After visiting the dunes, it was time to start heading South-East, where we had a few more sightseeing places to visit before heading down towards Spain. The first place was Grotte de Lascaux 2, which is a replica of a cave found in the 1940s by a group of 13 year old boys, containing paintings from the cavemen. These paintings are all of animals, and are painted all over the walls of the cave. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures, but the info can all be found on their website The original cave was closed in 1963 as the paintings started to develop white growths, which was caused by the CO2 in the expired air from the millions of visitors over the 20 years since it opened. They couldn’t remove the white growths without removing the paint, so the cave was closed and a replica (a very good one) was made.

On the way to the Grotte, we stopped in a McDonald’s for a coffee, and we met a couple who were from the UK, and travelling by motorhome and bicycles for a few weeks. They recommended we go to Sarlat, another medieval town in the area (it sounds like I’m starting to get blasé about medieval towns, but I promise I’m not; there are just so many of them around here). I was also quizzing the lady about travelling by motorhome, as I’m really starting to see the benefit of them, and would love to get one after we have finished this. The lady told me that I would get one, one day, and I’d like to think she’s right!

Sarlat was a great town, very picturesque, with some really brilliant buildings, lovely things to buy, and places to eat. I tried my first ever pint of Hoegaarden Rosee here, which was nice and sweet, and I’m not sure if it was something Hoegaarden manufacture, or if the bar had just added something to the normal Hoegaarden. Anyway, it was fab, and I’d love to find it again.

Another place we visited after this was Gouffre de Padirac, which is a village that has some fabulous limestone caves. You enter via a big hole in the ground and take steps and a lift down, and then a boat along the river at the bottom, where the guide who was paddling the boat tries to make you think there’s a monster under the boat that will push it over (and at that point he makes the boat tip a bit!) You then have a guide who walks through the cave with you, showing you all the different formations made by the water dripping down from the surface. The latter parts of the tour we weren’t allowed to take photos of, unfortunately, so the below ones are of the beginning of the place.

We also came across another great town in the Tarn area, called Albi, which we stumbled upon as it had a campsite, which turned out to be the poshest campsite ever, although pricey; it even had a heated pool, spa, and some decked out Airstreams to hire! We decided to stay here an extra night too, so we could have a day off the bikes and explore the town, plus, it was one of the few French campsites that had wifi, so was useful to update this site.

We are currently in Carcassonne, another place where we were recommended to go, and today we have been exploring its medieval town, which is located on the opposite side of the river from the newer part of the city centre, and is within the old castle walls. It is again, a really interesting place, and full of lovely shops, with cafes and artists’ workshops. Roger treated me to a massive macaron there too, which was delicious!

After visiting the Medieval Castle and village, we carried on moving through France, and by chance, one of the campsites we ended up in was in the little village of Airvault, which was run by James and Jayne, who are Brits, and who moved out to France some years ago to escape the rat race back home. The campsite was mostly full of Brits, and normally this is something I wouldn’t go for, but I thought that it would be nice for one night not to have to struggle along with my very basic French, plus it would be nice to have some people other than each other to talk to! When we got there I was amazed at how nice everyone was! It must have taken us about 3 hours to put our tent up and get unpacked, as the amount of people that were coming over to talk to us about our trip and to wish us well was vast! We had just unpacked and were cooking dinner when one of Jayne’s kittens sauntered over to introduce himself, and ended up going into the tent and falling asleep on Roger’s bed. It felt like a home from home! Needless to say, we decided to stay an extra night here and take a rest day the next day, as it was so relaxing. We had drinks with James and Jayne and some of their friends who were visiting, on the second night, and I’d like to think we left having made some extra friends. Thank you all for making our stay so enjoyable.

