The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pictures of my VStrom

Here are some pictures of my VStrom which I took just before I left Germany to come home yesterday.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

My trip is over for this summer

Since my last post, I have came full circle, back up to my daughter's house in Holland. Along the way I stopped at the Salvador Dali house and museum in northeaster Spain. He is one of my favorite artists and I could not resist going a little out of my way to the northeastern corner of Spain to see the museum he put together.

Here is is car.

And here, one of his more famous paintings.

Odysseus and I traveled around the Eastern edge of the Pyrenees and into France. We rode up through the Gorges du Verdon and along the Route du Napoleon

I wanted to camp because I enjoy doing that, and especially I enjoy meeting the people at the campgrounds. I was only able to do it two nights however. The first night, the people across from me, a man and woman from Holland, brought me over a cup of coffee. It was really good. However, it started raining again and I had to find a hotel. Three years ago, riding this same route in reverse, I remember passing this hotel and thinking it looked kind of nice.

Our route took Odysseus and me up to Chamonix on the flanks of Mont Blanc. Allthough it looked rainy, I decided to camp one last time. It will be my final chance to do that in Europe. From the campground I could look up and see the glaciers of Mont Blanc.

my next door neighbor at the campground was a motorcycle rider also. He was from Scotland. He and I walked into town and happened to go into a restaurant owned by a woman from Cody, Wyoming. She and her daughter made me a great cup of American coffee; nice and weak, at least by European standards, just the way I like it. It rained again during the night, and I had to spend a long time the next morning getting he tent dried out and put away. Meanwhile, I got to enjoy the scenery.

I rode on up through the Alps, enjoying my last time through them. Odysseus and I have certainly had some good rides through those mountains.

I wanted to stop at the town of Verdun along the border between France and Germany in the Alsace-Lorraine region. It was here where the longest battle of any war ever took place over three years during WWI.  Thousands of men were killed senselessly, almost all of them by cannon fire. After the war, they gathered up the soldiers of both sides who could not be identified and put their bones in a huge ossuary. So sad.

But now, finally, I am back at my daughter's house in Holland. I spent the day sorting out the camping gear which I plan to give them: tent, stove, etc. I won't be needing it any more. Tomorrow I will start getting Odysseus cleaned up to sell. I have decided to sell him here in Europe rather than to ship him back home. He has been a great partner and will make his next owner a trustworthy steed. 

Bye Odysseus. It makes me sad to leave you behind. I am off to new horizons. I hate it that I can't take you with me, but I promise to find a new owner for you who will take good care of you.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona has to be one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, and possibly in all of Europe. I have been having a wonderful time walking around this city, and seeing all sorts of marvelous things. As you have probably heard me say before, I don't much care for large cities. I prefer the mountains and valleys and forests. I have to make an exception for Barcelona though. It is one of the most dynamic places I have ever been.

Lets see --- where to start ---

Dragons are everywhere in the city. There is a legend here, going way back to the 1400s or so, that Saint Jordi killed a dragon around here and saved the queen. The English have a similar legend, but they call the man Saint George.

I took that picture of the dragon at a fountain in the park not far from where I stayed while in Barcelona. The park is just down the way from my apartment, just through the Arc d'Trimof (yes, they spell it a little funny here).

Not far from the Arc d'Trimof is the sea. Barcelona citizens really like the sea, and they have about 7 beaches. I didn't spend any time at the beaches, but I did enjoy walking around looking at the sailboats moored there. There are thousands of them, and they come from all over the Mediterranean and the European and African Atlantic.

Some think that Christopher Columbus was born in Barcelona all those years ago. Whether that is true or not, they do think a lot of him here. There is a statue of him, high up on a pedestal, near the Barcelona port. It celebrates his return voyage when he came back to see Ferdinand and Isabella.

And that monument to old Chris marks the beginning of one of the most famous tourist streets in Barcelona. I bought some souvenirs for my youngest grandsons there.

There is a tremendous amount of traffic in Barcelona, and for that reason many people like to ride scooters and motorcycles. Look. I found some.

I left my own motorcycle parked in a motorcycle parking area in front of my apartment building. It is right on the street corner, but it is locked up and I think it is perfectly safe. One thing I definitely wanted to do was go visit the 1998 Olympics site. Here is where the kept the eternal flame burning during the games.

The Olympic Games in Barcelona were held up on a huge hill overlooking the city. I walked around up there, and gradually worked my way down toward the bottom of the hill, passing these colorful pigeons along the way. I don't know who the people in this picture were. I wasn't really interested in them.

From the pigeon place, I had a great view over Barcelona. Can you see the Mediterranean Sea down there?

There is a fountain at the bottom of the hill. When I got down to it, it was getting close to dark. There were a lot of people there waiting for the fountain to start working.

The water started squirting up in the air just a little before dark.

And when it got good and dark, the lights came on and the music started, both Rock and Roll and Classical. The fountain put on a dancing display.

I had parked my fanny in a cafe chair which might have been a little too close to the fountain, because sometimes it looked like a colorful cloud, and then I would get a little wet -- not too much though.

I decided to move away a little to get more perspective on the whole affair. As I walked back up the hill, up toward the Museum of Modern Art, I discovered that the entire hill had fountains on it.

Have you heard all you want to hear of fountains? How about just one more picture, although I have dozens I could show you.

As I was walking around up at the top of the hill, I spotted one of the more modern buildings in Barcelona. It was all lit up. To me, it is a stupid looking thing, but who am I to judge. It was a long way off across the city, so I had a hard time holding my telephoto lens on it.

It was getting a little late for this old man. Time to go back to the apartment to get my beauty sleep. But first, gotta find the Metro station. I had not ridden the Barcelona Metro yet, but I had a map that said there was a stop somewhere down this street. It looks deserted here, but believe me -- there were lots of people out wandering about.

Once I got back "home" and had a quick shower, it was midnight. I fell right asleep, eager to go exploring the world of Barcelona's most famous architect, Gaudi. The first place I went the next day was the Sagrada Familia. It is the most famous building in Spain. What do you think of it?

Keep an open mind as you look at it, because they have been working on it for 100 yers and there are still 20 more to go before they are finished. I thought the sculptures outside were really interesting. The each tell a story from Jesus' life, but I could not remember where in the Bible it talks about an angel playing a big bassoon.

The church is surrounded by small parks on two sides, and buildings on the other two sides. It was really hard to get a good picture.

Personally, I thought the architecture was a little strange, at least to my taste. But inside, the place really comes alive with light from stained glass windows and graceful, tree-like columns.

I have a lot of pictures of the church and other Gaudi buildings, but I don't want to bore you with more of them. Besides, it is almost 1:00 a.m. and I plan to get up early tomorrow and ride Odysseus north to the villages where Salvador Dali, one of my favorite artists, lived.

So, yawn, more later.