(9/16/2010 - 9/18/2010 from THIS TRIP)
On this page are pictures and descriptions from 9/16/2010 - 9/18/2010. These are mostly pictures of Italy, Switzerland and France (on motorcycles). Click on any picture or panorama for an ENORMOUS version. Click here to go to the homepage and get a description of what this is all about.
Below is a picture of the "Grand Hotel Majestic" in Verbania, Italy on the morning of 9/16/2010. That is the breakfast buffet there, it is pretty nice here. Our motorcycle tour members are against the window having breakfast.
This is a "Beaches Motorcycle Adventure Tour" as can be seen by the van below. The van carries the luggage to the next hotel every night. That is Scott Keeler (in Orange) carrying bags into the van.
The van carries an extra motorcycle (in case any of the ones we are riding break down) plus heavy luggage we would not want to carry on the motorcycles.
Here is the van packed totally full of luggage for the day's drive.
The Hotel Grand Majestic is very nice, here are some pictures of the hotel grounds.
The Hotel Grand Majestic in Verbania is by a big lake in Italy.
A picture standing by the lake pointing back up at the hotel.
View of the hotel grounds:
A view from my hotel room in the morning:
As normal, here we are getting ready and leaving at different times from each other. Brian Beach and I head off together out of this crowd.
This day we head up Colle Delle Finestre in Italy. What follows are way too many pictures of that mountain pass, you really don't want to try to look at them all.
A panorama of the fateful decision to head up Colle dell Finestre, taken from the back of the motorcycles.
Brian Beach in Italy.
If you look at the picture below, the road doubles back on itself over and over through the pretty trees, it has very sharp corners. Motorcycle in the foreground.
Up the tiny road up Colle Delle Finestre in Italy. The road has no center line because it is only really one lane wide (although traffic comes both ways).
Look at the width of the road. Brian Beach's motorcycle takes up a full half of it, a bus takes up the FULL width.
Below is a two minute video of Brian Beach driving up a small road to Colle Dell Finestre in Italy. Click Here for a very high quality QuickTime Version (Windows users probably cannot play QuickTime!) The road is gravel half way up, and there is not much traffic. This is not fast or particularly challenging motorcycling, just pretty.
The guard rail here is made out of half rounds of real trees.
A close up of the guard rail made of half rounds of real trees bolted to metal stakes.
In the picture below, it shows how the Italians are CONSTANTLY repairing the road and how it erodes. The road fell away leaving the old guard rail dangling in space (see picture below) and they built the new road and left the old guard rail just out in space.
In the picture below going up Colle Delle Finestre you can see big drops off to the right and no guard rail at all and gravel roads. The road is about one lane wide, but there is so little traffic we rarely have to pull off to the side with our motorcycles.
Sometimes we have to drive around cows. :-)
A picture of some of the road we just drove up.
The motorcycle in the corner of a gravel road on Colle Delle Finestre in Italy.
Just past the far upper right of this picture is the summit of Colle Delle Finestre Italy.
That's Brian Beach waaaaay off in the distance at the corner of the switchback.
Zoomed in, the same perspective as above. He is taking a picture. :-)
A picture of the gravel road we just came up.
There is a fort at the top, not sure what era it is from?
A close up of the fort at the top of Colle Delle Finestre in Italy. Looks kind of like World War II era?
While taking pictures, this little animal scampered up into this crack. I'm not sure what it is, do you know?
At the top (summit?) of Colle Delle Ffinestre.
The plaque at the top of Colle Delle Finestre in Italy, something about bicycles.
A picture of down the other side, it is a very nice day up here.
Just over the top we stop for lunch in this simple Refugio serving bread, meat, and cheese. It is cheap and good.
A picture of our lunch spot.
Here we are entering France for the first time! We spend most of the rest of the trip in France, including Corsica (which is technically part of France).
The French Alps, very pretty:
At the top of Col D'Izoard, France. We have been here before, see this picture from 2006 of my motorcycle in front of the obelisk. Below is the new picture from 2010 (that's not me, just a random bicyclist in the picture):
Peter and Jane Manchester catch up with us while we're hanging around at the top of Col D'Izoard. That's Peter talking with Brian Beach in the picture below.
