Archive for the ‘The 2010 Bike Trip’ Category

New Berlin, Pistas & the Río Uruguay   4 comments

The next morning at the Parador Playa Ubici I was greeted by this view:

Puente Internacional over the Río Uruguay

The Pulp Mill on the river looked a lot less romantic than last night…

 

Pulp Mill

… and the dead fish lining the shore were a rather sobering sight. Officially the fish mortality was caused by the freezing cold earlier that week, so the land lady told me, but in reality it’s down to the sewage of the factories further up the Río Negro.

Dead fish lining the shore

I had breakfast in the sun on the terrace.

Breakfast in the sun

The cat kept me company

Now on the bike, I went for a sight-seeing tour through Fray Bentos to find out where and how far I had walked the night before and to appreciate the home town of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, founded by the German organic chemist Baron Justus von Liebig in the 19th century, in daylight.

Main Square in Fray Bentos

The former manufactory of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, shut down in 1979.

The Liebig Extract of Meat manufactory

Then it was back to the Ruta 3 heading north. Leopoldo had mentioned the village of Nuevo Berlin the previous day and I couldn’t resist to make a detour to this new edition of my hometown by the Río Uruguay.

New edition of my home town

The city map looks slightly different...

... and so does the 'Kurfürstendamm'

I didn’t fancy to retrace my tracks and therefore took a camino leading roughly towards Paysandú, my next destination. The first attempt ended in a cul-de-sac, but as there was only a horse to ask for directions, I just tried another trail. It was bumpy, rutted and sandy but lead me to a tarmac road which joined the Ruta 3 again after a while – voilà!

Paysandú

To be perfectly honest – and I’d like to apologise to my Uruguayan readers – the Ruta 3 was not particularly exciting and when I spotted a sign to a ‘Parque Histórico’, I happily went on a little excursion to the Meseta de Artigas.

 

To the Meseta de Artigas

The road was lovely

Lined by orange groves

Supposedly it's winter over here...

I was even treated to a little dirt trail when I entered the historical park.

 

Trail to the Meseta

... where I had a fantastic view over the Río Uruguay

The bust of General José Gervasio Artigas after whom the site is named.

 

The bust of General José Gervasio Artigas

Río Uruguay still life with DRZ

 

I was not the only one enjoying the vistas...

 

A last look north...

… then I returned to the Ruta 3 again. The GPS showed a campsite near the Reservoir Salto Grande and so I rode past the Termas del Daymán and the beautiful town of Salto until I arrived at the lakeside. Only then it dawned on me that the indicated campsite was actually on the Argentinean side of the reservoir (I have downloaded the map software from an Argentinean GPS forum). But I still wanted to stay a night in Uruguay. So I followed the camping signs further north. Nada – nothing. It was getting dark and I still had not found a place for the night.

Finally I pulled up at the Horacio Quiroga Spa Termal Hotel. Oh, the signs stand for day-camping only and the nearest campsite would be at the Termas del Daymán, 30 kilometres south… Mmm, that’s where I just passed through an hour ago and I personally hate to go back. How much is a single room in your hotel? 139? US Dollars? Thanks very much – back to the Termas it is then.

It was really getting late; against my usual behaviour (I’m German after all!) I broke the speed limit of 75 km/h and still arrived at the Termas del Daymán only after dark. No campsite was to be seen. But there – Hostal Canela said a sign, that’s where I will stay the night. The land lady was welcoming and very interested in my bike. She helped me carrying all the luggage into my room and made sure I felt at home. For the equivalent of GBP 16 I was given a whole apartment to myself. The photos are from the next morning but you get the idea how wonderful the place already appeared at night.

 

Hostal Canela at Termas del Daymán

"Foyer"

 

My apartment

And another one - just to make you jealous...

Of course, when I walked into the centre of the village for dinner I saw the campsite and a lot more hotels but I was really happy with the place I was staying in. So if you ever find yourself in the area – Hostal Canela can be highly recommended.

The following day would take me into Argentina again.

Posted 5 September 2010 by Pumpy in Uruguay

Into Uruguay   3 comments

The Ruta 9 out of Buenos Aires was long and uneventful – but the fact that I had finally hit the road and was riding the Pan-American Highway was excitement enough. Industrial areas changed into wide flat Pampa and the traffic ebbed away kilometre by kilometre. I joined the Ruta 12 north near Zarate and crossed the Río Paraná Delta via two impressive bridges.

