The Sahara and Us Morocco 2011

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Last Days in Europe for 2014

The Back Valley of Levanto from Livaggiorossa
So as we began focusing on packing our belongings back into the panniers after nearly 2 weeks in Levanto we found ourselves feeling a bit sad that our trip for 2014 was ending, while looking forward to seeing family and friends back in Canada. Quite the conundrum!

We’ve been coming to Levanto for as long as we’ve been riding over here and in 2011 we’ve been staying at Chris and Sabrina’s B&B. Now with our 5th stay at their place we feel very much at home, and, appreciative of how great Chris is as a host. This year was no exception, when we arrived he had the ‘nutmeg’ a source of a fun translation exercise a few years ago, already on the table in the apartment, as well as his olive oil for cooking and a ” gift” olive oil to take home. We had to laugh as soon as we saw it!

Tomatoes Peaches Lemons Nectarines 
Our time here saw us mix making a number of favorite meals in our apt. including having access to the Orvieto Classico wines that we first tasted in Orvieto, fresh focaccia (hugely better than I make)and fresh fruits in particular peaches and nectarines as well as tomatoes. Sandra loves the Mortadella meat from the local market, and Wednesday’s the weekly market has a truck that comes in and fire roasts chickens in the square. They are so good especially when Sandra roasts potatoes and carrots in olive oil to go with them. I am able to buy fresh salmon there and we poached salmon a couple of times in olive oil and lemon. Most of the days saw us at our favorite beach cove swimming and snorkelling, (I even dove for and retrieved a natural sponge)
Natural Sea Sponge
and every evening walking back into town to have gelato. Of course we went out for mussels in white wine sauce and pizza several times. Italy loves its food and all its residents know how to eat and prepare food.

Unfortunately with most of the trails closed on the Cinque Terre we got our hiking in by exploring several mountain villages that have small trails leading to them. Lizza
Lizza backstreet high up in the mtns.
and Laviggiorossa are two that we spent an afternoon hiking to. This was done on the only cloudy/rainy day we had while there.

Sandra and I had talked before coming that we wanted to take Chris and Sabrina out for supper to his favorite pizza place that he knows about. After one failed attempt on the Friday evening due to one of his hot water boilers failing and he had to wait for a repairman, we re-scheduled for Tuesday, only to have guests arriving late that he had to wait for, so our invite out ended up they inviting us to their penthouse apartment above the B&B for supper. This little suite has a balcony that overlooks the back Levanto valley and is spectacular. The meal, and wine were simply superb, need I remind myself that Chris has been in the hospitality industry for many years in his family restaurant in Levanto. His father-in-law-to- be makes a white wine that is bottled and sold locally in a boutique wine shop and it is fantastic!
Us with Terese and Chris from Sweden
Then we had the good fortune to meet Chris and Terese from Sweden, a young couple about to be married July 10th in Lucca, Italy. A destination wedding for 30 family and friends. They both spoke excellent English and had ridden motorcycles in Sweden and did a bit of touring. We enjoyed quite a few evenings with them, Chris is a magician as a hobby, and can make a bottle of Havana Club rum disappear before your very eyes. We never did see where the contents went! LOL! On our final night out we all went for supper at our favorite restaurant in Levanto. 
We want to wish them the very best for their upcoming nuptials! We will likely see them next year in Sweden when we go next.

We used up all the good weather in Levanto as our departure was met by cloudy skies and a bit of spitting rain. No worries though, we took the autostrada to Genoa where most of your time is in tunnels so you don’t get wet, and then onto Milan and finally Lake Como where we stayed in Chiavenna again. Yes the same wonderful B&B and same type breakfast as photographed in our last entry last year. This time however we booked an extra day there and rode up to San Moritz Switzerland,
San Moritz
an upscale rich
Ducks at San Moritz
and famous resort town situated high up in the Swiss Alps. The day up there was very beautiful and we stopped and had lunch back near Chiavenna 
 at the base of an amazing waterfall.
Swiss Chalet

Gorgeous Waterfall excellent on hot days
On leaving, we headed back over Splugen pass again and to the canyon at Thusis, Switzerland. This is the kind of riding day that causes you to say WOW a lot.
Thusis Canyon
The Swiss
 Alps are SO scenic to ride in. We took a few more and different pictures at our favorite canyon. outside Thusis. 
See the Hikers in the Canyon?
Now you can with aid of zoom 

Then onto Bregenz where we spent the night. We were both exhausted though from the riding effort required. You see, the climb out of Chiavenna to Splugen has you going on roads that have been upgraded from goat trails, but barely, and switchback roads, some that the switchbacks occur inside the tunnels, which have no lighting. And God forbid you meet a bus coming in one of them. Actually smaller cars had to wait for us to exit before they would enter the tunnel going the other way. My Splugen pass helmet cam video will show this once I get it done.

So after a minor service at Stefan’s shop in the bike is being ‘winterized’, and stored until next season of riding. We are so pleased with the bike, it truly has brought us many Vstrom Adventures.

2006 Suzuki VStrom in Thusis Canyon
Finally, we get to finish off our trip this year celebrating our 42nd anniversary again on the road for the 4th year in a row, Turkey, Italy, and Germany twice. Hope the next 42 will be as good to us as the last have been. If I look under the weather it's because I seem to have been really hit by allergies on this ride back to Frankfurt.
42 yrs today, Where's Heiko? Meeting his landlord!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day from Levanto Italy 2014!