and then they went to Spain…

We originally planned to travel to England after Switzerland and France, but somewhere along the way we changed plan, and now we’re in Spain.  It was something to do with the stress of high prices in Switzerland (and also the UK), the rain, and that we’re eventually going to the UK anyway.

So anyway, after Sal’s last post (we didn’t get wet!!), we drank a lot of french wine, which was actually really good, stayed mostly on back roads where I tried hard not to tear up my tyres chasing other french motorcyclists, and finally crossed the border to Spain, which we only realised had happened because the price of petrol is 20c/litre less.

Spain is many things to many people, but for these two borderline alcoholics, it’s great bars, cheap wine (not to be confused with bad wine) and pinchos.

“wow how long has it been since we had a bathroom in our room?! – I’m almost excited to go to the toilet” – Sally Clark just now.

After sleeping cold for about ten nights on the trot in the tent, we arrived in Spain pretty bleary eyed and fatigued, and so have been splurging on the cheapest hotels we can find.  Sounds glamorous doesn’t it!!  The first night in Pamplona we even had a double bed!  Last night we were in a hostel dorm though, which was actually cheaper than camping!  Anyway, all the Rioja and Alborinio is making up for the accomodation 🙂

Yesterday we visited two art exhibitions in Bilbao.  One was a temporary display showing a fusion of technology with art, and the other was the world famous Guggenheim Museum of modern art.  The first museum was actually quite interesting, with things like robot flower beds that were swaying to the wind being measured somewhere in the US, or a robot with a live feed from the Mars rover drawing exactly the rocky Martian view that the rover was looking at…

“we’ve been places that look just like that”  Sally Clark yesterday

The modern art museum was a bit of a struggle I must admit, but I dutifully visited every exhibition and listened to the explanation from the audio guide, all of which was incredibly interesting…

“In the mid-1950s, while working as a cryptographer in the US Army, Cy Twombly developed his signature style of graffiti-like scratches, scribbles, and frenetic lines that simultaneously referenced and subverted the then-dominant painterly mode of Abstract Expressionism. Following Twombly’s permanent move to Rome in 1957, the gestural freedom of Abstract Expressionism was counterbalanced by and tethered to the weight of history. A series of works from the late 1950s and early 1960s chart Twombly’s deepening fascination with Italian history, ancient mythology, and classical literature”

I understood parts of it like the giant pot shoe…

“this installation is a giant stiletto shoe, made from shiny pots and pans, in the which the artist describes the  juxtaposition of a woman’s role in society where she is both expected to prepare meals and to be a sex symbol at the same time…”

“Yeah I get that”  Dean Martinello, yesterday.

other ones i was a little more challenged by…

“This cycle of paintings is based on the cruelty, insanity, and eventual murder of the Roman emperor Aurelius Commodus (161–192 CE).”  (I checked it three times to make sure I had the right description…)

“Fuck!!! Sally you have got to see/listen to this…  if you gave me a million years to come up with every possible meaning behind someone throwing red and white paint at a wall, I could not have dreamed this sequence could be describing the life of a murdered Roman emperor.  What???”

I actually burst out laughing, literally had tears running down my face from trying not to laugh.  Very inappropriate for the Guggenheim crowd.  The next painting was a totally black canvas with a little white dot in the corner that meant something very special apparently…  Thankfully that was the third and final floor.

My favourite part was a giant flower puppy on the sidewalk outside 🙂

Tonight we’re in a region called Cabrales (???) where we’re off on a 25km hike up a mountain tomorrow to try to balance some of the intake.  Hopefully I can keep up with Sally.

What else?  Well not much really, the bike is running great, and we’re happy and healthy and looking forward to Portugal and Morocco!

Love to all back home xxoo






Happy pillion

In response to a post Dean did recently about bike zen I wanted to write my bit about pillion zen.

I’ve kind of made that name up but after travelling about 120000 kms as a pillion I feel I have enough experience to share what makes a pillion (me) happy.

It’s pretty simple really… A happy rider (Dean). Sure… Not too hot, not too cold, not wet, not too boring, not too exciting (not too many water crossings or sand roads…) But most of all a happy rider.

When there is something wrong with the bike it occupies every second and space of deans brain. Constantly throughout the day I can see when he’s unhappy with how the bike is running.

It seems that to try to diagnose ANY problem with the bike it usually involves accelerating really really fast and then breaking suddenly… time after time after time.  This gets a bit tiring on the back, constantly trying to stop myself from smashing into the back of him but I try to remain calm as I know that whatever is going on in deans head is more painful.  When there are bike issues Dean gets angry which is very uncharacteristic of him… There are lots of air/petrol tank punches when he misses an exit on the highway and lots of shaking of head. For a while I thought it was just big cities and highways that were challenging him but it appears that it was the bike.

