After over 7,000ks traversing swathes of southern Germany, Switzerland, France with some tastes of Austria, Italy and Spain, there was Bouillon.
Second taste of Belgium on this adventure and a further taste of beautiful Belgium beer.
I discussed the best beers in the world with a couple of Dutch and Germans in Coles Bay, Tasmania. All extolling our nationalistic beer pride when others turned to me and said as one;
You haven’t had Belgium beer. The really make the best.”
And drinking a duvel over looking the Bouillon I seconded their opinion.
Bouillon was a bitter sweet discovery.
Bouillon in beautiful as is the Semios Valley.
The last night of the Moto Guzzi adventure – as the next day was Nijmegen where this part of the European adventure stated only a short 3 weeks earlier.
The mighty Breva had completed over 7000k visited 7 countries. Racing down, unrestricted motorways, climbing ridiculously steep tracks, and through narrow lanes barely wider than the pannier cases without missing a beat.
It was part of the European adventure that finished there.
I’m sitting in Madrid having visited one of the oldest cities in Europe, Cadiz and walked the grounds of the amazing Alhambra and as the might Breva crosses the Indian Ocean in its crate it’s a good time to write the closing blog on that part of the adventure.
Having spent, off and on, a couple of weeks in the Netherlands and travelling a couple of thousand kilometres across Europe with a bunch of of Dutch Moto Guzzi riders has left me with some powerful impressions of this place and the people.
The core of the Dutch people are caught up in their history.
Having succeeded from the rule of Spain the Dutch have faced constant threat of invasion.
In the Rijksmuseum, The Threatened Swan, captures this aspect the Netherlands constantly threatened by the dogs of war.
Incorporated into France under Napoleon
Brutal occupation by Germany in WWII despite declaring neutrality.
There is the constant fight to maintain control of there country.
In the Rijksmuseum there is a further insight
Up past The Night Watch
On the third floor there plays a documentary video about the Dutch and the constant battle to control water.
Reclaimed land from the sea and mighty rivers
fighting flood and inundation
Water in the huge rivers flowing through the country to the sea.
Water in the canals and behind the dams and dykes of Amsterdam.
Tilting aparment buildings sured up against subsidence as the water tries to reclaim the land it once covered.
It’s this fight for control from outside forces that give the Dutch a core strength, an inner stoicism.
But the Dutch are more than stoic.
Riding with an eclectic group of Dutchies over 8 days revealed a certain joi de vivre that sat well aside the stoic determination.
An eclectic group; women on classic bikes, old veterans of the tour, white haired old men on new bikes, riders from all walks of life. All pushing hard on the tortuously twisty routes through southern Germany, Austria, the Swiss and Italian Alps to Mandello.
Every night laughter good food and of course beer.
The Dutch love to laugh, and drink the beers they are so proud of without losing control.
After the drama of the Pyrenees the Midi Pyrenees of southern France more rolling hills. With:
Tree lined canals
With elegant locks
And deep gorges formed by the Alzou river
And as if hanging from the face of the mighty gorges,
The village of Rocamadour
Rocamadour has its origins in the 4th century, and developed through the medieval times. It is a place of miracles, shrine of the Black Madonna and survived the Cathar Wars which may be a miracle in itself.
The Midi Pyrenees opened the door to northern France, the beautiful Loire Valley, and the bountiful fields running up to the Belgian border.