When we finally did leave the best campsite in the world (as it shall now be known), we headed for Ile de Re and La Rochelle. Ile de Re was an interesting place; it looked like it belonged to Spain more than France, as the architecture was definitely more Spanish than French, but also it had an emptiness to it, and felt like it was just a place for holiday homes rather than people actually living there all year round, which was a bit sad, as it had some great scenery. We didn’t stay here for long, and went to find a campsite in La Rochelle for a couple of nights, so we could explore the city, which we did the next day. This was when the weather took a turn for the worst, and a huge storm raged all night on the second night, and every snail in the world seemed to want to take refuge in our tent. Fair enough for the snails, but I’m afraid they are just about my least favourite thing, so the slimy little nasties had to go. Ugh.

After allowing the tent to dry out the following morning, we headed for Con and Mandy’s house in Montignac-le-Coq. Con is originally a friend of my Dad, from back in the days of the ’59 Club at the Ace Café, and him and his wife Mandy moved to their beautiful place in France 20-or so-years ago. They very kindly said we could stay with them as long as we wanted, and after a few days Dad rode down on his Deauville with our friends Kim and Darren, who were on their way to a classic car event nearby. We met up with Kim, Darren and Kim’s brother, Adrian, at the classic car event in Angouleme, during their visit, which was great as I hadn’t seen them since leaving the UK, and it was wicked to see some of the old cars and bikes.

We stayed with Con and Mandy for just over a week in total, and left when Dad was leaving to catch his ferry back home. It was a great week, and it was lovely to see them again. We spent time relaxing, talking about bikes, going out on the bikes, eating Mandy’s brilliantly cooked food, watching Charley Boorman’s Dakar Rally series, and giving the bikes a service. Roger also had his birthday whilst we were there. Thank you both so much for your hospitality, and I’m sure we’ll see you again, hopefully sooner than later!

After leaving Con and Mandy, we headed for Bordeaux, and then the coast, where we were reliably informed that there were some pretty massive sand dunes. We weren’t expecting much, but when we got there, we realised they were the tallest in Europe at 110m above sea level. The pictures speak for themselves on this! After climbing up, we were rewarded with one of the nicest views I’ve ever seen; forest behind us, sea and little islands in front, and more massive dunes to the South. Despite the number of people there, it was a brilliantly relaxing place, where I sat for a long period of time in the warm, soft sand.

Whilst camping alongside Lake Geneva, and having a couple of rest days, a chap in the motorhome opposite (which had a French number plate), said in the most tremendous Yorkshire accent “is it going to rain then?!!”, pointing up at the dark clouds above us. I was quite confused and said something like “hang on, you’re supposed to be French!” It was then that we got chatting. They were Bill and Cath, originally from Yorkshire, but now living near Angouleme in France, and they were on their way to Croatia for a holiday. We had a good few days with them and they ended up helping us a lot with our route through France, which had to change from what we’d originally planned, due to the time of year we have to come back through next year. This has meant that we now get to explore lots of the middle of France, instead of doing the French Riviera, which we’ll do early Spring. Thank you to Bill and Cath for all of your help, and I hope you made it to Croatia ok, and had a good time!

Before heading in to France, we visited CERN, which is located in Geneva, and is a place where a multi-billion pound research facility, looking into particle collisions, exists. It was not something I knew about before going (it’s more physics than what I do), but it was really interesting to have the tour of the facility and see what goes into their research, even though we didn’t get to see the collider itself as they were running an experiment. We also had a day to look around Geneva city centre, which surprisingly had a very relaxed feel to it, considering everything costs an absolute fortune. There were jewellers and watch shops everywhere, nothing had prices on, but the place was absolutely beautiful, and not a tourist-tat shop in sight!


