situated on the edge of Le Leman lake with Lausanne in the hazy distance at the other end of the huge lake. We wandered a little and were left to our own devices by Michel who admitted to being very tired and his mate Sylviane. Marika studied a couple of menu's and observed the expensiveness, presumably due to the tourist honeypotness of this ancient place, with all its little cobbled streets and trendy shops. So we decided to move on to find a cheaper eating place, to perfect conclusion, finding a nice little restaurant on the road east. 2 omellettes and chips and 2 big ice creams later, we set off again, stopping to have a look at Evian. Amazing Art Deco style architecture. An amazingly long building Lumiere with Jean Cocteau exhibition advertised. We promenaded a little to the accompanying sound of Marika's thighs rubbing together. our companions, especially Klaus, are very precise and careful people. We suspect that they spend an unnecessary time in helmet cleaning and map reading activities. In fairness, they are probably short of money, yet they have more 'toys' than us. They are very nice company though in a dour sort of way. Then on to Montreaux where I was very pleased to be taken to see the statue of Freddie Mercury. Klaus and Marika had been here before. Yet I hated the place for its obscene displays of wealth by the people who go there. Old Arab women, clearly wives of some rich git, young women with old men, the casino, well dressed promenaders looking at us in our bike gear as if we were oddities. Beautiful flowers and exotic plants were festooned all along the promenade. We stopped to feed sparrows a remnant of a previous pique-nique discovered in a jacket pocket. From Montreaux, we followed Klaus and Marika on a mountain tour on small roads via Abondonce and back to find Michel and Catherine. There by 7.30pm. Quick change of clothes and down to a meal and a chat. Michel has little English and Catherine much less, yet we had a good conversation over what we assumed to be typical French fayre. Bread, bean salade, cold meat, cornichon, omellette and fried potatoes, followed by some interesting cheeses and ice cream and plenty of nice wine. An excellent evening spent in excellent company. The cat rules! And so to bed, left to our own devices to leave the next morning as we wished as Michel and Catherine were off to work early.


The cloud had lifted for our departure and this was the view from our room




A bike had fallen in the parking area and a footpeg broken


Fond farewells as the Varadahu comes to an end






Freddie Mercury's statue in Montreux


A plaque to a god










Shut up cabins awaiting the snow of next winter


A road view as we ride


170510 Monday - Marika and Klaus were busy sorting out a breakfast for us of coffee, yoghurt, crispbread and marmalade. After breakfast I headed out to go buy some wine as a gift for Michel and Catherine and Theresa packed the bags. We left a note of thanks and said goodbye to Klaus and Marika, setting off alone for Chamonix. We decided to ride to Zams if possible, although not due until tomorrow. It was a little cloudy but with plenty of sunshine and warmth. Delighted to see Mont Blanc completely covered with snow and glistening in the sunshine, as we had been told it was unlikely, what a magnificent sight. We followed a route set up for us by Michel which took us via Sion, Brig and headed for the, Zebulon-recommended, Furka pass. Not properly understanding that the pass was closed. It was a lovely route to follow, with few cars on the road. At Furka we drove to the barrier and then had a 'what the Furka are we going to do now?' moment. We noted a little train sign and, to our delight, discovered that it was a car train through the mountains, on which motorcycles could also be transported. So we got some Swiss Francs and paid our 19 Francs for our passage and rode the bike onto the train and reversed it into a little compartment at the back, designed for such things. Weeee! A new experience! 15 minutes later we were out the other end. We continued our journey and stopped at Andermatt for a coffee and a panini. The next pass was Overalpp at 2044 which we climbed up and up to with snow, then more snow and yet more snow. Getting worried about the safety, we were cold and in mist, with people in the trains passing by, looking at us as if we were in a zoo. We got through all the snow drifts and then started to descend to normality again seeing a lorry stuck under a bridge on the way. Then to the motorway via Feldkirch, past Liechtenstein and on to Zams via several tunnels. The Albergtunnel cost 8.50 euros. Then the short run in the Zams and found the Jagerhof Hotel, wondering whether they could accommodate us. Into reception, only to find that the big man, Bernard Stikfort, was already here, at the bar, chatting to the two Vara Canadians, Warren and Trevor and two Dutch people, Annaleke and Lambear. We had arrived and the hotel was superb. Real Luxury. Wow! Quick change, shower and down to dinner with the others and some good chat about how we all got here. The food was v.v. good, Haut Cuisine. Too posh for us really. To the bar for a beer and then to bed.

