Day 32 Friday 24th June 2016 94km (3024km in total)
“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Goldoni (I’ll try, but after certain recent events, it does make it difficult!)
6am my alarm went off today. I am trying to wake a bit earlier everyday in order to miss out cycling in the main heat of the day. I was going to try and leave at 6 but as the reception was only open at 7am in order to pay, I decieded not to make any drastic changes to my sleeping habits suddenly!
Late last night I had heard some loud engine noises coming into the campsite and today I could see them in daylight. There were about three different motor trikes (if that what you call them!) each pulling a small caravan. They were so small and tiny it reminded me a bit like a royal carriage made from grass that you might see a mouse riding in children’s story books!
The day started slightly misty but by 9am it was back to being 30°c. Leaving earlier makes me hungery before I would normally stop. It was time for my second breakfast! I do enjoy cycling when most of the towns are still sleeping. They are all peaceful and even the big roads are quite quiet. I love looking at the clock and thinking “Normally I would still be sleeping but today I’ve already done 25km!”
Being Friday, it was the day for the results of the EU referendum to be announced. Without any access to the internet I had to send a few messages home asking them to release the tension.
I wish I hadn’t heard the result now. I was cycling along, on a car free road, enjoying life when I got told the UK had voted to leave. I was devastated. Yes the EU has it’s flaw, like most things in life it’s not perfect. However it’s brought peace to a continent that in history hasn’t always got along well together and has put many beneficial regulations including social and environmental into place that would not others have happened. It makes sense to work with your neighbours rather than on your own. There is much more to Europe than just a trading bloc or freedom of movement.
It seemed to cast a shadow over what was going to be a good day. Not wanting to get anymore political, as I know only 48% of you will agree with me, back to Cycling on the Continent!
I was heading to a town called Pavia, from which I could then decide whether to go west into France over the alps or south to Genova then along the coast. As I was pondering over my maps, a road cyclist in his 50’s stopped and started talking. None of which I understood a word but I gathered he wanted to know where I was going. It’s quite difficult to guess what people are trying to say, especially when their talking so fast in a foreign language.
He kept on pointing to himself and saying “Pavia, Pavia!”. I soon understood that he also was heading in that direction, so for the next hour or so I followed him. He took me on a much more direct but busy route than I would have chosen, but it was definitely quicker. He left me about 30km out of Pavia as he turned into his home village, very kind of him to let me ride with him and show me the way. I didn’t quite catch his name but ended in something like Orlando.
After the early start and then cycling with the helpful cyclist ment I arrived Belgioioso, a small village just 10km out of Pavia around 12pm. Seeing signs for free WiFi, I stopped, also hoping to refill my water bottles. The WiFi here is frustrating as lots of the free ones require you to put in your mobile number, but only allows Italian numbers. I was going to try and contact a Warmshowers host but that will have to wait for another day.
Darren and Izzy were two touring cyclists sitting on some grass just down from where I had stopped. I went over to say “ciao” but it tuned out they were also from the UK. Darren from Wales, Izzy from Scotland and me from England! After discussing the disappointing news of the referendum, we moved on to travelling. They had been on the road for a year now, cycling through Iceland and south Europe after they had been around the UK and Ireland. They were planning on visiting every country in Europe, maybe over the next two years! I was very impressed!
I learnt many tips from them, including good good camping food to have and living on a budget. They had an amazing daily of of just €6 a day. They only had been to six campsites on the entire trip, mostly wild camping and using Warmshowers. Wild camping is something I’ve always had on my list to do, but being on my own I’ve never been brave enough or had a reason to. However, with campsites a big daily cost for me, I’ll have to try it soon!
This was the first time since leaving the UK where I had sat down and had a proper conversation with other people from the UK. It did feel slightly unreal but was great to speak more than just a few words or either english or Italian!
They, like me had been leaving earlier to avoid the hottest parts of the day. With the sun still bright in the sky, we played a great card game called Backpackers. You had to travel around different continents, with hindering cards like love, money problems and travel sickness. A very appropriate game!
It was towards 5pm when we went our separate ways. The longest break of my entire trip so far I think! They were more relaxed and took their journey slower than me, with more rest days and longer breaks. I guess travelling by yourself means there are fewer reasons to stop and I normally just keep going! I decided I would slow down a tad and maybe even treat myself to a few more rest days!
They were heading the way I’d just come and I was going west where their had just been. Darren and Izzy were very inspiring and loved what they were doing! Visit www.cycle2conserve.com to follow their journey.
As I was leaving the vilage, some of the many pharmacies temperature displays said it was 41°c! I’m not sure it was quite that high, but was definitely around the 38°c point. The days are just so warm now and I still see locals wearing trousers!
Sleeping is an issue as well, finding even with the vents open and door flaps wide open its still too warm to sleep. My tent doesn’t have the option of just having the inner sheet so was sweating bucket loads during the night!