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32 Days, 4 countries, 3500 miles through France, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium

3593 Miles
32 Days
Average consumption 53.3Mpg
Average speed 33.6 Mph
Oil used: 300 mlCost: a bloody lot!
Maps Used: Michelin 561 Italia Nord Ovest 1:400 000 (would have been better using a larger scale map) and Michelin 527 Provence –Alps-Cote d’ Azur 1: 200 000

So I started planning. And planning. And reading. I swear there is far too much information available these days.  I finally finished the route planning this morning at school.   Ok, so over the last months (even before I was off sailing, I knew I'd be off riding somewhere) so being a teacher and not paid highly enough (thanks Mr. Gove) I thought I'd save pounds and start to service my bike myself. So I bought tools, Haynes manual, scoured the internet for gems and set to on my bike. Must say the hardest part for the 24k service was the valve clearances. Needed to replace 3 shims which once collected from BMW, are easy enough to install. Just measuring where and what was the hardest part for me, especially since the well known video/documented lesson on the net shows an older model bike and as a newbie to servicing it took me a while to realise this! I also needed a new rear disc and tyres so planning the timing and scheduling when to buy stuff and where from also took time. Again, researching tyres was painful as it's such a subjective thing. In the end I stuck with what I have had before. Another set of Conti Trail Attack’s. Seeing as both previous sets delivered 12000 miles a piece, no point trying something new.  I did however get BMW to do the ABS to save time and to show willing with their warranty in case these go soon. While it was there for that, BM replaced my Bowden cables and seized exhaust flap under extended warranty (I paid the labour, they paid the parts). Still better than a kick in the teeth.  SO that was the bike pretty much sorted. Having done a few rides I wanted to avoid the buffeting so set about getting a new screen. I tried a MRA Vario Tour screen and found that although it smoothed the airflow for my pillion, it actually did less for me and had lots of tugging around my elbows. So that was sold and sent.  So with the departure date fast approaching I ordered and re installed a MRA Airflow from Givi.  After taking the clocks off and on so many times am now glad to say that the Givi screen is the dogs doo dats. Wow I have it on closest rake to me, and have yet to raise the top section and I can comfortably ride at 60mph with visor up and less noise, buffeting and tugging on arms and around ears. Very happy with it!

Route planning is so often asked about. It has been very hard to plan the ride you dream of - like that surfer’s perfect wave..is it this one, that one? Do I go over or through, around, get the train etc. Well I started with 2 maps by Via Michelin. Obviously you have a general direction of intended travel. Then you look at the map and see nice green lines on it. So far it's going well then you go to Google, and find your location. The easiest way to put that into the Garmin software is to drop a latitude / longitude marker and copy the coordinates into your own software.  Voila.  Then try the next and so on. I must say it is very tempting to stay in Google maps, but then you drag too many points and it goes goo goo on you. Start again...From experience, Google is great but I trust and find the free software called ITN converter easier and friendlier - same maps.  Just add loads of waypoints else Garmin re routes everything again! I have spent so much time trying to do this right and help myself. Boy is it frustrating.  And so you plod on. I often found that numbering according to days and routes (e.g. 1.1 mway, 1.2 mway with twist, 1.3 Off road) was easiest to remember when and or what route to look at.  I have persevered and can say that the way Garmin manages POI and routes is very clever, with a lot of options. It’s just getting used to it.  A steep learning curve has been mine to climb over the last month.
Been hard to plan as I had a definite time to be at a ferry port near Nice, so I tried to work backwards. Then I found this cool file with all the Alpine passes and Cols in 1 POI file. Oh how much easier that made life. You can even select points and create a route from them in 1 foul curve. Nice.  Day 1 is a stretch of motorway and a bit of non MW. I prefer to avoid motorways. I have a hotel booked for night 1 so I can make a decent dent on the second day and then the fun starts. Day 3 is where the going is going to be fun and I shouldn't be too tired from a long stint to get there.  Let’s just hope I make the ferry to Corsica. Paperwork is the usual - passport, warranty and insurance details and copies. Ferry ticket and a typed up itinerary of where I should be, what route when etc with emergency numbers and contacts. I got a used Vignette cheaply in case I went into Switzerland (which I now know I am) so that helped out.  It has been hard trying to remember where I'll be and what sort of routes are preferred for me and then to change tack and distance for when Zoe joins me in Nice or Pisa (There is a chance we may not sail across to Pisa and I'll have to ride around the coast to collect Zoe). Hard life!.. Well actually, look for any route around the Italian med that does not have a motorway and it either means chancing traffic and the heat on the coastal road, or going north, East, South, North, East etc to zigzag across. Unless you want to really go inland and around. Anyhow...enough trickling for now...time to research a return ferry ticket!


