Thursday, June 30, 2005

Day 48: To Molveno

As we left Torbole we had a neat bike track to the next town and this castle was perched above us. We were finally getting into some cool mountain territory and so we cool stuff to look at as we cycled.
The third photo is near the top of some switchbacks that we cycled up - there were 9 tornantes as they are called, and it was a good climb.
Photo four is a typical view that we had on this day - lovely villages nestled among and at the foot of the hills. The photo can't really do it justice, but we try!!
Photo five is of one of the tunnels we went through this day - some of the them were short and easy and some were 1km long and very loud and quite dark!!!
You can tell we like to be by the water, because the last two photos are of Molveno where we camped for the night - a really cool ski town - right on the lake. We spoke to a guy here who told us their hail was the size of golf balls and they had dented his car!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Day 47: Torbole - near Riva del Garda

Ciao from the top of the lovely lake. The first photo is of our coffee stop en route and you can see that it is quite hazy and difficult to see the other side of the lake. There were awesome hills one this leg - great to have such a lovely vista.

As we got closer to our destination the skies darkened and we had glorious thunder and lightning (Sandy loves this stuff) and didn't quite make it to campground before the heavens opened! Once the first downpour subsided we started to set up camp and then the rain started again and we couldn't believe it when we got hail (see second picture - about the size of moth balls). It was still a very warm 25° so it was quite funny to have hail - we put on our helmets while we set up the tent in case we got hit!!! Anyway, the weather cleared and heated up so we could have a swim soon after!!! But the thunder and lightning did continue all evening and it was AWESOME. We had forked lightning and sheet lightning.

There were a lot of cyclists and mountain bikes in this area and Carl was pleased to see Cannondales everywhere. Also lots of windsurfers and surf boards around, so the place was hopping. The last photo was taken near where we were swimming in the afternoon - this looks in the direction of Riva del Garda.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Day 45-46: Lazying in Lazise

Well we had a day up our our sleeve so we biked the shortest day yet at 24km to Lago di Garda, the largest lake in Italy. We had very hot days again, and on our day off it was 36° in the shade. We were glad of the lake and the swimming pool. Here are a few shots of our time there. Next blog we will have a good story to tell you about weather . . . . .

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Days 43-44: to Verona

Well the temps have now reached new heights - we have cycled on a 33° day and then a 34° day next day. We are thankful that many of our campgrounds have swimming pools . . . .

We stayed south of Padova and had a wee treat as we headed up a hill near a place called Teolo. There were lots and lots of cyclists at the base of the hill and coming back down the hill and we actually passed one or two going up the hill . . . at the top we stopped for a drink and had a chat with a few of the locals (getting better at our Italian) and found they were all out for a training ride. It was great to talk with them, and they seemed impressed with our set up!!! It was also great to cruise down the other side of the hill that we had ridden up.

We cycled 100km into Verona and upon arrival found that our Romeo and Guiletta campground could still get us tickets to the Opera - we just had to be ready within the hour!! You can see below that we made it in time.
We saw Aida - it started at 9.15 and finished about 1am, and was FANTASTIC.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Days 40-42: Very Nice Venice

Well we finally made it to Venice after a long day of 140km. The first 70km were lovely - riding on tree lined, shady roads with reasonable traffic. The last 30km or so getting into Venice were not so great. For one stretch it was like riding along the motorway in Wellington toward the Hutt Valley and then seeing a sign at the last minute that meant we had to head up the Nauranga Gorge. . . anyway, us and 5 bus loads of Kontiki travellers rocked on in to a great camp ground.

From our tent we could look across the lagoon at the heart of Venice and it was a quick 20min trip by ferry from just outside the camp - very spoilt. Following are a selection of shots that we took - I think we took at least 50 photos in one day!!!! Wes, Nik, Carolyn, Anita, Sandy's folks might recognise some of them. Perhaps not the last one - this was a cruise ship leaving town.

Getting into Venice also brought up our 2200km and only 3 wet days. We have had a continuous run of sunny hot days since our rain in Hèvis. Feeling very fortunate, esp when we get messages from home.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Days 38-39: Ciao from Italia

We are very excited to be in Italy!!! We have hit the 2000km mark now and when we got into Trieste we found our campground was set high above the city so we could look down on the city morning and night (see first photo) We spoke to some locals (our travellers Italian class is working) at the campground who actually have homes in the city but in the hottest part of summer they come up to campgrounds in the hills to sleep because the temp difference can be between 5-12° cooler up there.

This next shot is for Bella - Trieste is a real scooter city!! (Italy is a scooter country from what we have seen) People were scootering around in business suits and casual gear, whatever. This is just an example of a small parking lot of scooters - there were many, many more. It was great to see them all lined up at traffic lights . . .

We left Trieste after a day and headed to lovely Aquileia - one of the four main Roman cities. Our campground had this nice pool for some reason Carl wasn't required to wear a bathing cap. In the background you can see the tower from the Roman church in the town. The third photo was next to our campground - these are the remains of what was once the Roman port.

The last photo is Carl's first cappucino in Italy - we have been missing our Caffe L'Affare coffees.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Day 37 - last day in Slovenia - Postojna

We had a short day of riding to savour our last day in Slovenia. Again we enjoyed beautiful scenery and forest riding and a blue sky sunny day. Our campground was set in the bush and we found ourselves a nice terraced spot - not much grass but it was a great spot! In the afternoon we visited some great caves. They are 200,000 years old and we went about 5km through them on a train that made us feel like we were in Disneyland! We did get to do some walking though - the temp is a constant 8° or so in there so it was good to be forewarned to take something warm.