Waiting for the train through the mountain to avoid the closed mountain pass.

A section on the train specially designed for motorcycles.



Stuck tight under a bridge that had plenty of warning signs about high vehicles. Driver nationality?


Our bed at the Jagerhof. A very pleasing place to stay for VIM 12.


180510 Tuesday - Breakfast at 9.00 joined by the others by and by. Decided on rest and relaxation for the day. T went for a swim and J got on with reading George Eliot's Silas Marner. Stayed in the room all day! Mountain view, cloudy/sunny/dry. To dinner at 6.30pm to find mad Mike the Swede had arrived as well as two Dutchmen, Martin and Menno, and also Karinda, Bernard's lady. Excellent meal of salad, soup, chicken curry and rice, ice cream. Good conversation. The new Dutchmen are very entertaining, Menno has clearly lost a lot of weight recently. Martin is a cool dude! Perhaps the coolest dude in the world.


190510 Wednesday - Breakfast at 9.00 with the others of our little group. Afterwards the orgateam (Bernard and Karinda Stikfort, Uwe and Eva Doms, Mense and Lidie Landlust, Jess and Theresa Jephcott) got together in the conference room to commence the job of putting the goodie bags together for 150 or so people. Then we adjourned to the bar area to have some lunch and to discuss business, what prizes to who, what programme, what announcements, what entertainments, etc. Very humourous episode as the plans unfolded, yodelling & hairy chest competitions, etc. To our room for a short while and J finished Silas Marner. T reading 'the map that changed the world'. Then to dinner and some deep philosophical discussion with Martin the Cool Guy, in particular. Mense & Lidie and daughter and grand-daughter arrived late. Bed at 10.00pm. A good productive day. VIM12 is looking good!


200510 Thursday - Breakfast at 8.30am and then we went with Bernard in Karinda's bug (Fiat 500) to Landeck for to purchase an Austrian pipe and baccy for Barry Tinson, partriarch of VIM. Then back to help with the final preparations for the arrival of participants. Decided to take a ride out somewhere as we have been in the hotel since Monday night. A few of us led by Bernard went up to Hahntennjoch Pass at 1900m or so but it was decided to turn back due to uncertainty of amount of snow.

The Big Man Bernard Stikfort and the Blacksmith Mense.

Theresa and friend.


Bernard Stikfort

Some of the Dutch contingent, Menno, Mense and ?


The food at thye Jagerhof was superb as were Willie and Brigita and their staff.


The Jagerhof Hotel in Zams.

Tomorrow, VIM 12 will begin and we will have work to do.


the 12th

Varadero International Meeting

held 21st to 23rd May 2010

at Zams in the Tirol, Austria


210510 Friday - To breakfast and then Jess went off on the bike with some others, this time led by Willie on his yellow Goldwing and up to the same pass again. Weather a lot clearer but much snow. We continued on and ended up with a nice mountain ride, splitting from the others, Jess, Mense, Bernard and Martin only. We had to ride a little slow so that Martin could keep with us on his CBR1000. Menno had got spooked by some oil on the road and went off with the slower group. Stopped for coffee and cake at Warth? and then back by 1.30pm to assist with the impending arrivals. All was going to plan and folk arrived steadily. The sun came out and the bar was doing brisk trade. Old acquaintances restored. Jess was to be the 'Master of Ceremonies' and therefore had to compose notes for an information briefing in the restaurant at 7.00pm. Sat out in the beer garden and to bed 10.30 tired..


Willie leads a group out for a tour on his Goldwing monster.





The beast!



Little and Large, Mike the Mad Swede and Menno. Both ride a Varadero. Both have different riding styles. Mike's feet don't touch the ground so that is interesting in itself.


A stop for some 'kuchen'.


