We've been on the road for a very long time.
And for all that time, we really haven't covered a lot of ground when we look at where we've been on the atlas. As mentioned in the last blog post, part of the reason behind our slow travel is that once we're in a new place, country or continent, we want to explore *every single nook and cranny*. We're just not happy with the highlights. Most places we've departed from, either because of family emergencies, visa restrictions or cold weather, there's always a lingering sense of regret that there were still things we left undiscovered.
There's only been a couple of places that we truly feel we did justice: Five months in Colombia left us satisfied, two rounds around Central America and we were good to continue on. And now, after two years in Europe... I think we've poked around quite a lot of it - from North to South (Nordkapp to the French Riviera), West to East (British Isles to behind the Iron Curtain) - we're leaving on our terms, without even a twinge of FOMO.
But before we go, we want to make a just a couple more social calls. First stop: Milan.
Rest and relaxation in Milan
Since we're not sure when we're going to be returning to Europe, we're staying in town for a couple of weeks to spend as much time as possible with Neda's sister and her family.
Goga organizes a hike one day. This is the perfect opportunity for me to get caught up with the blog, so I bow out gracefully... :)
When they all got back, I found some fantastic pictures on the camera that Neda took of their hike! Check them out:
Family portrait: Goga, Tea and Mladen
Val di Mello is in the Italian Alps, a couple of hours north of Milan, near the Swiss border
The area is world-famous for rock climbing, the sheer granite walls climbing high above the valley
But it's also great for hiking. Not that I would know... I'm just captioning Neda's great photos.
Still water in Val di Mello
Reflecting on the beautiful scenery around them
Neda bonding with her niece
Water is still as glass!
North, South, East and West. The rooster knows where we've been...
Tea is sharing her pictures of the day with her very proud Aunt Neda
Although we've spent the last couple of years traveling all over this continent, we're never too far away that we can't ride back to Milan to visit the family every 3-4 months. Even in that short a time-frame, we've seen Tea grow so much in between visits. After we leave, we're not sure when the next time we'll see her. :(
Tea just joined a basketball team!
Attending one of her league games. The family drives her all over the city to play against other teams.
So much fun cheering her on. Now I know how the soccer moms and hockey dads feel!
Later on in the week, we take a road trip to Como, about an hour outside of Milan
Como is the halfway point between Milan and Lugano, where Bettina is riding down from to meet us!
We haven't seen her since the BMW Enduro Course in Germany. That was over a year ago! She told us that she enjoyed the course so much that she's been back twice ever since!
We had lunch with Bettina and walked around Como a bit, catching up on each other's lives
And also sharing some ice cream!
So good to see her again!
The last couple of years in Europe have been so social because we have so many friends and family on this continent. It's been a delight doing a bit of touring, then resting and hanging out with people we know, then going back to touring again. Hopefully the next place we go, we can also make new friends to hang out with between moto-touring. I'm sure it will happen! :D
On the way back from Como, it rains on us. Of course. Europe had to give us one last proper wet sendoff before we leave.
After a very relaxing couple of weeks in Milan, we rode over to Croatia to put the bikes away.
Did some last minute maintenance: a good cleaning, changed the oil and filter, poured some fuel stabilizer in the gas tank.
Neda's family in Pula has let us store our bikes in their garage again.
As we closed the door on the garage, we gazed upon our motorcycles one last time. There's a heaviness in the air because both of us sense that we may not see our motorcycles again for a very long time.
There's a lot unspoken between Neda and I during the last few weeks. Even with our FOMO, we know we've thoroughly explored Europe to our satisfaction, so we've both acknowledged that this leg of our journey is over. But what's been left unsaid is how we feel about continuing the trip after our winter break in Thailand...
This is the worst travel fatigue we've felt. Ever.
We're not excited about motorcycle travel at all. Although we never know *exactly* where we are going to go, we've *always* had some ideas before; a few destinations in mind that we usually make a decision on at the last minute.
This time - nothing. Nada. The only option we've actually discussed is returning back to Toronto when it becomes too hot to stay in Thailand.
Maybe for good.
We've been traveling for close to nine months now, non-stop. It's the longest stretch of riding we've ever done without some kind of a long break.
In hindsight, I think it was a mistake to have gone so long without a rest.
I think it's ended the trip for us.
We took an early morning bus from Pula to Zagreb, to get to the international airport. On the ride over the mountains.... SNOW!!!
What a strange sight! We've spent so many seasons chasing the endless summer back and forth across the equator that it feels like we're seeing the white stuff for the very first time!
The bus stops for a snack break and we find ourselves frolicking in this winter wonderland!
Ok, the snow is nice and all, but we're headed for sunshine now. Ciao!