16 days. 6,600 kilometers. 4 countries. Two on one bike… and just 800 euros in our pockets. This leg of our “motorcycle world tour” took us to the far west of Europe: From Italy to France, Spain, and then Portugal… and back again through Switzerland. We crossed the Italian Alps, French Alps, and Pyrenees. We saw beautiful places and lived unexpected adventures. We always made it through, and we even helped someone else in difficulty. And as our sponsor? Our friend GIVI.
TOWARD THE FAR WEST
We say goodbye to our hometown Mirandola, in the province of Modena, at dawn. We cross the northwest of our peninsula and see the last glimpse of Italian blue in the lake of Castello at Pontechianale, in the province of Cuneo. Once we arrive at the French border, it’s full immersion in greenery. We cross over at an altitude of 2,744 meters, through the Col Agnel pass populated by whistling marmots.
We continue, shunning the superhighways to avoid paying tolls, and opting for much more interesting routes. We cross the bridge over the Serre-Ponçon lake – the third largest European artificial water reservoir – and all of southern France, as far as northern Spain; there we stop over at Bilbao, the largest city of the Basque country which stretches as far as the coast of the Bay of Biscay. We also travel by night, aided by our additional LED headlights, until we stop to watch the sunrise: the panorama miracle that is always a gorgeous sight to admire together with someone, and which everyone talks about, but everyone describes differently. Also along the Costa Norte, in Asturias, we are captivated by Andrín: it’s one of the loveliest Spanish beaches.
At the westernmost tip of Spain is the sensational lighthouse of Cabo Prior, absolutely breathtaking! We follow Playa de la Muerte across little roads, woods, and scrubland, and reach what we call the “Forest of Talking Trees” because of the sounds the wind makes as it blows through the branches. We are already at Ponte de Lima, in Portugal: the humid heat in the daytime… the night sky lit up by billions of stars… unforgettable! We’re happy to have arrived at our oft-dreamt destination! The next morning, we’re back on the road for the return trip. We go from the mountain greenery to the desert plains of central Spain under the sun and cloudless sky, protected by our helmets… until we see the slopes of the Pyrenees rich with vegetation once again. At Burgos, in the autonomous community of Castilla y León, it’s time for an oil change.
From this point on, we grind out stretch after stretch: in France we pass through Bezièrs, Orange, Gap… Lac du Mont Cenis, Bourg-Saint-Maurice… and from the sea and beaches of southern France, we arrive at the mountains of Switzerland! From Isère to Derborence we travel alone, surrounded by the snow of towering mountains, through gorges and rock tunnels with dark stretches and sudden openings of panoramic light.
At the Italian-Swiss border we find the uncontaminated lake of Derborance: it was formed in the 18th century by a huge landslide, and today the whole valley is a nature reserve. And then here they are: we see the Alps again. It’s always extremely exciting.
OK, we still have all the hairpin curves to maneuver on our bike… but we have happily returned home. Another mission accomplished!
Watch the gallery
2 young people from Mirandola (Modena) who have decided to travel free. They’re always ready to drop everything to pursue their dream: to travel around the world on a motorcycle, taking along a tent and with just a little money in their pockets… in search of adventure! You can find all their Travel Diaries on the website: www.vagabondinstinct.com. On the other hand, who knows where they are now! The whole world has become their home.
Riding his SUZUKI V-Strom 650
A former blue-collar worker, now riding out his dreams. Together with Jackie, he’s taking part in the shared project “Vagabond Instinct”: a “low cost” trip around the world, avoiding all toll roads, sleeping in a tent, cooking on a camp stove, carrying only the bare necessities… one adventure after another!
Riding with Pisel and keeping the Travel Diary
A recent university graduate, former translator, article writer, and overtime restaurant server, now she has plenty of free time. In her wanderings with Pisel, she’s the one who keeps their Travel Diary, and her adventure reports are followed by hundreds of friends on Facebook!
Traveling by motorcycle and carrying along just the bare necessities requires extremely wise choices. It’s absolutely impossible to waive the quality and reliability of 100% sturdy, all-resistant gear, as well as the total safeguard of your reduced but precious luggage in reinforced, sealed cases, suitably protected from all kinds of risks. Safety kits are an absolute must! And for