On Saturday night as I met the owner of the Gite I stayed in.  He speaks no English. None. Nada. I mentioned food and fireworks in the adjacent village and they were like ooh, not on the bike and drinking etc. obviously not, but I thought they then agreed to give me a lift as they were going anyway. Turns out my French is indeed poor and they meant, we'll drop you off and organize a taxi from the restaurant for you. They duly did. The fireworks were mediocre, the villages didn't really get fired up about Bastille day and they went home at 11:20. My taxi was booked for 12:00, so I hung about like Nigel no mates till it arrived. The accommodation was fantastic and a large room, quiet and brekkie. Secure lock up, not that it's needed as the village is so small! Gite Chez Jo I think.
My first col was Col de Noyer and it was an easy intro to tight turns, narrower roads. Then I hit col du manse I think on the way to vars. boy did I love the Col du Vars, really leaning in and hitting the gas on exit. I did hit a foot peg twice but both on the descent and the left, so I don't think that counts! Then 2 guys came hounding past me on the way up and after 3 turns they were gone. I did out run a Honda and a Harley but they were having a coffee at the time. Rode up bonnet the and loved the scenery. Still snow and cyclists going up but no cloud, good visibility and no rain. Wow what a ride then when you hit the route de Nice on the other side.  

All goes well and the roads were superb, bar the first day motorway hell. Saw some new places, some of them I saw twice without intending to see them once! Work needed on how to plan routes properly! Anyhow, the Tarmac in France is great, the route Napoleon is awesome, especially the start towards Valbonnais.  I also liked the off shoots that I took on day 3 around to Castellane and the gorge du Cians and gorge du Daluis.  Never thought I would but I really like the tight hairpins on the left. Not so much the ones turning right. Feels a bit like carving on skis when you get it right. I did notice that at speed, well me at speed, I tend to end up leaning forward and almost over and willing the bike to follow my leading shoulder into the corner, in an attacking sort of pose. Not sure if this is meant to be or if it is just my subconscious moving my body into what position I think is best at the time! Anyhow, the pictures should tell a better story.  I arrived in Nice and did struggle a bit to find the correct entrance to the St Jean Cap Ferrat marina that Bruce mentioned.   Running close to time, I dropped the chain on a private car park spot, wheeled the bike into a corner and locked it as best I could.  Took a while to exchange riding gear for sailing gear and re pack it all away before heading to Nice to get the ferry.  The bike has been left chained with 2 different locks to an as yet, uninstalled lamppost in a small parking spot at the marina.  The panniers are locked and a disc lock on too so not much else I can do. 

Ok so sailing along the west coast of Corsica was quite cool, except we motored more than we sailed due to lack of consistent wind. Nice for tanning and relaxing but it feels like cheating. The scenery is awesome and when we did enter Calvi to take on supplies I managed to get a snapshot of the start of the tour de France wall.   Anyhow, saw whales, dolphins right in front of us, a flying fish and some very expensive luxury cruisers. The best beach though was Seleccia, where we moored and then took the dinghy ashore. We intended to go to a secluded and not easily reached beach bar behind the dunes, then braai and sleep on the beach before sailing back to Nice on Friday morning. This beach is so awesome, it’s still unspoiled and kids all over just leave their toys and buckets etc in a pile on the beach for the next day. It is so secluded that there is only a small camping site behind the dunes and safe that they can do this. Anyhow, we made a great big fire after a few beers and set about cooking and relaxing. Funny how you always imagine sleeping on a tranquil beach as ideal....bloody Nora it is noisy with even just a small shore break continually pounding, plus add in the mosquitoes and that sand gets hard after being compressed by one’s body weight. Anyhow, we were up and off on the 24 hour sail back to Nice at 06:30 amidst giant thunderstorms. The return trip was uneventful, except today that have now sailed across the med. Long and tedious...to be honest I was quite looking forward to being back on my bike and in control with the choice of a different drink, or using a proper toilet etc. Sunday morning set off for Pisa after reloading and re organising the bike. Glad to say it had not been touched or moved and no parking ticket either. I rode the coastal rode a while then headed up through Monte Carlo to the Moyen Corniche and travelled that with great views. It has been seriously hot and stopping is just too hot! You almost want to keep riding till you find a shady corner with a view for that photo. Just beyond Menton there is a sign warning that you are 1000m from Italy next to a petrol station selling cheap cigarettes and petrol. Should have filled up there as petrol is now 1.72 liter in Italy. In France it was around the 1.60 euro's or less per litre. The only way you know you are in Italy is when you notice tossers overtaking you on double white lines, on a blind corner after tailgating you for a while. They really are a law unto themselves. After some stunning scenery and just after Alassio I jumped on the motorway to catch up some time and to keep moving as it was just too hot to stop start and crawl through the villages and traffic etc. Another lovely piece of road around the coast with good views was the A10 toll road. Cost me about 15 Euros in total to get from Alassio to Pisa. More later as have to attend dinner now!

