After a great sleep it was 830am and time for breakfast (and some stealing of some certain croissants for lunch) and off I went. I would be lying if I didn’t say that nerves and fear were running all through me as I stepped out the room. I thought I had to go to the toilet but nothing came out so yup, I was nervous. I spent many hours researching routes the night before and looking at every turn I need to take and was overwhelmed with all the streets and this showed in my decision making skills on the road. After turn three (yes turn three) I was lost bwahahahaha. I have a gps on my iPhone that I would be lost without it but it’s not good help as I need it to be. Zooming out loses all street names and zooming in shows about a million side streets – all with different or no names and you can’t see the direction you need to go unless you’re moving. I was getting frustrated and it took me one hour to navigate my way out of a suburb which is about 2km sq hahahaha. I had to pull over and think clearly about how can I change my plan of attack. I decided that I wasn’t going on instinct so all I did was change my mental state and readjust my thinking. I decided to not look at my map at all and just think of the next town I need to go to and follow my instincts. I couldn’t believe it – it worked hahaha a few lefts and rights wrong but I was heading in general directions and I was stoked.
I stopped at a sporting store to purchase some water bottles. This was Harder than it should be. I pulled out my translator and said (in Italian) ‘two water bottles for my bike please’. The lovely old lady looked at me with a surprised reaction and who knows what I said really. It was probably ‘Hows yr mumma doing and 12 cappuccinos please’ hahaha. Thats what it felt like. It turns out that I did say it right she was just surprised that red headed pale skinned bike rider could ask for that hahaha
Anyway – onwards I go – it was 33 degrees today but not overly hot. After the initial frustration I was heading in general directions and going great guns. Cycling on the other side of the road feels quite normal actually. It’s kind of like ‘go with the flow and if you don’t know where to go, go slow’ – you like that saying – i just made it up…….it was a lovely feeling to be cycling through all these beautiful little towns with so much character. I made it to MILAN WOOT WOOT. My first day is over and it was confidence building that’s for sure. It kind of felt like 4 hours of job interviews but in Italian. Normally 60km’s takes me just over 2hrs without gear – this took me 4 but i’m not complaining. I know i’m going into detail a lot but I might as well whilst I have the motivation isn’t it. Along my travel today I noticed that (as my cousin the Fez Man says) I could smell the culture (but I could also smell the rubbish hahah). So far I have noticed that it’s a mix of beautiful people and buildings but heaps of rubbish everywhere as well. Lots of smokers (as in whilst eating lunch there was 4 right next to me) and a few what I like call ‘loveley ladies’ They just sit in a plastic chair along side streets and I think I saw about 10 of them today. It’s weird to see them sitting under a tree in the hot sun but ready for action hahahaha Buono sera bella
I found the campsite after a bit of here and theres and it’s filled with Dutchies and Spanish people in their campervans – its loud but has all the facilities (even a small farm WHAT THE). I MIGHT have a shower – it’s only been 4 days and with one shower hahahha
Drinking a stella right now and living it up too btw. As I was deciding what to do I thought a quick trip to the supermarket would be good and just bought some supplies for lunch etc. As I returned I sawa couple of ppl in the campsite with bikes and touring gear – obviously I had to go up and speak to them. He is 60 and his son is 18 and they rode from Holland to Italy in 11 days – FYI that’s more than 100k’s a day and straight over the alps too. So we spent the next hour comparing gear (I win of course hehehe) and he had some amazing stuff – he is Dutch and it was good to communicate again (well in my rough dutch accent) but we had a great conversation about stuff. It goes to show that anyone can do this really. I think that will be great memories for him and especially the son when he grows older. Anyway, after chatting to him the tourist office was closed in Milan but I thought I might as well head on down there – it’s only 15km away – what the heck, i’ve already done 60 anyway so why not do another 30…..IN THE DARK….IN THE BIGGEST AND BUISIEST CITY IN ITALY hahahaha. I got all my lights on the bike and headed off. 19 more looks at my gps later (that’s an improvement trust me haha) So I made it there and to be honest it is so beautiful and beats rundle mall by just a squidgen hahaha. It is amazing to see all the old buildings and churches from 17-1800 etc. All the lights on the old buildings, lovely food (and gelati mmm). I still haven’t found a gas cooker so i’m eating out a lot but it’s MUCH cheaper than what I thought to be honest. I’m eating massive/fresh/tasty meals for 15 euro I had some paninis and gave the owner a 4 dollar tip (so giving aren’t I….it’s for good karma on the bike) and he offered me un caffe……’HELL YES’ was my reply. Oh my god – it was a short black but it wasn’t short of the best coffee i’ve had (10/10). I can go home now – i’ve found the perfect coffee – In Milan.
