Posts Tagged With: Missing home

Day 94/164: Uyuni to Atocha – 104km

The plan was 95 kilometres, climbing 560 and down 490, and staying in old mine site at Chocaya but we ended up 103 kilometres and staying at school soccer field in Atocha.

I woke up this morning in a bad space, I really did not want to ride – in fact I had had enough of the trip. I was not looking foward to 6 more nights of bush camping. I am sick of having asthma and being at altitude, the cold and the wind, and suffering altitude related symptoms.

Also contributing to my lack of joy is my daughter Shellbe arrives home from an overseas tomorrow and I am not going to be there. I am suffering from acute homesickness missing family and friends. Usually when one of the children arrive home from overseas I am busy organizing a family feast of favorite foods and looking forward to a family celebration. Instead I am heading off to ride 100 kilometres of corrugated dirt and sand. If I had known just what a horrid day of riding it was going to be I may not have got out of bed. I was sad thinking about home, and rode the first couple of hours with the occasional tear and sniffle.

It’s hard to describe riding over a corrugated surface (not on a mountain bike), you feel like your whole body is being shacked apart with the vibration and jarring. This went on for kilometre after kilometre, interrupted by thick deep sand that you were unable to ride through.

A sand trap to catch out the unwary (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

A sand trap to catch out the unwary (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

This was interspersed with speeding cars, trucks, and buses that blew clouds of sand up around you. I came off in one sand pile as I did not realize how deep it was and did not manage to unclip in time, but was not hurt. The scenery in the morning was uninspiring and all in all I was not enjoying being in the moment.

Lots of dust when vehicles go past

Lots of dust when vehicles go past (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Off we go after stopping for a snack

Off we go after stopping for a snack (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Me riding today

Me riding today (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

At last some downhill to really enjoy

At last some downhill to really enjoy (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

In the afternoon we went through some awesome scenery with deep gorges and some steep descents. Unfortunately I hit a rock the wrong way near the bottom of one descent and lost control of the bike. I managed to fall onto the bar of my bike and land with my shoulder against the cliff. Overall a lucky escape, but a long 25 kilometres to camp especially over the continuing corrugated surfaces. So I did lots of riding standing.

On our way to camp

On our way to camp (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

On our way to camp

On our way to camp (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

At 95 kilometres we were meet by Sharita who advised we were no longer staying at the planned site as it was too exposed, and there was some chemical run off from the old mine. So we biked another 8 kilometres to the next town where we were staying on a schools soccer field. Thankfully this was following a river and much smoother riding. I noted the dinner truck sitting at the previously planned site, but did not really think about it. When I got to camp I found out it was stuck there.

It was quite late when I got to camp so I only had enough time to get my tent up before it was time for rider’s meeting. The dinner truck hopefully would be pulled out that night, but it looked like it needed repair so TDA staff were looking into the options for tomorrow. A huge amount of work by the TDA staff transferring all the gear out the dinner truck into the lunch truck and ute and ferrying it back to here, along with setting up camp and cooking dinner as usual.

Eating dinner at our school campsite

Eating dinner at our school campsite (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Tomorrow the ride is 85 kilometres with a corrugated surface, sandy, and a lot of climbing . I will see how I feel in the morning but currently I am sore from the fall and not sure if I will be riding.

Dinner was barbeque chicken, salad, salsa and rice.

Amazing track to our new campsite

Amazing track to our new campsite (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Bolivia, South American Epic | Tags: | 8 Comments

Day 37/164: Puyo to Macas (or not!)

The day sounded great 130 kilometres: 1,650 metres of climbing and 1,545 downhill, with mostly rolling hills rather than big climbs. Sue said the weather forecast was for no rain and a temp of 16 degrees which sounded good. Finally fingers crossed I am over the gastro :D. I set off from camp with the plan to take it easy and ride the whole day. There are 6 riders in the trucks due to gastro, and 2 in varying stages of gastro riding.

The dogs in Ecuador seem a bit more aggressive than Colombia, and at about 15 kilometres I had two come running off a property and take off after me. Luckily I was on a downhill and pedalled as fast as I could! Even so I felt the breath of one of them on my calf before I finally pulled away!