He worries and worries and constantly considers worse case scenarios (suggestions of sending the bike home on a boat occur frequently) but its really hard to appear as concerned/worried as Dean is as I know he always fixes everything!

‘it will be fine babe, you fix everything’ is all I can muster as words of encouragement but Dean looks at me like I don’t understand.

He always fixes it.

I try not to mention that I was right 😜

On the flip side when Dean has ‘bike zen’ he is happy and we ride faster and. there are more wheelies… The mixture of excitement + bike zen+ a fast, happy betsy and a bit of testosterone results in a raising of the wheel… It’s quite phalik actually and I kind of feel like I’m imposing on a private moment between Dean and Betsy  but I do try to embrace the air borne happiness … Whilst gripping on for dear life.

The other thing that happens when we have bike zen is night time dean…. We all know what happens when night time dean comes out….

Anyway, we are now back in France, in Bordeaux. We rode through the Pyrenees from Spain which was beautiful. The South of Spain was much like Australia…dry and hot whilst the North was more like England, lush and green.  Spain was full of bars, people , tapas and late nights where nothing gets going until 9-10pm where as France goes to bed at 9pm.

This left us this evening with no wine and barely any food.  Our dinner consisted with everything we had left in our panniers which was pasta, oil, garlic, salami and egg… it sounds better than it was… But more importantly no wine. Camping is hard enough at the best of times but without a glass of wine to help us sleep?!

Spain was unexpectedly unfriendly whilst France has stereotypically and expectedly followed suit. Obviously this is a huge generalisation and we have met lovely, friendly, hospitable people everywhere we’ve been but it’s always interesting to experience cultures based on your assumptions. France had been spot on 😜

Tomorrow we are going to go and visit some wineries which we really hope will be a good experience and improve our opinion of the French and their wines.

Update: (it’s now tomorrow) our opinion of wine hasn’t changed. Some of the French people we’ve met today have been lovely and are changing our initial opinion somewhat 😉

We want to go back to Italy, we miss aperitivos… Xx


A wet rainy night in the tent last night, we arrived back at the camp site saturated and cold… Very lucky I sealed the seams of the tent a few days ago!

“I’m not a camper. I’ll never be a camper!”   S Clark. 2016.

Some useful camping advice from the pro’s…

Location… Before going to sleep make sure you are aware of the other campers in the area, or you may inadvertently wee on them in the night.  (Reciprocal weeing has been known to occur by unhappy campers).

Sugar… Don’t buy sugar, you can steal it from restaurants every day, it helps pass the time wandering aimlessly in foreign cities.

Sleep… Always have something black nearby as you’ll need an eye covering in the morning to stop the Sun from buring through your eyelids. 

Underwear… Do not keep black underwear in the tent.

Earplugs… No explanation needed.

Orientation… Try to work out where the Sun will come up and put your tent in exactly the place that you think will be sunny in the morning. You will never work it out, so this guarantees shade.

Pillows… It’s a lost cause, stop trying.

Carrying liquid… Old water bottles take up less space than wine, olive oil (or vodka bottles), and can be squashed up as they become empty.

Plates… Are not necessary. Suitable substitutes include shopping bags, egg cartons and paper bags.

We head towards the Pyrnees today, hoping to avoid more rain!

And finally some bike zen!

This moto travel thing is great fun, but one main prerequisite for the fun is that the bike runs well.  When the bike runs poorly, or is carrying several ongoing problems, my day of riding turns into hours of pondering, analysing, and generally beating myself up for not being better at fixing it.

As the olympics has just finished, I’m going to use an olympic analogy to describle the motorbike.  

I once heard an interview with an olympic athlete, who said that while most people think of athletes as incredibly healthy, finely tuned machines that are totally prepared for 100% performance in competition.  The reality however, is the complete opposite, they are actually continually pushing themselves beyond normal levels of endurance, and therefore injured, sprained, strained and generally hurting somewhere.

And so it is with the motorbike.  After 55,000km on this trip, and about 255,000km in total, Betsy is tired.  She’s willing and will push on to the end, but she’s only human, and things are starting to hurt.

So for the last 10,000km, she’s had a misfire/flatspot in the bottom of the rev range that has eluded my repeated attempts at a fix, and continued to get worse and worse, ruining our riding experience, until we finally ended up being passed by a diesel Golf on the highway recently, and so once again I dismantled some parts, but after so many failed attempts, I wasnt expecting much of an outcome.  But this time, lo and behold I actually found and cured the problem.

Bike Zen.

I’d like to say that I invented the term bike zen, but it may have been my brother, or it may have come from the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but either way, it’s a real phenomenen which I will now share with you…

Bike Zen : Adjective.  The state of mental clarity and feeling of harmony which can be experienced while riding a motorcycle which you are responsible for maintaining, when that motorcycle is running perfectly.  E.g. “the bike is running great, today was an amazing ride, total bike zen”. Contrasted with “The bike is misfiring continually, it’s really messing with my bike zen”

So finally after a couple of months without bike zen, we have a healthy happy motorcycle again, and therefore a happy rider.

