Uriya Shai and “The Zebra” are traveling the Central Europe Alps
I would like to share with you the story of my tour in the Alps, with BMW R 100 GS PD, that justifiably won the name “Zebra”, Due to the “look”, and the way he “moves”.
So, I got those “Ants under my skin” feeling again. That can be “cured” only when I take a bike and the tent “Overseas” for a tour. This process of choosing the “Right bike for the job” and make it ready, the equipment I need to take and the arrangements that need to be done for that to happen. That is just because every tour has its own “Character”, with its special demands.
I booked a ferry ticket to Piraeus, Greece, as I did many times before. The crew knows me well. I tie the “Zebra” down there in the “Belly of the ship”, climbing up on the deck, open my tent and meditate. I am talking to the “God of the bikers”, asking for a good and safe journey.
The 3 days on the sea, are getting me ready for the transformation in my “State of mind”. The first morning the ship is docking in Limassol, Cyprus. 6 hours to see the city. Second morning the ship is docking in Rodeos. What an amazing Island. I tour the old city, swimming and back on the ship. The third morning – Piraeus, Greece. “Hallo again beauty” I whisper.
Documents, port’s arrangements and I am on the road to Patras. 230 km through the mountains and along the sea shores. What a country, unique and made especially for bikers. Sometimes you cannot see the asphalt due to so many bikes on the road. This is the “Gate to Europe” for me. I arrive to Patras and take the ferry to Venice. The purpose of this tour are the Alps Mountains, so I do not want to spend 3 or 4 days driving up north to Venice, in the roads I did a few times before.
Patras, I get off the ferry and here is my friend on another “GS-PD”. This woman drives so strong on her bike, that sometimes I think I hear him cries. “Hold tight your handlebar,” I tell her. We are heading up north to the “Dolomite Alps”, driving as if we are in the middle of a race. From time to time we stop to breathe, to take pictures or for coffee.
The weather is getting colder as we climb the Dolomites. The snow sits like a crown on top the top of them. Kings of the views. Some of the passes are still close in April. I choose the path through the lakes. It was freezing but refreshing to swim the lake on 1,470 M height (by the GPS). “You are crazy,” She said. I could not argue with her on that, since I did not have any proof I am not.
We enjoy the curves. It feels like in a documentary movie about the “View of the Alps”. Every curve has a new amazing “Picture”. Who could built this? I ask myself. “God”? I have heard he is almighty. I choose to drive through “Passo dello Stelvio”, (2,750 M height) to cross from Italy to Switzerland and then to Germany. This pass is the fifth height of the Alps, and it is a Meeting Point for bikers from all over Europe, during all year long.
We are in the south of Germany, stop to visit her bikers’ friends that just came back from the Sahara in Tunis. They have 2 same bikes like ours. Now there are 4 “GS-PD” in their garage. The bikes were probably talking to each other, telling stories about the mutual adventures they been through. Actually, that is the real purpose of their life, couse that is what they meant for in the first place, isn’t it?
The 3 of them are on meat and beer, which I do not know what to with. Their pictures from the Sahara were boiling my blood all night long, and developing my strong will to be there. That was the accelerator point to my old dream, to do The Sahara in Morocco, which I later on did.
For 2 days, they were drunk, while I am touring around. Time to go. I make sure she is fully conscious, and we hit the road again. We are taking the curves crazy again. The “Zebra” is heavy due to the equipment he carries, the Metzler Sahara 3 are sticking to the asphalt.
A few hours of Adrenalin and we arrived her home. A nice and quiet village. I start to plan the close Future. After all, I came here to spend 3 month in the Alps in an average height of 2,000 M. I wouldn’t want to leave alone even not one pass which I didn’t see the view from. I am very relaxed and calm after the meditation.
I chose a course on the map that will contain high passes, lakes, rivers etc…. Now I have an elementary basic plan. The zebra liked it too, because it went through the south of Germany, east of France, North of Italy, Austria and Switzerland. It’s the month of May now, and the snow melted already below 2,500 M.
2 Days of working on the bike, and it’s ready again for the long distance tour. I tie the equipment on the bike, say goodbye to the crazy biker woman, and I am on my way. I put my face to the Black Forest, that from my direction starts in Freiburg, Germany.
German bikers that are riding shining machines, mate me here and there, almost got a heart attack when they saw that I have painted the Bavarian Splendor with Zebra stripes. Yes bikers, that is my way to honor the bike, just because I like it so much. What? What? You guys are taking your bikes out of the warmed garage once a week, for showing off with friends in the bar, while I travel with it. So please. undersatnd my point.
If in a normal day, I drive like 200-400 Km, on the passes it’s a different story. Driving 50 KM a day is nice due to the roads, the pictures I stop to take, the views I stop and breathe it in to my mind and memories.
From time to time, a bunch of “Super Moto” bikers are passing over me in a pass, laying their bikes down to the blinker signals in the curves, like there is no tomorrow. One side of the road is the mountain wall, and the other side is the abyss. Is life so cheap? One-half of a mistake is more than enough over there.
