Right after Amerivespa Richmond I flew to Dublin in route to Belfast for Vespa World Days. Vespa World Days is the international Vespa event hosted by Vespa World Club and whatever the host club is that year. Its normally about 3000 scooters but some years it’s much more. This year was a normal year, despite being in a cold, rainy part of the world.
I had arrived by train from Dublin. My hotel was just a 10 min walk from the train station. When I booked my accommodation the host hotel the Titanic Hotel Belfast was not yet open. Which I was kind of bummed about. My hotel was only a mile walk to the host hotel. I arrived on Thursday in time for the Presidents Dinner.
I checked into my hotel. Then I started the walk to the Vespa Village. The Village was where everyone was to check in, Vendors were set up, and Food trucks, as well as a stage for entertainment. As I walked I saw many Vespas buzzing around Belfast so I knew I was going in the correct direction. All of the event was kind of centered around where the Titanic was built. I even saw a sign that said “She was unsinkable when she left” Some Irish humor no doubt. As I got closer I saw a big metal sign that said TITANIC. With what I came to find out was the Titanic museum. You might think, There’s a museum for that? Yep, it’s actually a really cool building. Inside I found the Vespa Club of Britain had a display of some of their more interesting bikes. I asked where the presidents dinner was as I was told I could not register. Registration was to be at 9am. It was 10. Apparently when you have your event on a shipyard slip it can get kind of windy and the registration booth had blown away. So I walked across the street to the host hotel. I met a lovely British couple and we had great conversation and drinks. The Registration was to open at 3pm. I went down to the village and the gates were still locked and there were about 100 bikes outside waiting to get in. The gates opened and every one flooded in.
Registration was set up to ride though, not
walk through and the mob was fierce. Even though I was only 5 people back it seemed like a hassle so I opted to come back the next day. All I really needed was the location of the Presidents dinner which I acquired.
The Presidents Dinner is as it sounds, all the Vespa Club country Presidents have a
dinner. It’s a great way to meet folks and trade patches and stickers and the like. It was an event I did not want to miss. Being a newcomer to the group it was interesting to see the formality of the event. There were maybe 30 countries represented at the dinner and 54 countries overall represented at the event.
The next day we were to have what was supposed to be a 1 hour meeting. I arrive at the meeting, its setup in a standard presentation format. The meeting should be about electing new representative to the board and a couple of presentation of upcoming VWD.
So it was interesting is that we were to vote on who would be on the board but were given no options. Basically this voting that happens only every 3 years is kind of rigged. I say “kind of”, as if, I for example wanted a seat on the board I would have had to make my desire known two months prior. No one had in advance thrown their name in the hat. So all the existing members just needed to be ratified if you will. That was fine until the President of the Vespa Club Italy decided he wanted to be on the board. Which is reasonable since the Vespa Club Italy is the largest club with something like 3000 members. I save you the details but we had to vote on how we would vote. This one hour meeting turned into a 4 hour meeting. I will say I learned a lot about how Piaggio and the Vespa World Club work together.
Finally I got to go to the Vespa Village. I got to take a look at all the bikes that had shown up. Well the bikes at the Village anyway. Turns out the camp ground (Most VWD attendees camp) was about 10Km away. So I looked at the bikes, took a look at the Vendors and got a snack. After while I went back to the host hotel which was fine as it was starting to rain. I want to also mention Belfast is very north. In June the sun does not really set till nearly 11pm so it’s hard to tell what time it is.
In a break from tradition the custom show and gymkhana was not in the Vespa Village. Instead it was maybe a 17 min. ride to Carrickfergus Castle, were this show was to be. It was an odd choice but the Vespa Club Ulster (the local club) I think really wanted the venue. Sadly I took a day trip to the Giant’s Causeway that day and mostly missed the whole show.
Coming back for the gala dinner (this event really is not to miss). One could buy a ticket that didn’t get you into the dinner, but I’m not sure why you would come to VWD and not attend. In typical fashion of this event there were no address in the program, not one. I had earlier in the day run into the President of the Vespa Club Ireland and asked where the dinner was. He pointed at a building and said” Behind that building.” I should have asked how far? In any event we made it to the event, a big warehouse with seating and tables for 1500. This event became a flurry of sticker, pin, patch, and banner trading. These guys wanted anything that said Vespa Club USA or America. I took about 8 lbs of this stuff and gained about 8 Lbs of stuff back. originally I had sat down with the Vespa Club of Indonesia but then was asked to sit at the head table with VWC officers and Piaggio big shots. It was an honor. I also ran into my dear friend Norrie Kerr. If you don’t know Norrie, you know nothing about vintage race tuning. He is a Legend. The down side of sitting at this table is the PA is right there and it’s super loud I had to remove my hearing aids. The upside is you got a good look at all the celebrations. The French sang the French national anthem, as did a group of Italians sang the Italian national anthem with an accordion player. Clubs got up and gave their club chant. It was very festive. Martin the President of the VWC made a very brief speech and gave out a couple of awards. His message really was that Vespa Brings us all together, but that it’s the people that make the memories.
If you ever have a chance to go to a VWD I highly encourage you to go. It’s good to see so many people with the same passion that you have. It’s a good reason to broaden your horizons and experience different cultures. You can check out not only just how far people will ride but also how far they are willing to customize their machines. I would encourage you to take a bunch of patches or stickers from either the VCOA, or your local chapter or club. It’s better to have more of us representing the US than just me.
To go to VWD you have to have registered through your national club. It’s just the way it is. The next VWD is in Hungry and 2020 is in Bali. I’ll be at that one for sure. So if you want to go please let me know so I can get you registered.