Autopista Mesopotamica

At Ceibas the Ruta 14 began and I stopped after having done exactly 100 miles to check the fuel consumption – due to my broken foot I didn’t get the opportunity to test ride the bike properly and have a rough idea how long a tank would last me. Just under four litres for 100 kilometres or 72 mpg fully loaded on the motorway was a result I couldn’t really complain about.

The Pampa is mainly flat...

Vintage, beautiful and still in use

The GPS indicated a shortcut to Gualeguaychú and I had a quick look at a sandy dirt road. No, I was not ready for trail riding yet and so I continued on the highway until the official Ruta 136 branched off to the east. Over the beautiful Puente Internacional Libertador General San Martín I crossed the Río Uruguay and arrived at the border between Argentina and Uruguay.

Border to Uruguay

In the background you can spot the bridge

Rarely have I experienced such an efficient border crossing – although having to pass through four different desks: pre-check and start of procedure, personal details, vehicle documents, insurance and customs plus temporary import registration – but everything was dealt with as quickly and friendly as possible. I think I needed less than 15 minutes and this included chatting about my trip, the bike and about the origin of the German names of some of the officers such as ‘Ehrhardt’ and ‘Schmidt’.

Rarely have I experienced such a pleasant border crossing

While changing money and talking to the nice chap in the tourist office (Leopoldo) about the region, I thought it would be quite appropriate for a vegetarian of 30 years to stay in Fray Bentos, the home of the Liebig Extract of Meat… 😉

Leopoldo recommended the campsite at the Parador Playa Ubici and off I went to find an idyllic little hostel directly by the river. The hostess Antonela was just about to leave when I arrived but stopped immediately, showed me the facilities and the rooms, from which I could choose, as I was the only guest this Sunday evening. Well, for the equivalent of 8.00 GBP I decided to leave tent and sleeping bag in the luggage roll.

Parador Playa Ubici in Fray Bentos

Antonela carried all my panniers upstairs and made me feel really welcome and at home. The travel guide hadn’t exaggerated in the chapter about the warmth, helpfulness and hospitality of the Uruguayan people.

After having changed into a civilized, nicely smelling human being again, I headed into town for dinner, allegedly just a short stroll away from the hostel. Well, I won’t bore you with details of my odyssey through Fray Bentos but it was at least a three-kilometre walk until I found the excellent Pizzeria ‘Los Immigrantes’ in the lively town centre. Not a big deal normally but I was still limping! When I finally returned to the Parador my ankle looked like a tennis ball. Maybe I should have splashed out and taken a taxi…

However, I found Fray Bentos a nice place with friendly and helpful people. Although I crossed a few rather un-touristy corners I never felt uncomfortable and my greeting was always returned with a smile. I was looking forward to exploring more of this promising country the following day.

Río Uruguay by night

Posted 30 August 2010 by Pumpy in Uruguay

Finally…   3 comments

… I have now finished the Buenos Aires post and am ready to tell you about hitting the road in the next instalment. It didn’t help that the fabulous set-up in my current internet café timed me out after 1.5 hours meaning that I lost everything I had written so far…

Thank you for all your lovely comments here, your private messages, texts and emails. They mean a lot to me, make me laugh and let me feel connected to my family and friends even though you are thousands of miles away. Your interest and encouragement are great – and please don’t feel neglected when I don’t find the time or opportunity to reply to you as quickly as I want to.

I’m already in Paraguay now, in the lovely town of Villarrica, and tomorrow I will try to tell you about Uruguay.

¡Hasta luego!

Posted 29 August 2010 by Pumpy in Paraguay

Chez Dakar Motos, Buenos Aires   Leave a comment

After getting the bike out of Customs, the next day was dedicated to sorting out paperwork. Photocopies had to be made of all the new documents, which gave me the opportunity to experience more of the helpfulness of the friendly inhabitants of the Argentinean capital.

Then it was on to the headquarter of my local bike insurance to receive the extensions for the other countries I am going to travel to; not only Argentina but also Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile are covered by the same company on one contract – for the equivalent of 33.30 GBP for the four months of my trip, fantastico!

On the way to the Diagonal Norte I came across one of the many demonstrations. Photographers are usually frowned upon but John had told me that tourists are exempt from this rule…

Demonstration in Calle Bartolome Mitre

Buenos Aires is a fascinating mixture of beauty and decay just next to each other.