Dinner on the go, bolognaise sauce, chili and gnocchi. Camped at Peone as could not find the campsite in Beuil, just near Valberg. Small and works on a honesty box system. 5 Euros for secure parking and running water etc
Been very hot here with days of riding in 35C temps.  Italy is thought to be experiencing its hottest weekend of the summer so far, with the mercury hitting 38C (100F) in Rome yesterday. A strong heat wave coming from Africa and nicknamed 'Charon' by local forecasters is running over Italy with temperatures set to rise up to 40C (104F) in the coming days.
Got our first bit of rain today just around Brescia. Now at the hotel in lake Iseo, sun out and boiling again. Great ride up from Tabiano this morning. No traffic, good surfaces and no motorway. Really pretty country. Tempted by the run down properties all over as a project...
Ps, arrived a day early at hotel. Clearly too many dates to remember! And I did write it all down. Ill blame the Rog...

Well picked up the Mrs. in Pisa and we spent 2 days chilling there, then we decided to forego sailing and rather stay on the beach. So we decided to keep the travelling to a respectable distance and settled for a few days in Fiascherella, nearest town Lerici. Nearest big town, Le Spezia. We stayed at a great hotel with a view over the bay. Really quaint old seaside area but very narrow roads and navigating the twisted small regional roads 2 up and loaded was a nervy experience. No bother but you have to keep your wits with the different cambers, sudden stops and crazy Italian drivers. Hotel Cristallo was great and family run. It had good food and easy access, secure parking and decent air con. Also a balcony to watch the sunset.

After Pisa we opted to go halfway to lake Iseo for a short break before a week in the lakes. We stayed in Tabiano which is a subsidiary thermal bath town, if you like, of Salsa Maggiore. Strange thing is I rode the route napoleon, then went to Corsica, and now have been to the thermal spa his wife bought at its inception, so rather more of a Napoleonic trip for me. Secondly on reflection, I camped at a lake, above a river in Peone, sailed across the med, stayed by the sea, went to the thermal baths and am now at a lake. I guess inadvertently I like to be near water. Oh well, not bad. As of today we are in Lake Iseo and had a fantastic run up from Tabiano with very light traffic apart from Brescia and great views of this country. All off the motorway as that is only for making time. We have seen 1 GB reg car and only walked past 1 couple in Parma yesterday who were English. Nice now and again to feel like a real tourist. As much as I love the food here, I have to say I am missing my braai, or even just a greasy burger and chips after 2 weeks away! On the way from Fiascherella to Tabiano we rode the routes recommended on the Michelin map road SS62 and really loved it. Good views, tarmac but do not expect to make too much progress. Zoe rode her first alpine pass and I must say the enlarged foot stand did drag a few times on a few bends. More to do with us loaded up, my bike being the lowered suspension model and cornering camber! She prefers it slow and gentle to alpine style. Great road over and. Long and twisty ride. Some places need resurfacing as the odd shapes and cracks are right in your line and makes cornering interesting. Bumpy ride for pillion.
Thermal baths for a day, basically a set of interlinked baths with different shower head or jet attachments and using water to stimulate muscles, circulation and improve well being. Not bad actually.

And maybe the Italians have found a novel way to integrate motorcycling and beauty....

