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Jof's World Tour: From Scotland to Poland

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

Trip miles so far 2,687

By Jon Newey

Here we go again! My pal Dave arrives outside my house on his BMW RT1250. He waits patiently as I say farewells to friends and loved ones. Then we’re off, headed once again for the Edinburgh bypass. Our first stop is Dobbies Garden Centre at Lassawade which has a handy car park for meeting up with two other bikers, Graham and Tom. Dave, Graham and Tom are all members of EDAM and they are going to ride with me down to the Newcastle ferry port. I’m not sure if they just fancy and excuse for a ride on a sunny day or if they want to make sure I actually leave the country this time.

We arrive in Newcastle in plenty of time so we stop for a coffee and a bite to eat, then I head off to join the queue for the ferry while the guys head back towards home. It’s a warm sunny day so it will be a nice round trip for them.

I’ve taken various bikes over to Holland on the ferry from Newcastle before, usually to go to Assen to watch some racing. Today it’s the first time I’ve used the ferry since Brexit happened so I’m expecting a bit more red tape than usual. However, once my passport is checked I’m waved straight though. No extra paperwork. There’s a group of German bikers ahead of me and within a few minutes we’re all inside the ferry strapping the bikes down, sweating in our biker gear. Another few minutes later and I’m in my cabin. As is my habit I had booked an ‘inside’ cabin to save some pennies. Inside cabins generally don’t have windows, but this time my cabin is right at the front of the ship with a window looking right out over the bows. A grandstand view. It is and unexpected bonus.

The Newcastle ferry is great. There’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, several bars for drinks, a cinema and a night club with cabaret acts. I grab some food at the buffet but then all I want is my book and my bed! I must be getting old.

Next morning the ferry docks in Ijmuiden on time. I ride Tigger down the steel ramp onto the paved forecourt of the ferry port. I always love this moment. Having grown up on a small island – Britain – I get a twinge of excitement whenever I ride out onto the European continent. It is a single land-mass that stretches across half the globe! The passport is a formality here too, and there’s no additional paperwork so I’m straight out of the ferry port trying to make sure I stick to the correct side of the road. I grab a quick coffee, fill Tigger’s tank with petrol, prod the Garmin sat-nav into action and get going.

My first night on this stage of the trip is to be in Osnabruck. It is only a couple of hours away so I decide to make a big detour and ride across the man-made causeway that crosses the Zuider Zee. It can be nasty here on a windy day but it is a great ride on a sunny day like today. There’s a café and viewing tower at the mid-point but true to form it is closed when I get there. Never mind. I’ll get it next time!

Holland and Germany have some great motorway systems. So great that’s its hard to avoid them. Consequently, most of the day is spent in a high-speed duel with a series of Audis and Porches. Osnabruck appears in no time and by late afternoon I’ve arrived at my accommodation. There’s an enclosed courtyard where I can park Tigger, so that’s perfect. The accommodation is actually a four-bedroom flat with each of the bedrooms rented out separately. I have free use of the kitchen and bathroom. It is neat and tidy, it has gold taps, and I’m the only person there. Perfect. I plug in all my cameras, phone and comms kit to get them all charged up, download a few photos and videos onto some back-up storage and then I’m ready to get out and explore.

Osnabruck is a pleasant surprise to me. As a general rule on this trip I’m not checking a list of tourist attractions in advance, I’m just letting things happen and taking them as they come. The centre of Osnabruck is a series of pedestrianised spaces with pavement cafes, students and bicycles everywhere. The original Scholss has been converted to be part of the university. It makes a nice subject for me to sketch.

I sleep like the proverbial log and get up refreshed the next morning ready to ride to Leipzig. Breakfast is some croissants and coffee from the nearby supermarket. Once Tigger is packed I head out of town, straight onto the next motorway.

Half way though my route I stop and change the Garmin settings to avoid motorways. The result is a fabulous ride through Bad Harzburg on the B4 backroad. The road twists and turns through forests and mountains into areas that would be ski resorts in the winter. The temperature has risen to 26 degrees C today so there’s no snow now. After a couple of hours, I switch the setting on the Garmin back again

and hop onto the Autobahn for the final run into Leipzig.

Leipzig sits at the heart of a big industrial area. It is a huge city. I believe the central square is nice to visit but I don’t get to see it. The rest of Leipzig doesn’t have much to recommend it. My ‘pension’ is another flat with individually rented rooms. The flat sits at the back of a second-hand car lot. It’s not much to look at from the outside but inside it is cosy enough. I meet two veterinary students in the kitchen, Lydia and Ana. They tell me they spend two weeks here every month and two weeks back at home. They’ve been doing that for two years so far and have another year to go. I ask them if there’s a nice café nearby and they laugh. Not round here, apparently. But as it happens they are both heading for home tomorrow and have over-catered for their meal tonight so they offer me the left-overs. I’m not proud! It was


The next morning’s breakfast is cakes and bananas from the nearby Aldi. By 08:30 I’m on the road heading to Wroclaw. Once again it is autobahn all the way. I turn off after a couple of hours and drop into the little town of Bautzen for lunch. It is a great wee place. The historic old town is all cobble streets, churches and castles. Words fail, see sketch. All would be perfect if I hadn’t ridden too close to one of the bollards in the allocated motorcycle park and ripped a hole in my right-hand pannier. It doesn’t look to bad, though. I’m sure it will survive.

My route from Bautzen to Worclaw is hampered by roadworks, traffic, lorries and car accidents, so by the time I get to my destination I’m a bit frazzled. Tonight I am using the Bunk-a-Biker scheme for the first time. My host is Chris, a biker who rides a Versys 1000. I’m his first Bunk guest and he’s my first Bunk host. Chris has already traveled many of the roads I plan to ride on this trip so we swap a few stories and compare notes. I have been having difficulty with the idea of not booking my accommodation ahead of time. The idea of arriving in a town and then looking for somewhere to stay is hard to get my head around. But booking accommodation in advance places constraints on the journey which may not be ideal. Chris has ridden his bike all over Norway, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey and he has developed a compromise where he books his accommodation no more than three or four hours ahead, usually when he stops for lunch. In all his travels his strategy has never failed him, he says. So far I have accommodation booked as far as Krakow. What will I do from there? We’ll see….

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Unknown member
Jun 02, 2023

Great to see you on the road again Jon.


Unknown member
Jun 02, 2023

What a great view from your cabin on the ferry and I see you have a can of beer beside your bike in one of the photos. I look forward to reading your next blog and looking at your paintings too.

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