The riding was good, hills but up and down. Every now and then you would come to a random unpaved section. One of the riders hit an unpaved section unexpectedly and had to be picked up by the dinner truck as they buckled their wheel when they hit it.

As I was riding along I was thinking about getting to camp that night where we were told we had wifi. It’s my daughter Lizzy’s 26th birthday today (in NZ which is a day ahead), hopefully I can skype but if not at least leave a video Skype message and text.

The view is amazing, riding down a road whilst the Amazon jungle stretches into the distance on either side of you. It’s a “Pinch myself! am I really here!?” moment. How lucky am I to experience this.

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

On the road through the rain forest (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then I see the sign that we had ridden 64 kilometres so only 11 kilometres to lunch and halfway through the ride. I’m feeling good. I come around a corner and there is bridge and halfway over it I see the dinner truck parked next to the lunch truck and a number of riders clustered around it. Oh no what’s happened? Hope no one is hurt.

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What’s on that bridge (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then I see the buses with Policia and Military marking on the sides. There are protestors between here and the planned camp. We are not allowed to go any further. The Policia and military have guns and riot gear. The protestors are not from the local villages, they are from around the country and are by all accounts pretty staunch. They are prepared to fight for the cause. Our sympathies are with them, the last thing any country needs is a president elected indefinitely (which is what the current president wants to bring into law). Cristinao (I have been spelling it wrong with a h) went and spoke to the Policia to see if we can get through but no! Not even locals are allowed to get through to their homes.

Riot police and soldiers (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Riot police and soldiers (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Waiting to find out the plan

Waiting to find out the plan (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Waiting to find out the plan

Waiting to find out the plan (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We are now at a campsite at 65 kilometres waiting to see what happens overnight! Hopefully we can get through tomorrow, if not we go back to Puyo. However there is no phone coverage and no wifi so no birthday message to Lizzy :(. I had a little cry and sleep in my tent, I know she will understand but still feels bad, especially when I thought I had sorted.

Over the bridge to the campsite (Photo: Sue's blog)

Over the bridge to the campsite (Photo: Sue’s blog)

The owner of the camp site was carrying his pet anaconda around for people to have photos with, luckily he did not come anywhere near me.

The snake is nearly as big at Kathy (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The snake is nearly as big at Kathy (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I think the owner is very pleased to have us, he has set up a bar, organized a walking tour to a spot of tourist interest (did not catch what it was), and fishing and then for a price he will cook your fish for you. Totally different ethos than hosteria el piguali (which I guess is the difference between staff who not share in the profits vs the owner of a place). I was going to go for a swim in the river, then I saw the sign “River snakes”! No river swim for me.

At the riders meeting, we found out the plan at the moment is to continue tomorrow, to finish today’s ride and tomorrow’s ride as well! 171 kilometres, up 2,600 meters, down 2,250 meters.

Dinner tonight was stewed sausages, pasta and nice crunchy broccoli.

Rider's meeting (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Rider’s meeting (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Ecuador, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 28/164: Sibundoy to Pasto – 78km

2,224km down: 11,417km to go. 2,525 metres up, 1,322 metres down

I decided to go in the lunch truck for the morning and ride from lunch. The gradient was really steep in the morning with some quite big climbs. In the truck at the first town I saw a dog who looked like BenBen trotting along, I got hit with a huge wave of homesickness, missing my children, grandbabies and Ben. I had a few silent tears which thankfully no one noticed.

As well as being steep, there were also road works and it had been raining and the road was wet with thick mud. It started to pour down and I was very pleased that I was in the truck!

There were quite a lot of policia and military around. There has been a spike of rebel activity. At a number of places they had 44 gallon drums set up in a zig zag that you had to drive through. I guess these would slow any speeding vehicles down. Plus there were a lot of trucks being searched and road blocks.

We found a space for lunch at about 50 kilometres and pulled over. We had to go right to the other side of town to find a space. We set up the lunch, which was difficult in the pouring rain, but we managed to get everything under the awning.

