Posts Tagged ‘Italy’


White horses, science fiction underground river caverns, Trieste in sailing regatta fever, 50kg heave – no gym required, climb into Slovenia. All in beautiful sunshine. Thanks Marko for the tips!

Sunset in Koper

Sunset in Koper

A gushing river has etched out a massive cavern over millions of years. Perched on the side looking down, the river was far far below. The path I followed twisted and turned behind me, upwards to the silent cavern. Ahead was a bridge crossing the yawning depths, still far below the cavern roof. This gorge was massive. Without the man/woman-made path, lit up for my group, I would be in complete darkness. From above and below – rock. This gorge was underground.

The lit up path in the massive cavern

The lit up path in the massive cavern

The eery walls of white calcium carbonate, white pillars hanging from above and rising from below. A glisten would form on the bottom of a stalactite. The bulge of water would grow. And then, drip. And so they form, over thousands of years.
Different people see different shapes, said the guide. I see the ‘silence’ – a science fiction alien from ‘Doctor Who’. Or maybe one of the aliens from the film ‘Alien’ with Sigourney Weaver. Whatever I saw, it felt like I was in another world. Amazing.

Leaving the cavern

Leaving the cavern

But before, preparing me for my science fiction adjourn, I passed through the fields of Lothlórien from Lord of the Rings. Green, lush fields, with white horses frolicking in the sun. Legolas was just around the corner.

White horses in Lothlórien

White horses in Lothlórien

White horses in Lothlórien

White horses in Lothlórien

A fellow long-distance cyclist. Meet Samuel from France. Travelling a circuitous route from France to South America (via Greece). He didn’t join me into the caverns, and had gone by the time I emerged. We did go, together with Marko, to the cavern lookout. I guess our paths may cross on the way to Greece.

Canyon lookout

Canyon lookout

Me and Samuel

Me and Samuel

Me and Marko

Me and Marko

I wanted to see Trieste, which made my route today very convoluted. Marko had a brilliant tip of following an abandoned train track that went downhill all the way into the centre of Trieste. Fantastic!

Descent into Trieste

Descent into Trieste

Descent into Trieste

Descent into Trieste

Trieste was in sailing regatta fever. I made my way down to the shore, took the necessary ‘I was here’ picture, and then tried to find my way back. Not too easy.. OK. I don’t have a problem with going the wrong way up one way streets (otherwise I would still be there now). However, Trieste being so steep, at one point, the only way forward was up – and almost vertically up. No gym today, but a 50kg (bike and luggage) heave.

Piazza Unita in Trieste

Piazza Unita in Trieste

Gym training

Gym training

Once out of the centre, finding the way out of the city without freeways is also a challenge. Thanks to my little friends (that I discovered on the way from Venezia eastwards) – the black sticker with the red arrow.

My friend the cycling sticker

My friend the cycling sticker

Around and around, in and out, up and down, and then ‘Hello Slovenia’ (after a short steep uphill grunt).

Made it into Slovenia again

Made it into Slovenia again

Tonight is hostel night – in the seaside town of Koper in Slovenia. Tomorrow the Istrian peninsula in Croatia.

The alley with my hostel

The alley with my hostel


From busy Italian plains to quiet Slovenian hills. I was warned about the busy traffic near Trieste, so, I thought I would avoid it by cycling through Slovenia. It was lovely.

Vineyards in Slovenia

Vineyards in Slovenia

I am staying with Marko – an avid cycler in Sežana, in Slovenia just over the border from Trieste. With Slovenia as my destination today, I realised that Slovenia may be the solution to my traffic problems in Italy. I decided to go to Slovenia as quickly as possible – at Gorizia.

Border crossing, Slovenia

Border crossing, Slovenia

The road was pretty, following a nice valley through lots of vineyards, flanked by steep hills on both sides. It was rather cloudy, and the not good light conditions for photos, but a pleasant, and, more importantly, quiet.

Marko, my warm showers host, has been cycling everywhere on this planet. He gave me lots of tips for Slovenia, Croatia and Albania. I am quite excited at seeing some of these places. The next leg of my trip is gaining form! Yay!!

Me and Marko

Me and Marko


Busy straight roads on the northern Italian plains. Thanks Fabio from the Italian cycling forum for accompanying me for some of today. The kilometres raced by exchanging stories. Then, head down, as I burned the kilometres away. There’s no way to meander here anyway.

Me and Fabio

Me and Fabio

There’s no avoiding them. Main roads with lots of cars and trucks. Even the side roads which look better on the map have lots of traffic.
First, I was distracted with nice conversation with Fabio, who led the way. Then, I just followed the main road which went straight to Trieste. While cycling my brain was constantly calculating and updating the kilometres and estimated arrival times. The traffic acts as a shield to taking in any scenery. You brain power is taken up listening for cars behind, and watching oncoming cars, constantly reassessing the situation.

Then, 10km before my destination Palmanova, I left the main road. Suddenly, within 50 metres, I woke up from my daze. I saw fields. I saw trees. And I didn’t hear cars. It was like someone had flicked a switch. The living life switch.

Just off the main road

Just off the main road

And the clouds were beautiful. And threatening. Dark clouds, and occasionally light.

Light and dark

Light and dark

The clouds

The clouds


On a back road in the northern plains in Italy, I thought, this is pretty awesome. I am cycling across the planet. Away from the constant racket of cars, trucks and motorbikes, passing through fields and over valley ridges, I feel like I am cycling again. Not just making sure I’m staying alive. Happy.