Okay time for an update now that I am back on the road, so to speak.  Just had a great break at Lake Iseo. We stayed at hotel Rotelli and although a bit hard to find and up some steep and narrow side roads a lovely place to stay. It was towards near Sulzanna. We hired bikes and did a bit of cycling, hired a speed boat and relaxed in the middle of the lake and lay about reading.  Also did a few rides. First was up and over Croce Domini through Bienno. Very twisty and narrow and must say Zoe was a tad nervous. Can’t really blame her after we fell off just as we started.  Not bad, just a little hiccup.   I took a wrong turn down a side street in Bienno.  Tried to do one of my usual u turns, 2 up but just about half way into the turn, ( the road was off camber, sloping more than a little and pretty tight).  I should have thought about it more really, but... anyhow started the turn and next thing an old lady in a blue banger comes from nowhere.  Nearly took us out, so I turned away, anyhow, this instantly means we were off balance and never going to hold the bike up.  We overbalanced and went down at around 5 miles an hour. Cylinder guards scratched, hand guard roughed up but other than that all okay, just shaken. I at least now know I can pick my own bike up. No one saw either, phew. Anyhow, up and over we went to Lago ‘D Idro.  Another tight and twisty descent and by this time Zoe had lost the will to be a pillion. I think the shock finally set in for her and she was really scared. Anyhow, we overcame it and had a decent ride back along the SS237, SS57, SS79 and then down the SS48. A great route with loads of bikers out. On any other day it would have been a good quick run. With sweepers rather than pins, but I took it very slow. Needless to say we relaxed the next day. My ankle was a bit stiff but more on that later. It was only 180 miles round but it took a long day in the saddle and temps are still very high here in Italy. On Sunday I took a ride on my own out towards Paso Tonale, and then went up above Lovere, on the SS53, then the SS56 up to Bratto. Then onwards and up the Vivione pass http://translate.google.it/translate...t%26hl%3Den-GB .  Lots of bikes at the top, very twisty and narrow in places when you get higher. Much narrower than any other pass I have ridden so far. Really learning lots about control, steering and keeping revs up when in correct gear! The descent is a lot faster, still tight but I found a Ducati to follow for a few bends then he left me for dirt! Left hand tight turns are definitely easier for me, the right hand ones turning back on themselves are in need of more work.

Ok, so the ankle..as I said it’s been stiff, so yesterday we were leaving Iseo for a night in Caravagio, enroute to Milan airport. In the morning I could hardly walk or put pressure on it at all. I was really struggling. Zoe carried all the luggage down even. Changing gears was a real hassle, a definite 3 part movement, any decent rugby ref would have sent me off! I went to the chemist on arrival yesterday and had to use my heel to pull up on the gears it was that bad. She gave me a gel and overnight I kept applying it. Very little sleep and a very swollen ankle. Thinking sprain or break.. This morning, I went through all my options, as in leave the bike, come back another time to carry on after flying home, getting a ukgser to come ride it home and I fly, or just soldiering on. Anyhow, back to the chemist, they were so worried they got me a chair soon as they saw me. They took me in the back, bathed and soaked it in salts, and wanted me to go to hospital. Not really an option was my thinking as they would either strap it and tell me to rest, put in plaster and me in on crutches or ? Either way I would be stuck with no way of getting the bike back. So I asked them to strap it, pass me some painkillers and soldier on. As you can now imagine, mounting the bike, or moving it backwards from parking was getting hard with no lateral or vertical movement without extreme pain. Anyhow, 3 sachets of pain killer later and a foot shoved in tight boot and we were off to the airport. Changing gears has since become easier and I can now walk albeit with a little hobble. This evening I am at camping magic lake on the shores of lake Como. The ankle is much better, strange thing the body huh.  I will continue and see a doctor in UK, but from looking at options to fly this morning to being able to sit without pain tonight is a massive mystery to me.  Tomorrows route is re planned and will see the Julier pass, Oberalp and into Andermatt. Then the Sustens.  IF I CAN REMEBER RIGHTLY. so far the bike has been very reliable, mpg is at 53.3 overall and I have now covered around 2500 miles. The throttle cruise control rubbers have perished and popped off (it was already slipping a little bit even with the rubber underneath).  So it has the cable tie option installed now. The only other hassle is my power cradle that I fitted, has a loose solder joint, so I cannot power my phone.  Anyhow, enough now, but looking forward to seeing more roads tomorrow, albeit with limited gear changes!


