In part one of this road trip, Shaun slept rough in a barn, also in a car wash and he camped outside a scooter shop whilst waiting for some carb parts for the brand new Casa Touring engine he was running in across Europe. Meanwhile, Wookie broke his Lambretta and jumped on a hastily mended Vespa T5 to salvage his holiday before it had even begun.
If like me you’ve missed the Euros this year and been forced to watch your friends posting on social media about how great their trip is/was, how hot it is, how pretty everywhere is and how much fun they’re having well sit tight and grab a sick bag. There’s a large dose of jealousy and envy coming right up as they make it to Vespa world Days, grrrrr.
Journey to Zanka – my five-day journey from London to Zanka took in just under 1300 miles, 8 countries, and was done on my standard Vespa T5. With its mighty 125cc engine it cost me just over 100€ in fuel and approximately two bottles of two-stroke oil. My particular scooter is completely standard except for a couple of safety upgrades consisting of tubeless rims and the modern lighting from the newer PX range.
I enjoyed my life in the slow lane, with the luggage on my scooter and my hardly svelte figure keeping the scooter to a maximum of 60 mph indicated on my speedo, which probably equates to around 55 mph, perfect for nigh-on completely safe and reliable touring with almost every day being an average of seven hours in the saddle, meaning I felt good wherever I was when I’d stopped riding for the day.
With this being my first VWD, it seemed rather civilised to go and register my ticket before being allowed on site. This is where you receive your wristband with a matching number ID sticker for your scooter so they can make sure that only matching wristbands and scooters can leave together, a very sensible idea, especially with the number of scooters involved.
The ‘feel’ right from the off was that of a festival rather than a rally, a feeling that would only grow as the weekend progressed. The Thursday night was an extremely chilled out affair with a particularly good Beatles cover band providing the soundtrack for the evening, followed by some very European dance music that seemed to be turned up to 11, an eclectic mix for sure but something that seemed to work with the twinkling lights outlining certain areas of the ‘Vespa Village’ and the crazy cheap bar and food prices to create an atmosphere that to me and many others I spoke to, was just right.
Shaun – better late than never
When I finally arrived at Vespa World Days a day late I had a quick look around. Everything was on one site, with the event being held on a huge holiday resort more than capable of housing the thousands of Vespisti from all across the globe. There were even representatives from Bali present as they are hosting the Vespa World Days event next year. There is also a Euro Vespa rally being organised in Portugal to give those that like to ride the chance to get their Vespa fix.
A walk down through the secure scooter parking area, with ultra-efficient security checking wrist bands, etc, which led to the Vespa Village and the dealer’s market. SIP and Pinasco had some scooter porn on show and there were plenty of other stalls to tempt your hard earned from you if you were feeling so inclined. My hard earned was only going in one place though, the bar!
The weather was a constant perfect and quite possibly better than what so many people pay thousands of pounds to seek out so I won’t carry on about that, but it was superb, every moment of every day, so there. The parts stalls were in full swing, selling almost everything to build a complete scooter on site, as well as many upgrades from far and wide, mild and wild, for all kinds of Vespas. The food on site was mostly that of street-food type, with low prices and a fair bit of variety including that of vegetarian and vegan products, all of which were very busy – which goes to show the young and old, modern and traditional values that were present. This ageless crowd matched perfectly to the reason we were all there, the Vespas!
Having seen the vast majority of custom styles, colours, bodywork mods, seats, and accessories myself over the years it was the mixture of nearly every Vespa model ever made in so many different colours that we are used to in Britain that proved to be so jaw-dropping. With thousands of Vespas all parked together just outside of the village in the circular parking area it meant there was always something to feast the eyes on and was easy to get a full view of nearly everything on-site.
Not worse, but different – the extremely controversial practice of taking scooters to a rally in a van was seen in a completely different light by myself this weekend as you seem to learn and pick up on different countries’ cultures towards the scooter. Instead of the riding, it would appear that they are more objects of desire than modes of transport, there were many that had been perfectly restored or kept in pristine condition that weren’t even wearing plates. A nice alternative that keeps the classic Vespa scene alive, however as they’re not being tramped up and down the M1 in all weathers. It’s something that will sadly be of no interest in Blighty, a reason why we don’t see a lot of the vast model collections that Vespa have made over the years.