Colonial Architecture

... and ruins at the next corner

Parking in the city centre is scarce and unsecure, so there are a lot of guarded parking lots about. I was lucky to have one of these spots right on the other side of the road from my hotel. This is Miguel who looked after my bike (and a few other cars, I think…) and invited me to my first Mate, the Argentinean national drink – a gesture that you should never decline.

Miguel, best bike-park attendant in Buenos Aires

Finally packed and ready to leave downtown for Vicente Lopéz, I programmed the GPS et voilà – only 14 minutes to Dakar Motos apparently. Right, on the eight lanes of the Avenida 9 de Julio I already missed the opportunity to turn left.  A helpful bus driver pulled intimidatingly close, opened the door and suggested I should just ride over the traffic island. Mmm, with a fully loaded bike and my foot still weak and hurting, that might not be a wise move…

So I let the GPS recalculate and took the northern loop by the sea front and the Aeroparque, the national airport of Buenos Aires. Of course, it was around five o’clock and the rush hour in full flow. As mentioned before, even the cars are filtering in this city, so there was no chance of slipping through with my big panniers. Coming to a hold was struggle enough, as I didn’t dare to put sudden weight on my left foot.

While standing in the stationary traffic I suddenly noticed a familiar smell: fuel… Oh no, not again! It didn’t help that I hadn’t filled up since releasing the bike from the airport and so I could only hope that I would still make it to Dakar Motos. Many friendly drivers and bikers pointed out that I was leaking but what was I supposed to do? Stopping on a fast five lane motorway without any hard shoulder in sight is just not an option.

On the last drop and one hour late I finally arrived at Calle Carlos Tejedor 1379 and received a very warm welcome from Sandra and Javier. They introduced me to the already resident RTW travellers Adrian (from Australia) and Mick (from Denmark) and after a few hours of lively chat I decided to stay not one but two nights at this friendly place.

Mick, Sandra and Adrian at Dakar Motos

*****

Life is good – the local supermercado sells everything we need for a hearty breakfast.

Open all day every day - the local supermercado

This photo I took especially for my beloved Possu who swears by the original…

The Original

Life is good chez Dakar Motos

Breakfast in the sun

The day was spent on bike maintenance and little adjustments. The previous evening Javier had stated that he doesn’t work Saturdays, so here he is probably just enjoying himself fiddling with Adrian’s KLR.

Javier enjoying himself

To avoid future fuel leaks once and for all, I replaced the old fuel pipe with a new one (which Possu had thoughtfully advised me to buy prior to departure) and fitted another filter from Javier’s workshop. This bigger version will certainly be better suited for filtering dirty gasolina sold from rusty oil drums in the more remote areas.

Fuel filter problem finally solved!

Dakar Motos seems to be a popular meeting place for the local biker community. We were introduced to a wide spectrum of the Moteros of Buenos Aires.

The local biker community

Amongst them is Fabrizio who rides a restored 1949 Norton with all the trimmings. He is also a very nice and helpful guy, here shown siphoning a spare litre out of his tank to enable me reaching the nearest filling station.

Fabrizio, my saviour

Then, as the icing of the cake and to make my bike ready for the South American roads, Javier added his personal signature.

Been there. got the sticker... 😉

We really had a brilliant time and it would have been so easy to stay another day and maybe another one after that – in the company of like-minded motorcyclists and in the comfort of this home-like place so far away from Europe before venturing into the great unknown. After all, I had already done the first step and travelled to a different continent; so what was another day to give me some additional time to build up a bit more courage?

Don’t be such a wuss, I told myself off, that’s what you have come over here for and four months will be shorter than you think! Alright, the decision was made and I went for a last dinner with Adrian. Nice guy, really, but you have to watch your olives… 😉

When sharing a pizza with Adrian you'd better watch your olives...

Outside the pizzeria we found a look-alike of the famous Australian Postie bikes.

Australian Postie Bike with Wombat

*****

On Sunday morning I captured the last impressions of the empty calles of Vicente-Lopéz.

Calle San Martin in Vicente-Lopéz

Good idea – kill poverty not the poor…

Graffiti

Then I packed the bike, waved goodbye to Adrian and Mick and hit the road…

By the way, if you want to know what these great guys are up to you can follow their trips on the following sites:

Adrian is from Australia and just embarking on a RTW trip which will take him north from Buenos Aires to New York. From there he will ship his KLR to London and then head east to the next coast. Adrian’s Motorcycle Diaries – Adriankemmis.blogspot.com.