I wasn’t even aware of how frustrated I had become until I found myself punching the fuel tank after missing an exit from the highway recently.

“Are you ok babe?”

“Yeah, this misfire is just really killing the riding vibe ”

“Well why don’t you just fix it then?”

I love the way Sally thinks I can fix everything. Each time something goes wrong and I pace around muttering something about needing parts, or some catastrophic breakage, Sal just sits somewhere and waits for me to fix it.

“You know one day it will stop and I won’t be able to fix it”

“But you always fix everything babe”





Here I am again writing the blog post that Dean was supposed to write but once again he is spending the day working on the bike so I’ve taken over!

Clearly we are having lots of fun here in Europe as you can probably tell from the lack of blog posts! I am currently sitting by a pool in our campground in 35 degree heat working on my tan (I hope I’m not making you jealous?!) That said, it will be our 10th night in a tent tonight surrounded by the rest of Europe who are all on holiday. It’s the cheapest option we have although not really cheap enough to make us feel good about it! A good night’s  sleep however is required so I have spent the last 2 hours trying to find hotels in Seville which we can afford and also have bike parking which is the main challenge. All the old towns here are beautiful with walking streets only throughout however this means no parking – frustrating!

No doubt we will end up in a tent again as it’s all too hard!

Since the last post we continued in France through the Alps down to the south coast which was stunning.

A break in the Alps

A break in the Alps

We ate French cheese, fresh baguettes and cold meats looking over mountains before heading down into the heat of the French Riviera. We found a campsite and stayed a couple of nights as Dean had to try to organise some tyres – ours were beyond bald…!

The French Alps

The French Alps

This was harder than expected and we ended up having to organise some in Barcelona to pick up in a couple of days. We spent some time in Nice and Cannes and made our way quicker than planned to Spain. Along the way we camped in a little town which had been recommended to us which was really lovely. It was the first time we felt we had a taste of France.  We would have like to spend some more time there but the KTM shop who had our tyres in Barcelona was closing for a month so we had no choice but to push on.

Night time Dean in Cannes...

Night time Dean in Cannes…

Its great being in Europe in the summer but we had no idea how EVERYTHING shuts down and EVERYONE goes on holidays. It really sucks! Everything is busy, everything is expensive and all businesses are closed! We feel we are missing out on the usual buzz of places.

So, Spain. We spent the first night in Figures which is where the Dali museum is. After about an hour lining up for a ticket we entered and ‘WOW’ I don’t usually get excited by museums but this was something else. Such a diverse artist.. A must for anyone who ever goes to Spain!

A view of the entrance hall of the Dali museum

A view of the entrance hall of the Dali museum



More Dali

More Dali

The next day Barcelona, via the KTM shop to pick up tyres. Dean was hoping he would be able to fix them in their workshop but they weren’t very friendly or welcoming so he ended up having to do them in a parking lot next door to the shop.

In almost all the KTM shops we have been to around the world the guys that work there are so helpful, accommodating and interested in the bike and will go out of their way to help Dean and let him work in their workshop (and usually spend the day standing around staring at him while he works) but it seems in more developed countries they couldn’t care less which is disappointing.

After spending hours trying to find somewhere to stay in Barcelona we ended up resorting to a campsite 17 kms from the city. It was a dust bowl with hundreds of tents haphazardly pitched so close together you could touch each other and it cost us $45 a night. Some campsites here cost as much as  $90 a night – crazy!

Oour campsite on a quite day

Our campsite on a quiet day

Barcelona is a great city and we rode in every day enjoying the bars and tapas but it drained our budget – especially when night time Dean came out – Danger! We visited the Sagrada Familia which was amazing and still unfinished – another must for any Spanish visit!

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia in need of a clean!

Inside Sardena Familia

Inside Sagrada Familia

So beautiful it almost makes you believe in God...

So beautiful it almost makes you believe in God…

After Barcelona we rode to Valencia for a night which was really nice once we got out of the touristy centre. It was a shame to leave after just one night but it seems that Spain has more to do than we had anticipated!

Now down in the South where its bloody hot and feeling more Spanish which is really great and is making us regret  spending so much time in Barcelona. We are in Granada at the moment which is really beautiful. We were really excited to learn yesterday that whenever you buy a drink, you get a free plate of tapas with it! So 4 drinks also bought us dinner! Bargain! We also wanted to see the famous Alhambra castle here but, alas, its closed for the holidays. Of course!

Dean has finished working on the bike and feels that he has fixed the problem which is great news! A worry free Dean is a fun Dean….but it could mean that night time Dean will want to come out to play tonight and I am having trouble keeping up…! x