Day 33 Saturday 25th June 2016 99km (3023km in total)
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman
I think this is the first time I’ve ever thought “I wish it was cooler!” It definitely isn’t the perfect cycling conditions, with sunbathing probably the only activity which is enjoyable right now.
I woke up at 5am today, meaning it was cool and loverly. I wish it would stay like this all day!
Bakeries are the only shops open at this time, so I got a small loaf. It was considerably more expensive than I imagined but later found out it was a special artisan potato bread.
Waking up at this time does make you body clock go a bit out of sync, but riding through Pavia centre was amazing with only a very few cars on the roads. Often during the night and early hours, the traffic lights are a flashing amber rather than changing, giving everyone the right of way if it’s clear.
Starting early makes me feel I’m going much faster and by 11am I had reached Tortona, a place I had previous thought could be a possible destination for today. I found a McDonald’s meaning I could connect to the WiFi. I must admit I have never actually stepped inside a store, let alone bought anything but free WiFi is free WiFi! After saying yesturday I would take more breaks, I relaxed there on the grass until 12 when I visited the town centre with their Saturday markets in full swing.
For some reason, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a pair of sunglasses. I’ve always thought my eyes could cope but with the sun constantly so bright and cloudless skies, it was time to break the tradition and buy a pair.
I have just realised that I have now been cycling in Europe for just over a month! It definitely feels a long time ago since I was back in England, rushing around getting ready! I started wondering what my celebration should be? A rest day? A evening meal out? No, I decided to try my hand at wild camping.
After meeting Darren and Izzy yesturday, they made me realise I should give it a go soon. They had told me they had been camping in the wild for the past year and had never been told to move or had angry farmers knocking on the tent. They did have a good story though of pitching the tent in a field only to be woken up at 3am finding they had camped by water sprinklers and had a good soaking!
If I was with someone else I would be fine but travelling by myself I always been slightly put off. If it’s just you, you notice all the noises around you and can quickly think it could be a threat. I’m not usually that worried about being in unknown places but camping in the wild, in a foreign country is something I’ve been unsure about. However, there were no campsites or Warmshowers and I knew there would be places as I head back over the Italian alps.
The Italian alps I’m crossing are only really the tail end of the alps, going down to the coast. The highest mountain here is well under 2000 meters. The roads all seem to have had tarmac put down recently so are all very smooth.
Just before the alps came into view I was riding through many vineyards and golf resorts. It looked a popular region, and quite wealthy by the looks of the cars passing. Many villas and wine shops along the roads. Something I’ve noticed in Italy is even the big and expensive houses with smart range rovers, never look fancy from the outside. The walls are often pealing or colours which don’t stand out of the landscape. However, inside they are very different and plush.
As the evening approached I started to climb. Nothing major but long hills up the mountain sides. I kept an eye out for possible camping places but they all seemed too close to houses or in insight from cars.
After passing through the town of Voltaggio, the roads grew steeper and the houses soon disappeared. On a corner of the road I noticed a small track which was blocked off for cars. Going down it I found my perfect camping spot!
It was hidden from view and was surrounded by trees and bushed. It was obvious that it had been camped in before with a few cans and bottles lying around but was now deserted.
Around 8pm I set up camp, not wanting to be too keen just in case someone came. Although I was a little nervous, I knew no one would be around so made myself at home and got the water boiling!
Knowing I would be up early tomorrow morning, I went to sleep at 9pm.
Hear about my experience and a strange night visitor in tomorrow’s update!