During the daytime, I spend the hours on the tops, and during the nights, I surfed down to sleep, since up there the temperatures at night are going below Zero. There were nights I could not sleep due to the cold, even when I warmed myself up with the camping fire before I got in to the tent. That happened when I could not find a roof to put the tent under it. On the other hand, that redefined for me the word “Happiness”.
I am in Switzerland, The Swiss woman I mate in Eilat a like 20 years ago jumped in to my mind. I still remember her address, since those days we kept in touch via envelope’s post mails. I have decided to surprise her or myself. For 3 days, I travel in the amazing Switzerland, direction the “Lake of Geneva”.
I notice that people are looking at the loaded “Zebra” and me with all deferent kind of looks. I am used to that for so many years of traveling. Some of them look like they feel pity for me, sleeping in the tent. Some of them want to join me, and probably a few of them are thinking that this is what they want to do. This is a clear issue of “Personal priorities” I always say.
I arrived to her door. Deep breath and I knock. She opens the door. A big smile. I thank the “God of the bikers”. She lost weight and she is very suntanned. I ask her about it and she said that “Yesterday I came back from Sharm el Sheikh (the southern point of Sinai Peninsula in the Red Sea). I did a lot of diving there”. I remembered our diving together in Eilat.
4 days of tours the environment of “Lake Geneva” together and alone, tracks on the mountains, small clean villages with wonderful restaurants, Fondue and coffee places, fire is burning in the fireplace. What do they have to be worry about with this king of life? Something to learn from them.
In my imagination, I hear the sound of the bombs in the north of Israel where I lived. How can it be, that in the same world there are such huge contradictions? I lose the connection to the reality in my mind, while those thoughts were covering me.
After a few nice days, “Time to move on” I say to her. She calls my name with her cute French accent. I love this sound. The reality here is so deferent from other places I been trough. This is how things look like when you travel from country to country, from one nation to another, from one mentality to another mentality, from first to second to third world countries and so on. It lets you see it from many other angles. God created deferent types and species of humans and places. I am sure he had good reasons for that. That is how each one of us finds his personal way in life.
As you know, “Not everything that shins is gold”. We can meet with great difficulties and loneliness during the travels. The “getting lost” feeling that covers you from time to time, are not rare and not easy to deal with. On the other hand, good and bad are coming together as you know. Many times people are inviting me to be a guest in their home, mostly bikers, and that can make our social life very rich while traveling. The happiness of knowing new people and new places is the main purpose of the tour.
Maybe this is the beauty of it. Happiness can never be a permanent situation for a long time, because if that was so, it was just a “standard situation”. We would not recognize it as “Happiness”. The happiness picks are what we are looking for, and this long time search is the “Happiness” itself (since the picks are temporary, while the search is permanent). It is just a matter of an attitude. The business philosopher Jim Rohn said: “All you need to do is to change you attitude, and then everything will be changed”. Right.
“Where to”? the Zebra is asking me. “Let’s breathe tops air again” I smile at him. We enjoy wonderful relationship together, by understanding each other’s needs. I promised to take him to see wonderful places, and he is a reliable good friend to me. A good agreement for both sides. He keeps on surprising me with his strong torque that I need in those slow curves of the passes. No need to change gears, just to accelerate. “The Ultimate Traveling Bike”.
At nights, I put up a camping fire to prepare food, while the tent’s doorway is at the direction of the fire, in order to heat up the inner tent side. I mostly eat integral rice with deferent sauce every time, not to bore my stomach. I pour the rest of the hot water in to the thermos with mint tealeaves, for the coming morning. Sometimes I park for the night in small paradises that is so hard to leave in the morning. It happened that I stay there more than 1 or 2 days.
I Surf from Switzerland to the Dolomites of North Italy, then to Austria and Germany and around, every time a different course, so I will have the chance to visit the most passes possible. The views are breath taking. This tour is much more in the “sterile way” than the Egypt tour I did 2 years before that one (for example).
Every tour has its own character, and that is better this way. The various characters of the tours are what makes it so unique for me. Personally, I prefer third world countries, mountains and deserts for my tours. The biggest idea of the tours is, “Every place I did not see yet, worth the effort”.
I spend a few days in the “Black Forest” again. What a forest. The name came due to the 50 M height trees that do not let the sun get in. Rivers and water streams, trails that leads to “nowhere”. I feel like “Alice in wonderland” and The Zebra too, since this is his “Homeland”.
The 3 month are over now. Time to go back to my kids. I drive to the “meeting point” on Sundays near the “Constants Lake”, join the German BMW Group for last tour together, and then put my face south direction Venice.
I drive through the “San Bernardino Pass” that is connecting between Switzerland and Italy. I did this pass on the way back from the “North cape” in Norway, 2 years ago with my “sometimes partner” Arik Kehat.
Is it possible not to be exited while looking at the “Snow Tops” every time repeatedly? The nature is showing off his glory. Feels like the “God of the bikers” created it for us, the bikers, to enjoy. So Tnx.
The next picture of the “San Bernardino Pass”, is from the previous tour.
Pls. remember, “When you sit at home, nothing happens”.