DAY 6 : Meeting The ... Mob?
In the “bad” old days long before mobile phones, A b & b, GPS/satnav and so on, our holidays were spent on the open road roaming countries far and wide on our Paneuropean motorbike , named Beeloulou, like ‘easy riders’ looking for adventure… Waking up in green fields, meeting friendly locals, visiting obscure ancient sites and wondering what excitement that day would bring , then discussing it over scrumptious dinners. We stayed at friends’ homes, campsites, oases, wild camping, riads , even posh places when funds allowed.
Sometimes, for example, we’d roll up at a Palazzo, Castle or Chateau offering B&B, and park next to a Ferrari or Mazerati, the surroundings maybe featuring manicured lawns and elegant exteriors etc Many times, a disapproving or frosty reception greeted our dust-covered leathers and boots, which would turn into expressions of relief when we came down to dinner in silks and pearls ( well, me maybe, anyway ! ) They probably realized we hadn’t come to steal the silver. It always made us smile and wink knowingly at each other.
Our beloved Beeloulou was more than just a motorbike to us. Due to lack of space, our equipment had to have at least 3 practical uses ( very Zen, I know, before we even knew what that meant) like the old cigar lighter power point thingy, where we could plug in a water boiler, a blow up mattress or pillow device, also blow dry hair after a shower. Hot ground coffee in the morning? A cup of hot tea on a chilly mountain top? What a godsend !
One gorgeous day, meandering through lovely countryside about 60 kilometres north of Rome, no buildings /houses in sight or other vehicles on the narrow leafy lanes, we realized we were hopelessly lost. Our intention was to head to a campsite , kindly recommended by a fellow traveler, on a tiny isolated lake, just a small dot on our map. We rounded a bend and I exclaimed,
“Oh, I can see people up ahead clustered around a crossroads, let’s ask them the way … “ Vassilis agreed so we drove up to them.
“ Scuse, can you help us please ? “
Taking in the scene bit by bit – huge black cars blocking 3 of the roads, a largish group of big beefy men holding walkie-talkies and … -- we began smiling, weakly.
They took one look at us – black leathers, map book, with me waving it about, socks and towels gently drying in the breeze attached to the back of our bike – then 2 of them sauntered over, smirking.
“ Yeah, wadayawanna ? “ one drawled. We explained and pointed to the map.
“ Oh! Ok! ……. “ Yes! We go back 3 kilometres “………” Ok ! Second left at small church, red roof !” ...... “ YES! Got it ! “ ….. “Grazie! “ ……. “ Bye !” …… “ Turn right at coffee shop , ‘ Lucky Luciano’s ‘ “……. ( Sorry, only kidding, just made that last bit up ! ) " Grazie!” ….. “ Bye!” …… “Grazie!” And off we sped.
About a kilometer later, we collapsed under a nearby shady tree, sweating, heads reeling and legs like jelly.
What was that? Who were they and what/who were they waiting for ???
We never did make it to that lake.
Season’s Greetings and Kronia Polla to all from us in Syros, Greece !
@Ria Thanks for the post , Ria. Yes, we ,too, have a chuckle when we remember ( also because we probably dodged a bullet!) Although I've heard the mafia tend to leave tourists alone - not interested in small fry, but if we'd rolled up 10 mins later... Gulp! ;-)
Thanks for sharing @Βασίλης & Ann.
I think we all have stories from our early travels and very free spirits, that might scare the hell out of us, if our children were to relive them! (What we don’t know won’t hurt us...) Lol....
My area of specialty these days is WHS and I have documented photographic evidence of being on a motorbike in Bali - riding with no helmet, in thongs (flip flops). Following secret police in Istanbul for a wonderful feed of sardines from the Bosphorus. On an isolated border crossing between Cyprus and Greece, Garry being asked if he had any drugs? Yes he says enthusiastically at the border guards whose expressions all hardened. Sh##!
Garry, he said Drachs... drachmas! (During the “Midnight Express” era). Yes, back then we use to have to check inside your back pack frames that were hollow with plastic end stops, to be sure no one had planted drugs inside your backpack frame.....