I have a brand new riding rainproof jacket, but the zip is not working properly, and it has torn from the seam twice. I spent about an hour trying to get the zip up, I finally got it up by using a fork! I just have to remember not to undo it, which is very frustrating. Equally frustrating is my new cycle shoes – the sole is separating from the shoe! I will try gluing on the rest day if I can get it dry enough, but suspect I will have to get another riding jacket. I will certainly be complaining about it when I get home as it was over $300 dollars so I expect better quality.

The rain cleared and I was just thinking about asking for my bike to be got down when the first riders arrived, they were frozen! Phil from New Zealand did not have nearly enough warm clothes on. I ended up giving him all my warm gear, including my riding jacket. So no riding today for me! Another rider came in and I covered them up in my Kathmandu jacket. Most of the riders did not have adequate wet weather clothing with them. As well as the rain, being up at higher altitude also makes it cold.

The little shop next to where we were parked was selling coffee to the riders, then they lit a fire out the back of their shop. There were a number of riders huddled around the fire. The family had a number of photos taken with the riders. When we left they were all smiles and shook lots of hands.

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The family that looked after the riders

There was a wee boy (about 2 and half) who gave me a hug and a kiss. I love the way small children meld their whole body against you. Sue and two of the other riders were caught in the rain and were given shelter by a local family until the downpour stopped. The locals continue to surprise and impress with their kindness.

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The toddler that gave me the hug and kiss

Seeking shelter

Seeking shelter till the rain stops (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

We are staying a place called Restaurant Cobra. The camp was interesting, there was a big room like a hall where we could put up our tents. Most riders did this but a small group headed off into the nearest town to a hotel.

Camping "inside" (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Camping “inside” (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The camp had a restaurant and had some amazing braziers with charcoal in them dotted around the restaurant. These were very popular, each one had a group of riders huddled around it.

Huddled round the fires to warm up (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Huddled round the braziers to warm up (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

The restaurant sold a very nice warm red wine, that tasted like mulled wine. It hit the spot on a cold overcast day. It was really cold during the night, hopefully because of the cold concrete floor. I had my jacket and hat on and it was still cold!  There were four showers and they were hot but they were too hot! Is there no pleasing us? But it was too hot to do anything but try and grab handfuls of water to sprinkle on yourself.

Dinner was pork stew, potato and boiled zucchini. These was a chat at dinner about making sure that people had correct clothing, and a comment that a couple of the riders were on the brink of dangerous hypothermia.

Camp tonight (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

Camp tonight (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Columbia, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My last day as a tourist

I woke up really early today, with a mixture of being excited to be going home to see the family, and sadness about saying goodbye to Europe, the tour, the tour crew and the other riders.

I had to leave at 2pm to make sure I was at the airport on time so I tried to make the most of the time I had. I went the Fado Museum; it is really worth a visit.

The Fado Museum

They had instruments on display plus a tour with head phones in English giving the history of Fado. There is also a couch area you can sit in and go through 30 of the most famous Fado artists with photos, information on them and audio recordings. It made me wish I had pushed myself a bit harder and gone to one of the many Fado bars last night.

A sign at the Fado Museum

Fado instruments, they have double stringing

At the museum on the wall there was a saying that I really liked:
“Fado is sung as if tomorrow would not happen, as if this was the last song one would ever sing”.

A picture at Fado museum – looks very relaxed

I looked around the wharf and saw the Atlantic Ocean, the river Rio Tejo, and the Ponte 25 de April Bridge, plus saw more buildings with amazing ceramic fronts.

View from the wharf area of Lisbon

The Rio Tejo (River Tagus) just as it meets the Atlantic Ocean, with the Ponte 25 de April Bridge in the background

Last night we had hugs good bye with the tour crew and Danya and Jan, and then I bumped into them all again today, so the farewell hugs were repeated. Then before I knew it, it was time to go to the airport for the long flight(s) home.

