Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Been Awhile!

We just got back on Tuesday (morning, about 2:30 am, ugh!) from our Italy trip. I've started typing up my daily journals from the trip, and putting the entries (with photos of course, I think I only took about 4,000 of those!) up on my Blue Skies Blog. It was definitely the trip of a lifetime.

I did haul my running shoes all the way over there, with the idea that I'd take an early morning run in Rome, maybe down to the Circus Maximus (jet lag nixed that idea, unfortunately) or somewhere along the way, but realistically we were just too busy! So I hauled those running shoes back home and did go for a jog on Tuesday, and probably will hit the pavement again today.

The second week of our trip was the biking portion, and that all went amazingly well (even if you count in the times we got lost and the times we had to push the bikes and trailers up the steep hills of Tuscany!). We biked 165 miles that week from Asissi to Firenze (Florence) with all of our gear. The kids were real troopers, even on those unexpected side trips and detours. They were very excited to get on the bikes each and every day and see what the day would unveil to us. We cycled through vineyards where the grape harvest was in full swing, and ate lunch under shady olive groves.

Everyone in Italy was extremely friendly and helpful when we were on the bikes. The drivers were amazingly courteous (American drivers, please take note!) Even on narrow windy roads, a truck or car would follow us for miles at our 15 mph until they could safely pass, with nary a honk or unfriendly attitude. Though they drive very fast (compared to here) and seem to take road signs and lane lines with a much more liberal interpretation, the drivers there are very aware of everything around them (scooters zooming around the edges of the lanes, pedestrians stepping out, cyclists on the roads). We got loads of people slowing down and shouting out Bravo! or Complimento! out the window to us. A far cry from many drivers here who will just see how close they can come to you without knocking you off your bike.

One regret I have is that on the last day of our vacation, we were in San Giovanni Valdarno and that morning they were having a bicycle race on the "strada bianca" or white gravel roads of the area. There were six racers staying at the same place we were, loading up on pasta the night before. There were race options from 38k to 200k, and I would've loved to have seen it. Well, truth be told after cycling on all of those roads with the kids on the tandems, I was about burning up with jealousy for those bike racers, I wanted so badly to snap my fingers and have my own trusty bike appear, get on it, and roll out over those beautiful hills and valleys myself! Maybe some year I will go back...

But for now, we had an excellent time. I'll be putting up our detailed experiences on my other blog, and the kids are definitely hooked on bicycle touring, which was one of our goals in this whole thing. We are thinking that next summmer we may tour down the U.S. west coast on the tandems. We could easily haul our camping gear as it wouldn't weigh any less than the luggage we were hauling there (even though we managed to fit all of our clothes for four people for three weeks into two carry-on sized suitcases!)


TriGirl 40 (okay - 41) said...

What an amazing sounding trip! I snuck over to your other blog - and loved hearing about your first day. Looking forward to the next installments. Would love to tour Italy by bike someday, though I'd probably have to put my husband in the sidecar!

tinaparker87 said...

I'm glad you had the trip of a lifetime and the fact you are back to write!

Cannot wait to see the pics:)