Where was I again – oh yeah – I walked around the city for a few hours and it’s bloody ten o’clock. Some research at home taught me that you can get free wifi at any Maccas – this is true but what I failed to read is that you need an Italian mobile phone number to receive the sms. I did the old favourite one liner of mine and said ‘is there anything else?’ hehe my mates know this one – I basically asked nicely if he could help me out just this once (doesn’t hurt to try does it) so the lovely man gave me his mobile phone and let me use his login. You can use it pretty much all over Italy he says when there is free wifi – how bloody cool is that.;-
So i’m blogging this with another coffee oin my hand at Maccas in Milano
One last piccie of the Piazza Del Duomo (which is over 6 centuries old) WHAT THE!!!!! it was designed and built approx 1330 (same as rundle mall)
I’ll be off now – back to base – not a bad day – about 80 clicks. Tomorrow will be about 60 (if I don’t get lost.
I have more photos of the day but on my iphone with no cable – i’ll add later
Well the first day has come and gone. The flight was well…a flight – Adelaide-Melb-Hong Kong- Italy (Cardano al Campo) – Italy
I’m about 60km away from Milan.
It was about 30hrs in total – long flights but my props go out to Cathay Pacific. A small hiccup at Adelaide airport where I was about 14kg over my limit hehehe at $60aud per kilo that’s a lot. After a bit of discussion they were nice enough to offer that if I locate a box and split it up a little that there will be no charge – AWESOME!! – So I asked around 4 shops at the airport and located a box. I already bought some box tape with me just in case so that was no probs. It all got on and no charge so cooool. The flights were awesome – food was great – I had three seats in the plane from Hong Kong to Milan (12 hours) so I could get a kip in which was good and on demand movies makes ti;-me fly – sorry in advance for typos – im just thinking and typing and cant be bothered being correct I mean – I don’t want to interrupt my genius thoughts of creativity with attention to punctuation J.
Arrived at airport and called my hotel – they came in a picked me up and brought me to a little hotel in the middle of Cardano al Campo which is about 15min from airport.
I wasn’t tired so as soon as i got my bicycle and stuff in the hotel I was on foot and stepped outside, 32 degrees and thinking ‘Oh yeah, I don’t know where anything is and I can’t speak Italian’.
I needed a bicycle shop and supermarket. I pulled out my iphone and started my already loaded euro gps and located both. I have no phone reception but I purposely loaded the phone with all the maps so it just needs gps so that’s good. I won’t lie – It was intimidating stepping outside and not knowing a word of Italian and finding my way around. But thanks to the almighty iphone gps maps navigating was simple and confidence building knowing I don’t need to rely on asking everyone.
Got a few bibs and bobs from bicycle shop with sign language hehehe and located supermarket. I know i’m in Italy when I’m hearing couples arguing in the car with hand gestures (babadeeboobadee boobadee baabedee) hehehe. It’s a lovely little town to walk through. After two hours of walking around my intimidation was clearing a little and I was finding my feet and started smiling like an idiot thinking of how lucky I am to be here. The first word (as a red head) that I had to learn was – crema solare hehee I needed to find sunscreen hahahaha damn pale skin. So I ended up shopping for a bit of food for basic supplies and some bicycle bits and sunscreen – not too bad on foot and just off the plane hahaha
Oh yeah – I ordered a coffee and ended up with a short black AND a small cappuccino hahah they were both nice hehe
I went back to hotel for a bit of a kip and then put my bike together – it is all in one piece WOOT WOOT. Now basically all I need to do is some mapping for the next few days and pack my panniers – that is a tomorrow job.
After I awoke, I went downstairs and asked around for a nice place to eat – one phone call later and an old man came and picked me up and took me to his restaurant. It was a lovely little cafe and I couldn’t believe I got picked up hahahaha. I ordered a pizza (of course) and a coke zer with some
water – $15AUD – can’t beat that really hey – it was a large pizza too of which I could only eat half. Looks like lunch tomorrow is catered for (gotta watch the $ ya know). Who says Europe is expensive – a free lift to the restaurant only to spend $15 WHAT THE – perhaps the euro crisis is so bad they need a taxi service to retrieve the customers hehee. I know I am in a little town therefore prices are not inflated but thats pretty cool. When I go to the more populated areas im sure that it will increase.
Walking around I was feeling like it was surreal that I am here with my bicycle going WTF!!!
So my first experience straight off the plane on my first day: As my cousin says, I smelt culture all around me hahahah Cars are on the other side of the road, families cycling to the supermarket, proper paths for bicycles only, beautiful laneways and houses, the hot sun (although I like winter i’m not complaining, friendly people, beautiful pizza and coffee – AWESOME!!
I know my blogs might get a little shorter in time when i’m on the road but i’ll make the most of the hotel and free wireless whilst I can – before I hit the less populated areas with no internet.
Until tomorrow friends