Interesting buildings in Lisbon

As many of you already knew, and others have discovered, I am a specialist at getting lost so I really appreciated the email Christiano sent to us all today:

“Getting lost will help you find yourself”

 

Categories: Portugal | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Day 70: Rest day one in Madrid

As parts of the renovations at the hotel are taking place in the restaurant, we all got breakfast delivered to our rooms. Nice plan, but as mentioned last night there is only one very slow moving lift! My breakfast was due at 8:30, so when it got to 9am I rang up to find out where it was, as I was waiting to eat before Skyping with my kids.

The poor hotel staff looked really harassed, it must be really hard work with four floors of people and only one lift! It was good to chat to Lizzy, Shellbe and Dan (Xavier slept through it again) and then next I skyped with Kelly and Daniel. Skype is such a great invention.

I was given a book of discount vouchers, and made a discovery about what I never expected to be able to see on this tour (all will be revealed tomorrow). I went on a city tour, and we saw:

1. The Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid)
2. Barrio Salamanca
3. Plaza de Colón
4. Plaza de Cibeles
5. Museo Del Prado
6. Santiago Bernabéu Stadium – the Football stadium of the Real Madrid club, can seat 85,000
7. Plaza Mayor – one of the main shopping main areas

The Markets we saw are nothing like in Barcelona or other cities we have been to. Instead of being crammed in and packed under a tent type awning it was a much more sedate setting, more like Moore Wilsons than the Wellington wharf or Porirua market on a Saturday morning.

The markets

We had lunch in Plaza Mayor square, it reminded me a bit of St Mark’s Square in Venice – crowds, buskers, lots of tables, souvenir shops, and instead of mask shops there were football merchandise shops. We also had a tour around the old town.

Plaza Mayor Square in Madrid – note the paintings on the building

There was a really big demonstration about planned government cuts to spending, the city was full of protestors. There were at least 100 buses that bought them in and took them out. We had to get off our tour bus as it could not go through the middle of town. They were all wearing t-shirts and chanting, and although there was a significant police presence it seemed to be a peaceful protest.

Suzanne and I on a bear statue in the square

We did a bit of shopping, I am at the stage of having to buy presents, I have been hoping to see suitable things and buy them the time, but I have not had a lot of luck. I saw the perfect present for one of my children but the shop was shut, it said it opened again at 5:30pm. I went back again from the hotel later – 30 minutes each way – but the shop was still not open, so maybe does not open on the weekend? Even though it was in the main strip.

A new busking act

A group of us (Scott, Michele, Dan, Brett, Suzanne and I) had arranged to meet for dinner at Botin’s Restaurant, said to be the oldest restaurant in the world. We had the choice of going at 8pm or 10pm, as they have two sittings a night. I’m sure you can guess which time we chose!

It was fun, very touristy, not fine dining, and you felt a bit like you were on a production line, as whatever you ordered arrived within five minutes of ordering it. But it was fun and the food was ok, and we can say we have been there.

Scott, Dan, Michele, me, Brett at Botin (picture taken by Suzanne)

Afterwards Suzanne, Brett, Scott and I sat out in the street area near the hotel, and people watched for awhile.

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 63: Rest day two in Barcelona

Due to the interrupted sleep, and then not getting back to sleep until quite late, I slept in until just before 9. I went down to the lobby to Skype home, unbelievable – not only do you have to squeeze into a very public place to have a conversation but the moment I connected, the hotel cleaner spent 10 minutes vacuuming the lobby!

Anyway that aside, it was great to see Xavier in person. He was happily asleep having just been fed. He looks a lot like his Mum did as a baby, very beautiful. It was good to catch up with Shellbe, Lizzy and Dan as well.

After Skyping, I had breakfast then went out to catch up on sightseeing. This is the biggest city so far I think for this tour. Richard the tour guide who brought us into Barcelona says the population is 4 million! The football stadium seats 99,000. Football is big business here, the city is awash with stores selling football paraphernalia! There were tourists everywhere, in most of the places we have been there are a couple of tourists buses half full, here there are heaps of tourist buses, I saw at least 12 with a huge queue to even get on one.

I started with a visit to the La Sagrade Famila. This church was started in 1882 and is not finished yet, the expected finish date is estimated as 2020! There are 18 towers, and they are big – over 100 metres tall. 12 of the towers represent the 12 apostles, 4 represent the 4 evangelists, 1 represents Mary and the final one is over 170 metres and represents Jesus Christ. There are also lots of smaller towers and on the top of these columns there is fruit, flowers etc. There is also a tree halfway up one wall with flying doves.

