Posts Tagged With: Swimming

Day 6: Sibenik to Pag Island

126 km – 1,200 meters climbing and descent

Today the first half was pretty easy riding, ups and downs along the coast, and reasonably cool. My legs were still feeling the benefit of the rest day in Split.

I drink about a bottle of water an hour which seems more than anyone else, which means having to stop and buy water a couple of times a day. So I decided if I am paying for water I may as well have sparkling. Interesting fact: the gas in the sparkling water and the motion of riding doesn’t work so well. No matter how tight your bottles are screwed shut, the gas builds up and pushes through the spout, and sprays your legs at regular intervals with trickles of water.

There are many beautiful coves with beautiful clear water, sandy beaches, boats at the shore, certainly this is a country to put on the list to come back to. The country is very clean, especially the hotels and the shops.

Lunch was at 65 km, then next 5 km was along the coast. We crossed a big bridge onto PAG Island. After this we spent about 20 km in the country side, with lots of long hot steady climbs. The country side is very much like Spain, lots of rock walls and olive trees, and hot.

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PAG Island Bridge

Then there was a three km down hill, which was followed by 26 km of what seemed like endless long clinbs and descents in the beating sun.

The landscape was very rocky, dry and barren. I am finding the bumps in the road hard on my arm, and my right foot felt like someone had shoved a knife into it. When the lunch truck came past 15 km before the end the temptation was great, but I resisted.

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Dry rocky lunar landscape

Finally we came to the township of Pag, there was a choice of left or right. The left was a steep long climb and the right was a short climb. Yay the flags showed go to the right!

Finally got to the hotel, a lovely place set right by the beach, called Hotel Frane.

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Hotel Frane

As soon as I got my gear up to the room, I was off to the beach for a swim. Amazing how different I felt after a swim and a shower. The room has a nice balcony which was great to dry the togs and air the riding shoes out.

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Room balcony at Hotel Frane

I am still having some problems with the bites from a previous swim in the ocean, and have to keep two of them covered, but whilst yucky they don’t look infected.

I look a bit like a crazy woman, I still have not been able to find any conditioner so my hair is all over the place, and despite putting sunscreen on frequently, my face is red.

Dinner was Chicken noodle soup and bread followed by an amazing platter with seabass, potatoes and veges, accompanied by fried squid rings, and octopus and rice. This was washed down with cold water as today was one of the two alcohol free days for the week. Dessert was a sticky cake thing, it looked nice but I was too full to eat.

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After a long hot 127km day – dinner for a starving cyclist

Tomorrow we have to catch 3 ferries.

 

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 4: Rest day in Split

I slept off and on, there was a full-on party on the promenade most of the night. When this fizzled out the street cleaners took over.

My arm is pretty sore, it’s not too bad holding it straight, but as soon as I try to rotate it, ouch! Luckily this trip has a number of doctors: there are 3 ED doctors Kathy, John H, and Peter M, plus Tony the cardiologist. So when I went down to breakfast I pretty much picked the first doctor I saw, which was Peter M, and got a consult. Sure beats spending hours waiting around at medical clinics.

The consensus of Peter and John was there is no break at the wrist, and possibly a small crack in the radial head (which wouldn’t be plastered anyway) and badly sprained. Approx time to come right is about 10 days. Riding won’t make it any worse, and whether I can ride will depend how sore it is. Thankfully today is a rest day as I don’t think I would be able to ride with it today. Fingers crossed it is improved tomorrow.

Breakfast was an experience trying to do everything with my left hand. Amazing how difficult it is to use a spoon or butter toast with your non-dominant hand.

After breakfast Brett and I headed off to get the laundry, and then to a small supermarket. I have been trying to get some hair conditioner since I got to Bosnia but neither country appears to sell it. My hair is looking seriously messy! Back at the hotel I spent some time catching up with the blog (thankfully typing doesn’t require me to rotate my arm).

Then off to explore, we looked around for a while and then we went to a place called Chop for lunch. I chose the Angus Beef Burger and had major food envy as Brett chose Lamb chops and they looked amazing. Luckily Brett gave me one of the chops. Have a look at the photo, you will see what I mean. We had a very nice red Korlat Syrah.

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Next we went for a walk around in the old town, very interesting, lots of small alleys with the buildings very close together. Just about every alley had a few tables with sometimes the restaurants just inside, and sometimes a couple of streets away. You would see waiters weaving their way through the streets with food or empty plate.