This first photo is a good example of some of the bike routes we get in the cities - this was Ljubljana as we headed out of town. You can see we also get our own little bike light alongside the pedestrian light.

The second is of Predjama Castle - built in a cliff and has stood since 1201.

The third photo was a great treat - we had left the castle and were thinking it was about time we found some morning tea. We were in the middle of nowhere significant, but as we cycled into this tiny wee village we spied the bakery truck in a driveway, so there was our morning tea!!! It also gave the locals a wee giggle.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Day 35 - 36: Beautiful Bled

On Friday, we jumped on a bus from Ljubljana for Bled, which is a beautiful lake and castle in the Julian Alps. We climbed up to the castle which is pictured in the first photo (this is taken from our gondola);
and then we took the second photo of the church and island from the castle - this is what we visited via gondola;
at the church on the island you can ring the bell and supposedly you get what you wish for, so see you in October 2006
the next photo is taken outside the church looking back toward the castle and township
the gondolas look like little junks returning from a day of trade . . . .
Carl ate both of those Kremna Rezina "Park" cakes on his own . . . (yeah right)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

For Sandy's Mum

This is a picture from Slovenia as an example of the lovely flower pots they have in front of their homes. We also found plenty of these in Hungary and Italy - lots of beautiful hanging baskets and all colours and shapes. The front lawns are not normally overgrown/natural but this is one that I could stop in front of at short notice!!!

Days 33-34: Loving Slovenija, made it to Ljubljana Today

The trek through Slovenija continues! It is a lovely green country and quite hilly. Yesterday we set off from Ptuj to Läsko, which is the source of Läsko beer. We climbed a number of reasonable hills to get there - the toughest a 14% incline, and we got to descend a 16%. We eventually arrived at Celje and found a lovely quiet road following the river valley to Läsko, but unfortunately the track ran out after a few km, while we gazed around looking for our next move a guy appeared on a mountain bike going our way, he didn't speak a word of English, but we communicated to the point that he indicated that we should follow him - well we all pushed our bikes up this really really steep hill, that wound itś way up the side of the valley, so after much puffing we made it to Läsko just before a thunder storm arrived. Today was a similarly beautiful ride now following the Sava river to Ljubljana, although we started our day with a respectable climb to get us warmed up. We arrived at our camp and got set up again just before a massive thunder storm with awesome lightning - sounds great in a tent!

The first photo is a view of L from the castle up on the highest hill;
Second is of the Triple Bridge in the town square along with the tourist train that does a loop of the streets and up to the castle (yes we did ride this because Sandy was very keen!!!)
Third is the equivalent of our $2 shop in NZ.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Days 30-32: From Hungary to Slovenia

Well we have moved on to a new country! On Sunday we left Hévís behind and headed south to Lenti, which is near the south western border with Slovenia. Yesterday morning we crossed the border into Slovenia and headed for Ptuj. This is a lovely town on the River Drava. We are back to riding on roads again (rather than cycles paths) which is faster, but always has more risks!
Slovenia feels very different to Hungary, it is a bit more affluent which is evidenced in the look of the houses, car and towns. The country side is very green and rolling - we are getting some hill workouts now on the bike.
We are staying in a camp ground attached to the Ptuj Termal Spa. So we have been soothing our weary bodies with hot pools and saunas. Have got lots of cool photos which we will put up when we get to Ljubljana (in a few days time).

Here we are with a view of Ptuj (pronounced Pitew)
The second view is of a church that we cycled up to but we can't remember the name of it at the present time - it was noted on the map as a church of signifance too!!
The third photo is us trying to capture the lovely countryside that we cycled through but it is hard to do the country justice with a photo . . . .
The last one is of Sandy coming out with our typical daily lunch - baguette, ham, cheese etc, drink and maybe some other treat . . . . . .

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Days 26-29: Lake Balaton Area (also see note about changes to the website)

We've headed South from Budapest to Lake Balaton, which is apparently the largest lake in Europe. Anyway, we arrived at the North end of Balaton Wednesday afternoon, and soon after setting up camp the rain started (first we've had) and it rained solidly for two days, yesterday we rode in the rain all day - 1o7km to get us to Hévis which is the home of the largest Thermal lake in Europe! So with all the rain we did not see Balaton in it's full glory.
Today we spent the morning swimming (it has stopped raining) in the amazing milky blue-green water of Lake Gyógytó, which bubbles out of the ground at the rate of 80 million litres a day (will post some photos in a few days). The water is slightly radio active and supposed to cure stuff. It was not really hot, about 28C, and 33C in the centre. Anyway we are revitalised for the journey ahead!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Days 23-25: Budapest

I made Carl model his orange and black ensemble as we waited for the ferry (background) to take us over to an island for a 15km ride.
We are now in Budapest and it rocks!!! We are having so much fun here. On the Pest side is Parliament which was built in the 1900s, and the 3rd shot is the Buda side of the Duna.
Carl is enjoying the view of the Duna from the Citadel on the Buda side, then we enjoyed the Grand Market (inside and out)
These are just a few of the cool things we have seen here.