DAY 5 – THE SOIL OF THE CAESERS

Day 5 began at midnight, catching our ferry from Igoumenitsa Greece to Ancona Italy, the fare was 90 Euros for the 13 hour crossing, being the cheapskate that I am I refused to pay extra for a cabin and intended just sleeping on the floor or in a chair.

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When the ship docked we witnessed the most amazing demonstration of driving skills, as soon as the ramps crashed down about 10 men with whistles, radios and loud voices spilled from the loading ramps and on to the car park, they then proceeded to orchestrate a ballet of trucks entering the ferry, to add spice they load three trucks at a time, one entering forward the other two has to turn around simultaneously in a very tight space and reverse in to the ship.

This was all done at high speed with brakes hissing and tyres squealing, there were not many people on the late night ferry just about a hundred or so large trucks and a few cars, we parked up next to two of the semen’s bikes, their bikes were not strapped dawn and they saw no need to strap mine, so we wandered off along an enormous car deck looking for the lifts or stairs. Duly found, we entered a little piece of Las Vegas, this truckers ship was fantastic and so clean, very unlike North Sea Ferry’s, that we Brits are accustomed too that travel between Calais and Dover.

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We grabbed one of the many snugs in the lounge bar and staked our claim, spreading out our belongings so that this 15 foot long settee was ours for the night !!

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There was even a piano next to us, which we desperately hoped no one would play tonight, I headed to the bar/cafe and was again quite happily surprised that the food was not that expensive (For Europe) so we had a pie and cake feast….and now the best part….as with Greece, you can smoke anywhere….Happy days !

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I slept for over 9 hours on this settee, this made the journey from Greece to Italy quite short for me, and its another free camp in my head. It was a bright sunny day when we arrived in Italy, some drivers were sunbathing and looking at us strangely because we were strolling around in our biking gear, a Little over dressed.

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The ship docked very quickly and everyone made there way to the car decks, being tired last night I thought Linda memorised the car deck number, and she though I did, not only are these decks huge, there were 4 of them, at first we were embarrassed by our schoolboy error but as we spent 40 minutes wandering around the four car decks and six stairwells we began to notice the same faces, also wandering around looking for their trucks !

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The good thing was, that as the searching time went by the decks slowly emptied,  it was so much easier looking around for the bike then. Reunited with the Old Girl, we headed out in to Italy, still no paperwork or passport checks of any kind since the Turkish Customs officers rummaged through it all, days ago.

Our cunning plan today was to have a look at Bologna whilst on our way to Venice, after being spoilt in Greece with first class roads and signs, Italy was just awful, very poor road signs, even the main highways are quite narrow, and only two lanes wide, now add in the speeds they drive at here, the speed limit is 110KPH but everyone, even bloody great trucks are hurtling along in this tight space at much greater speeds. I found some slow trucks 110 – 130KPH and stayed behind them while everyone flew past me in the other lane, very close bye, too close for comfort.

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It was nice though to be in typical Italian landscapes, what we could see from the motorway (Autostade) Progress to Bologna was steady, the road signs are very small, approx 8 inches by 24 inches with much smaller writing ( 3 inches by 18 inches) and they are at eye level, very easy to miss if you are in the outside lane or over taking, just prior to a junction there are small over head signs, again if you are behind a truck very easy to miss, this is GPS country for sure.

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We found Bologna around tea time and entered the city. The tolls were a lot more expensive than I was led to believe, I paid 11 euros just from Ancona to Bologna, Italy was going to be expensive for sure, the petrol was only 1 euro per litre, so that was good.

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The centre of Bologna was very narrow, with uneven cobbled streets with patches of tarmac over the cobble stones. Very much off-road riding, and  at close quarters to other cars and bikes, it was actually great fun, I enjoyed the cut and thrust of Italian rush hour madness.

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The heavily laden Transalp battleship could not manoeuvre or brake with the nimble ease of the Italian light weight scooter frigates, but the Turkish battleship could still out accelerate and intimidate the Italian frigates from the traffic lights and be first to capture a rare parking space. We had a wander around the old centre of Bologna before heading out of the city towards Venice.

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On the way out of Bologna we spotted a motorbike shop, we have been looking for one since leaving home, I desperately needed a tank bag to ease the luggage and weight at the rear problem , I bought the last Tank bag in the shop, a much grander one than I really wanted and the magnets fitted well enough around the Transalp’s curvy petrol tank.

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It took four attempts to escape the clutches  of  Bologna’s  one way systems. The road system is designed by a phsyco, with a mere 30 meters of  slip way you have to enter and cross two lanes of motorway travelling between 120 -150 KPh to reach the exit junction, the small eye level sign is also obscured by cars, vans and trucks.

Trying to get the over weight girl up to 130+Kph in such a short space was not easy, but after a few attempts, wheel spinning and leaving many miles of tyre tread behind, the old girl got across the fast moving motorway to the exit. I now understand why Ferrari’s and Ducati’s come from Italy, only with these machines do you stand half a chance on Italian roads !!