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Old town

A huge underground shopping area, plus in the Diocletian’s palace in the vestibule were Dalmatian singers, stopping in between each song to hawk off their CD.

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The Vestibule at southern end of the Peristil

I bought some sandals with slip resistant soles (something I should have done before I left NZ). I also bought a couple of presents for the grand babies, a plug, and could not resist a quick visit into the lolly shop.

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Cathedral tower rising above the Peristil

After this we went back out onto the promenade and a pirate looking ship caught my eye. My granddaughter Lucy likes dressing up as a pirate, and pirate stories, so I decided to have a look at the ship and take a photo. When we got up to it we were asked if we wanted to go on an hour and half cruise. We asked when it was sailing and “Now” was the response, so we hopped on board.

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We headed out along the coast for about 35 minutes, it was really nice being in the sun and the breeze. Then they stopped and said anyone who wants to go swimming now is your chance. I had no togs (or swimmers as they are called in Aussie) but with the beating sun and inviting looking clear blue water, it was an easy choice: off with the sunnies, hat, and shoes, and over the side.

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It was amazing warm water, we spent about 15 minutes swimming. It was a bit of mission to get back in the boat, as I had to go up a ladder which started at the water line. This required hauling up my body weight, but not being able to use one arm. Thankfully Brett went up first and gave me a helpful pull.

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Heading back to the waterfront

Once we got back to shore we wandered around the old city some more. Whilst walking up on alley we noticed a sign “wine tasting”, so we stopped at Diocletian’s Wine House to try 3 Croatian wines.

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First was a white Kujundzusa, unfortunately I can’t make out the rest of the name on the photo. We tasted this with shrimp and feta
Second was a red Dingac Nikolica, we tasted this with prosciutto and cheese
Third was also a red, Bedalov Zinfandel. We tasted this with cheese and honey.

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This grape wine Zinfandel got a disease and was dying out in Croatia, there were only 25 vines left. Some of the wine makers took some of the surviving plants to other countries so the type of vine would have a chance to survive. 20 years ago the vine was bought successfully back from America and now this wine is made again Croatia.

While we were there, we asked about the sign that said they prepared traditional Dalmatian food. They prepare a dish called Peka, which is a famous Dalmatian dish prepared with meat or octopus and vegetables. The ingredients are placed in a covered pan and cooked in the embers of the fire. This type of cooking is often referred to as cripnja (under the bell) as the pans often have a bell shaped lid. As this is the only rest day in Croatia we booked in for this at 8pm.

We wandered around a bit more, then back to the hotel to tidy up and get ready for the next day.

At 8 pm on the dot we arrived back at Diocletian’s restaurant, ready for a new food experience. The Peka was good, it was very rich as the liquid content had reduced due to the long slow cooking. I thought it was just over onto the slight overdone side, but still enjoyed it. This was followed by a panna cotta with berries, also very nice but much thicker / denser than any panna cotta I have had before.

Then it was time to return to the hotel, another day riding tomorrow. Pretty noisy outside, but am pretty tired after last night so hopefully will sleep ok.

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Diocletian’s Palace

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Day 55/164: Rest Day in La Gramita

Although it is nice to be able to sleep in, I was awake as usual by 5 am. It was nice though, lying tucked up in bed listening to the surf, and knowing there was no desert or head wind to battle today.

We are used to eating breakfast at 6:00am, I thought the white board had said breakfast from 7:00am. But shock! horror! – when I got to the restaurant at 7am, it was shut up! I checked the whiteboard and it said 8:30am! One of the other riders had already checked the town a kilometre away and that was also all closed. So I sorted out some gear and went for a short walk along the beach. The hotel staff must have got sick  of having a bunch of riders either prowling around or standing with their noses pressed against the restaurant window as they opened up early at 8 am.

Breakfast was ok, rolls and a small plate of scrambled eggs. The tea so far has not been drinkable in Peru as  it has some sort of spice added to it. The other choice was instant coffee in warm milk or buying a plunger of coffee. Usually this would have been a simple choice but I only have $10 soles as I assumed wrongly where we were staying for the rest day would have a cash flow machine (also wrongly assumed there would be Wifi and power in the room). Luckily Jackie got a pot for us both.

Sadly Jackie is leaving in a couple of days, the day before we get to Lima. I will really miss her. After breakfast Jackie gave me the first option on stuff she was going to give away. I now have another sleeping bag inner which will help when it gets cold, a travel pillow, some more medications, and small bag for rest days.

