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The last couple of weeks were very hectic, finishing off work on June 28 and having the house rented out with people moving in on June 29. Then a week of final preparations including getting the International Driving Permit and the necessary vaccinations capped off by our flight out at Midnight on Saturday, July 6.

Thursday, July 4 we dropped the motorcycles off for shipment at Air Canada Cargo at the Calgary International Airport. Basically it was a matter of riding them into the warehouse and then having the Dangerous Goods specialist check them over. The gas tanks were less than one quarter full and batteries disconnected. We left the bikes there to be loaded into a container and then they would catch the Saturday evening flight to Frankfurt.

Audrey watches as Erwin Arnold prepares her bike for shipment on Air Canada Cargo.

Friday, July 5 Rob and Laura Billington from Regina dropped by with their sidecar outfit. The rear tire was pretty well bald so we jacked up the Honda Goldwing and went to Anderwerks for a new tire. While there Ekke recognised a motorcycle out back and found out that Susan and Grant Johnson were getting some service done on their bike. Susan and Grant are the ones to blame for our year leave of absence. At the BMW MOA National rally held in Missoula in 1998, Susan and Grant gave a seminar on their trip around the world. It was nice to meet them again and make them aware of the consequences of their seminar. They were off to the BMW MOA National Rally in Trenton, Ontario, probably to infect others.

Saturday, was the day that capped off one of the busiest two weeks either of us has ever had. A send off supper was held amidst our final packing and after the SAAB was put into storage. The Air Transat flight left about half an hour early (!) and three movies later we arrived in Frankfurt. Note for tall fellow travellers; legroom is a precious commodity and it would be worth the money to upgrade to the first class section ($150) or try to get an emergency exit seat ($15 advance booking). This must be done very early as we tried to do this when we booked the flight several months in advance but everything was already taken.

Arriving in Germany, love the Smart cars on the trailer!

We had reserved a hotel in Frankfurt for two nights so that we could have a base to store our stuff before we could pick up the motorcycles on July 8. The Ibis hotel is located a four minute walk from the Hauptbahnhoff but it was a long walk carrying 30 kilograms of stuff in 27 C heat. Neither of us was used to the humidity so it was quite an exertion. After getting settled we went for a walk around downtown Frankfurt on a Sunday evening. We settled in at the Helium café for a light supper and some people watching. Frankfurt appears to be quite wealthy judging by the Porsches and Mercedes driving by.

A nice walk of about seven kilometres led to a BMW motorcycle dealership where a speedometer was waiting for Ekke’s bike. The old odometer had broken this Spring and based on recommendations from the BMW Tech mailing list was sent to Overseas Speedometer in May. Rick Borth estimated a three to four week turnaround time, leaving plenty of time to get the unit back from Austin, Texas before the bikes were shipped to Frankfurt. After four weeks Rick was called and he indicated that he had not started the work yet but would get to it in a couple of weeks. When told that the bikes were being shipped out in a little over two weeks he said he would start it right away. With a few days before the bikes were scheduled to be shipped the speedometer had still not arrived. Rick indicated he had not started it yet and of course now there would be no time to repair it and ship it back to Canada. So a friend in Germany offered to purchase a new speedometer and have it delivered to the Frankfurt BMW dealer. Hence the pleasant walk along the river Main on Monday morning. From there a combination of trains and trams took us to the ADAC (German Autoclub) office to purchase European motorcycle insurance. Back on the train and to the airport to find our bikes at Air Canada Cargo. A simple matter of showing the Customs agent the shipping forms and the insurance cleared our bikes. Back to Air Canada and there were our bikes in a container. Another BMW was sitting on a pallet with a California licence plate. Maybe we’ll meet them on the road somewhere! Since the cargo area is secure we had to clear a gate to get out of the terminal area. Our first ride in Germany included a section of sidewalk to get around the gate! Fuelling the bikes, which were on reserve, was quite a shock. Both bikes came to a total of about 40 Euro. That’s about $60 CDN. Perhaps we’ll be taking the quiet back lanes to keep the speeds down and the fuel economy up!

Uncrating the bikes at the airport

Hotel in Frankfurt
  

Tuesday, was our first real ride as we went from Frankfurt to Wartenberg, near Munich, a distance of around 400 km. This was done almost completely on the autobahn with only the last few kilometres on the little tiny backroads. Ekke had programmed Audrey’s sister’s house into the GPS back in Canada and it was off by only 10 metres. The 400 km was certainly not like riding back home where you can basically snooze on the highway. Here it was 100% attention at all times watching for trucks and campers going slowly ahead and the big Mercedes and BMWs coming up from behind at warp speed.

A stack of Smart cars

The Gruber's house

A family photo

  Map of the route from Frankfurt to the Gruber's house

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