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Canada, the last stop in the Americas

Our research into the most economical method to get the motorbikes from the UK to Argentina had showed that air freight was half the price and took only a tenth of the time to complete the journey. A total no-brainer! Additionally we’d heard horror stories of bikes taking extra weeks to arrive or port costs spiraling out of control. However, for the Canada to Malaysia leg, it seemed that by sea was the only option as by air freight was quoted as being $3000 per bike. We decided to give shipping a shot and headed out to a handler in Vancouver to prepare the bikes for shipping.

The bikes on their crating bed

BMW kindly gave us two empty crates to use and we crated up Brunni and Freja for their mega cruise to Kuala Lumpur. We disconnected the battery which proved to be a pain in the backside when it came to the 700GS as unlike most other motorbikes, it turns out the battery is next to the ignition which meant unscrewing the whole front off. We knew very well where Brunhilda’s battery was, thanks to the old one dying on the highway to Eugene! We undid all the panniers, packed them neatly and tucked them beneath the bikes. We then wrapped the bikes in clingfilm and packed the sides of the crates and ratchet-strapped the whole thing together. The bikes were finally neatly packed and wrapped and sealed up in their cruising outfits. Now we just had the paperwork to finalise…

We went to customs to get our bikes stamped for leaving Canada and the official on duty asked where our entry stamp was. We explained that his colleague hadn’t stamped our carnets, stating that it would be no problem for the bikes to leave the country. He said that was wrong, that he couldn’t do anything for us without us having a stamp. This went on for a while with the official looking pretty imperious as he said “This stamp is like my personal badge, my commitment, my honour… I can’t stamp this knowing you haven’t been stamped in.” Then he said that it was the American’s fault for not stamping us in. When we pointed out that the USA wasn’t listed on the carnet as requiring stamps he shrugged and suggested it was the Argentinian’s fault for laxly not stamping on entry. Two hours of our life wasted talking to a jobsworth! We only had a couple of hours left to get the bikes on that day’s sailing and time was running out fast.

Meanwhile, our friend and host extremely graciously drove us all the way back to the border to get the stamp we ought to have been given in the first place. We arrived at the border and were immediately stopped by the guard checking directing cars. We explained that we needed to talk to the original officer who stamped our passports in as they hadn’t stamped our bikes. That’s all we needed- a stamp in our carnets. He immediately positioned his hands on his belt, straightened up and sneered “Well, I’m not letting you through.” We asked why, “This  border crossing is not for commercial vehicles.” We explained that the bikes were owned by us for personal use. “That’s impossible, carnets are only for commercial vehicles, move along and go to the other border.” This was getting pretty trying, we were summoning all our patience to try to remain positive and charming noting that we had only an hour left to catch the sailing. We had just prepared to try one last plea when a car drove by which needed his attention, snatching our chance we slipped past him and ran into the customs house.

We found a new guard on duty and tiredly explained our predicament. Against all odds, this young woman was totally clued up and immediately apologised, said it was an occasional problem but that we ought to have been stamped in and that she would see to it that we got all our paperwork done properly herself. A few minutes later, we emerged, stamped carnets in hand and had to resist the urge not to swagger past the unfriendly guard. He muttered something as we went past and Simon let out a cheerful “All stamped, thanks!”

Despite our best try, we missed the deadline for that week’s sailing and the bikes were pushed back to the end of the month instead.

With the bikes finally stamped and packed we were able to make our way to Victoria, on Vancouver Island. We took a ferry from the impossible-to-pronounce Tsawwassen harbour to Swartz Bay and enjoyed the festive atmosphere on board. It was too dark and too cold to stand on deck but the air certainly felt clearer and sweeter on landing in Swartz bay.

Sunset in Victoria

Victoria is the western most colonial outpost, first settled in 1843. It was soon taken over by Vancouver thanks to the trainline terminating there and thus making Victoria redundant for trading and allowing it to become a genteel, garden state. We were all set to enjoy some rest after the stressful few days of snow sliding and grumpy customs officials. Staying with some friends of Alex’s from work who were now enjoying their retirement in Victoria. It was a cosy and homely stay and a perfect setting for Christmas, filled with chilly walks and a thorough research into the best breweries on the island capital.

Seagull in Victoria, Canada

After almost 6 months on the road, spending 24 hours a day together we realised that we get on reasonably well. With only two small spats to our name (mostly to do with not wanting to wear the Go-Pro through the dangerous parts of Ecuador or Mexico) which were quickly resolved and forgotten, we discovered that traveling together was easy. The setting in Victoria was so cosy and memorably picturesque that Simon was moved to ask an important question. Tricking Alex into a moonlit walk to the oceanfront after dinner, Alex turned from looking at the harbour lights to just about make out a figure kneeling next to her in the moonlight. Simon presented a beautifully unique ring he’d had made which was full of significance for them both, and after explaining that everything felt possible when they were together, if she would be his wife….

Alex said yes! The adventure continues in earnest…

…of course, Alex said yes. Not only because they still had 6 months on the road together!!

Alex and Simon settled down in Victoria for a wonderful Christmas together with their friends. First, Silesian Christmas was celebrated with carp and traditional desserts and then a traditional Canadian Christmas meal. Their first Christmas as an engaged couple and a good rest before starting the Asia adventure home.


  1. Lisa on 26/01/2017 at 5:48 am

    Here’s to a long and healthy life together! You are always welcome❤
    We are in San Francisco enjoying the big city!

    • alex on 02/02/2017 at 2:27 pm

      Hi Lisa! Thanks for everything! Hope P isn’t gambling away in Vegas 🙂 xx

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