The dining room.


Jess speaking to the participamts about what was planned for them.


The Norn Iron contingent (Dessie, John and Micky) and Tony



The Greek contingent. My notes tell me that we had 131 participants of which 44 were Greek, 25 UK, 16 Netherlands, 6 Hungary, etc. 21 nationalities.



Martin the cool dude and the Dutch contingent


Big Dave! Great Bloke. England's finest.


220510 Saturday - Breakfast at 8.30am and a Jess briefing at 9.30am for the day's options and events. We opted for a short road tour with a guide named Franz Joseph. We joined Uwe riding an injured Swiss bike with the Swiss, Markus on pillion. Also two Turkish bikes and FJ's moto Guzzi. Went up to a superb pass at 2020m and bought a yodeling bear. Then on through some beautiful roads and valley views. Stopped for lunch and back to Zams by 3.15pm - too late to get the last cable car. Disappointed, but a good day. Very hot outside weather really changed. Dinner at 7.00pm and a welcome from Herr Geiger, Mayor of Zams. At 8.3pm Herbert Traxl, minister of Zams, gave a blessing service and then we did our prizes and raffle, best bike, worst bike, best body, best and worst yodeling, Barry prize, worn tyre, snow story (Tony Hemming fell badly today on ski slope), Varadero name, etc. We did this outside with no mic as it was hot inside. Much drinking and laughing. T well oiled!

Kuhtai for a break. People were skiing close-by.


A lunch break with our guide Franz Josef. We had 11 guides at VIM, all taking different routes and at different paces. Thanks to Franz Josef, Dieter, Rudi, Andreas, Elmer, Tobias, Harald, Josef, Nico, Roman, Wolfgang.

The Tyrolean houses and villages are beautiful. So different to home!

The Venetbahn cable car next to the Jagerhof Hotel

Tony Hemming, following his ski accident. That's right. A skiiing accident. He didn't fall off his bike. What a plonker!


Herr Siegmund Geiger, Mayor of Zams, welcomed us all.


Father Herbert Traxl blessed us and our motorcycles

Our Tyrolean band and our yodelling competition with Small Alex stealing the show. A born performer!

The obvious choice of judge for the best Varadero had to be the cool guy Martin Koek, a non-Varadero (a rough looking CBF1000) rider. He soon spotted the classic features of the best Varadero and took plenty of time to tell us all about it. This guy is also a Star Trek expert - or is it Star Wars (yawn!)? But one thing for sure - he's one of the coolest guys on the planet.

...and the winner was ?


Our award to Barry Tinson, father of VIM.


Our award for the Varadero with the most worn tyres was a set of new tyres. Spencer.


Willie addresses the participants.


...and the music took a dive at this point.


A few of the Norn Iron contingent.


These guys were excellent! They gave us a real feel for the Tyrol.


230510 Sunday - Up for breakfast and to announce today's events. All of us set off for our grand tour at 10.00am with police road closures, led by Willie and other guides we snaked our way up to the Kaunerthaler glacier at 2750m. A wonderful ride with surprise at how busy it was at the top with vehicles and skiers everywhere. We had a meal and then headed back as individuals, stopping to look at the dam. When we got back to the hotel we got straight onto the Fenetbahn cable car and went to the 2000m point at the top of 'our' mountain. Some snow but fast melting, but excellent views. Quite warm all day with little cloud. Had a coffee and met up with Klaus and Marika and then down again. Heard of 2 bikes down on a separate ride done after our official one. Cliff Bull has badly injured his foot and in hospital. The others bruised only it seems a bit of relaxation and discussion of programme before dinner. Dinner at 7.00pm and then I was 'on' for our closing ceremony. All went well and Slovakia Romania and me for VIM Wales in 2013 did their presentations, me with Gareth's blow-up Mfanwy the sheep under my arm. A few awards and gifts and on to the party. An excellent day for us and the orgateam very pleased with themselves generally. Bed at 10.00pm - big day tomorrow.

Getting ready for our big bike ride up to the glacier. We had a police escort and road priority agreed and a film crew.


