Europe Day 6

Another day of journal entries. Some people have had trouble dealing with the length of the posts, so I’m trying to keep them smaller, but there haven’t been many natural places to break them recently. Anyway, these entries cover through the end of Day 6, the first day on the bikes. They were written after we had made it to Florence, so I suppose some of the “will they die or won’t they?” drama is taken away already. Oh well. When this was written we still had the bikes, and were (as far as I know) still intending to drive them to Rome, so the anti-bike sentiment is quite real, and quite pronounced throughout, I think. There are pictures as well. Anyway, enjoy:

Day 6

it’s Sunday, about 9:30 local time. We’re camping (like, real camping, with tents). I’ll try to catch up to where we are, but that’s quite a bit.

When last I had written, we had just gotten our bikes, gotten our stuff, and were on our way. In typical fashion, the route was not planned, and we drove around for a while. I was riving one of the bikes, and was being directed. Eventually we ended up on a highway, doing about 110-120 kph, which on a bike with 2 people and 80+ pounds of gear held on by bungee cord strapped to the back is insane. (insane –> No, not like “radical” or “sweet”. More like : What the hell do you think your doing!? You’re going to die and it’s your own damn fault.) So we finally get off the highway, and we still aren’t sure where we are, and I pull off onto this gravely driveway, try to slowdown, and we slide, then tip. and fall over. I get the bike up enough to get my leg out, which was pinned, but it takes a little more work to get Maryrose’s leg out. We’re but up a bit, and I’m pretty sure I messed up Maryrose’s ankle, but she won’t say anything about it. we also took a healthy gouge out of the driveway. I’m cursing the bike to the 4th or 5th circle of hell when Mindy and Becky show up (somehow they had chosen to take the same exit as us… which was fortuitous.) We get going again with Mindy now in the lead, and drive for a while and things are seeming to go okay… then the road is closed, we get off, and end up going in circles for quite some time. Eventually, Mindy has us pulling a U-turn on this country road, and i spill the bike again… That might have been when I fubarred my left wrist. I hated these bikes before, now I just want them to die. We continue on for a while, more driving in circles.. eventually she stops, and we decide to ask for directions. [This whole eventually we stop phrase will be repeated frequently. It means we drove around in circles for a long time for no reason, with frequent turnarounds, and the occasional pause to look at a map in a futile attempt to make it look like they knew where they were going. I can’t tell you how much I don’t enjoy things like that. some of you know of my trouble with getting lost on occasion in the past, and it’s for that reason that whenever I’m going somewhere unfamiliar I make damn sure I know where I’m going, and how to get there. It just seems to make sense to me that if you’re in a foreign country, you chart out where you’re going before you leave, rather than having a rough guess of where you want to end up, then just taking off on your bike and expecting to not get lost instantly. I consider myself a patient man, but with each of these “I don’t even know where we are” incidents, my desire to kill rose significantly.]

So we ask for directions, and eventually this one guy told us to just follow him for a while, which we did, and we got back on the road we wanted. Around now Maryrose started driving, and I started riding.. which I was fine with, cause I hated those damn bikes, and she didn’t seem to hate them as much. So we drive along this rode for a while, and much of the time we’d have cars showing up behind us, pausing for a second or two, then passing by us quickly, sometimes really near us. (like, a foot). the road we were on would go from farming/rural areas, then hit a town for a little while (stoplights, all that jazz) then back to farmland.

It was time or lunch, and we headed in to this restaurant, and a kindly old lady walked up to Maryrose and said “spreken zie deutch?”. “No.. espanol?”, Maryrose replied. “Si..si!” the old lady happily replied, and they started talking Spanish to each other. I’m not sure what all it was about, but I’d assume at least some of it had to do with how handsome I am. So we got some nice authentic Italian dishes (I had ravioli something something.. it was pretty good.)

Afterwards, Maryrose got some directions from the woman, and the rest of the restaurant staff, who all seemed excited to be able to communicate with her. so we got back on the road, which at this point was fairly highway like, and traffic jammed.

Two things: 1) I have to eat more fruit when I get back to the states, cause that nectarine I just had was pure heaven.