Leaving for France was when the Alps and their twisty roads began, and it was the first time I used the GoPro since Norway. We spent one whole day on these roads, and they beat passes like Stelvio hands down. Our first stopover point was in a place called La Grave, where there was a cable car to take you to the top of a mountain (3200m), onto a glacier, and then back down again, or not, if you wanted to climb/walk down. We found a great little campsite in the village, ready to go up the mountain the following day. As the following day was Saturday, I suggested to Roger that we get to the cable car when they opened at 9am, as I thought it would be rammed with people, and it was a good job we did. Although it wasn’t rammed at all, we’d decided to walk down the mountain from the 3200m stage to the middle stage at 2400m, where there was another cable car station to take us to the bottom. The lady in the ticket office recommended it and said it would only take an hour, so that was what we did, except it took us 5 hours, and my legs were shot after the first hour. So I’m very glad we left early, as we only just made the cable car from the middle station before they closed it and we’d have had to walk the whole lot! It was worth it though, as it was beautiful and I did really enjoy it.

We are now further into France and we have seen lots of little villages along the way. We have also been through what looked like a mini Grand Canyon, and the Millau Bridge. A couple of days ago we visited a Medieval village called Guedelon, where there is a castle and village from the 1200s being rebuilt using only the methods that were used in the day, and it will take 25 years to complete.

From here we will move further West to La Rochelle and Ile de Re, before heading down near Angouleme to visit a family friend. After that will be “au revoir” to France, and “Hola” to Spain!


Whilst we were sightseeing in Brno, we had a slight issue with the sat nav, which, after numerous calls to the tech support people (who did everything they could to try and help, including giving us access to the app for our phones), still does not work, and needs to be sent away for repair. We were initially slightly concerned/annoyed about this as it is the only navigation device we have, and it has probably made life quite a bit easier for us. However, moving on since, using handwritten notes on our tank bags has been quite nice, as you don’t get suckered in to looking at the sat nav screen all the time, and you notice more of what’s around you, so I’m not sure we’ll bother getting it fixed.

Our destination in Austria was Salzburg, which had been recommended to us by quite a few people we’d met along the way, and it didn’t disappoint. The landscapes were incredibly green, with rolling hills and beautiful individual houses with actual land between them! The roads were the first proper twisty ones we’d used since Norway, and there were mountains all around.

We were about an hour from the city centre when we decided to stop for lunch as it was getting hot, so we pulled into a layby with some shade. We were sitting out on the grass when a chap on a Moto Guzzi Stelvio pulls up and says to us “so, you’re on a world tour then?!” It turned out he was riding past and saw the bikes, so he decided to stop and see if we were ok and needed any help. He then saw the maps of the route on our panniers and worked out what we were doing. After 10 mins of talking to us he asked us if we had anywhere to stay that night or anything to do for the day. We, of course, didn’t have anything pressing, being retired, so we followed him to his house. His name was Chris, and he and his wife Mathilda had a beautiful house only a few km from where we’d met him. It was lovely to meet them and hear all about their travels, which mainly happened before they’d had kids, before sat nav, and certainly before blogs on the internet! We had food out in their garden with them, and a steady stream of friends came by (usually bringing beer!) to say hello. Once again, I was amazed by how kind people are.

The next day we went out for a ride and Chris showed us some great roads, we went out to lunch, and then went for a swim in one of the many lakes in the area. We then said goodbye as Chris and Mathilda were going on holiday the following day. We had a great time with both of you, so thank you, and I hope you had a brilliant holiday!

We spent the next couple of days looking around Salzburg city, which was very pretty, and filled with nice things in the shops, and then decided to move on through Germany and into Switzerland, where we have a tour booked around the Hadron Collider at Cern, in Geneva.

Coming through Germany was where we had our first encounter with the rozzers, because we’d overtaken in a no-overtaking zone, so we were fined €35. The journey also involved both the Fluela and Furka passes, where Oby firstly overheated and sent coolant spewing everywhere, and then broke his clutch cable, which was not ideal, as on a mountain pass, you really do need to be able to change gear! The bikes have both been working incredibly hard on the mountain passes, in really high temperatures, and we can’t fault them for how they’ve done.

We are now camped up on the South side of Lake Geneva, where both we and the bikes are having a well deserved rest for a couple of days, and Oby now has a new clutch cable!


