Welcome to Europe

Well it’s been awhile so I thought I’d bring the blog up to date since we’ve been in Europe.

As always being back in Europe is wonderful. Everything works, everything is nice and the food and wine is some of the best in the world.

There’s history and beauty almost everywhere you look and clothes and shoes to match.

There is of course a downside to all this. Expensive petrol and road tolls make travelling more stressful than other countries in the world. Hotels are way too expensive for us to consider so every night is in a tent (which still costs 7 times more than the most expensive hotel we stayed in Africa). There is also little in the way of excitement as we pretty much know every place we go to will be beautiful, it’s a hard life 😉

Upon arriving in Italy from Egypt, the first thing we noticed at the airport was how much skin we could see….and colours…. After being surrounded by men dressed in white and the few women we saw dressed in black from head to toe for the last few weeks… the colours, clothes and tans of European holiday makers was a bit of a shock. People seemed quite happy too!

We spent a week with Katie in Siena which was beautiful. She had an awesome little apartment right in the centre of the old town with a terrace over looking a beautiful church. We drank several spritzers per day and watched the craziness of the Palio which we were lucky enough to be there for.

We also ate salami, prosciutto and Buffalo mozzarella, lots of it…but the spritzers were definitely the outstanding feature of our time in Siena.

With so many church bells in Siena it didnt take long before we decided they were actually Aperitivo bells, telling every one it was time for an aperitivo, which we dutifully obeyed. The aperitivo bell generally started any time after 12pm and if we ever felt we missed it we made our own bell by chiming two glasses together.

After a week of this behaviour Dean and I said goodbye to Katie and caught a bus to Bologna, one of our favourite cities in Italy.

The aperitivo bell also rang here however not quite as early as it did without Katie by our side 😘

From here Dean caught a train to Ravenna to pick up the bike while I walked around shops and got a hair cut and colour 😳

Picking up the bike was relatively straightforward, however at some stage between leaving Egypt and arriving in Italy our petrol tank was drained, the bike had been riden 10kms and at some stage fallen over (evident from scratches on the pannier and our world map ripped) and anything that wasn’t locked to the bike stolen (luckily not too much) 😖

Dean returned to Bologna, picked me up. We basically picked a point half way between Marostica and Bologna and decided on Ferrara.

Ferrara is now also one of our favourite cities in Italy (another one)

An old wall surrounds the city and a huge castle stands in the centre with a moat around it – absolutely stunning. There was also a ‘buskers festival’ on which added to the atmosphere and reminded us of the Adelaide fringe, there was even a guy from Australia busking there.

We loved Ferrara so much we decided to spend another night however rain was forcast and our tent is only almost waterproof now so we decided to push on to Chiara’s house in Marostica.

As always it was lovely to see her and Bianca and be back in Veneto. We enjoyed almost a week hanging out, catching up with family and getting things fixed on the bike.

As always it was sad to leave but we had to pull ourselves away and get back on the road. We spent a couple of nights at Deans Zio Bepe in Varese who spoilt us with beautiful food and wine before heading in to Switzerland.


So beautiful with luscious green grass, water turquoise blue, perfect colour coordinated flower boxes blooming with geraniums and petunias in the windows of every Swiss chalet, waterfalls cascading from the mountains and cows with big bells around their necks (not quite sure why?!)

It’s perfect.

A bit too perfect.

Everything is ordered, everyone follows the rules and everyone is very sensible.

We found it a bit boring.

I certainly won’t be racing to a Swiss party… If they even have them?!

But most of all, it’s so bloody expensive! I’ve never seen so many tourists in the supermarkets! In a lot of cases the cost of food was similar to Australia but some thing’s even made Australia look cheap. With a coffee at $7 and camping at $55 it gets a little stressful. The place is beautiful but we didn’t feel it warranted the cost.

The Alps are just as beautiful in Italy and France and are a fraction of the cost (and a little more fun!)

There were many suggestions of returning to Veneto 😁

So we spent several days in Switzerland trying to dodge the rain, travelling between Interlaken and Bern. We travelled over some beautiful passes and did a hike in the mountains to try to work off all the good stuff Italy indulged us in.

We’re now in France in the Alsace region which is stunning. Lots of little mediaeval towns with more perfect flower boxes and cobbled stone streets and some great cellar doors to visit. The cost of food and camping isn’t hurting our soul and even though we can’t afford to eat in a restaurant, we can afford a beer in a cafe. I feel not being able to do this takes away from the experience of being in a place. I love to watch people work, eat, drink and interact with each other and see how life unfolds. This is what we missed in Switzerland.

The rain is still controlling our itinerary and the weather seems to change hourly. We were originally planning on going to the UK but have decided to head south to Morrocco while the weather is good – the cold and rain has reminded us how uncomfortable it is to ride in bad weather.
It was raining too hard to cook tonight so we had no choice but to go to the cheapest restaurant in town. We got away with only spending €35 but that was still more than we wanted but with no chairs or tables and only mud to sit in we had no other choice!

I’m currently lying in our tent, it’s raining and we’re waiting for drops of water to start to land on our heads.

I’m going to put some earplugs in now so I can pretend it’s not raining and we’re not going to get wet!

We still discuss retuning to Veneto 😍

Goodbye Africa

Sally suggested that I write something to finish off the African leg of our trip, which I guess is fitting. Leaving the continent has sneaked up on us a bit, one minute we were at Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, marvelling at the unique and hard way of life that the African tribal people live, next thing we were eating njera bread in Ethiopia where the people looked more a mix of Arab, Persian and African and a couple of weeks later we were staring at the pyramids in a country that doesn’t consider itself to be African at all (and actually takes offence at the assertion that they are in fact African).

