[YEAR 7!] Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...

Heavy rains in the spring of this year led to extensive landslides which closed down several hiking trails and roads. Several months later, the roads still haven't reopened. This means that we have to take the main highway all the way east to La Spezia and then double back to visit the villages of Cinque Terre.

This is unfortunate. There's a system of narrow, twisty roads that connect all the villages, and it runs along the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea! :(

Routing through the city of La Spezia

La Spezia is pretty, but it's not one of the old villages of Cinque Terre
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We make it to our first Cinque Terre town: Monterosso al Mare

Wonderful pastel-colored buildings line the pedestrian streets. It's definitely off-season, but there are still a lot of tourists enjoying the Riviera's warm, late-fall weather.

I found out that the buildings were only painted these pastel colours in the 1970s


The medieval buildings here remind me of when we visited the mock-Italian villa of Portmeirion in Wales

Now *this* is what the real Italian Riviera looks like!

We continue strolling west past the town's centre to the beach on the other side.

Of the five villages of Cinque Terre, Monterosso is the only one that has a sandy beach.

There's a huge rock just off the coast that everybody climbs

However, they warn people not to get stuck on the rock when the tide comes in. Or you'll get stranded and have to swim back to shore!

It's not that far a swim...

Monterosso al Mare's sandy beach. It must be packed in the summertime!

Looking over the colorful beach blankets the vendors have laid out on the sand

It's so pretty and scenic here. Not too many people and the weather is warm and sunny. But still... it seems like we're just not enjoying it fully.

Like we're just putting one foot in front of the other.

Aurora Tower - they say that this is the marker that separates the old town (where we were earlier) with the newer part (the beach)

Back to HQ

It looks like we're only managing to see one town a day. At this rate, we'll be here all week. Not sure I can handle that...

The next day, we visit the second of five towns: Riomaggiore

The single pedestrian road through town leads to a dead end at the waterfront

The classic Cinque Terre shot

Riomaggiore is the perfect example of the Cinque Terre cascading buildings perched on the cliff, crowding each other to the very edge of the water like lemmings driving each other over the edge.


The rocks in the small harbour in Riomaggiore are a popular place for photo shoots

All these boats are for tourists. The only real fishing village out of the five towns is/was Monterosso

The entire village rests on these rocks, you can walk around the base underneath

Well, that's two villages down. Three more to go!

We head back to our campsite and the skies darken considerably. Uh oh. Looks like rain!

And rain it did. All night and into the morning. Neda's waterproofing spray job failed to plug the leak in our roof and we were once again swimming inside our tent in the darkness.

Drying everything

In the morning, we shook the water out of our shelter. I think the tent is done. And so are we. We're tired and miserable and we just found out the place we called home for the last half decade will have to be binned. :(

I don't know why we keep shuffling our feet on our way out of Europe.

Well actually, I do know why. And it's the same reason why we travel so slowly.

We have a bad case of Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). Everywhere we go, we feel like we may never come back again, so we want to see and do everything. Which means not only do we end up staying a long time in each place, we completely fatigue ourselves out in the process.

We should have just skipped Cinque Terre, but once again... FOMO strikes again.

Two out of Five is good enough. We're outta here.


FOMO is a ********. For some people it means trying to cram too much into a short vacation. For others it is trying to cram too much into a small house. Considering the epic trip you are on, no one could blame you for trying to see it all. Shoot, at this point you darn near have! :)
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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.

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.

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