Another ‘taboo’ on our rally scene at home is that of families, children in particular. This is fully understandable due to the way our scene has been built around alcohol over the years. Somewhere like this it’s completely ‘normal’ with families in attendance – however, they got there, but they’d have a Vespa with them and the sight of families three up on various scooters from the ages was a nice sight. Now I’m not going to start advocating for British rallies to start becoming more child-friendly but it was just nice to see the possible future of scootering.
A further walk on past the stage area, (which was set up ready for the night’s entertainment), catering wagons and bars led us to the ‘beach’ area where a large group of Brits had gathered. When I say beach I mean lakeside, however, given the sheer size of Lake Balaton (the largest freshwater lake in Europe) it has the feeling of being at the seaside. The view was superb and the weather was scorchio.
Like any good beach it had a bar and a couple of cabins selling food, it was clear why the Brits had taken root here. It took a while to get used to spending the local currency though, Florints – however, it was very quickly evident how cheap it was there.
Several medicinal pints later it was time to get our glad rags on (VCB T-shirts) for the gala dinner, which was being held in a huge marquee by the accommodation blocks. If you’ve never experienced a VWD gala dinner then you need to get yourself along to one as the atmosphere generated from all of the countries attending, through singing, shouting, dancing, but mainly swapping stickers, legshield banners, T-shirt’s, in fact, anything that has Vespa on it, is electric.
The food was excellent with several local dishes available and you were able to try them all. There were also a couple of local bands playing at the tables for our entertainment. It was soon time to head back to the Vespa Village to watch the live music, DJs and bar staff pouring us some more beers.
Lake Balaton itself is very beautiful and impressive, I haven’t witnessed a lake where you cannot see anything but the curvature of the earth on the horizon. The fact that the water was warm meant that a lot of Vespa lovers made the most of it and there were people in and out of the water all weekend. Access to the lake, ‘beach’, food, drink, Vespa show stands, entertainment, Vespa Village, and accommodation were all enclosed on site, which although vast, added to that atmosphere that I’ve mentioned.
The main ride out planned for the Saturday morning left at an eye-watering 9am, no problem for our continental cousins who were probably just out for a nice meal the night before rather than going for gold at the bar on Friday night. At just under £2 a pint and after 1500 miles to Zanka, I went for gold…
3500 Vespas went out into the bright sunshine for the rideout – however the rideout went, one Vespisti never made it back again, which is a terrible shame.
Lone Rider Trophy
Congratulations to Bournemouth’s Gary Robertson who picked up the VWD Lone Rider trophy, after riding his Rally 200 down solo, visiting Vespa dealers on the way. Peter Green also deserves a mention here as he was midway through his 48 country, 17,000 solo Vespa GTS ride and had just had to have a new engine fitted. We’ll be catching up with Peter once he arrives home.
It’s great to see so many nationalities mingling, swapping stories (as well as stickers) and trying to understand each other and that was just the Big 7 and Yorkshire lot.
An extra day
Sunday morning dawned and the majority of the Vespisti chose to head home. Myself and Wookie decided we’d stay on another night as it was such a lovely place and we had a load of Forints to spend. We’d also arranged to meet Dangerous Dave Gould in Bratislava on the Monday afternoon as he rode up from Rimini on a borrowed SST265 (more about that trip coming up on SLUK) for us to all meetup and then head on to the Euro Lambretta.
Sunday was a chilled affair, a bit of swimming, drinking, eating and repeat, concluding with a balcony party with the remaining VCB members.
The final night was the gala dinner, and concerns from VWD veterans about disorganised dinners and poor set-ups were soon quashed when we were presented with a nice open and airy marquee with plenty of wine, cold (ish) meats, cheeses, salads, and breads already on the tables waiting for us to get stuck straight into. With the alcohol flowing, stickers and banners from clubs all over the world were swapped with great enthusiasm. The main course of four choices of different Hungarian cuisine was followed finally by a few rounds of desserts and the evening carried on with the bar open and the thrum of so many conversations in so many languages about our common interest, yes you’ve guessed it, Vespas!
The site accommodated us stragglers for the Sunday night also, although it was only the waterside amenities left open, it still gave a lot of us the opportunity to swim in the lake one more time and soak up the last of the fantastic atmosphere for the last time. The best rally I’ve been to? No, more like the best festival I’ve been to, and all to celebrate the fabulous humble little Vespa.
RIP Withof Philippe
Part 3: Euro Lambretta, coming next Monday…
Shaun’s Rallery – Vespa World Days
Wookie’s Rallery – Vespa World Days
Lots of new products in our SLUK Shop