That ends the day of 9/16/2010. The next day we get up on 9/17/2010 in Embrun France at Hotel De La Mairie. It is a pretty little town, but I leave the group to arrive in Nice, France one day early to hang out with my friends who are waiting for me there.
On my drive from Embrun to Nice, France, I go along one of the routes recommended by the tour guide (programmed into the GPS).
It goes through Vars Ste Marie France, I've been here before. Click here for a map showing Col de Vars France at location "B" marked on the map.
Ski lift in Vars France.
The Col De Vars mountain pass in France. I was here 4 years earlier on a trip also, it is a little barren up here, but we are headed toward the highest pass in the Alps so it gets worse. :-) The rides between the passes are pretty though.
A sign asking me to have "prudence" as I motorcycle down the far side of Col de Vars France. That is an unrealistic expectation on such a nice road! :-) (I'm kidding, I'm pretty careful, I'd like to live long enough to come back here again before I die).
Motorcycling up Col de la Bonette France, the highest mountain pass in the Alps.
The road I just came up heading for Col de la Bonette.
As we get higher up Col de la Bonette, the sides of the road turn rockier and vegetation starts to get sparse. Here is my motorcycle in a switchback.
The road I just came up, with a couple of motorcyclists following me a few miles back.
Big long lonely roads and two lone motorcyclists coming up the road to Col de la Bonette.
One of the World War I or II forts up this Col de la Bonette. Notice the road snakes around it.
A WWII era bunker up here. Inside this bunker is an extensive tunnel system we looked around on a previous trip up here 4 years ago, but today I have to make good time so I pass it up.
Col de la Bonette is the highest paved road in Europe, here I am at the summit. I can't read the plaque, it is in French. :-) Let's see, I took another picture of this in 2006 and I still cannot read it. :-)
A picture from the top of Col de la Bonette, as long as I'm here I'll snap the picture, although others have done a better job than me in the past. :-)
The road leading down from the scenic loop at Col de la Bonette.
I'm heading to "Nice, France" as the sign indicates.
Notice the lack of guard rail, lack of traffic, and lack of vegetation up here on Col de la Bonette.
There is a WWI era fort up here on the far side of Col de la Bonette, you can see it in the distance in the picture below.
This fort has "Diables Bleus" or loosely translated this means "The Blue Devils". A few web pages on the internet tell me during World War I the "Chasseurs Alpins" (mountain infantry of France) nickname was "The Blue Devils". The dead lock of trench warfare was a surprise to all sides, and horrific. These guys were supposed to have extreme mountain training and be able to somehow break the deadlock. It did not work, it turns out TANKS were the real answer to trench warfare, not French guys dressed in blue uniforms with big silly capes flowing behind them. :-) But they have this cool abandoned fort at the top of Col de la Bonette where it must have pretty much been a terrible place to hang out and fight a war. Below is the plaque all in French, for anybody who reads French.
A picture of the 1890's era fort.
A little further on, I leave Col de la Bonette and hit the main road, then take a left turn up through a hilarious little road near a tiny town called "Marie" or "Maria Countea de Nissa" in France. Click here to see Marie, France on a Google Map. See below for the road leading up from the main highway up to the tiny little town.
The road I just drove up is pointed out with red arrows below. Notice all the switchbacks so tight I cannot even get half of every hairpin into the photo.
Another angle, the main road is the one at the very lower left of the picture then the switchbacks fork off at the little building with a red roof.
Here is the sign to the town of Marie or Maria Countea de Nissa click here to see Marie, France on a Google Map.
A sign as I leave the town, from here it turns into a gravel road for the rest of the little journey.
Here is a picture of the town of "Marie" or "Maria Countea de Nissa" in France.
And the gravel road leaving town up over the mountain. This is pointed out by my GPS, so at this point I'm going to follow it.
Signs along the way to "Valdeblore - Marie par la piste" and "roulez cu pos". I have no idea what these mean, even Google translate fails me.
A little further on, Rob's GPS route tells me to turn onto this EVEN TINIER road, the old road was gravel, this new one is a single track dirt path. I went down it and it disappeared into underbrush, I think Rob is messing with me, I returned to the "more main gravel road" and made my own way back to the highway.
Here is where I popped out.
Going along a few more hours in pretty southern France, heading for Nice (which is along the southern coast). Very pretty views.