It was always going to be a short, relatively easy trip by our standards, but even so it feels like it was over a bit too quickly. In retrospect we would have stayed longer in the southern countries as our concerns about spending a lot of money further north didn’t actually materialise, and we’ve arrived in Europe having spent a lot less than we budgeted for.

Which is good because everything here is so damned expensive!

On the flip side, it’s left us with a possible future plan to return for a month or three and just visit some of the national parks.

Anyway, our plan from here seems to be changing by the hour, but broadly it involves visiting some of Italy, Switzerland, France, the UK, Spain, Portugal and Morocco, and then finding something to do with the rest of our lives 🙂

Betsy is now on a boat headed to Ravenna (near Rimini in Italy), hopefully she arrives safely on Monday and we can get back on the road. Pretty scary seeing a short Egyptian man wobble away into oncoming traffic on her the other day (I wasn’t allowed to ride into the port), times like that I’m glad she’s already well worn and scratched!

For the next week we’re staying in Katie’s apartment in Siena, she’s given us her bed and is sleeping in a cot in the corridoor, thanks Katie, very kind!!!

It’s “the Palio” time here in Siena, something about a horse race through the centre of town contested by local families, has been going on for hundreds of years, lots of singing and drinking by the locals… we’re doing our best to fit in 🙂

Love to all xxoo

Edit… Monday’s bike collection has turned into Wednesday now, so we’re getting out of Katie’s hair and planning on going to either Modena or Bologna to wait it out for a couple of days.

Huge thanks again to Kitty Katie for her warm hospitality, comfy bed and constant desire to ring the aperetivo bell 🤗 We’ll miss you this afternoon!

Leaving Egypt

We’re in the car on the way to the airport, it has no headlights or seatbelts and the driver is really going for it!

This could be the most dangerous thing we’ve done so far!

Back in Italy

So here we are, in the town of Marostica, where there just happens to be a life sized chess board in the piazza…

Where once every two years they play a tournament with people in period costume playing the chess pieces. It’s on this weekend!

We arrived here after spending some time with my Zio Bepe in Lugano, another stupidly beautiful part of Italy overlooking a lake, a medieval Castle and a few churches. Nothing special really…

Today we’re headed to Bologna to meet Paul for a night, before moving again to Rimini to fulfill a lifetime dream of seeing a MotoGP in Italy!


Italy..?! Stupid…

Our camp tonight

Our camp tonight

So here we are…in French Alps, camping by a river bed, by a fire, drinking red wine from an empty tin of tomatoes! We’re not sure if we are allowed to be here but so far so good! One of the reasons we are wild camping tonight is because Dean forgot to transfer money in to his account (despite having gentle reminders…) so we have limited money until Tuesday when the bank allows us access to the money J This wouldn’t usually be a problem as I would be better organised but since I had an issue of fraud on my credit card about 3 months ago and am still waiting for the bank to get their shit together to send me a new one, we only have one card to work with…

Camping every night makes small things very important.  Our ‘kitchen utensils’ consist of using paper bags for plates, cut in half beer cans for wine/coffee cups and any random bag as a bin. We were especially disappointed when we returned to our camp the other night to find that all these vital instruments were taken as rubbish and disposed of and we were left with nothing but a plastic spoon and a wine bottle…tough times…!

A beautiful village in Italy

A beautiful village in Italy

So Italy…so ridiculously beautiful it’s stupid! Always a castle, a mountain, a ruin, prosciutto and aperitivos that everyone drinks no matter what time of the day it is! We went to a United Colours of Benneton shop the other day only to realise that there was a ruin in the middle of it…

“Is that an actual ruin or just a feature that has been designed in to the shop?” Dean asks the shop assistant?

“Yeah, its a Roman ruin from about 2000 years ago, there are loads of them here” she says as if she is talking about the weather

There wasn’t even a sign to tell you that it was there …amazing!

Just another castle in a random village

Just another castle in a random village

We spent a few and nights at Chiara’s, Deans cousins place which was lovely. We loved not moving for a while and it was hard to get on the road again. We headed to Verona, and on the way stopped for a lovely lunch in another historic building and a glass of Soave… in Soave of course. We then arrived in Verona and found a campsite which was a 10 minute walk from the centre which was pretty amazing. We spent the next day shopping and then rode out to Valpolicella and learnt more about wine. Very beautiful!

Restauratnt in Soave

Restaurant in Soave

Verona... the view from our campsite

Verona… the view from our campsite

The following day wasn’t so much fun riding through a rain storm to Barolo but we ended up finding a nice camp and spent the next couple of days doing much the same!



It is all very nice but there is a feeling that the wheels are starting to fall off… starting with Dean getting sick of seeing me in the same clothes (it has been a year to the day that we left…still in the same clothes), but also the zips on our bags are breaking…the GPS keeps freezing and turning off…my suit is no longer waterproof…half the bike is being held together with zip ties and to top it all off…our airbeds – which we are using every night at the moment are starting to disintegrate (we think) and have hundreds of tiny holes through them so once an hour we have to wake up and pump  them up again. This results in a bad nights sleep in an already challenging environment and a slightly grumpy Sally…! So…tomorrow our mission is to try to find some airbeds, come hell or high water! We don’t see ourselves being able to afford a hotel room for another week or so until we get to Spain so it is quite important!

Another castle in Barolo

Another castle in Barolo

Despite everything wanting to retire, the sky is blue and the weather perfect (apart from the odd day of rain storms). Everything is green, radiant and oh so civilised. We are travelling through amazing wine regions, beautiful scenery and years of history. We are so so lucky xx


You see?! Stupid.