There are no laundry options here, other than wash your stuff in the shower and them hang out to dry (there are no clothes lines, but I have a line and pegs). Luckily it has been only 3 riding days since the last rest day, and only 3 to the next rest day, so I just washed my bike riding stuff and strung out my line on the balcony.

Next I went for a walk along the beach to check out the town. I got some great photos of birds, including some pelicans.

Birds in La Gramite

Birds in La Gramita

Guano covered rocks with Pelicans

Guano covered rocks with Pelicans

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Editors note: I’m not sure this counts as a “Great photo of birds” . . . See below for a better example

A pelican in the bay (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A pelican in the bay (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Seabirds fishing in the shallow waves (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Seabirds fishing in the shallow waves (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The town is very small, there about 40 houses, a general shop, four restaurants and a small church.

View of the town from Las Aloas Hotel

View of the town from Las Aloas Hotel

Another view of the town in La Gramite

Another view of the town in La Gramita

The industry here is fishing. A number of boats are pulled up on the sand, as there is no wharf. A few boats come in and out. The fishermen row the boats in until they are close to shore, then they haul them up onto the beach. The birds all hover around expectantly, and the dogs lurk around when any new boat comes in.

Fishing boats in La Gramite

Fishing boats in La Gramita

Fishermen bringing in the boat in La Gramite

Fishermen bringing in the boat in La Gramita

Fishing boats on their way into shore

Fishing boats on their way into shore (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Fresh fish for lunch arriving

Fresh fish for lunch arriving (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

As Jackie is leaving in a few days, this is the last rest day she will be around for so we checked out the restaurant options for dinner. One place looks a better option than the others (one of them we discounted as an option as the lady told us there is no menu), and Jackie who speaks a bit of Spanish checked that the one we were interested in is open tonight, which they say they are.

As predicted there are no cash flow machines in town, and none of the restaurants take credit cards or American dollars – the ‘restaurants’ consist of a few plastic chairs and tables, on cracked concrete floors. Thankfully one of the other riders Rolf has offered to lend me money so I will be able to eat tonight 😀

While we were walking around the town we went past one shack, and 5 gorgeous little puppies, about 4-5 weeks old, came running out. They were delighted to see us and wanted to come with us. They looked quite well cared for, but they must have been bored as their mum was out an about – probably at the shore watching the incoming boats with hopeful interest. We ended up having to lure them back to the shack, push them inside, and run flat out to the corner and hide until they lost interest to get away from them.

Local residents just chilling in La Gramite

Local residents just chilling in La Gramita

Could this be a cousin of BenBen's? Looks like he is loathe to bathe too

Could this be a cousin of BenBen’s? Looks like he is loathe to bathe too

Before leaving the hotel I had put on swimming shorts and a top, and on the way back we stopped for a swim. The water was cold to get into, but once you were in it was ok. The waves were quite strong, and a couple of times I got spun around and around by them. However, as I do not know this beach I made sure I did not go out past where the water was over my head.

After we got back to the hotel Jackie found out that the owner was happy to change American dollars at a reasonable exchange rate. Yay I have money again! In Pacasmayo when I used the cash machine I did not notice the bit where I had to opt out of getting American dollars and pick soles, so I had a reasonable amount of American money.

I spent a bit of time with the usual repacking. I am going to trial only having one pannier, and having it behind my seat instead of two panniers one on each side. With the headwind we are having, and expect to have for weeks, anything that cuts down the wind resistance will be a bonus. However to do this I have to decide what is in and what is out, as currently both panniers are full. This takes quite a while, but eventually I get everything into one pannier.

The next problem I have is to fit the stuff that did not make the cut into the one pannier into one of my two bags. My permanent bag has lots of room but, I can only access it on rest days. My daily bag is so full it is a 5 minute struggle everyday to close it!

After this we set off into town for dinner. We got to the restaurant that had confirmed it was open till 8pm and it was just closing! Two of the other restaurants were also closing or closed. We couldn’t go back to our hotel for dinner as we had to notify them if we were eating there at lunchtime.

The lady who had the restaurant that had no menu was standing at her doorway smiling at us, making “come in” gestures, so in we went. There was still no menu so we confirmed we were happy to have what she was serving – the only other option being having nothing to eat.

It turned out to be one of the best fish meals we have had. The fish was really fresh and even the rice had a nice flavour. Also she must have missed out on the price fixing memo that the rest of the town and restaurants have been following, as it is less than half the price of the other places, and the beer instead of being $10, soles is $2. Also she was delighted to have us.

