Monday, June 8, 2009

Durban to Dublin 5th & 6th June

Friday 5th - This morning we were up at 07H00 went up to the restaurant for breakfast then ordered a taxi to get us to the airport to find out if our bikes had at last arrived from Khartoum. We really do not like the feeling of having left the bikes in a foreign land in someone else’s hands to get them loaded and sent off to us. The other thing that was bothering us was the thought that was going through all our minds. With all the hassels that we had been having with the customs and border officials all the way up Africa, and none of us being able to speak Italian we were wondering what was in store for us today.

We arrived at the airport cargo division, and after parting with 50 Euros for the taxi ride (Work that exchange rate out and you will see that Italy is not cheap) It is about R500. Sjoe!!!! Entering the customs reception we immediately see that this experience will be different, firstly the place is spotlessly clean and the computers work, the lady behind the counter, when she hears that our Italian extends as far as Bo journo, and no further, she calls over her shoulder to a bloke in the back room who speaks a bit of English. We explain our business there and after showing our passports she issues us with temp visitors passes and we are in. Not before I am pulled aside, when my money pouch is put through the x ray machine. I had forgotten my knife was in it. No problem the official says, leave it in his office and collect it on our way out.

The semi english speaking guy accompanies us to the office where the handling of goods takes place. We show the guy behind the counter our way bill. He goes to his working computer, looks up the info and tells us the bikes are still on route and would be in at 19H00. We can come back at 09H00 in the morning to collect them.

Our English speaking guide then takes us to the three offices that we will have to deal with in the morning to show us exactly where to go and what to do. This he informs us is because as tomorrow is Saturday he would not be at work, but not to worry the offices would be open. Now is that not service.

It is by this time now only 12h00 so we decided to catch a shuttle from there into town and go see the Vatican City.

We get a shuttle from the Airport to the Piazza Del Popolo, which is situated in the centre of town. We figure that we can walk from there to the Vatican, plus we have got to know a very nice Tratoria on the street near the Popolo so that is a good reference point.

The Vatican is about half an hour walk from the square, but this time it is an easy walk, we don’t have full rider gear on like the time at the Nile falls. Wow! That feels like a life time away now. So much has happened since then.
Arriving at the Vatican City we are left speechless, the place is HUGE. There is this massive square with a spire in the middle of it, but this is completely overshadowed by the main Cathedral with these huge marble columns supporting a covered walk way. Looking at the buildings I could not help remarking to Howard that here was proof that God is more powerful than the gods that Julius Caesar worshipped. His place has fallen down and is now a ruin that people visit. The Vatican is still standing and is in very good condition.

We stand in the square for awhile taking all of this in, then walk up to the entrance to go in and have a look at the Cathedral. Now at the Coliseum one has to pay to walk around, here it is free, Julius is still collecting his taxes. Unfortunately Jaco is denied entry to the inner sanctum because the Vatican guards say his shorts are to short. Howard and I enter and once again stand in awe of the place, the artwork and sculptures are amazing. The roof is probably 4 stories high and is intricately decorated with paintings and carvings. Words and pictures cannot fully describe the splendor of the whole place.

Walking around looking at all the paintings ranging from the last supper to the resurrection I said a quiet word of thanks and prayer that we had all made it safely so far on this journey and asked for guidance on the last leg.

Leaving the Vatican we walked back to the Piazza Del Popolo each of us very quite and reflecting on our own personal thoughts. A visit to the Vatican City seems to have an effect on one.

Back at our friendly Tratoria we order a Carafe of wine and Pizza’s all round and watch the sun setting in the west while a full moon was rising over the Cathedral of the Popolo.

Much later and in high spirits we head down to the rail station to catch the last train of the evening back to a station near our camp site.

Saturday 6th
- We are up very early and really looking forward to the day. Our bikes are in Italy and we are off to collect them.
After another 50 euro taxi ride we are back at the cargo handling section of the airport. As we walk into the reception the security guy calls out to me to say that I can once again leave my knife with him. How do you like that, a customs official with a memory and manners.

With in no time at all, we are once again issued ID cards and heading to the first of the 3 clearing offices. The clearing of the bikes is done quickly and with out too much fuss. Once the documentation is done the crates with the bikes in are brought to us on a forklift.

We set about breaking the crates open and are very relieved to see the bikes are all still in one piece. While we are unloading the bikes and refilling the engine oil a crowd of Italian workers crowd around us and watch in amazement as we work on the bikes. They are very interested in the trip that we are doing as well as the bikes. We have also discovered that most of the people here in Italy love bikes and cars. With our bikes fully loaded and displaying all our sponsor stickers we are being stopped often and asked about the bikes and our trip. Even driving down the motorway drivers hoot at us and give us thumbs up.

Once we have finished sorting the bikes out we wave good bye to our audience at the cargo shed and head back to the camp site.

Howard is by this stage not feeling very well. Think he has got the flu that Jaco and I have already had in Sudan. We stop at a chemist to get him some medication. The chemist says that he has swine flu, so not to bother buying any medication, waste of money cause people usually die from swine flu… Looking at the shocked look on Howard’s face he quickly tells him he is only joking and hands out a box of flu medication.

We get Howard safely back to the cabin at the camp site where he then went off to bed and rest.

Jaco and I get on the bikes and take a ride into Rome city to have a final look around before we leave town tomorrow.

After all that we have been through in Africa these few days rest in Rome have been great.
We are now looking forward to heading out back on the road tomorrow heading up Italy in the direction of our final destination, Dublin. We are planning on getting into Dublin on the 30th June where we are to be hosted to an end party by Dublin BMW


  1. Roger - you are very entertaining! I'll look forward to future episodes. The pic's are lovely and you guy's ride safely. XXX

  2. Hi. So glad you guys made it safely there. At one stage I was kinda holding my breath for you ;-) Great penmanship, Roger. Best of luck for the rest of the trip. Hope Howard is feeling better. As always, please take care and be safe. PS... Hope you get to see Venice and Florence too. Magical. Kind regards. Annetjie.

  3. What an amazing trip you guys have had. I've just managed to catch up on the last bit, and a glad you have made it after the hair raising and frustrating time in Sudan. A real pity about the delay with the shock, but maybe in the end for the best. At least now you have the chance to see a bit more of Europe. Look forward to the next episodes of your great advenure.
    All the best.

  4. hey guys see you have made it to civilisation albeit with a few irritations the rest should be a brilliant ride hope the famouse irish ale is cold see you back home in a bit stay cool steve and marti and all at imbabala

  5. Such an exciting story. I can't wait to print the lot, and make it into a 'book' for my grandchildren to read one day. (Hope I eventually HAVE grandchildren).Yes, God is great!!Love you.Liz.