Prague was a very interesting place. Having now seen a lot of the rest of the Czech Republic, I can honestly say that Prague is not representative. It was very nice, but there were an awful lot of tourists. Firstly we stayed in a campsite which was in the city, and quite honestly was the weirdest campsite I’ve ever stayed in. It was like a little hippy village, but run by very ‘switched on’ hippies. The area, predictably for a city campsite, was small, but they’d managed to fit in a swimming pool, a tennis court, a basketball court, an area for tents and one for motorhomes, plus a bar area, complete with a stage for live music, a coffee bar area made out of an old double decker bus, a cabin in which you could buy hot food, and some rabbits! This all meant that, although it was an interesting experience, there was very little room, and very little chance of getting peace and quiet, as you were both kept awake at night by a band playing music, and then woken up in the morning by a group of children traipsing across the tent area to get to the tennis courts for their lesson. However, the beer was good and cheap, and it had a really good atmosphere, plus, there was a tram stop right outside so we could get into the Old Town very easily.

The Old Town was very nice, and much like the other Old Towns we’ve visited so far, with narrow, cobbled streets, and lots of bars and restaurants with people eating and drinking out in the sun, but I still preferred Riga in Latvia, as it was a lot less crowded, and had more green space. The time that Mum and Dad were with us was brilliant though, and it wouldn’t have mattered where we were for that. I was sad when they had to leave!

We visited a place called Horice, about 50km from Prague, as it was holding a motorcycle road race event called the Tourist Trophy, which was a lot like the IOM TT, only with a shorter course and less people. It took a while for me to get used to the speeds they were doing on what were town centre roads, the lack of run off in case of accidents, and the fact that there was just a piece of fine plastic mesh serving as barriers between the racers and the spectators, but it was a great day, with no major accidents!


We had some time before the MotoGP in Brno to explore the rest of the country a bit, and it was a lot nicer than I expected, with lots of rivers and quaint little villages. The people were very friendly and couldn’t do enough to help. My particular favourite was Karlovy Vary, a spa town with its own hot spring in the middle, and somewhere where there were no end of opportunities for pictures.

When we finally made it to Brno, we visited one of their museums devoted to the Geneticist and Botanist, Gregor Mendel, which was located in the Old Town, and I was expecting a museum which explained the fundamental genetic experiments he did with peas. I assured Roger that he would find it interesting and it would be aimed at the general public and their level of understanding. How wrong I was! Poor Roger had to undergo hours of explanation about DNA replication, transcription, translation, protein modification, and then techniques such as PCR and cloning etc. that have arisen since Mendel’s work. They even had a mini lab in there, so people could see what sort of kit we use for all of these experiments. It was a great museum, but massively detailed! We also visited a Capuchin Crypt, where the Capuchin Monks were laid to rest, along with several other important people in the history of the Czech Republic. This was fascinating as all the bodies were mummified (accidentally, by the air currents in the building apparently), and you could see the important people were all buried in a coffin, wearing good clothing, whereas the monks were all laid out on the floor with no coffins, wearing only their robes, with just a brick under their heads. There is rather a good warning inside the crypt “As you are now, we once were; as we are now, you shall be”.

It was also in Brno that Roger and I treated ourselves to a haircut, as we were both getting quite hairy by this point. The ladies in the salon did a great job and we both now have our ‘summer coats’, although I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep my new short bonce looking as great as when it left the salon, with just my little comb as a tool! Plus, I’ve never had my neck shaved before, or even realised it was particularly hairy, but it was a strange-but-nice experience!

MotoGP weekend then arrived, and it was a belter! We had really hot weather on both Friday and Saturday, but Sunday brought so much rain with it that we were sitting there with a plastic sheet (which was the side off a gazebo we’d borrowed from someone at the campsite) over us for most of it. However, the rain has its good points for us Brits, and we had the national anthem played twice; once for John McPhee in the Moto3 race, and , after the rain stopped at the crucial time, we were able to see Cal Crutchlow have the best race he’s had in ages, and come home to win! We were over the moon, but my nerves were somewhat frayed after thinking he was gonna bin it on every lap! That weekend ended our stay in Czech Republic, so we said cheerio and headed for Austria (again)…

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it into Kraków itself because there were so many people there for World Youth Day, but we did manage to visit Auschwitz Birkenau and the Wieliczka Salt Mine, on the outskirts of the city.

