Monthly Archives: March 2015

WHERE THE HELL IS AIRVAULT FRANCE?   DON’T ASK THE FRENCH CAUSE THEY DON’T KNOW EITHER.

I’m came to Airvault because that’s where Vincent of Albania and Greece bike touring fame lives.  We also exchanged many corresondences  after we parted ways 

Vincent moved out of his parents basement, so I moved into the basement, super great place.  Both of his parents are interesting, gardening, cooking and some travelling too.  I had a gardening business in Portland for 25 years, so I know how much work their yard is to maintain.

  

THIS IS FRANCOIS (VINCET’S DAD) WINTER GARDEN OF LETTUCE, HE USES THOSE PLASTIC COVERS TO SUCCEED 

                        THIS IS MARIE-JEANNE (VINCET’S MOM) PICKING SPRING DAFFODILS. 

The next day, Vincent and I biked around the forgotten villages of the French countryside.  We passed through one village and Vincent said “this is where my Dad grew up”,

                                                                         HE ONLY GREW SO FAR!

Marie-Francois spoke a little english, Dad? nearly none.   Vincent said it was killing his Dad because he loves to talk.  They asked me to help Vincent quit smoking, Dad ran marathons, so go figure.

Vincent got us a couple bikes so off we go.  We explored places you couldn’t find on your own without a local guide like Vincent.

  

    I’M GETTING FAT-HOLY SHIT

THIS LOCAL GENTLEMAN GOT US THE PHONE NUMBER FOR SOMEONE TO LET US INTO A HISTORICAL BUILDING.

  

                          WE CROSSED THE RIVER MANY TIMES  ON A DIFFERENT TYPE OF BRIDGE EVERYTIME

                                            I TOOK THIS PHOTO FROM THE “NEW” BRIDGE

I ASKED VINCENT IF WE COULD RIDE OVER IT, EASIER SAID THAN DONE,, I WALKED THE BIKE , IT WAS ROUGH..

 

VINCENT IS A GREAT TOUR GUIDE, EVERYTIME WE FELT A LITTLE LOST, HE GOT OUT THE MAP AND SORTED IT OUT.

                     THIS IS THE WALK  FROM VINCENTS HOUSE BACK TO HIS PARENTS HOUSE.

                            THIS CASTLE HAD THE  MOET COMPLETELY AROUND IT, JUST LIKE A REAL CASTLE!

WE WERE GOING TO TAKE A GET HIGH BREAK, THEN CROSS THIS STONE BRIDGE AFTER, I DECIDED TO TAKE MY BIKE OVER BEFORE,THEN VINCENT CHANGED OUR ROUTE.  HE VOLUNTEERED TO RETRIEVE MY BIKE.

GETTING VINCENT TO QUIT SMOKING WON’T BE EASY..  NATASA TOLD HIM HE WAS A PERFECT GUY, BUT JUST NEEDED TO QUIT SMOKING.  I HOPE HE DECIDES TO!

  

                                       TYPICAL FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE STONE BUILDING

VINCENT TOOK 10 PICTURES OF THIS SHEEP IN THE FIELD, SO TO MAKE HIM FEEL BETTER, I’M POSTING IT.

                             THIS IS A SPECIAL BREED OF DONKEY THAT IS NATIVE TO THIS REGION

                                                               SOME OF THEM WERE SUPER HAIRY

                               THIS IS THE NOW CLOSED AND FORGOTTEN  AIRVAULT TRAIN STATION  

  

ALL OF THESE TREES ARE COVERED WITH ENGLISH IVY.  ENGLISH IVY, AN INVASIVE PLANT, IS EVERWHERE.  THERE NEEDS TO BE A NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO STOP IT FROM SPREADING.  YOU CANNOT BUY IVY IN OREGON.

Vincent bought us some tickets to see Portland’s band, THE DANDY WARHOLS, in La Rochell..  There’s an island outside of La Rochell, called Ile de Re.  We pack up the bikes and head to the island, for several days of cycling.

WE’RE KILLING IT ON THE ISLAND

  I SPRAWLED OUT AND JUST WATCHED THE CLOUDS FLOAT BY AND REALIZED I LUCKY I AM TO BE ALIVE.

 

THIS  IS A WALKING PATH, NO BIKES ALLOWED!! BUT “OFF” SEASON TRAVEL HAS IT’S PERKS, WE HAD THE ISLAND TO OURSELVES.  YOU CAN SEE THERE’S NOBODY HERE,  JUST DRESS WARM!