Mick started his RTW trip in his home country Denmark and has been on the road since 2009. He has travelled through Europe and down the west coast of Africa. From Buenos Aires he will ride down to Patagonia and then up on the Pacific side. ATWJ – MHoey.eu

 

Posted 27 August 2010 by Pumpy in Argentina

Editor’s Note   2 comments

You might have noticed that I am a bit behind with my blog. Internet Cafés are not as frequent over here as I thought and when I find one, the connection is not always the fastest. So while I try to provide write-ups as quickly as possible, please have a look at the page ‘The Route’ for the latest updates on where I currently am. There is also a link to my Findmespot site (courtesy of the generosity of ChrisJK).

Also, every time I get the opportunity, I upload my photos onto Possu’s and my joint Smugmug account – the links can be found on the ‘Photo Galleries’ page.

So please bear with me while I’m busy having the time of my life… 😉 The people are just fantastic everywhere – very interested in my trip, always friendly and helpful, absolutely wonderful. The countryside is impressive as well and getting better every day.

More to come when I find the next Internet Café.

Posted 26 August 2010 by Pumpy in Argentina

The Sights & Delights of Buenos Aires   2 comments

For all of you who know John ‘The Bede’ Tremayne it won’t come as a surprise that one of his many qualities is also being a fabulous tour guide who is more than happy to share his wealth of local knowledge.    

After helping me sorting out the insurance for the DRZ, we went to the major monuments of Buenos Aires.    

Plaza de Mayo - the heart of the city

 

 La Casa Rosada (The Pink House) which is the presidential palace in Buenos Aires.    

La Casa Rosada

And here is John doing his best Evita impression – in front of the balcony where former First Lady Eva Peron once sang Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest hits…    

 

Don't cry for me, Argentina...

 

Due to the many protests and demonstrations in the capital, the water cannon is a permanent sight at the Plaza as well.    

Common views at the Plaza

 

View to the Avenida de Mayo

 

 After a long ‘stroll’ through the inner city while filling my head to the brim with insider information, John finally showed mercy and took care of removing the vacuum in my belly, too.    

Pizza & Pasta in San Telmo

 

The rest of the day continued with satisfying the rather substantial needs of the human being – catching up on sleep in the hotel for a few hours and then savouring the culinary delights of the city.    

A Picada pleases everyone's taste

 

 *****    

The next morning we already met at 8 o’clock to free my bike from Customs at the airport. Taking the Subte (Subterráneo – underground) was an experience in itself: now I have an idea how the sardines feel in their can… The train spit us out at the upper end of the Calle Florida where the sun shines brighter on the rich and beautiful.    

Calle Florida

 

At Ezeiza International Airport we had quite a few procedures to follow before I was allowed to see my baby again: Applying for a visitor pass, finding the office of the airline to pay the airway bill, being let into the Customs area, starting the transaction in office 2, paying several fees in office 1, proceeding to office 3, back to office 2, etc, etc. John has actually posted an excellent write-up of the process on UKGSer.com which I would warmly recommend to read if you ever want to ship your bike to South America – now updated with the 2010 figures.    

However, the officials were warming up constantly, showed interest in my trip and treated us with great friendliness. Finally we were allowed in the sacred customs grounds.    

It's a bit like Christmas...

 

The following pictures are all shamelessly nicked from John, as I was too busy packing and getting the bike ready.    

Getting the bike ready

 

Off we go!

 

Oops, not quite...

 

Now there is a happy bunny

On the way from the airport to the hotel I had noticed that the bike was leaking fuel; probably down to the new fuel filter we had fitted and which was not quite the right size. So it was already time for the first roadside repair.     

The first road side repair

 

Fortunately, Possu had given me some slightly bigger filters as spares at the last minute and a short while later I had fixed the leak with my bare hands.    

New fuel filter fitted

 

That evening John introduced me to two of his best friends who run a pub which is currently closed by the magistrate for some updating and refurbishing. We had a great time at their etablissement but for obvious reasons, I can’t provide the photographic evidence… 😉    

Thank you for all your help, John! Getting everything sorted would have been a lot more complicated without you. I think I owe him a few drinks – but he wouldn’t let me pay…    

The next day would take me to Sandra and Javier of Dakar Motos fame – but little did I know that the road to the district of Vicente López was a rather rocky one…    

Posted 25 August 2010 by Pumpy in Argentina

The journey begins…   5 comments

Never had I thought that the last weeks before departure would be so emotional. To be incredibly excited about the trip was what I expected but the love and the caring  shown by my family and friends were just overwhelming.