Auschwitz was harrowing and disturbing enough, but when we got to Auschwitz-Birkenau II, which was the second (and incredibly vast) camp built after they had added second and third floors to all the buildings already in the first camp, and still there was not enough room to house everyone, it gave an idea of the numbers of people that were imprisoned there. And then to think that they had to build a third camp, which we didn’t visit… Roger and I just passed through both sites pretty silently, as I don’t think we really had the words.

After we visited Auschwitz, we found a little campsite where we met a couple from Kent; Elle and Mark, and we spent a nice evening with them over a couple of beers (which are now cheap btw!). I hope you guys are enjoying your travels too, and good luck on your return to the UK😉

The Wieliczka Salt Mines were great to visit, not just because they made a refreshing change to the 30+ degrees on the surface, but because all the walls, carvings and sculptures inside were made entirely from salt (it was 95% NaCl and 5% impurities, to my sciencey friends); even the chandliers were made of salt crystals.


After this we decided to leave Poland, as everywhere was so busy, and we thought perhaps we would return at a later date. We headed into Slovakia, where immediately there were less advertising signs everywhere (people who have been to Poland will know what I’m talking about) and more open space, with less people. We headed in to Bratislava, and found a large and somewhat untidy-but-functional campsite there, where we met a lovely family from Scotland; Allie and the two Andys, plus we had Horace the Hedgehog come and visit us in the night, trying to steal our food (no pics as I was half asleep and didn’t think about it!). Bratislava is a nice place to visit, with not many people for a capital city, and enough things there to see. We spent the time walking around, and visited the castle and (my personal fave), the Cat Café!

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After this we headed to Vienna, on the hottest day yet, so we were glad it was only a 1hr ride away from Bratislava. Vienna has been the most interesting city yet in terms of museums; it has the Stephensdom Crypt (where some royal remains are interred and thousands of skeletons from when there was an outbreak of Bubonic Plague in the 1700s), Josephinum Medical Museum (collection of wax anatomical models and body parts), Kriminalmuseum (museum about crime and murder), and the museum of contraception and abortion. For me personally, life is too short to visit art or architecture museums, so I was quite excited about seeing museums that were interesting to me. Obviously I wanted to visit all of the above, but had to settle for the Stephensdom Crypt and the museum of contraception and abortion, as it was Sunday and all the others were closed. The museum of contraception and abortion took you through both topics from past to present day, and made me really quite grateful that we don’t have to resort to some of those methods now!

From here, we headed through Czech Republic, back into Poland, to visit a church called Kaplica Czaszek, where there is a chapel entirely filled with bones and skulls of the people who died in the late 1700s from the vast amount of wars and infections at the time. Most of these places wouldn’t let anyone take pictures but you can find more info, plus pics, at

We are now in the Czech Republic, in Prague more specifically, and we are awaiting Mum and Dad’s arrival on Monday, and also the MotoGP in Brno, for which we have tickets!!