  

THIS IS THE SCENE OF THE CRIME, VINCENT WAS TURNING THE CAR AROUND AND CRUNCHED THE REAR FENDER, BAD.  I TOLD VINCENT TO TELL HIS PARENTS HE QUIT SMOKING SO THEY WOULDN’T CARE ABOUT THE CAR.

  WE SAW THE DANDY’S IN LA ROCHELL,   I’VE SEEN THEM MAYBE 12 TIMES,, I KNOW ALL THEIR MUSIC INSIDE AND OUT.  THERE WERE TIMES I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT SONG THEY WERE PLAYING, THE SOUND WAS BAD. 

  

            THE BIKE PATH MEANDERED THROUGH THE SALT MARSHES THAT WERE FULL  OF WILDLIFE

            THE BIKE PATH AROUND THE ISLAND WAS OFF ROAD AND ALWAYS NEARLY CAR-FREE WHEN WE HAD TO USE A ROAD.

BICYCLE DOOR MAT,  I WANTED TO BUY IT. BUT FLYING EASY JET THEY DONT LIKE EXTRA STUFF.  I PAID $500 EXTRA TO SEND MY BICYCLE & CAMPING GEAR A COUPLE YEARS AGO. MAYBE THEY LIKE EXTRA STUFF?

HANGING OUT OCEANSIDE WITH MY GOOD FRIEND AND BIKING BUDDY, VINCENT. IT DOESNT GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS.

  

EVERY RESIDENTIAL BUILDING LOOKED LIKE THIS, ONLY MAYBE WITH DIFFERENT COLORED SHUTTERS, THAT’S IT.

II SWEAR 1/2 THE FRENCH AT ANYONE TIME ARE WALKING AROUND WITH A BAUGETTE IN HAND, IN A BIKE BASKET TOO!

HERE ARE SOME PICTURES OF THE ISLAND FROM A LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHER..                                                            We never actually visit La Rochell, maybe next time.  Were back in Airvault

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                                  THIS IS VINCENT’S NEW UPSTAIRS BEDROOM, FROM THE PARENTS  BASEMENT TO THE SECOND FLOOR, MOVING ON UP!

It’s our last day in Airvault,, Vincent’s asking biking? hiking? I’m beat, I tell him I just want to wash his parents cars,, they were dirty.  I like showing my appreciation for them hosting me. HIs parents served us Foie Gras, cheese fondue  with baugette!! with homegrown lettuce  salad, which was super cool.

After finishing the cars, we start  an hour walk, as were walking he mentions fixing the greenhouse.  As were walking I suggest we go back and fix the greenhouse.  I love to do that kind of handy stuff, while I still can.

                     IT TOOK SEVERAL HOURS JUST TO TAKE OFF ALL THE NAILS AND TRIM WOOD

WE WEREN’T VERY GOOD AT GETTING THE PLASTIC TIGHT BEFORE STAPLING, IN CASE YOU COULDN’T TELL. 

THE BRITISH RETIRES HAVE FOUND AIRVAULT, THIS IS WHERE THEY STORE THEIR TRAILERS IN THE WINTER.

II had a super time with Vincent and his parents.  The thing that impressed me the most were all the birds we saw and heard while on our bike ride around Airvault, WOW!   I didn’t hear that many different birds in the jungles of SE Asia.  If birding and biking is something you enjoy, you must visit Airvault,  put it on your list, NOW.

Vincent spent 6 months living on Crete and was going to return.  But upon his return to Airvault I think he realizes how compareable they reallly are.  He has a great project going on with his dad. Vincent seems to have the decsion to live Airvault, awesome choice.  Now it will be easier to visit Airvault sooner, with Natasa.  Thanks for staying Vincent, hope to see you sooner than later.

VINCENT GIVES ME A RIDE TO POITIERS FOR THE HAND-OFF TO CAROLE

                                                                    IT’S A BAR PICTURE OK?

THANKS FOR READING

JEFF

NEXT?  POITIERS, FRANCE WITH CAROLE

   

  

VIENNA, BERLIN by BIKE  AND DITCH PARIS

I’m on a 5 week tour around Europe, by train, plane, automobile and eventually by bike.  I’m visiting fellow bike touring friends I’ve meet on my journeys.  I’ll be biking with them mostly, but some walking too (my favorite).