Ok, so leaving Como and camping Magic Lake was easy.  The pitch she rented me made tarmac look comfortable but it was a safe place and they do order pizza for you if you ask.  Cappuccinos weren’t bad either at 1 euro 30 each.  There were some thunderstorms and lightning overnight but as I set off up the road it was clearing p nicely, or so I thought.  I left via the SS340d and was soon moving through some really lovely country roads, well surfaced and a fast ride towards Chiavenna.  I decided to go up the SS37 to Silvaplanna then head up on route 3 over the Maloja pass and the Julier Pass.  Just as I approached the Swiss Border it began to rain, and rain it did.  Visibility was reduced and the water was quite heavy on the roads.  I must say the first few hairpins going up the Maloja took me by surprise and then I though sod it, I am going to use both lanes to make my corner and exit on my side of the road.  Seemed to work.  Needless to say the Engadine Valley and lake area was a bit deserted.  It must be a stunning place to holiday or ride through on a hot day.  Little traffic, good surface but heavy rain and fog that kept coming in and then disappearing.  Just as you think it’s a nice straight, headlights appear around a hairpin!  I stopped at the lake to put on more base layers as I was now getting cold and water was starting to get through my jacket.  Lunch was a quick snack under a tree and then I pushed onwards towards Andermatt.  Coming over the Oberalp is awesome/splendid/marvelous and very surreal.  I was quite surprised to see people fishing at the top in the little lake.  The ride down to Andermatt was nice as now the road and fog had cleared somewhat.  I got down at 17:30 and was planning on camping in the Lautebrunnen Valley but with so much water, wet through by now and an ankle that was tired of gear changes I booked into the Haus Bonnetti pension.  70CHF including breakfast and safe under cover parking.  Job done.  It was so late and I was just not in the mood for walking around looking for a restaurant I made delicious bolognaise pasta and sauce in the room!  Felt a bit like a migrant worker or transient immigrant..(Well I imagine that’s how they are…lol).

Friday, I had a short run  from Andermatt over the Furka and Grimsel to get to the Lauterbrunnen Valley and the infamous Staubbach Falls.  Furka was awesome and still snow at the top but the Grimsel will have to wait for me to get back, as I saw so little of it the rain and visibility was treacherous.  Apparently there are 2 lakes up there? Loved the down ride from the Furka though, really easy to open up and see ahead.  I camped in the well run and very efficient Camping Jungfrau campsite.  As you enter a man comes up on a bicycle and in a broad northern accent asks you how long and how many you are.  He then finds you a spot, writes out a ticket and tells you to set up. Once set up, you take the ticket to the reception and pay.  Organised.  You don’t even have to dismount.  A bit crowded and around £20 for 1 night, but the scene is brilliant, right below the falls. In the evening I met Swiss Mike and his other half for a few swifties.  Mike joined me at the campsite where we had a good natter and watched the folklore band entertainment.  Lots of yodeling, drumming and singing.  Some flag tossing and a large selection of farmers shaking huge cowbells.  Noise, I tell you, pure noise!
Saturday saw me change my route again as I thought I had a bit too much to do in the last few days and decided to head for Mulhouse.  I must say it was a brilliant ride all way around.  First along the north side of the Thunersee lake and then over the Schallenburg Pass.  Loads of bikes up there and an old Moto Guzzi.  I decided rather to sit in a pasture and look out over the vista with my cheese and bread than sit in the restaurant.  Wow, what a pretty country.  I took all small roads and avoided tolls and motorways all the way.  There were some really surprised farmers to see me popping out of some of the roads near their houses.  I loved the alpine houses and meadows.  On some of the houses they have a little cartoon like character attached with a name.  I must assume it’s the little kids’ name that lives there.  A cute personal and open touch announcing which kid lives there. All day the roads were awesome and highly recommend today’s route.  Also went through the Passwang valley.  There was a GS with German plates ahead of me and we kept chasing each other for about an hour as we must have had similar routes planned.  I did feel that after all the hassle of planning a route, if you were ever unsure of the route, soon as you saw a few bikers on the same route, you’d pretty much know you were doing okay.  I found a lovely municipal camp site outside Mulhouse for £9.85 (go figure the .85 cents). 