Coming into Poland was where the landscape changed immediately. Gone were the tall, thin trees and completely straight roads with no changes in elevation, and here everything was more green, more full and more like home, which was immediately reassuring. The roads developed some bends and there were a few hills here and there. We were heading for the South-East part of Poland, as there was a possibility of meeting another person from ADVRider, and then for Kraków, as there was a lot of interesting stuff there to see, plus we would meet up with my nephew, Jack, and his wife, Karolina. Another different thing was the lack of camp sites in this part of Poland. The first night we could find anywhere to stay but we happened to find a fuel station in Losice, which had a hotel and restaurant attached to it, but it looked really posh, so when the man said it was 120 zlotta for a room, I was thinking that must be a lot of money. I had to google what the conversion was, as I was expecting them to use euros, and was completely unprepared for another different currency. It turned out this was about £22, a very welcome surprise, so we took the room. We ate in the restaurant; a 3-course meal with some really nice soup, some meat and proper vegetables, and an apple cake. We had no idea what we’d ordered, as the lady there didn’t speak a lot of English at all, but it was all fine. It was only the next morning when I came across an English translation of the menu, that I realised the soup was actually beef tripe soup! It was still nice, nevertheless. We also met a lovely Polish chap, who had the most energy of all the people I’ve ever met, and he was lovely. He travels in his Toyota Land Cruiser in Africa a lot. It was here, after chatting to another couple, that we found out about the ‘World Youth Day’, organised by the Church and even visited by the Pope, which was due to take over Kraków at the weekend, right when we were planning to be there. This would eventually make us alter our plans a lot, as millions of people were coming from all over the world, and even the residents would need a ticket to get into their own city that weekend!

We headed for Rzeszow, as we were told that this was a nice place to go. It turned out that for us, with it being 30degC, us in our bike gear, being unable to find the tourist information centre, and unable to find a parking space, it wasn’t the best day ever, and after eventually getting off the bikes, changed into shorts and flip flops, and getting fed and watered, we were quite ready to leave! Our plans to visit the bikers from ADVRider had fallen through, and we couldn’t go to Kraków yet, so we decided to alter the plans slightly and visit Jack, Karolina and 1-year old Oscar in Katowice first, and then see about Kraków later. First though, as it was late, we rode a number of miles to the middle of nowhere, to the one campsite in the area to see about staying there for the evening. I mention this because it was an odd experience. We arrived and it was quite busy, but I went in and started speaking to a man who was sitting on a chair, surrounded by females all sitting on the floor. I was asking if the campsite was still open, and after he answered yes, it was, and that he was the one to speak to about it, I was explaining that it would just be a tent for one night, and then as soon as Roger walked around the corner and I mentioned that it was for 2 people, he immediately changed his body language and said that he was fully booked! There did look to be loads of room though…We then had to carry on for miles, and in the end stayed in a Mercure hotel, which was also in the middle of nowhere, but where they gave us bath robes and slippers🙂 so all was good, if a little pricey.


Jack, Mykola and Roger in the bar inside the old coal mine after the tour.

After arriving in Katowice and meeting up with Jack and Karolina at their house, we visited the Tyskie brewery with Jack and his friend Mykola, which was a great experience, and provided my brain with a little bit of science again, before providing my stomach with a free pint! We also visited an off-road driving experience, where both Roger and I drove a little (but very competent) Suzuki 4×4 on a pretty challenging off-road track, with ditches, steep uphill climbs and some obstacles. Video snippet to come! Also, we did something I never thought I’d ever do; we went to a shooting range and we both fired a proper gun (a Glock 17). I only managed 2 bullets as I was absolutely bricking it, and I was worried about not holding on to the gun properly as my palms were so sweaty! It was something I don’t think I’ll ever do again, but I’m glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and wasn’t too much of a scaredy cat for a change. We then visited a local coal mine, and went 320m down into it, where they have some of the machines still there, and still functioning, even though the mine itself isn’t in operation any more, other than offering tours to tourists. It was a fascinating place, tight in places, and surprisingly we got some really good pictures. I know that I have done some pretty interesting jobs that not everyone would be able to tolerate, but that is somewhere I don’t think I could ever work. I’m not brave enough for that! Uncle Dave, you are a brave man!


One of the tunnels in the coal mine.

It was lovely to see Jack, Karolina and Oscar, and to meet Jack’s friends too, and as we all left in a bit of a hurry on the Monday morning, I’d like to say thank you to them for an absolutely brilliant weekend! We are now on our way to the Auschwitz museum, and perhaps to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, before heading down to Slovakia. We will be back in Poland shortly though, when we visit the Kaplica Czaszek (the chapel of skulls), near the Polish/Czech border.