The whole time we were eating, a local dog was sitting to one side unobtrusively, watching hopefully. At the end of the meal I went to give him a piece of fish. As my hand went out from under the table a previously unnoticed cat reached up and gently but firmly removed the fish from my hand. This was watched with a resigned look by the dog. I did manage to break off another piece and throw it to him clear enough from the cat. We left a reasonable tip and happily headed off.

Walking back along the beach we were so pleased we had bought our headlights as there were crabs galore scuttling around everywhere. We had to walk carefully so as not to step on them. A few rear up and challenged us but mostly they quickly scurried away.

Crabs on the rocks at La Gramite

Crabs on the rocks at La Gramita

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

Friday – last day before the ride begins!

Sue and I went for a swim at the beach before breakfast. Even at 7:30 in the morning a swarm of hawkers appeared as soon as we set foot on the sand.

A hawker trying to sell me a necklace

A hawker trying to sell me a necklace (again, photo taken from Sue’s Facebook page)

The water was warm but not too warm, and a relatively safe beach.

Beach by hotel with city in background

Beach by hotel with city in background

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The beach in front of the hotel in Cartagena

After breakfast we had the first riders meeting, got to meet everyone and go over the outline of the trip, what was expected etc. It certainly sounds like it is going to be very challenging, from hot and sticky to cold and windy. Through the Andes the temp is expected to be minus 4 at night. The first three days are relatively flat which means we should not have to spend too much time in the lowest gear. Then a rest day and then we start to climb some pretty gruelling hills. I suspect there will be a fair amount of pushing my bike in the first month or so until I drop some weight and get fitter.

The trucks

The tour trucks

After the riders meeting Sue and I went into the walled city to have a last look around. We had lunch at the square in the middle. I had a very good friend whilst I was eating – a small pregnant dog who stayed until I had shared the last scraps, and then she was off. In the time we were at the table we had about 25 hawkers trying to sell us stuff. I have learnt not to smile or be too nice when saying no or they take that as encouragement.

My friend

My friend at lunch

We had to be back at 5pm as someone from the Colombian government (to do with tourism) wanted to come and wish us well. After that off to the bar for a cold beer then up the road for something to want. Than back to finish packing and sorting stuff into my bags – my daily bag and my rest day bag (we can’t access the stuff in that until the rest days).

The ride starts tomorrow!

5:50 am – bags to the truck
6:15 am – riders meeting
6:30 am – breakfast
7:00 am – leave hotel

We are doing a 90 kilometre ride, with the first 30 in a convoy.

Tomorrow night will be my first night in my new tent.

I am unsure what the internet coverage is going to be so there may well be gaps in the blogs, and then 3 days at once.

I have decided that I am going to be a racer – not because I am expecting to be fast – but if you identify yourself as a racer your time gets clocked in and out of camp each day, and I think it will be interesting to collate how many hours I spend on the bike.

Street in walled city

Street in walled city

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Hats for sale (Editors note: Really Mum? This is the best photo you could do? Check out Sue’s photo where you can actually see the hats!)

Categories: Columbia, Preparations, South American Epic | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Day 65: Tarragona to Arnes – 108k

5,103km down: 1,122km to go

It was hot during the night but thankfully we were at a quiet camp site.

When we got in yesterday we were told that the bar shuts at 4pm (it was 3pm) and the pool shuts at 6pm.  Not sure if it was because it was Sunday or whether it was because the camp site was deserted. To get wifi you had to produce your passport and get an ID card, quite a lot of work for one night.  Also we found out later the password was device specific and as a group we were only allowed four. Thankfully our group is now only 8 riders and not everyone wanted Internet access.

We are back to showers that you have to push the button to get 7 seconds of water before you have to push it again, and the toilet saga continues – toilets with no seat, but there was soap and paper. I guess if your house has no toilet seat there is never any argument about the seat being left up. There was another interesting translation on a sign in the toilet: “You had to use the paper properly, thank you”.

We knew today was going to be  challenging with hills 10k long, and the heat, so we were on the road by 7:30am. It is not light enough now to leave any earlier. The first 28k was relatively flat, we went through a seaside town called Miami Platsa (which translates to Miami Beach), and we took a photo as we left the Mediterranean and headed inland. The scenery today was fantastic – when you got your head up and your breathing under control enough to enjoy it!

Last view of the sea until Lisbon

I think it was one of the most challenging rides we have done so far. Tomorrow we start with a 50k rail trail then more of the same so maybe that will be the most challenging, as my legs will not have fully recovered from today. We climbed up past kilometre after kilometre of olive trees and almond trees. There was an enormous amount of work that had taken place building stone walls and terraces. There were a few fields of vines as well. At one place there was a golf resort and at the end of it there was a veggie garden.