Our Israeli participant Jack. Note the special seat. He had shipped his bike to Italy (I think),



Loudpedal, Micky and Jess. What do you think of that then guys?




Barry Tinson. My hero.



Theresa Jephcott

Back at Zams, after a ride to the top on the cable car.

...and the view looking down.


In the restaurant later, Peter Fisher told us about the plans for VIM13 in Slovakia.


Several presentations were made. This one from Jack from Israel.

Brian Gatt from Malta was mentioned for his epic bike cleaning session that took him 4 hours.


Brigita and Willie and the team at the Jagerhof.

Thanks guys for making VIM12 so very special.

Apologies were received from Bogdan in Poland who had been involved in an accident and could not attend. Geert Smit from the Netherlands whose teaching commitments prevented him attending.

Markus Weber had injured himself on the way to VIM but made a good enough recovery to be able to ride home. Hope you are well Markus. We sadly had two injured participants during VIM with an accident whilst on a private ride out. Nina Moore and Cliff Bull. Hope you are all well now guys.

12 people had gone skiing. 6 had gone rafting.

Can't remember who won the hairiest chest competition. One of the Greek women I think! Only joking.

Our sponsors were - The Jagerhof Hotel, Honda Netherlands, Honda Austria and many others.

All in all, a wonderful VIM.


240510 Monday - Woken by early departers. We got up and got our things packed away and then to our last breakfast at the Jagerhof. Said our goodbyes. It was a nice warm and sunny day. We had covered 1945 miles at this point. We set off westward for home, detouring the Arlberg Tunnel and taking the mountain pass instead. It was a public holiday and there was a lot of traffic. Brudenz, Bludenz, Lindau, Friedrichshaven (where we saw an airship), Bodensee (very busy), Freiberg, Colmar. We took a look at Les Trois Merles, a hotel that we had stayed at two years ago, with fond memories, all shut up. Then on to Nancy to find our Etap hotel. We stopped for kaffee und kuchen on the road from Colmar and witnessed the antics of hundreds of bikers, out to test their machines on the mountain road and to generally get bikers a bad name. We were hot and sticky by the time we goit to the hotel and, after a shower and change, we found a nice restaurant close by where we got use our terrible French again.


250510 Tuesday - Another Etap breakfast and off homeward. Hot and sunny. We met up with Barry Tinson and son on the way back to Calais and took the Eurotunnel experience together. After the usual shock of returning to Blighty, the idiot drivers, bad lane discipline, irritation at the Dartford crossing, etc. we arrived home to be greeted by some very happy little dogs and various others. Our big adventure was over. Back to reality!

On the train, headed for home.

Back to work.

Merci boo Monsieur le Chef et tes amies!

Thank you International friends!

Countries Visited

We had travelled in six countries


Our VIM Comment.

This was our 10th Varadero meeting (8 VIMs and 2 France). Each one has been enjoyable for so many reasons.

1. 2000 - 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. 2001 - 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. 2003 - 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. 2004 - 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. 2005 - 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. 2007 - 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. 2008 - 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. 2009 - 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!

9. 2010 - The Alps. Double delight for us, starting off with our French friends and being made so very welcome, followed by a VIM in the Tyrol that we were part of the organising team for. To compare this superb double experience with previous VIMs would be meaningless. Both events this year were immense fun. The base camps were excellent choices. The food, the riding, the sights, the activities, the weather, the friendships - all excellent.

Sadly, Greece (VIM6), Sicily (VIM8) and Turkey (VIM11) were all too far for us to travel in the week that we had. We would like to see a VIM in France some day, one in northern Italy and other warmer parts of Europe. What matters is that we all meet as friends at this thing that has been created for us, and continued by, some very good people.
 For our previous experiences at other VIMs, please see below.
VIM2 - 2000 in Luxembourg
VIM3 - 2001 in Austria
VIM5 - 2003 in Germany
VIM6 - 2004 in Portugal
VIM7 - 2005 in Poland
VIM9 - 2007 in Northern Ireland
VIM10 - 2008 in Hungary
VIM11 - Turkey and Varad'OC 2009
VIM 12 - Alpine and Varadahu 2010



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