An early night and then Sunday would see me head up towards Verdun and make progress towards Bastogne.  The roads towards Epinal and the N75 are actually very nice.  As I got closer towards Verdun-Sur-Meuse there were some belters with long sweeping bends, great visibility through corners and the open road,.  I think the roads were D908, D904, D903, D907.  Absolutely fantastic roads and progress is easy.  I think this was a very memorable stretch for me towards Verdun.  Again though after stopping at the monument and looking around the roads were again fabulous.  Went through some very rural little roads as my sat nav was at this time set to route the shortest between two points, not the fastest.  I hit the wrong option while riding and didn’t realize so it would take me behind the houses, over rough surfaces and around some beautiful lakes (D905, D66, cut through from D18 across the D17 towards Cons La Grandville).  Garmin doesn’t have a route number!  Then after Verdun again the roads were great.  I had by this time lost all power for my tablet, phone and the adapter I brought with was left behind at Lake Como so I don’t have many pictures of the places over these last few days.  Kind of funny that on the way to Bastogne, I got to thinking that in this day and age, we are so used to capturing everything we do on digital media that when was the last time you went somewhere interesting and didn’t take a photo.  Would you visits a famous landmark and not take a picture to show friends/post on space book etc….just a passing thought.  I camped in Montmedi in another municipal campsite.  Nice and quiet.  More Dutch tourists here and quite a few cyclists.  I had of course made another error in thinking I would be able to get food or shopping in Montmedi (the last 5 days of the trip had no accommodation or places pre-booked and no real idea of how far along I’d get so I had to just sort of make it up on the fly.) So Sunday night’s dinner was chicken Vienna sausages that were left over from Friday, mixed in with Beef and tomato so and the remaining pasta I had.  Tasted great with added chili and no ill effects.  I was hungry in the morning though!  Error number umpteen by now was me deciding that I would get a map en route that covered from Lausanne/Thunersee northwards.  I never found one/ bought one and I notice by looking at my Garmin tracks that I did ride a loop on myself quite a bit to reach the campsite.  I know at the time I sort of sensed I was doing it, but a long day in the saddle, a small screen and hot and sweaty you kind of just go with the flow.  I will definitely say get maps for every area as they are so much easier to look through and plan on than just using the Sat Nav.  No harm done but a lesson for future. (even if it is more money..).
And so to the last day.  At this stage I have been away from the UK for 30 days.  I am tired of setting up the tent, looking for food stops along the way and am quite keen to get home and unwind…I loved the roads and scenery but I think I realized I am not an all round the world traveler as I miss my house.  Maybe if I didn’t have a house it’d be easier to keep travelling.  Or maybe stay longer and do less on the way?  Anyhow, so I headed off to Bastogne and actually had very little time there but I did go look at the tank (again, no images but I were there…honest! lol).  The route Combatants is nice and the surrounding areas and forests are a pleasure to ride through.  Now not having a map and our EU ubiquitous boundaries meant that at times I had no idea whether I was in France or Belgium when riding to Calais.  I have to admit for some reason I got hopelessly confused around Bastogne.  When leaving I plugged in route and was off, but I kept taking the wrong exit and having to rejoin the road, then taking the exit too late and having to rejoin my route.  I think in all I took about 6 wrong turns (on dual carriageways so U turn etc was not an option).  Well that was a productive waste of 30 minutes! Anyhow, I soon had it worked out and actually thinking about the route trip and the roads, I have not paid a toll since returning from Levant on about day 5.  I rode the whole way from Pisa to Calais with the sat Nav set to avoid motorways and tolls, so I am chuffed to think I saw a whole lot of cool sites.  Would be great to ride with a cameraman following and they can do the picture thingy.  Oh yes, Henry Cole (World’s greatest Motorcycle Rides on travel channel. - And Ewan and Charlie did that…).  I made the ferry with 45 minutes to spare and no issues on the bike at all, except I did notice my footrest pin was about a cm out of its socket and found a circlip missing.  No, that was 1  spare thing I didn’t put in but some insulation tape sorted that out.  No biggie, but I must say that when I did my 24k service, I serviced and cleaned and lubricated the stands and foot pegs as part of me being thorough, so at least I knew exactly how/what was missing etc.  No biggie, but you get the drift.  Familiarity and all that with the bike gained through doing stuff.  
Countries visited: France, Corsica, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium
Best open roads with sweeping bends :France
Best bread easily available: Switzerland
Most bikers seen on the roads enjoying the passes: Italy
Most commonly seen bike: GS (except in Italy where it was beaten by Ducati)
Worst drivers: Italy by miles – idiots the lot of them
Best drivers: French
Hardest place to get pharmacy help: its Italy and strange opening hours
Cheapest camp sites: France
Most expensive campsites: Switzerland
Best views: Switzerland
Most likely to stop and ask if you need help: Switzerland
Best roads to cover distance (scenery, progress and signposted) France
Worst place to get petrol: Italy
Easiest place to get petrol: France
Best Pizza: Italy
Best roadside food: Belgium
Best forest roads: Belgium
Best “Great Escape” scenery: Switzerland Oberalp area
Easiest place to park: Italy – literally anywhere you want!
Most nutters on scooters: Italy (even the hot chicks! J lol)
Easiest place to get lost: Italy
Most speed cameras: UK, followed by Italy (overhead ones too and some others in an orange box next to the road)
Fastest drivers: Italy (10 mph over the speed limit seems to be the minimum speed you to need to drive at or get tailgated and pushed to the side!)