We passed an amazing old village Tivissa, and just before lunch we crossed the Rio Ebro river. At lunch there was an ant hill just near the lunch truck, and after a few crumbs of food were dropped it was like a highway – streams of ants going both ways carrying crumbs, sometimes 8 or 9 ants were working together underneath the crumb, and you could just see moving pieces of bread and not the ants.

Amazing town called Tivissa

Today we climbed up 1,436 metres and went down 983. I had my photo taken at the summit of the Coll de Fatxes at 507 metres. In the picture you can’t really see that I’m leaning against the pole recovering. Just before the camp, having just climbed up a hill that seemed to go on and on and on, we got to a plateau and rode along with a beautiful backdrop of mountains with fields of new vines in front, it was very pretty.

At the top of Coll de Fatxes – 507 metres

When we got to the camp, YAY a pool! And no ID rigmarole! And open until late! I had a great swim with the best view I have ever had in a pool.

Across from the camp site

Categories: Cycling trip | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 50: Genoa to Diano Marino, Imperia – 117k

3,987km down: 2,238km to go

I woke up in plenty of time to get ready and use the Wifi – or so I thought. First of all the lift was not working, it was showing on the control panel that it was on the 7th floor – um there is no 7th floor. Getting bags down from 4th floor was a bit of shambles with all the other riders also dragging their stuff down the fairly narrow steps. Then once again there was no Wifi.

The hotel had opened the restaurant early for us but I am not sure if anyone had told the waiter, he got quite stressed, at one stage when I went out to use the toilet I saw him wringing his hands and talking loudly to himself.

The convoy went well but it went for about 14k instead of 10k. A few kilometres after we got out of the convoy we started coming across these amazing beaches and towns, it was like miles and miles of Oriental Parade but with sun umbrellas and deck chairs. It was quite quiet to start off with as it was Sunday, but it certainly got busier later on. It seemed the whole world was heading to the beach!

Beaches on the way from Genoa

As I had not been able to use Wifi at the hotel I was looking for an Internet cafe to send emails. Then I saw a McDonalds sign and thought “Yes, they have Wifi”. We followed the signs to McDonalds and found it in the mall, but unfortunately unless you have an Italian sim card you can’t use the McDonalds Wifi. So I was still unable to send any emails or blog posts.

Outside of McDonalds with Esther, unable to get Wifi

We stopped at a cafe and had amazing pastries, and finally some drinkable coffee (so long as I remember to ask for no chocolate in it).The lunch truck had problems finding somewhere to park for lunch where we would be able to see it. Geergo did a great job, he had lines of orange tape plus safety vests hanging up, I saw it 2k away from a tunnel.

Taken from the Tour d’Afrique blog

It was really hot today again, not a cloud in the sky, the temperature was up to about 40 again. One thing I noted is all the Italians are so brown! It must be amazing to be able to rely on endless sunshine, little wind and blue, blue sea.

We stopped at the beach before going to the camp and had a cold drink and just sat for awhile watching people. The bar lady asked us about our bike numbers (it has the rider number and St Petersburg to Lisbon on it), she was so impressed that we had ridden thus far that she bought us out some food.

Beach we stopped at for a cold drink

We got to the camp and yay there is a pool, but unbelievable the pool shuts at 6:30pm and opens at 9:30am. By the time we had had dinner, put up our tents and walked up to the pool there was no one in it. As we can’t read Italian we did not see the closing hours that were on the sign, although I have to say we suspected something. But we dived in quickly and managed to get a three minute swim before we got chucked out. At least we got cool.

The camp site is the site of an old olive orchard, and the surface is really stony. It was quite a mission getting tent pegs in without them bending, plus if you move off the squab you are lying on rocks.

One again we have squat toilets and no toilet paper! Tonight there were no noisy Italians but a concert that went on to about midnight. But at least there was Wifi so I stayed up catching up on the blog for a bit. Tomorrow we ride into Cannes, with another rest day the next day, after only two riding days, so I will be able to catch up on sleep days!

Geergo joined us at the campsite up at the reception where we were catching up with our emails. We were talking about how one beer never seems to be enough, you need two and he told us a Hungarian saying:
1 beer is not enough
Having 2 beers is like having 1/2 a beer
Having 4 beers is like having 1 beer
1 beer is not enough.

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