Direct  flights from Ljubljana tend to be neither direct nor cheap.  So I’m taking the bus from Ljubljana to Vienna and staying at the “SUPER CLEAN”  VIENNA CITY HOSTEL.  They had bed and breakfast for $20 and $10 a day bicycles.  So my $61 Germanwings airline ticket to  Berlin, wasn’t until 7:30 at night.   So I  rented a bike and rode around Vienna, I’ve been here before.  I don’t know what I was thinking? Vienna in a Day!?   No Way, it’s a big city.   The City Center was designated a UNESCO World heritage site in 2001.  In 2014 Vienna was recognized as the most liveable city in the world.  There’s almost 2 million peple living here.

I did some homework on Vienna and discovered they had an island on the river, like Prauge.

 So I rented my bike and headed in that direction.

I knew when I saw this sign it was a good city.  Eating meat has a high C02 emmissions footprint they say 51% of C02 is from raising animals to eat.

 

I love taking sign photos, more than taking nature pictures

                                                     ENJOY YOUR LIFE IT’S AWESOME 

 I rode by a huge theme park, they must have 4 big roller coasters.  I finally found the island, no commercial buildings, just one wind turbine.  Traveling in the off season has it’s benefits, it was almost my own island.

 

  I LOVE ALL THE HISTORY  & BUILDINGS OF EUROPE

                                                                                                    THIS IS A METRO TRAIN BRIDGE, NO CARS 

 I still think in balance, the bicycle takes you more places than walking could

I THINK I FOUND THE HEADSTONE FOR MY GRAVE.  AS I WAS TAKING THE PICTURE THE SALESMAN CAME RUNNING OUT TO “”HELP” ME..   I TOLD HIM I WASNT READY YET. 

 I refused to use my Iphone data, to find my way back to the hostel..  I knew I was close, but I’ve been riding a lot and I was beat..  I finally gave in and turned on the data roaming ($), I was only 1kkm from the hostel, close.  Back at the hostel I get a message from Mark,,  has to leave Berlin,  but can leave his apartment keys with a nieghbor.

  I figure out how to get to his apt.  His widows are dirty, so I clean them all insde and out.  All good travellers should show their appreciation for being hosted.

I make plans to visit the Tourism Trade Show that’s happening in Berlin.. I really wanted  to go so it worked good, I had something fun to do.

                  THE BEAURIFUL WOMEN OF SRI LANKA 

 The tourism show had  representatives from every country: Iran, Cuba, Russia & America  (set up next to each other).   I sstopped by the New Zealand booth and told them I’ve visited there country and loved it.  II told her she had an easy job “”trying”  to sell New Zealand.  Then I walked a little further and there was the Pakistan booth.  He  was trying to tell my that I should visit Pakistan.  I could hardly  keep a straight face,, OK tell me.  We have K2, 3 glaciers, ahh? NO.  First that sounds cold and second? I disapprove of the way they treat women and restrict girls education.   He said his village had a 94% literacy rate,, but he agreed with my general analysis of the situation in Pakistan.  I won’t be going to Pakistan any time soon..                      THE BEAUTIFUL WOMEN OF THE MALDIVES

        AFTER TODAY I FEEL LIKE THE KING (of travel) I went to nearly every country ((booth) around the world.

 Marc was still out of town so I get his bike and ride around Berlin.. It has a great network of bike lanes, except in the core of the tourist destinations.

  IF YOU USE A BIKE TO HOLD YOUR SIGN IS IT FREE? 

 In Portland they have a pedal beer tour, you drink while you pedal.  But I saw these in Berlin and had never seen them anywhere before.

IT’S GREAT SEEING PEOPLE TRY ALTERNATIVE TYPES OF TOURING 

Marc  and I bike toured together  20 years ago in  New Zealand..  I have visited him and his parents in  the former East Germany several times over the years.   Marc is back Sunday night,, so on Monday we decide to bike the “WALL TOUR”   

 

 

  THE FAMOUS CHECK POINT CHARLIE THAT SEPARATED EAST AND WEST GERMANY

 

 THE UNTOUCHED WALL 

                      WE PUT TOGETHER  MARCS FIRST TV,, EVER!!  LET’S JUST SAY IT’S BIG!

Back at the Berlin airport and your phone is low.

THESE ARE SELF-CHARGING PHONE  STATIONS, KEEP PEDALING IF YOU WANT TO SURF!?

When travelling I ssometimes look for music and art events that are going on.  Paris had David Bowies touring collection off outfits and other memorablia.  I saw David Bowie in 1973 and really wanted to go. So I bought a ticket oonline and thought I would go since I was in Paris early.  The train ticket to the exhibit was nearly $50 roundtrip, I threw the David Bowie ticket away.

I spent 2 weeks in France, that is why there hasn’t been a blog post in awhile.  FRANCES’S INTERNET IS THE WORST IN THE WORLD!! EVEN BURMA’S WAS BETTER.