Fimon

Fimon

Lunch is an important event for a cyclist. Sometimes it is in a pleasant place. Sometimes it is just somewhere when the hunger hits. Today I found a lovely bakery in a pretty town with a castle on the hill behind – Soave.

Reflecting my lunch

Reflecting my lunch

Another lucky pig to go with my sunglasses cloth

Another lucky pig to go with my sunglasses cloth

And milestones appease my ego. 2000km from Eindhoven and going strong.

2000km

2000km

A day of pleasant but not spectacular cycling.

Typical road

Typical road

In the evening sun

In the evening sun

Padova is a beautiful city. I was here once before many moons ago. Tonight the moon made for an impressive backdrop as I strolled through the city centre at night.

Padova by night

Padova by night

Padova by night

Padova by night


Today I felt like an ant, crawling around with thousands of other ants. I was part of the mound of tourist ants. I took photos, holding my phone up high. One of the many. Busses and cars transport the ants along busy roads and then wait outside where the ant density is too high. Drahtesel plies the same roads, and like the busses and cars, waits patiently outside.

Verona

Verona

Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo?
I saw Juliette’s tower today, and the balcony where such a scene may have taken place. Today, being the first Sunday in the month, meant that potential Juliette’s could stand out on the balcony for only one euro. The Juliettes rotated constantly on the balcony, being watched by the hoards of Romeos (and me, of course) from below.

Juliette's balcony

Juliette’s balcony

From high up from the central tower, I had a bird’s eye view out over Verona. It is a lovely city. The rooftops and squares gave me the feeling of Italy – a holiday feeling. I have already come a long way from the Netherlands.

Verona from above

Verona from above

Verona from above

Verona from above

Earlier in the day I visited Sirmione – a thin peninsula poking up into Lago di Garda. I convinced the policeman that I would only push my bike through the centre, and he let me through. I soon left. There really was no room..

Sirmione

Sirmione

I guess I am a loner. Crowds stress me. An open road, alone, through the mountains, through the plains – that is for me.


A picture tells a thousand words. But, a picture doesn’t capture the sound. I experienced the roar of cars and motorbikes for hours, to the beautiful backdrop of Lake Garda. I have been spoiled with the silence and tranquility of my trip up to now. Busy roads will be the norm, and often without the beautiful vistas and cute towns as a backdrop.

Lake Garda

Lake Garda

Alessandro accompanied me along the Adige River today to the Bicigrill – a kind of cafe for cyclists. There were lots of people there, mostly in their slick lycra outfits and bikes that weigh less than a feather. Drahtesel was a bit clunky in comparison. Also, my sandals without click pedals were not the norm. It was nice to sit down for a drink and enjoy the weather, and be amongst cyclists.

Bicigrill

Bicigrill

Bicigrill

Bicigrill

Lake Garda was in haze today. The brain builds up an image from the eye darting around the panorama, piecing together small subelements in the scenery. All the while, the eye adjusts to the light conditions, making an image that looks good to the brain, even if it doesn’t make for a good photo. I tried my best to take some nice photos, but the lake ones were less than optimal.

On the way to Lake Garda

On the way to Lake Garda

Lake Garda

Lake Garda

Windsurfing on Lake Garda

Windsurfing on Lake Garda

A bike is not a car. Nor is it a pedestrian. Cycling along bike/footpaths brings one past lovely little villages with cute bridges and cafes. It also means one hardly moves forward. Cycling along roads is noisy. That is really all one notices, even though there is a nice backdrop.
Here are some noise free photos of the lake and the cute little villages.

Lake Garda

Lake Garda

Village on Lake Garda

Village on Lake Garda

Village on Lake Garda

Village on Lake Garda

Village on Lake Garda

Village on Lake Garda

Thank you Alessandro again. This evening I am staying with him and his family in an apartment on the Garda Sea. He was planning to be here and invited me along. Great!!


Note: It is now possible to donate to Planet Green, of which Green Pedals is a project which I am supporting with my bike trip. See more here: https://greenpedalsforschools.wordpress.com/donate/

Why cycle along the valley when there are passes to climb? A day cycling the non-standard bike route along the Noce River with my new friend Alessandro from Trento. Oh. And I am now the proud owner of a lucky pig cloth for drying my sunglasses. 🙂

Adige Valley

Adige Valley

Note to self: Climbing 1200m is easier at higher altitudes where it is cooler.
I met Alessandro on the Italian cycling forum, and have received a very warm welcome at his and his wife’s house in Trento. ‘I see you like passes,’ he writes. ‘Well, how about the Gampenpass.’
I googled it. 1518m. Feeling pretty good about myself after scaling the Passo dello Stelvio, I arranged to meet Alessandro in the neighbouring valley to the Adige River. It was hot work.

Adige Valley

Adige Valley

Gampenpass

Gampenpass

All worth while. Here is my new lucky pig sunglass cleaning cloth.

Lucky pig sunglasses cloth

Lucky pig sunglasses cloth

Alessandro met me on the other side of the pass. The nice part about climbing 1200m, is that you then have that in the bank. This extra altitude was spend helping us along getting back to the Adige River. The Noce River is flanked with steep cliff faces, which were, unfortunately, never in the right place in the right conditions for being photographed. I had a go anyway.

Noce River

Noce River

Trento itself is what I really like about European cities. The city is alive with people living, restaurants, bars and things happening. I took some of the standard photos in the main city square before having a lovely evening with Alessandro and his wife Susan.

Trento

Trento

Me and Alessandro

Me and Alessandro