La Sagrade Famila

We had a drink at the park across the road by a nice rose garden, which could also be called the mouse garden – while we were sitting there a little mouse came out a couple of times and climbed into a chippy packet. Plus we saw a least another dozen either darting around in the garden or out to under the  tables.

Mouse darting out of the chip packet

We went past a children’s shop called Juguijuga which was close enough to Jiggly (Xavier’s nickname while in Lizzy’s tummy) for me to decide to buy my grandson a gift there. It is a very different thing to buy a present for the real baby rather than the hypothetical one, I got a bit emotional – in a good way – while doing it.

JuguiJuga toy shop

In a toy shop buying the first present for my grandson since he was born

Next we headed to the Arc de Triomph then to the La Rambla, Spain’s most famous boulevard. The Lonely Planet says there are street artists, vendors and markets selling everything from mice to magnolias, which is correct. The Mercat de la Boqueria (markets) were insanely busy, and not only did we see mice for sale but also hamsters, lizards, turtles, and guinea pigs. The markets had fruits from Thailand, South Africa, North America, and we even saw wine from Australia.

Arc de Triomph

We then went to the old port. We had gotten a good look at the new port coming into Barcelona in the convoy the day before.  We saw the statue in honor of Christopher Columbus called the Mirador de Colón. We looked around the old port and took a couple of photos including the Port of Barcelona Building.

Port of Barcelona building

Then we headed back to the hotel to pack for tomorrow, and I wanted to finish my book and update the blog.

Street performer in Barcelona

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 61: Sant Feliu de Gulixols to Barcelona – 113k

4,904km down: 1,321km to go 

Ok so camp sites and tenting are never going to make it onto my list of favorite things! This campsite has a mixture of the best and the worst. There was a really nice pool and reception area, with good places for sitting and having a cold drink and reading after having a swim. And at first glance the camping area looked much better than the night before – it was not close to a bar or a light. However it was surrounded by noisy partying young people, plus there was a road going past the tents that cars raced up and down at speeds so fast, frequently, until early in the morning. At midnight there was a fireworks display for about 15 minutes. Finally things settled down and I got to sleep until 4:30am when the rosters started – note the  plural – they were the nosiest, loudest, most enthusiastic rosters I have ever heard. They were still going with gusto when we left the camp at 7:30am.

I did wonder if perhaps these weren’t real rosters but recorders of rosters that the disgruntled neighbour of the campsite played every morning to be disruptive to the residents as a payback for the disruption from night before until the early hours. One of the main supporting arguments for this theory is that I can’t believe that nobody has tracked these roosters down and made them into rooster soup, or rooster KFC. I am so looking forward to getting to sleep in a bed, with walls between me and the closest neighbours. Plus there will be no chance of a car driving over me while I sleep.

We set off in the morning to ride over what Christiano – one of the tour leaders – described as an “epic hill” riding along the Costa Brava coast line.  I’m not sure if I would have wanted to know beforehand that the epic hill stretched for 30k. There were down bits in that of course.

Costa Brava coast line on the way to Barcelona

What really surprised me though is that even after four days riding beforehand I still really enjoyed the ride. I am getting much better on the hills – up and down. Some of the bays were so beautiful with water so clear that even from the top of a hill you could still see the bottom.

Costa Brava coast line on way to Barcelona

We had to ride 40k by 10:30am to meet as a group, to ride the remaining 60k (which turned out to be 70k) in a convoy to Barcelona. The guy that led the convoy was a Scottish man called Richard who had lived in Barcelona for 10 years and has a local bar. He did not know any of the tour people, but Christiano had found him by ringing a local bike shop and they asked a local biking group if anyone was willing and available. He was a nice guy, but convoy leader material? No. He only stopped for the tail enders when one of us suggested it may be a good plan.