We could have disappeared on some occasions and no one would ever have known where to start looking. Thank God for Airbnb these days! Enjoy a Chianti! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
@CathieYes, know just what you mean, Cathie.
Hostile looking motorbike cops extracted us from a sticky situation in a sleazy part of Naples on another trip. They escorted us all the way to Herculanium near Vesuvious, by driving at top speed over pavements around bus stops & queues of cars , across tram lines & dodging traffic lights on red ( we had to follow to keep up !) then smiling & waving us off. Phew ! Just managed to hang on to Beeloulou.
Maybe brightened up a dull day for them !
Love this! Brings back many reminisces of travelling way back when mobile phones and the Internet were rarities (although none of them mafia related!)
@HumaYes, we're so coddled these days, aren't we?
We've often wondered if they really were mafia - undercover cops? a dodgy car dealers' convention ?, local rich farmers stopped for a chinwag? - somehow I didn't get that feeling even though we didn't wait to find out. But at least we're still here to tell the tale... and the rest is/ will remain one of life's little mysteries!
I just knew you would come up with a lovely story Ann.
How lucky are we to have such wonderful diversity here on the CC....
God, I am starting to sound like @Lizzie !!
Is that, by chance, some of your artwork Ann, and if it is, can you give some strength to the rumour that you and Vassilis on Beeloulou filled in many of the graphic artistic nature voids left by Charles Darwin on his voyages of discovery and that you in fact were personally tutored by Conrad Martens and Joseph Banks?? :-))
Lovely post guys!
You're right, Rob! I think in an earlier life ( tongue in cheek here) I must have sailed with JB or CD in the Endeavour or the Beagle. ( love nature, exploring & the sea). ;-D
And yes, this is one of my endangered bird paintings, a Bee eater, much maligned, unfortunately.
Experts now claim they only pick off the ailing sickly bees ( + other insects) thereby helping to maintain the health of colonies.
Education's a great thing, innit? But try telling that to hunters and bee keepers!
@Βασίλης & Ann How I so enjoyed your journey just now with my morning coffee..........took me to days of riding next to my father in the side car of the 1925 Indian that he pristinely restored or behind him on his awesome Harley (with far too much drink and smoke in him) oh how he loved riding, restoring, building any project with the greatest of care. He was truly a man's man - but also a ladies man to a fault. Those were days I so cherished when we weren't distracted by all the technolgy of today - days of wind in your face while riding a little Vespa scooter in Jamaica with a girlfriend on her scooter searching to find that waterfall that you HAD to see before returning to the US. Funny, we didn't need to take selfies or such (we were really present - cause those images are totally etched in our minds even now some 50 yrs later. Thanks for motivating my mind to wander - and as the saying goes "All that wander are not lost" - Blessings to you both, Clara
My God Clara, my father had a 1940 741 military Indian he brought back from Goodenough Island after WW2. You guys, the Yanks just left these bikes behind and they were such beautiful pieces of equipment ....this was the one with the big bakelite grear lever on the side of the petrol tank......sort of like a 'stick-shift'!
It sat in the barn on our country property for 20 years with old carpet and chooks roosting all over it and gathering dust.
One day dad managed to clear a path out of the barn and poured a bit of gas in the tank and first kick of the starter, away it went accompannied by this enourmous cloud of blue smoke!!!
Geez Clara, you are bringing my past back to me....thank you possum!!
@Robin my heart is smiling with delight!! Fabulous to read your post - our Dad's were surely rare birds on some level, I'd say.
p.s. I love the expression possum........in my life I've been nicknamed Cricket (very active)- plum bob and Daisy (driving Miss Daisy ref) thanks to my dear brother in law - so the expression of possum I find fun except possums are NOT my fav of little animals....lol Rob
It comes from an Australian actor by the name of Barry Humphries who's alter ego is a woman called Dame Edna Everidge. In his/her stage shows he/she refers to everyone as 'possum' and in Australian culture it has become a term of endearement.
If you are a 'possum'.....you are OK......ok!
we don't throw this title around loosely Clara!