It was a warm evening, well, warm to most warm blooded mammals but not to Linda, it kinda works like this with the Mrs. If the temperature is below 35c, she moans that it’s cold, if the temperature is above 35c then she moans that it’s too hot ! Regardless I carried on through the night towards Venice, the riding was a lot safer and easier because the traffic thinned down considerably after 9pm.

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We met Dave at a motorway petrol station, a fellow Brit who was an owner/driver and had been truck driving from UK to Italy for years, he funnily enough, recommends that one GPS  unit is not enough for Italy, he runs two GPS units simultaneously in his cab plus an up to date maps that he renews every 4  months.

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He was from our neck of the woods in Yorkshire and we chatted for some time, drinking coffee and  eating burgers that were only 3 Euro’s each, around 2 am we decided to call it a night, Dave suggested we pitch our tent behind all the parked up wagons where the drivers were asleep.

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So we pitched our tent on the grass verge of the petrol station and agreed to meet Dave again in the morning for coffee at 06.00 before he set off towards corfu.

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~ by travelswithmymotorbike on May 6, 2009.

28 Responses to “DAY 5 – THE SOIL OF THE CAESERS”

  1. dave & Linda: Looks like you went on a luxury cruise by mistake. Very plush chairs. and also I noticed that it was Linda’s fault for not remembering which deck you were on. have a good time and be safe

    bob

    • Hi Bob,

      Yep, well spotted mate…..the accidental luxury was very welcome though..

  2. Great report, thanks! Strange that you seem to have troubles finding the right roads now and then, but have no problems locating the internet! Did you bring a laptop with internet access? Keep up the good work and enjoy!

    • Hi Wim,

      We have no GPS and only crappy maps printed from the internet, I think some of the Google maps are also out of date by quite some years..

  3. Great report…Great pics…Well deserved Luxury. I wonder what the cabins looked like but being the cheap skate that you are…we’ll never find out…lol
    Cheers

    • Hi Berge,

      Thanks for that, I would guess the cabins were fantastic judging by the standards of the toilets on board, quality marble floor and wall tiles with very upmarket fittings..we are going to catch the same ferry going back if poss…

  4. JIMMNY!!!!! (or however it’s spelt) Poor Linda – no cabin – i’ll look after her when you get here!!

    • Hi Bev,

      I know the wordyou mean lol….good job I did look after the money, because when we ran out every single Euro counted !!

  5. Read the title and thought you’d quit or suffered some mishap until I realised you were on about Roman royalty albeit with an original spelling! Really enjoying the trip Dave and Linda. Has the weather warmed up yet?
    Back here we are experiencing the coldest May on record, thunderstorms the last two days though brightening up a tad now.

    All the best,

    Dave Bird

    • Hi Dave,

      No did not quit but mishap YES !! I will explain it all later when I get the posts up to date, the weather was mostly OK for us except UK…its soooo cold here, colder than the Alps..really!!

  6. It’s a small world! I met Simon & Monica today at a fish restaurant on the Kaş road. They said they’d met you at a border crossing. They’ve got an Alsatian and a Czech-registered Freelander.

    • Hi John,

      Yes indeed a small World, Simons the second round the World person I’ve met, we have met some fantastic people on this trip when things went wrong..

  7. Hey you guys still alive or did the Italians mistake you for Pizza

    • Hi Berge,

      Yep still alive, had a problem, will explain it all in the posts as I bring them up to date in the next few days..

  8. So this is Day 5 – what’s happened to days 6,7,8 and 9??? Where are you????

    • Hi Bev,
      Arrived in UK 11-05-09 we had a serious money problem after leaving Croatia, will explain in the posts, too complicated here…

  9. dave & linda: we hope you are enjoying yourselves and this “lull” is just a matter of not being able to find internet access. Take lots of pictures, we are waiting . . .

    • Hi Bob,

      Yes internet access was more difficult to find in developed Europe, guess everyone has a pc at home and also the cost was staggering 4 Euro per hour, takes me about 4 hours to do one post on a forign language computer..

  10. I agree with Bev. so this is day 5-we understand, what about the day 6,7,8…. Are you OK.

    • Hi Baris,

      Yep we are OK, in UK now 11-05-09 we had a bad money problem, I will explain in the posts…

  11. I found the road from Bologna to Ancona doodgy and stressful in a car so I really feel for you folks on a bike!

    • Hi Nikos,

      Yes its terrifying at times as you know, but the strange thing is the achievement you feel when you survive any stretch of road in Italy lol..

  12. LOL..Know what you mean, I’ve slept on a few North sea ferries, they are just terrible.

    I have ridden and driven in Italy, you are very brave Dave, it was a nightmare for me each time, crazy is just not a big enough word !

    James

    • Hi James,

      Thanks for that, I think only people who have done it can truly understand !!

      Cheers

      Dave..

      • I like the way you write, its honest and funny, there too many pretenders out there who talk about riding but never travel more than 50km on a Sunday. Well done Dave, at least your having a go !!

        • hi james,

          Thanks for the kind words mate…yeah having a go is what its all about.

          Cheers

          Dave..

  13. I like your casul approach…”So we just pitched our tent in the petrol station”

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