I’m in Lisbon now, picking up Natasa Saturday, at the airport.  I visited 3 friends in France  and biked and hiked a lot.

THANKS FOR READING

JEFF

NEXT? A REAL FRENCH COUNNTRYSIDE VILLAGE, WITH BARELY A CAR IN SIGHT.

   

   

THE WEDDING CELEBRATION CONTINUES AND WE VISIT PTUJ (Slovenia’s oldest village)

Jeffs Bike Tour Blog Site blew up with the wedding news and photos.  I asked Natasa what we were going to follow up with?  But as the days roll on so do the opportunities to celebrate.  Natasa organized some food, drinks and desserts for an at work celebration of our wedding.

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IT WAS VALENTINES, BUT NATASA CLAIMS SHE DIDN’T ORDER THE MINI-CAKES WITH THE HEARTS (I have my doubts)

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4 TRAYS OF “BEAUTIFUL & DELICIOUS ” SANDWICHES. BY “DELI-LADY”, MARTINA

Natasa, the pharmacist,  is a super hard worker, I can’t keep up with her  and I’ve been self-employed nearly my entire life.

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POURING THE SPARKLING CIDER BEFORE THE WORK “PARTY”

The room quickly field up with doctors, nurses, dentist and all the support staff.  I was brought to tears, as they read us poems and congratulations (in Slovenian & English!)

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EVERYONE ONE WAS SUPER EXCITED FOR NATASA  AND FOR US TOO!

We met Nadja, a doctor at the clinic, at the farmers market and I gave her this blog address.  Well she read it and gave us this amazing handmade gift.

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THESE ARE THE RIVERS OF PORTLAND AND SKOFJA LOKA. THANKS SO MUCH NADJA, IT’S HANGING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, WHILE SITTING AT MY DESK.

Janez (Natasa’s brother) went to school to be a photographer and he captured some great moments.

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 DSC_3114 DSC_3125

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We had an awesome wedding dinner, so I asked Natasa if we could walk home to help digest all the food?  She loves walking so that part was easy, except we get outside and her Dad wants us to walk in the opposite direction.  I insist we walk a certain direction, why?  I made reservations at the TURIZEM LOKA B & B  that was only 1 block from the restaurant   As we walked i turned her left and directed her up the driveway to our honeymoon suite.  Sara was waving to her mom, “goodnight Mom, have a nice night”, I was crying, she had no idea.  Everyone in the wedding party knew, except Natasa.  I had her favorite flowers delivered to the room with a card and framed sign that read:

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The B & B’s hot tub and sauna, was a nice way to relax after a hectic week and day.

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I  ASKED  NATASA I FOR A BARE HUG,  INSTEAD THE BEAR GOT HUGGED.  THERE’S STILL A LITTLE LANGUAGE MIS-COMMUNICATION.

                            WE VISIT  PTUJ: SLOVENIA’S OLDEST VILLAGE
Skofja Loka is the 2nd oldest village in Slovenia and Ptuj is the oldest.  They have a  2 week celebration every year and the parade is the final event.  It was about an hour drive from our house.
It’s big event so we went early and brought our bikes, so we could do some exploring before the parade.

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THE RIVER-MAN MADE LAKE HAS A BIKE-PEDESTRIAN PATH ALL THE WAY AROUND.  THAT’S THE OLDEST CASTLE IN SLOVENIA, DATING BACK TO 70 AD.
I didn’t know it, but there are 2 communities of Gypsies (Romas), in Slovenia.  I was asked for money more today than I have my whole year in Slovenia.  I felt like I had a sign on my forehead, “ask me for money”, they would walk the line, stop and ask me.  They train them young too, I had a 3 year old ask me for money, holy shit.

I remember seeing the Kurent (or Korant) costume at the Ethnology Museum in Ljubljana.

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DEPENDING ON THE VILLAGE THEY’RE FROM, THEY EITHER DECORATE THE HEADDRESS WITH FEATHERS, FLOWERS OR HORNS.

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According to an ancient belief Kurent is a demon chasing winter away and calling spring to the country.

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HERE’S GOOGLE IMAGES OF THIS YEARS PARADE
HERE’S SOME HISTORY OF ALL CHARACTERS OF THE PTUJ CARNAVAL .

HERE’S OUR  PHOTOS FROM THE WEDDING AND PTUJ CARNAVAL

Thanks for reading
JEFF AND NATASA
NEXT?   PORTLAND?– SKOFJA LOKA? What’s the difference? PART II

OLD COUPLE MARUNION MARR