2) Two girls came up and saw this little keyboard PDA dealie, and thought it was “fucking rad”. The seemed like nice girls. I’ve got to find me a girl that’s impressed with technology, and I might have a shot at not dying a virgin.

Okay, so we do the highway thing for a while, and we hate it.. but eventually it calms down, and we’re doing fine. [My memory is getting a bit hazy, it was a few days ago.] We go for a while, then hit another town, and we either stopped to get gas, or stopped to figure out where we were going or something, but when we tried to turn right to get back on the main road, Maryrose and I spilled again. I quick pulled the bike up and got it to the side of the road, as oncoming traffic was approaching. A Kindly old man standing near by said in Italian something.. then made a cross with his hands, and pointed, and Maryrose figured out eh was saying something about a Red Cross being just down the street, but at the moment I was more concerned about the bike. After the first fall the alignment was a little bit off, but not too bad. The alignment was pretty far out of whack at this point. which isn’t good. If Maryrose’s ankle wasn’t messed up before, it was now, though I think she was trying to play it off like it wasn’t. As for me, I had a little scrape on my knee, and pretty nice rip just above my ankle, and it felt like my ankle was sprained. I’ve messed up my ankle enough times playing basketball to know that this one wasn’t too bad, but it was going to hurt like hell for a few days. The rip above my ankle hurt a lot more than I expected it too, though. Not sure if it was because of the sunburn, or because at that point of my leg it’s pretty much just bone. I dunno. Anyway. I didn’t care much about going to the Red Cross.. so we got back on the bike, and I prayed that it was undriveable so we could just get a hotel room get rid of the damn bikes, and bus/train to Florence, then Rome. Not such luck. The bike shook pretty violently at lower speeds, but once we got it up past forty it settled down a bit.. but the alignment was really really off. we continued on our way…

it was getting towards evening, and there was no way in hell I was going to be on these bikes when it was dark out [I said to myself… casually disregarding the fact that I said there was no way in hell I’d ride a motorcycle in the first place] So we decide to look for a camp site. We hit the town that supposedly had one, and after driving around we eventually ask someone for directions. A guy on a motorbike tells us to follow him, and we go zipping around the city for a while, and sure enough, we end up at a camp site. [Little signs with pictures of tents and everything.] We find the guy in charge [ or he at least works there], and they talk to him, and find out that we can not, in fact, set up tents there.. it’s one of those No tent campsites. So the signs with the pictures of tents was just to trick gullible Americans I guess. Italy gets the finger. So he brings us to a large map, and points to a place further down that main road we were on, and says there’s a camp site there. So we get back on the road, and head out. I hate those damn bikes

We rode for another 20-30 minutes, and made it to the town that had the camp site just as the sun was setting. We proceed to drive around the town…. and drive around the town…. and drive around the town…. and drive around the town… Finally Maryrose tells Mindy that we need to pull over and ask for directions. Mindy nods, and drives around the town. It’s now dark out, and neither one of th bikes has working lights. We continue to drive around the town.

So we’re driving around the town, and Maryrose says [again] “we need to stop and ask someone” So we do eventually stop, and the guy has no idea where a camp site is, so we they ask about a Hotel, and he gives directions for that. we head off, and drive around the town…. and drive around the town At this point Maryrose is holding down the “passing [bright?] lights, which do seem to work. And I’m glad, cause it’s dark out, and we’re going to die. We drove around that town for a LONG time before finally reaching (purely by accident, I’m forced to believe) a 3 star Hotel “Air One”. We stop, and Maryrose and I hop in, get a room, park our bike, then head on in, with Mindy and Becky meeting us in the elevator (where were then went to every wrong floor before hitting out own.) We got into our room, and behold it was very good. We all took showers, Maryrose put some first ate stuff on my wounds [we had conveniently stopped to figure out where we were going right next to a pharmacy once, so Maryrose hopped in and bought some stuff.] I ate a half a million almonds, then wrote for a while, and then tried to sleep. Every time I closed my eyes it felt like I was still on the bike, and it sucked. I did not sleep well.

I think we’re going to head out to see more of Florence now, but I’m only about two days behind now. Hopefully I’ll catch up more this evening. Oh yeah, you’re allowed to just walk around drinking alcohol everywhere here. It’s kinda neat.

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