So here I am, it’s 4.00 in the morning and I am tossing and turning in bed. I’m anxious with an assortment of sensations inside me that have prevented me from getting any shut-eye throughout the entire night. I decide to get up, take a shower and lie on the sofa for a while. I turn on my PC to see if perhaps any sleepwalkers have sent me a few words of encouragement that would help to lighten my feelings of worry and uneasiness.

It’s not long before the clock is saying 06.30. I decide to go downstairs to check that everything on the bike is fine. I look at it and even talk to it, yes! I talk to it! as if it were a person, because it will be the most important part of my journey, my companion, my source of fun and sometimes even my salvation.

I look at all the luggage I packed and how I have packed it, starting with the huge GIVI cases that I used to store the impossible and now certainly exceed the load limit recommended by GIVI. For this reason and to help reduce stress on the attachment hooks, I tied them to the frame with some precautionary straps. I check my jerry cans and wonder how many times they will save me from difficult situations. I look at the windshield and the stickers attached to it and stop to reminisce about all those who believed in my journey and in my determination… I remember the fairs like Givi Explorer where an abundance of people began to travel/journey with me, some departing even before me… I’m daydreaming but I realise that time is passing quickly and soon it will be time for me to leave!

I get on my bike and start the engine, I pause to listen and hear if it makes even the slightest unfamiliar sound, everything seems fine so I engage first gear and ride my bike to the town square where my loved ones will be waiting for me with their final hugs and best wishes before my departure.

And I’m off… at a cheerful pace up to Portogruaro where my friend Jonathan is waiting for me so we can cover some miles together. We arrive at Semenzano and with a belly full of beautiful sweets, I say goodbye to Valentina, the best passenger I’ve ever carried.

I leave both of them behind and resume my journey to Dubrovnik through rain, rain and a bit more rain! I am accompanied to my destination by lots and lots of water and where, purely by chance, I am approached by an elderly lady who offers me a room. After a bit of negotiating over the price, I accept her offer… I spread out all my wet clothes so they can dry and I go to bed.

The following morning, after stopping for breakfast at the port I head for Greece, but not before taking a few photos of beautiful Ragusa. Having travelled along spectacular roads and endless twisting turns, it is early afternoon when I suddenly realise that it will be very late into the night, around midnight, when I finally arrive in Greece, so I decide to stop in Saranda, Albania, in the same hotel where I stayed about a month ago. Reception staff at the hotel remember me and very kindly offer me a sea-view room for the price of a standard room. In the morning, I meet two travellers who are also staying there and during breakfast we exchange stories and anecdotes about our travels and after the usual photos we say goodbye and everyone heads their own separate ways.

I climb onto my “Dark Queen”, heading towards Greece and after the usual wait at Customs, I set off again and stop for lunch at Parga, a quiet picturesque seaside town. Unfortunately, an inconvenience relating to the rear wheel caused a two day delay to my departure which resulted in my plans having to be changed slightly and instead of visiting Greece over two or three days, now I can only see it in transit while I am passing through on my journey. It is a beautiful country which fortunately I had the opportunity to explore thoroughly in the past. So I decide to continue, also mindful of the fact that by Sunday I have to be in Istanbul where I will be meeting up with one of my sponsors and where I will be spending a few days to explore this splendid city.

I’ll head up to Ioannina and the following day I’ll reach the Turkish border which I will finally cross on Sunday morning. My journey as an explorer begins there: In Turkey.

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