We've been at Eva and Thomas' place for over a week now and we're loving it!
We really miss the company of other people, and hanging out with our friends is really filling that need to be social. Meeting new people on the road has been amazing, but being on a trip this long we are struggling to find balance and it's comforting to spend time with friends who we don't need to explain who we are, where we've gone, what our personalities are like (one of us is lazy and other one has more energy that she knows what to do with). Sometimes it's just nice to curl up on the couch and pick some crappy movies by random on Netflix... and then razz each other endlessly about it... :)
P.S. Don't pick the movie "Parallels" and watch it with your friends. You'll *NEVER* hear the end of it. Ever.
Eva wheels her motorcycle out of the BatCave. Our bikes have remained parked for the whole week!
Watching Eva do some pre-riding-season maintenance
While we take our computers... er, motorcycles in for service
The service guys at the local BMW dealership knew us already even before we walked in. They follow us on our blog! We talked to them a little about our trip. Then they shook our hands and wished us a nice trip and handed us our bill. No discount for storytelling... :(
On the way, we tried out the new communicators that Sena shipped to us. The 20S is an upgrade to what we had before and although we didn't have enough time to give them a full run-through, we're blown away by how crystal clear the sound quality is. They've really improved the noise reduction from the SMH10, which wasn't bad to begin with! Thank you, Sena!
We're also really happy that we got most of our gear refreshed, getting it all shipped to the RideDOT.com European Headquarters in Belgium (and you thought only NATO had their headquarters here!) We just need to get Neda's seat fixed still. Finding an upholsterer in Leuven willing to work on it is proving difficult.
I finally get to see Speculoos in person!
A couple of years ago when Thomas and Eva were staying with us in Toronto, I asked them what foods they had which were particular to Belgium. He described these spiced biscuits that you soaked in tea or coffee, then spread them over bread. It's called speculoos and now every morning, I got to see Thomas do his ritual dunk and spread.
And then in the grocery store I see pre-dunked and spreadable Speculoos!
When you stay with friends this long, we're not really guests anymore. So we did the room-mate thing and did some grocery shopping for them. Settling into Belgian domestic life, the most exciting thing for us is that there is a new grocery store called "Albert Heijn" that opened up around the corner. They're the biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands and they are expanding into Belgium. Eva and Thomas pointed out all the new Dutch products on the shelves that they wanted to try. The shelves were a little empty, probably because they were a brand new store.
We kind of miss all these little neighbourhood details that fly under the wheels of our nomadic existence.
Because our roomies are vegetarian, Thomas attempts to make vegetable jerky.
I like to call it Vagirky. Because it sounds a little dirty...
The vagirky was put in the oven and baked until it should have been chewy, but instead it turned out crispy and dry. No Smack-Licking the dry Vagirky.
I thought about why we get along with Eva and Thomas so well. A lot of it is that we have so much in common: addicted to travel, motorcycles, relaxed attitude to life. But also, there's a sense of modesty to them that we've found is common to a lot of Belgians.
Belgium is a funny little country. It shares borders with France, Germany and the Netherlands and each of the Belgian regions are split along the language lines: Dutch Flanders and French Wallonia, similar to English/French Canada. But I don't think they lack a cohesive national identity here as much as that they an understated nationalism, similar to the modest Canadian culture that we grew up in.
And Eva and Thomas are just cool people to be around. I don't know if they truly realize how special they are to us.
What's going on here?
Eva works as a content writer for a PR company and one of her clients is a recreational equipment retailer. Each quarter the company puts out a glossy magazine/catalog and Eva had an idea of including our travels in the next issue as a lifestyle/human interest piece. We initially thought it would just be a print interview and some accompanying pictures from our blog, but to our surprise a camera crew showed up to do a live interview for a video supplement on the company website!
Cool! We felt like celebrities!
Fireside chat with RideDOTNeda.
In addition to the interview, the crew got some background shots of our gear. This was getting fancier by the minute!
And then the video shoot went outdoors to include shots of our motorcycles! Thomas led us out to some scenic spots in Leuven
While we wait for the camera crew to set up, Neda tries to sell Eva her motorcycle: "Only 80,000 kms! Never dropped. Much..."
Making movies is boring for the actors. Gotta wait for all the cameras to be set up. So I went around and took lots of pictures
Setting up the shot
Because of my amateur video-editing attempts, I already knew how much footage needs to be shot to make a short video, but it was eye-opening to watch the professionals and see how much set-up time is required to get the best lighting, framing, etc. Compared to my seat-of-my-pants-pull-the-camera-out-of-the-tankbag-and-hit-record way of shooting video... :)
And then the video shoot goes mobile for some action footage!
Thomas and Eva led us and the crew on their bikes to some country roads where footage could be taken of us riding our motorcycles. Wow! All this for such a short video! I was so curious what the end product would look like now!
Tim, the director mounts a miniature Action Camera on Thomas' bike to get shots of us from the front
I felt like a member of the Royal Family, riding around with a motorcycle escort in front and a chase vehicle behind us!
The stakes get higher when a drone was brought out. OMG!
At the end of the day, the cameraman shows us some of the raw footage that they've shot. It looks SOOOO good! I can't wait to see how they put it all together. Eva said that it will be a few months before it'll be finished and launched concurrently with the magazine article.
So it turns out it's not actually a short web video. There was so much time put into this and so many different cameras involved that we are turning this into a 12-part mini-series that will air on Netflix. We will be calling KTM and asking them for free motorcycles for our journey just so that we can capture them turning us down on camera...
This will be the cover of our Blu-ray Disc.
After a long day of shooting, we ride back to Leuven with the rest of the RideDOT.com European film crew