On the flights home I had time to think about the trip, and what the highlights have been – apart from the incredible privilege of being able to have three months of holiday. I also had a chance to think about the less favourable parts of the trip . . .
In no order of importance here are the highlights (and it goes without saying that becoming a Gran is obviously the biggest highlight)
- I really enjoyed the storks – they were everywhere in the first few countries, and towards the border of Spain and in Portugal there were lots of empty nests, so they obviously live there in large numbers for part of the year
- I really liked the Peacock Clock in St Petersburg at the Hermitage that was given to Catherine the Great by one of her 12 lovers
- The Pandas in Madrid were fantastic, especially watching the brothers playing
- Venice was my favourite city. I really enjoyed visiting all the cities, but would particularly like to go back to Venice, Ljubljana, Madrid and Lisbon
- Sitting in Cannes in deck chairs by the sea having a cold drink was total relaxation
- My favourite restaurant was the seafood restaurant in Venice, where we were not allowed red wine with our meal
- My favourite ride was coming over the hills past Jeruzalem and seeing the vineyards and the view
- My favourite building was the Spilt Blood Church in St Petersburg
- Overall for scenery my favourite country was Slovenia
- Seeing the condors/eagles in Spain, 12 -15 of them soaring and gliding on the thermals above the cliffs in Spain, and the 25 we saw above the field in Spain, it was breathtaking
- There is a saying “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away” – on this trip I had many of these moments
- My proudest achievement (apart from having completed the ride) was getting up the gravel rock road in Spain without having to get off my bike
- Of course it goes without saying that a highlight of the trip was the friendship, support and sense of comradery that developed between us all, and the many moments of laughter.
The things I disliked most:
- The squat toilets
- The lack of toilet paper
- Bugs!!!!!!!! And wasps and bees that appear to have some weird attraction to me
- Hard Russian bread
- Biking and trying to sleep in the heat (especially the day riding along the levy, the first day out of Venice).
The 5 scariest things that happened on the trip:
- Getting lost on the metro in Russia (x2)
- Dog bite camp (where Miles was attacked by a dog). I would have to look back on the blog to find the name of the camp but has been referred to as “Dog bite camp” ever since by the riders
- Getting totally lost in Hungary (but it was ok because I was saved by Berta who gave a lift in her red sports car, and got lost doing it)
- When I was near the border in Poland there were some idiots doing wheelies up and down the road, which was quite scary as I was riding by myself, but I just got off the road and waited for Dan and Michel who were behind me to catch up, and then I stuck with them the rest of the day
- Just before Cannes I turned onto a highway right in front of a car. I had looked but just did not see it, thankfully the driver managed to avoid me (and gave me a well deserved mouthful). After this I looked each time, not once, not twice but at least three times. When I get home I will have back to the habit of walking my bike across a busy road rather than riding it across.