Beach coming into Barcelona

70k is way too long for a convoy when the speed of riders is quite different, plus it was hot and we were weary. It was a pretty disgruntled group – even riders who I had never before seen snappy weren’t their usual selves. Because we were riding as a convey the average speed was much lower and it just went on and on and on. We arrived at 5:17pm –  over a 10 hour riding day.

Grumpy, thirsty, and tired riders nearly in Barcelona (me, Bill, Carol, and Geergo at the back in red)

It’s amazing what a shower can do, or how being in a room where you can actually stand whilst you are looking in your bag can improve your mood. A friend of mine commented after the baboon photo that it may take me a while to integrate  back into society on my return. As some riders were leaving in Barcelona we were having a conversation about

1. The first meal we would cook
2. What we were looking forward to about being home

I will probably make a lamb roast and what I was most looking forward to was not having to crouch over my bag every day to get dressed and undressed. Of course as pointed out by another rider, I won’t have my clothes in a bag anyway, they will be in a drawers.

As John and David are leaving us here we had arranged to have a farewell meal. Unfortunately David had woken up feeling unwell so he was not able to come which was a shame but a group of us set off anyway. The problem of course is the locals eat late and we are used to eating early. The restaurant in the hotel where we are staying does not even open until 10pm! By that time we would be gnawing on our own limbs! So we wandered the streets until we found a tapas place, we walked in and placed ourselves in the waiter’s hands and let him choose the food and wine, it was great. Plate after plate was devoured, plus a few beers and some great red wine. Then we were off to the hotel for a good sleep.

Farewell dinner – Me, Scott, Michele, John, Carol and her husband Walker.

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 60: Colera to Sant Feliu de Gulixols – 90k

4,791km down: 1,434km to go 

Not a great night sleep again, the camp site restaurant pumped up about 9pm and was still noisy until about midnight, at which point a camp site dog took over keeping people awake by barking every few minutes. I have not been using my ear phones as they seem to set off my inner ear imbalance (though that could of course just be coincidental), so it’s a dilemma – risk setting off and suffering from inner ear imbalance, or suffering from lack of sleep. The worst thing is finally going to sleep then waking up and checking the time and finding it is only 12:30am! And then 1:30am, 3am, 5am etc.

On a positive note the bugs that have plagued us up until now have just about all disappeared. It is too hot and dry, so at least when you get up during the night you are not set upon. Also the average temperature has dropped. Yesterday was pleasant all day, today was great in the morning but it was hot after lunch.

I rang home this morning to check on how my daughter and grandson were. Lizzy was asleep but Shellbe said all was going well. I also had a text from Lizzy overnight saying Xavier was eating and sleeping well. I got some great pictures this morning of Xavier with his mum and dad, another reason to be really pleased that I bought the iPad  – especially as during the rest days I will be able to skype!!! 🙂

Leaving the campsite this morning the first 10k had some climbing then it was flat or a slight incline until lunch. I was riding with John, Brett and Michele. As we came into lunch which we nearly missed the truck as we were watching the traffic and looking at a sculpture, and the lunch truck was on the other side! We were alerted by Ester yelling out, but John was too far in front to hear. Luckily we had a bunch of Spanish riders behind us who heard us yelling at him and when they passed him they said “Companions lost amigo” which alerted him that all was not right and he turned back to look for us. The Spanish riders are a lot more friendly than the Italians, if the Italians had have said anything they would have shouted “Smarten yourself up” as they glided past in their glistening and matching outfits.

Just after lunch we missed a turn and rode to the top of a hill we didn’t have to (all good training for the Taupo bike ride). We rode back and found the place we were meant to turn, we were pretty sure there was no flag but this does not always mean anything, as they often get removed. The next town was 15k away. We went up a fairly substantial hill and then down a steep and long decline, so I was very pleased to see a flag at the next town to know we were on the right track.

It was a fantastic bit of riding – even with the uphill – through the forest, and we only saw one car the entire time. Then it was a bit like when we came out of the tunnel into the small village on our way to Genoa – all of a sudden we were in a built up busy, busy shopping area, with people and cars everywhere. I was pleased to get to the campsite. Brett was even more pleased as he had felt unwell yesterday afternoon and had vomiting overnight. He had ridden today but felt not great, and was feeling nauseous again at the end. Hopefully he will be better tomorrow.

