Six days since my last blog entry!! Looks like I owe you an apology - sorry, I will try to be more regular from now on.
Today is the day I alluded to in one of my earliest blogs, the most difficult day of the trip - yes, my lovely wife flew home to Australia today. I will spare you most of the emotional stuff but suffice to say I am having some difficulty overcoming inertia today. I have been travelling for all of June and now three quarters of July and must confess that today I could entertain the idea of just going home.
In an effort to inspire myself as much as inform you, I will attempt an update on the past few days.
Venice was fun! We stayed overnight and in the morning took a water taxi ride around the old city - it was a great thing to do - really gave us a good look and with the taxi all to ourselves we escaped the crowds for 45 minutes or so. We both suffered a little sunburn but got some great photos and video while we got a feel for the city.
After lunch packed up and lugged everything back out to the bike - yes it was still there. Then a late afternoon autostrada run to Bologna to avoid the heat. It didn"t work. Avoiding the heat I mean - we reached Bologna OK but the heat was stiffling as we negotiated our way through the interesting traffic flow into the centre of Bologna where Sandi left me to guard the bike for a while and went to find a hotel. As I waited by the roadside I was amazed at the amount of scooters in the place, all going flat out, half ridden by women, and mostly japanese and Korean scooters, not as many Vespas and Aprillias as I expected.
Our hotel was great and they let us put the bike in their garage, which caused my first real accident of the trip. As I put the bike on its centre stand, as close to the wall as possible, the right mirror pushed back against a garden hose hanging on the wall and promptly snapped! So after sitting in a crazy bike rack in Venice all night unharmed, I did 150 Euros damage putting it in the shed! Not to worry, we were in the manufacturing town of Ducati - just go and get a new one. No such luck - can you believe all the parts are sent to another city and we had to order one in - it arrived late the following day.
That"s how we came to stay two nights in Bologna. We enjoyed the old city and even did some shopping not for the bike! If you"re brave ask Sandi to show you her new top! The shoes are nice too.
No true Ducatisti could visit Bologna without completing a tour of the Ducati Factory and museum, so bright and early in the morning we rocketed up to the gate where i dropped Sandi to save us our spot while I parked the bike. They give the pilgrims a free tour with a guide, but there is nowhere to park and you have to reserve your place the previous day. Very Italian, so I"m told. The tour was good and now Sandi is an authority on desmodromic valves and wants a blue monster.
We rode around looking for cool spots for the remainder of that day until the mirror was fitted about 6.30pm. If you think I"m a pansie for wanting two mirrors on the bike, you should sample Italian traffic before you comment - it"s definitely an aqcuired taste.
We wanted a taste of Italia country so headed west from Bologna and into the hills. The air cooled as we rode and we enjoyed the winding roads through little towns as the sun went down. When darkness fell (around 10 pm) we were on a challenging road that I deemed a waste to ride in the dark, so pulled into a quaint alpine village called Ceccia Alpi. A local we stopped on the street directed us to a restaraunt with "four bedrooms" so we stopped there. A community effort eventually turned up the owners, who despite the hour were very pleased to accommodate us with an ensuite room and even brought us a glass of wine. We loved the spot and would like to return someday. After breakfast, and a walk down to the Moulina down by the creek, we rode out for La Spezia.
I had seen a magazine article on the general area and the villages that cling to the hillsides above the Mediteranean there. They are called Cinque Terre (five lands) and are well worth a visit. We went to Monterosso, the only one with a beach and paddled in the ocean a bit.
We had purchased some new riding gear for me in the morning - it has been so hot it is horrible riding in my jacket, even after I had the barber in one village cut slits in the arms with his razor! He couldn"t believe I wanted him to do it - but eventually went ahead while the gentleman with his hair half cut watched incredulously. I now wear off road body armour and a vented motocross jersy - much better in the heat and safer than my previous mesh jacket. Just as well because we have been riding in up to 43 degree heat and having to go slow through villages.
From Monterosso we rode straight for Roma on the autostrada as we were in a hurry - or so we thought. After around seven hours on the bike, about 500km and all the heat issues, we braved the Roman traffic and pulled in to our hotel in the dark only to find there was no room booked. Actually the room was booked but we were a day early! That"s a danger when you"re a professional traveller - all the days seem the same. Of course all the rooms in all the nearby hotels were fully booked so Sandi spent her first and only night in the tent, near Rome and putting the tent up at about 11pm - great fun!
we only went to Rome to catch the plane but since we had to go there we thought we would have a look around. We rode into the Rome city centre several times - the traffic is amazing! I couldn"t look at the scenery much - supreme concentration was required. Sandi loved the traffic riding, peering around beside me and commenting on "events" as they happened. We Parked right outside the Colosseum and did the tourist thing - a pretty horrendous place really - but you have to see it. My personal favourite was Constantine"s arch, built to commemorate one os his victories that paved the way for Christianity to develop. We walked until exhausted, then rode down to the coast (about 25km) at Ostia where i had a dip in the Mediteranean in the evening.
Next day (taht"s yesterday - Saturday) we went to the Vatican and climbed all over St Peter"s Bassillica - an amazing structure and better than the Colosseum if only because it is not broken down - on the contrary.
Last night we went out and Sandi bought a torch from a deaf trader while I ate dinner. It"s a real bargain apparently - and hopefully for a good cause.
Well, that brings us to today. After leaving the Leo Da Vinci Airport, where the line to get through security scanning makes the line to see St Peter"s Basillica look short, I rode northwest to Ancona, from where I write this. The idea was to see if I could catch a ferry to Split, in Croatia, from where I would ride south to Dubrovnik then back up into Bosnia and hopefully Romania. When i arrived the last ferry for today had left and I could have got on one going to Greece, but it was leaving immediately. i didn"t really fancy Greece right now (even hotter) so gave it a miss and will camp here somewhere tonight and sort it out in the morning.
I have sent the memory card from the camera home with Sandi who will put some of the photo"s on the blog site when she gets home.
OK, now you"re all up to date and I"m all inspired to go see some more of this wonderful world. I hope you"re all having fun too. I"ll write again soon if internet cafes are easier to find in Croatia than Italy - where they are extremely rare.