I'm heading to Nice, France. The GPS takes me up over Le Col St Roch. I think this is the Wikipedia entry on the Le Col St Roch route.
Pictures from the scenic mountain passes in Southern France.
The road is nice, well paved, and that's my motorcycle parked in the picture.
If you click on the picture below you can read the GPS and see where I am, somewhere in Southern France just north of Nice, France.
A road side plaque. I think this means "Route to the Sun". I'm not sure what the graffiti means.
Finally I arrive into Nice, France. Our hotel is L'Hotel Massena. Here I meet up with Katherine Chung who will do the rest of the trip with me. Below Katherine is on the far left, Phil Catledge is in the middle (we all met him for the first time there in Nice) and Michelle McCready is there on the right. This the night of 9/17/2010.
Out of date order a little, but in with our story line, Katherine and Michelle have been in Nice, France for a week, here are some pictures to catch up their story line. The first is Michelle McCready on the plane on the way to Nice France, picture by Katherine:
The next picture is Michelle sitting in Nice, France on 9/11/2010:
Katherine and Michelle in Nice France in front of a fountain on 9/13/2010. Picture by a stranger holding their camera:
The next day (9/18/2010) I took a day off the motorcycle, caught up on sleep, and walked around Nice, France a bit with Katherine. Below is a picture of Katherine by the fountain near the hotel:
Our hotel is L'Hotel Massena. This is the front door, and you can see the "Beach's Motorcycle Adventures" van in front of it.
In Nice, I saw one of these two front wheel scooters pictured below. That's a really strange design. This seems to be a Piaggio MP3.
In a local mini-mart, Katherine and I found the following brands of energy drinks: Ginger Energy, Guarana, Dark Dog, and Red Bull.
The picture below is of the area of Nice France between the hotel and the beach. The one day I'm there it was not blue sky. :-( The area is VERY touristy, fun to visit for a few days but gets old quickly.
Below is a picture of the beach in Nice, France. It is a "stone beach" (rocks, not sand). In the distance you see the Ferry to Corsica we will take the following day.
This picture was taken the opposite direction along the coast.
The ferry to Corsica is docking. Also, the "beach club" area at the bottom of the picture is very European, you pay a little money to sit in the beach chairs and get a towel.
The beach in Nice is divided up into different sections. Some are public (the far side of the fence in the picture below) where the poor (cheap?) people sit. For a tiny 5 or 10 Euro fee (a cup of Starbucks coffee?) you can sit in a private beach area -> these have nice clean chairs with umbrellas and you get served drinks. In the USA we expect all beaches to be private, but to be honest that means they are all basically like the "public" beach below -> zero services. I prefer the nicer, higher service side for a very reasonable fee.
This vertical garden plant was on the wall in one of the beach clubs, I really like this trend of vertical gardens.
Katherine and I stopped and sat in this beach club (on the wooden area) for an hour in the evening.
In Europe they have a LOT more interesting types of cars than we have in the USA. In the US, the vast majority of customers just want larger and larger gigantasaurus SUVs. There are a few consumers in the USA that have figured out the SUVs are more difficult to park, and that if you don't use the 4 wheel drive feature or the 10 seats for your family of 10, they are just a silly waste of metal and gas. So we have a *FEW* cars like the "mini" and "SmartCar" now. But in Europe we saw lots more makes and models wander by. Below is a "Tazzari" electric car. It is an Italian electric car that has about a 140 km range (86 miles). We also saw models like the "Twingo", and some tiny small models from Nissan and Toyota I've never seen in the USA.
Below is our motorcycle group having dinner in the outdoor walking area of Nice, France. The closest three people are Katherine Chung and Scott Keeler (looking at camera) and Brian Beach at far front right.
Jack Leahy on the far left in black shirt, and Robert Wilthew on far right in blue shirt, with Scott Farnham in grey shirt reaching out with his hand for the book.
Everywhere in France and Corsica we would be served white wine chilled in flexible yet stiff plastic bags with carrier handles like pictured below. Here is a link to buy these on Amazon.com. Amazon calls them "Wine Bottle Holder and Cooler Bag Wine Accessories". There are MILLIONS of these in France.
Our group having dinner in Nice, France.
This ends the 9/18/2010 day, click the link below to see the rest starting the morning of 9/19/2010.
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