Thoughts and tales from the saddle - on my own in Europe.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day 141 - Foligno - Central Italy

I hit a bit of a low on the West coast of Italy. I did like it - the food, the scenery, the sea - just something didn't feel quite right. For the first time on this trip I really felt like an outsider, looking on but not interacting, a bit of a spare part.

Maybe it was all the Italians on holiday together, maybe it was just me having a five-month low, I don't know. It all came to a head in a little dead-end port of a town about halfway down the Tuscan coast. I don't even know why I rode there - I hate cycling back over roads I've already been on, especially when I arrive going downhill, and it was a proper dead-end. The only way out was back up the hill or over to Sardinia on the ferry. I felt desperate. My rough plan for Italy had fallen apart in my mind - sticking to the West coast all the way then crossing to the East for a ferry to Greece would take me ages and I couldn't handle any more of this coast. Plus, crossing the country seemed like an impossibility - all those mountains and hills in this heat? No way!

I checked to see if I could get a ferry from Sardinia to Greece, or even just the East coast of Italy. I couldn't. I felt lost. I found myself waiting for a car rental place in the port to open after lunch. If I could, I was going to hire a car for two days and drive over to the port on the East coast. That was decided in my mind. I'd 'done' Italy. I needed to get to Greece, to get on with the rest of this trip, give myself a chance of getting up to Scandinavia before Winter.

Thankfully, they didn't have any cars. I went back to town, found somewhere to stay and went out and walked the streets aimlessly. Passing a bookshop, I instinctively went in - maps, always need maps. They had the two that I needed for the rest of Italy and I figured, riding it or driving it, I would need them, so I bought them. I walked some more, went and looked at the sea for a while, then went to a bar for a beer.

Marco, the owner, was the only other person in there. I sat at the bar and looked around - nice place, a bit like a pub, Irish stout on tap - I liked it. Marco and I started talking. He was interested in my trip and particularly keen to show me where to go in Tuscany. We got my new maps out and I explained that I was a bit lost for a plan, didn't know what I was doing, where I was going. Marco's friend, Antonio, came in and looked over the maps with us, putting in his Euros worth of places to visit. Half an hour later I had a pretty decent and, more importantly, realistic-looking, route across Italy to Ancona, from where I could get a ferry to Greece. My dream of cycling from the Portuguese Atlantic to the Adriatic, hatched at 'Decision Beach', was still alive. I had another pint, then some dinner and went back to the hotel - I had to ride the next day. I had a plan now.

I rode the next day with feelings of freedom and enjoyment that had been missing for previous week or so. I couldn't believe how close I'd come to copping out, cheating, taking the easy route. 'Hire a car?' I thought to myself, 'Are you mad? You're so close! You have the opportunity here, right now, to achieve something! Get on with it!'

I am currently about two days ride from Ancona, and the Adriatic. I have to take a boat there, to get to Greece, but I will have made it all the way from the Atlantic, from Decision Beach, on two wheels, powered only by my two legs and a bit of gravity.


  • At 3:33 pm, Blogger Roger said…

    HIRE A CAR??!?!?

    wash your mouth out young man, how dare you use such language in front of the delicate eyes of your loyal band of blog readers.

  • At 7:55 am, Anonymous pete said…

    Way to not break under the strain young Percy! :o)

    I'll be on Siros from the 6th to the 14th of August if you're passing? We'll be in Athens for as long as it takes to say "Poo, its a bit hot and stinky here!" then off in a taxi to the ferry port and a nice leisurely four hour cruise to one of the less popular islands.

  • At 10:35 am, Blogger Mike said…

    Ahhh good old Decision Beach - (faraway in time) - when you turn this into your book / album that has to be title no?

    Well done Percy - keep up the good work.

  • At 1:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm proud...

    ... bike on, dear dipper, bike on!


  • At 10:59 am, Blogger Anonymiss said…

    Nice one, P!


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