I had a wonderful ¨Send Off¨on 6th August with friends coming from all over the country – from as far as Benson (400 yards) to the Wirral (180 miles).

 

Send off at the Chequers

During the remaining ten days before I set off to Buenos Aires, friends and relatives kept calling, sending lovely messages, commenting on my blog and visiting me in Oxford – it was very humbling and I am very lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. Apologies if I haven’t been able to reply to everyone in the appropriate depth but there were still thousand and one things to do.

On 10th August we delivered the bike to James Cargo to be crated and shipped to Argentina.

Giles from James Cargo

Ready for take-off...

Then I spent a few days with Steve’s side of the family in Kent for good wishes and big hugs. I promised that I wouldn’t be doing anything (too) silly…

On 17th  August I then followed the DRZ to Buenos Aires.

 

Sharing the last cake with Possu at Gatwick

 

Leaving the British summer behind…

 

Hasta luego, Inglaterra...

There was a three-hour stop-over at Madrid where I was lucky enough to snatch the last sandwich before the Bistro closed. The Duty-free shops were open the whole night though…

Although I had booked my window-seat four months in advance, they gave me an asiento right in the middle at the rear of the aircraft on the day – no Madrid by night, illuminated Canary Islands, Amazonian rainforest or the Iguazú Falls from the air, boohoo. But, crowded as that flight was, I should probably count myself lucky that they took me to South America at all.

Going south, very, very south

 

A brief glimpse out of the crew compartment showed that I hadn’t missed a lot anyway.

 

South America from the air

After 13 hours we finally touched ground at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires. The sky looked similar to the English one but it was warm! Expecting the equivalent of February in the northern hemisphere in Argentina, I was accordingly dressed and too hot already while queueing for immigration. However, it didn’t cross my mind for a second to complain… 😉

 

Welcome to Buenos Aires

The ride on the excellent Manuel Tienda León shuttle bus and the subsequent transfer to the hotel (5 Argentinean Pesos extra – less than a pound!), gave me a great introduction to the local traffic conditions – even the cars are “filtering” here and “lane-splitting” means that up to five cars/trucks/buses/motorcycles share three lanes. I was already looking forward to joining this chaos on my own bike the next day.

A great mixture of architecture can be seen next to the motorway into the City Centre.

 

Autopista into Buenos Aires

Occasionally I could only hope that the slip roads were sign-posted appropriately.

 

Interesting traffic routing...

Eventually arriving in one piece at my hotel in San Telmo, I was looking forward to meeting my friend John from the UK who is currently residing in Buenos Aires.

Let the sight-seeing begin…

Posted 19 August 2010 by Pumpy in Argentina, Preparation

Saying “Auf Wiedersehen”…   Leave a comment

Hello Everybody,

Hope you are all well and enjoying the British summer.

My foot has healed nicely, the plaster came off last Thursday and I’m now officially discharged. Still hobbling about with a Samson boot but down to one crutch and doing loads of exercises. Thus I can now focus on the important things in life, such as my imminent departure to Buenos Aires, which is less than a month away!

So I would love to have a little get together to say ‘auf Wiedersehen’ to my friends on –

Friday 6th August 2010 from 17.00 hrs onwards

at

The Chequers Inn

Berrick Salome

Wallingford

Oxfordshire

OX10 6JN

The pub has a nice garden with outdoor seating, a children’s play area and really good food if you want to stay and eat. I will also have my adventure DRZ with me – handcrafted by my wonderful personal mechanic and fully equipped – to look at and drool over…  😉

I know that it’s a Friday and for some of you it’s a long ride to Oxford. However, it would be great if you could make it before the bike and I disappear to South America for four months.

Hope to see you before 2011!

Posted 29 July 2010 by Pumpy in Preparation

Hello world!   1 comment

This page will eventually be the travel blog for my four-month trip through South America starting on 17th August 2010.

‘Pumpernickelontour.com’ should have gone live a lot earlier but the preparations didn’t go exactly to plan:

The pleasures & pains of trail riding...

At the end of May I broke my foot whilst trail riding on the local lanes, which has put quite a dent in my overall schedule.

So please bear with me while the site is still under development…

Posted 8 July 2010 by Pumpy in Preparation