We are camping again tonight, and we have the return of the toilet seat yay! Plus toilet paper yay! And there is a shower that has good pressure and does not have to be held on with one hand while you shower with the other, yay! Still no soap but the rest is a big improvement! On the negative side we are still camping on hard dirt and my tent pegs now resemble sculptures with many different twisted and interesting shapes. Geergo was so fascinated by them that he took a photo of them all lined up together. I will definitely need to buy some more during the rest days in Barcelona. We get there tomorrow and then have two rest days.

Three of our riders are leaving us in Barcelona
Phil – Danya’s dad who joined us in Montpellier
David – who joined us in Vilnius
John – who has been with us all the way.

It will be sad to see them go. We are going to send John a tape of a barking dog, Italians partying, traffic noises and people expelling wind so when he misses us he can put up the tent in his back yard and play it through his ear plugs. Of course first he will have to have dinner in a metal bowl smelling slightly of bleach and drunk a glass of wine out of a plastic tumbler (also smelling slightly of bleach). We will have some sort of farewell dinner tomorrow in Barcelona.

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Xavier Parker

Introducing my first Grandchild, Xavier Parker. After a very quick labour, Xavier was born at 11:13am on Monday the 3rd of September, weighing 3.3 kilos (7 pounds, 4.4 ounces).

Xavier Parker Andrews

His Mum Lizzy and his Dad Theo are both doing really well. Xavier is a happy, healthy baby, who is already feeding well. He is being well looked after by his Aunties and Uncles, and I can’t wait to get home to meet him.

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Day 39: Rest day in Ljubljana

I was awake before I had to be, of course on a rest day, but was excited as I was planning on Skyping my children at 8:30am. I had breakfast and came back to the room to Skype, we chatted for over an hour, it was good to catch up! I am going to talk to them again soon but probably by phone instead of Skype, depending on what time we get to Venice.

I had arranged to go out straight away afterwards so that I would not get homesick. I met Walli and we headed off to sightsee. We spent ages (about 3 hours) at Ljubljana castle, we visited the museum up there, and went up and down on the funicular railway. We also had lunch up there.

View from Castle Ljubljana

Tourist train Ljubljana

We then went on a boat trip along the canal (or Kanal in Slovenia). There has been just about no rain this summer (usually they get lots of thunderstorms in summer) so everything is dry. The canal is lower than usual and quite stagnant. The highlight for me of the boat trip was seeing a musk rat – also called a nutria – they are really big and look a bit like otters. They can grow up to 10kg but the average is about 4kg. It was swimming along, and then just as we got our cameras ready it dived under the  water into a pipe. (Photos of these rats can be found here).

View from canal trip in Ljublijana

Canal trip Ljubljana

Church in Ljubljana (forgot the name of it)

Afterwards we looked around town, and watched a few street performers and buskers. I had dinner with Daphne, Shirley and Walli. We went to a Pizzeria called Ljubljanski Dvor – it had 102 different kinds of pizza, and we had some nice red wine with it. I had a mixture of sardines, cheese, pepperoni, tomato and onion. It was really nice but even though it was the small one, it was too big for one person.

Then it was back to hotel to pack up again, it is an early day tomorrow, with our bags out by 6am.

I have really enjoyed being in Slovenia, and Ljubljana is a beautiful city. The people are friendly, and the city is not too big and not too expensive. Slovenia has t-shirts and all sorts of other tourist stuff that says “Slovenia the only county with LOVE in its name”. A lot of people from neighbouring countries come here for honeymoons, stag dos and hen parties.

There is a large student population; the total city population is 280,000 of which 60,000 are students. Readers Digest 2008 called this the world’s most honest city. I must look up what that was based on. The national symbol is a dragon (green). Anyway, it is 10:30pm so I better go to bed.

Here are some links:

Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most)
Old Town
Julian Alps, Slovenia
Butcher’s Bridge
Ljubljana Castle (Grad)
Copyu
Črniče
Landkarte – ÖAI EN

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