In at the deep end

Sardegna, Corsica and.. Germany?

May 17, 2008

I hastily put down my, by now, sodden map of Corsica to wave at a group of eight German overlanders who were passing by just as I realised I’d spent the last 6 hours going in a circle trying to get to where I already was.
After realising where I was actually trying to get to, I quickly packed up and jumped on the bike in hot pursuit of the overlanders.
Despite the rain I caught them quickly on one of Corsicas few pieces of dual-carriageway and did the french foot-wave I’d seen so many bikers use as they passed me throughout France.

After parting ways (and nearly falling over on a slippery roundabout taken too fast.

I found myself in Propriano on the west coast of Corsica.
The weather throughout my two day stay in Corsica had been universally wet, so I decided finally it was time to pay for some accomodation in the form of a camp site.
€10, which I didn’t end up paying as the reception didn’t open early enough for me to check out and catch my ferry in the morning, bye bye copy no.1 of my driving licence.

Depressingly enough in Sardegna the weather was much the same and after milling around in the miserable town of Porto Torres (which however boasted “il menu turistica” at a restaurant comprising of a 3 course meal of veal and three glasses of wine for €11 in its favour) I forked over for my second campsite.
May I stress that even after (less than really) a week sleeping rough, it feels so good to be able to sleep without fear of being mugged/moved on by the police and to have a hot shower in the morning.

My reason for being in Sardinia was ultimately to go and see the rally, but in my personal tradition of organising very little and adopting an “I’ll sort it out when I get there” attitude I had no idea where the hell it was other than some vague notion it was in the north east.
A quick trip to an internet cafe in Sassari revealed that the opening ceremony was in Porto Cervo, so I set off across the island, and as the weather improved started to feel a bit more optimistic about the whole affair.
And got to appreciate some excellent scenery to boot

Once I got to Porto Cervo however I found nothing other than a mini-St-Tropez and hide nor hair of anything rally related.
Being as it was getting late, the best thing I decided was to simply find somewhere to camp and to try and find out more in the morning.
The time-honoured process of driving randomly and hoping for a sign worked out well and I came to a rather nice sounding campsite “Acapluco”, at an astounding ,€8 a night and with a very plush bar on-site to boot!

I pitch my tent next to a group of German motorbikes that looks suspiciously familiar…
It would appear that through some incredible fluke, through the entirity of Corsica and the entirity of Sardinia, the group of German overlanders I encountered in Corsica are camped in the very same campsite!
They prove very friendly and I believe this is their website, though I don’t have my notebook to hand so I may be wrong.

My incredible luck in meeting people extends to a rally journalist (who has expressed an interest in writing an article on my travels) with previous experience as a motorcycle test-pilot (as it were) and not only tested the F650 but also the very R1200s that Ewan Mcgregory and Charley Boorman did their RTW travels on, apparently revealing major issues with the first two bikes initially assigned to them!

The next day I rebuilt my forks (replacing previously mentioned leaky fork seals).
However the drain-bolts on both forks are stripped (my fault!) and my attempts to seal them with instant-gasket have so far proved unsuccessful (but I feel I may just being using it wrong!)

As that didn’t take all day and I needed to recover after successfully sunburning myself quite badly during the fork rebuild I proceeded to laze the entire day away on the beach and in the bar drinking the local beer.

Which is far too nice.

Today I went to see the RALLY!

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Citta di Roma

June 2, 2008

“Err.. Mi… Viagarre… Australia, Via Pakistan, India, Indonesia…” I haltingly explained to the crowd that had gathered to inspect my (somewhat conspicuous) bike.
This drew a rumble of impressed Italian from them, and brought forward a highly tanned biker with a knowledge of English from their midst to translate from me.

We were all stuck there while they attempted to bring down the landing ramp on the ferry from Olbia to Civitavecchia, and while they did so I chatted in what small Italian I could muster and posed for photos.
It was a very strange feeling, something like being a minor celebrity I should imagine; men shook my hand, congratulated me, told me that it’s what they wished they’d done.
I don’t deserve this… All I did was make a decision and follow it through!
Still… The boost to my morale was spectacular…

Eventually somebody arrived with welding gear and after welding.. something we were allowed on, with the assembled bikers at the front of the queue waiting patiently for me to embark first.

It was the slow ferry to Civitavecchia (Rome’s port), though the seven hours of it were interspersed with a myriad of free beers and chocolate from various corners (which was highly appreciated as my budget was, as always, minimal).

As a result of our delay we arrived at 9pm, meaning I had to break my promise to myself not to ride at night.
I rode the SS1 towards Rome, desperately straining in the diminishing light signs of a campsite.
A large sign labelled “Roma” flew by and suddenly I was plunged into suburbs.
“Shit, I’m never going to find a campsite in the middle of Rome”
Another well-lit sign loomed in the distance “Camping Village”.
I pulled up to the reception and after briefly explaining my story to a wide eyed receptionist and walked away with my place booked and the promise of a free beer at the bar as soon as his shift was finished.

The place was unlike any campsite I’ve stayed at before, the bar rivalled anything you’d see in Milton Keynes and was packed full of people.
As I waited I wondered briefly who would come all the way to Rome and then spend the night in the campsite but realised I was there myself so I should shut up.

Free beer! Woo! After more than two weeks of relatively solitary living in Sardegna the busy bar was overwhelming.
My new best friend leaned over and pointed out a beautiful girl over the other side of the bar and confided that he was going over to talk to her.
I shook his hand, “Buona Fortuna!”.
The night went on, and after a few beers I found myself talking to the very girl that he’d pointed out.
I’m embarassed to say I’d rather effectively cock blocked him.
Still, she turned out to be a very friendly American, I think I must have asked her about 6 times where she came from in the US, but me introducing her to Flaming Sambuca rather effectively erased the answer (though I do have a rather detailed map she drew in my notebook!)

The next day after drinking copious amounts of water and eating an entire six pack of croissants secured from the on-site supermarket (this place has everything!) I headed off into Rome to get a photo of me in front of the colosseum!

Good god… Rome is a frightening place to drive around, that is until you get caught up in it.
I blasted through red lights, cut people up, filtered through moving traffic at 30mph and made great use of my extra-loud airhorn.
Nobody batted an eyelid! It was expected, moreover it was what everyone else was doing!
I did tone it down a little after I passed the scene of an (presumably fatal) accident between a car an a scooter however…

After parking next to the colosseum I wandered through Rome, sampling the pizza (which was far nicer than in Sardegna), the ice cream and the beer.
Although full of tourists, it’s a beautiful place, wandering down tiny streets in an attempt to escape the crush resulted almost always in stumbling across a gigantic piece of masonry or marble that had been structurally incorporated into modern buildings…

I’m ashamed to say I’ve taken relatively few photos, somehow the throngs of touristica spoiled the artistic merit…

Still, plenty of time to take photos; all I have to do for today is to book myself into a hostel (as that campsite was fuckin’ expensive) and after that I can wander at will!

Until next time…

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