25 days and over 5000ks later now on home straight!

Mannheim Travel Blog

 › entry 29 of 29 › view all entries

Hi Everybody.


This is likely to be our last blog entry of this trip. We hope you’ve enjoyed it and thanks for reading…


We’ll we are now on the home straight. Today we head to Luxemburg or northern france (as yet not decided) before embarking on our final days ride, taking the ferry and returning to the mother country.


Since our last blog we have driven south west from Berlin to Mannheim where Marko and Lisa have kindly had us to stay. At 630km the drive was our longest of the trip. Originally we were planning on doing it in two days but thought we’d have a go in one. We eventually arrived at around 9:30 but not before a few mis-haps and mis-adventures along the way. Literally minutes after getting of the phone to his boss assuring him he would return to work as scheduled on Friday, JP noticed a small crack in the crank case of his engine, to his horror he also noticed that it was now leaking oil. How this happened is not exactly clear, probably just the accumulated toll of weeks of heavy driving combined with the fact that it had been ‘dropped’ in the past. At any rate this was not good and we had to slow down and monitor the cracks progress very closely. It must be pointed out that once again CM’s duct tape proved invaluable!


Around 6:30 the weather closed in. We’d lost each other on the road (some how CM had over taken JP without either of them realising). CM was speeding up trying to catch JP, JP was slowing down waiting for CM. Eventually after an hour or so of very soggy road side texting and missed phone calls we finally found each other at a road house outside Frankfurt. By the time we finally arrived in Mannheim, 11 hours after we left Berlin, we were drenched to the bone, cold and hungry.


The real bright spot on otherwise a long and hard day was Marko and Lisa’s wonderful hospitality. Great to catch up and see them in their new apartment, an oasis of calm!


Next day went to the nearest bike shop. By some twist of beautiful luck (that only usually seems to happen when travelling) we stumbled across the 3rd biggest Honda bike shop in Germany, (also the best we were informed by Alex our helpful service guy). Because of the bikes import status, a spare part was unavailable for JP’s bike but the mechanic was able to apply some metal paste to the crack and do a fancy job of patching it up good enough for making it back to London. Result!


With that we continued the day of mechanics and technical wizardary by driving down to Stuggart to the home of the Mercedes factory, where we were very lucky to get on a factory tour. The tour deserves much more than a few lines but we saw the E class and the SLK class on the factory line. This plant directly employees 40 thousand people and needless to say is ridiculously massive. The robot can insert a pre-pared dash board in under minute, by carefully scanning the exact profile of the car and back of dash before gently lifting it up and skilfully manoeuvring it in to place. Each car is different and there is phenomenal number of combinations of features that each car must be equipped with. The real skill of the assembly line is takes this array of options manage the process so that each part is ready and waiting to be added to the chassis when the time comes with minimum time lag. Apparently in a dash board alone there is over 4000 combinations! More trivia: a car comes rolling off the assembly line every 30 seconds.


JP would like to say: It’s been a great trip. We must have smiled and waved to hundreds if not thousands of people along the way (most of whom didn’t respond BTW, but not the point!). There’s a lot more to Europe that the big countries of the south, France, Spain and Italy. Motorcycling is a great way to get to see the way people live outside the big cities and cover lots of ground. It was also nice to see that people are really curious about where you are from and what your doing. CM’s Aussie flag helped a lot in this respect. Going over land is the best because you can see the transition of the countryside. As we headed further north more pine forests and less cities. Peoples lives were more dictated to by the weather. The transition was towards and away from Russia was one of the most interesting. There was a sense of getting closer to the realm of a giant autocratic state where fear and power were key ingredients of the governing system. This tapers off as you travel through the Baltic states and into Poland but the history of the soviet control still lingers. Thanks again to the hospitality of everybody who has helped us and provided accom along the way. V grateful and of course can come and stay with us in London WHEN EVER. Could go on but we haven’t actually finished the trip so places to go and people to wave to etc…


CM would like to add a special thanks to all those who helped us along the way to get us to Moscow and home. It has been a great ride even if we did miss the warm weather by about a week. We can be pleased that it has been fairly dry for us. The transition from west to east and back has been one hell of a journey with plenty of stories to tell. To add on safety of travelling thru Europe to Russia, i have left things in my bike for the entire tripped unlocked and everything is still there (including Keys). It would be ironic if my bike is being stolen right now. Just checked still there. So with sensible parking and a little luck in general people in europe are pretty considerate. Road conditions across the continent to St Petersburg have been very manageable with no real dangerous hazards. Poland could do with a few more motorways but I certainly enjoyed the smaller winding roads around the Lakes district. Till the next adventure but lets finish this one first.


Adios and adieu. JP and CM.

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photo by: polvandenwirre