We’re home again. Got back to “The County”just before nine last night, feeling a little more than tired because it was nearly three o’clock Rome time. The trip to the airport was traumatic (a whole separate story), the flight was long (three movies and most of a season of “Big Bang Theroy”), and then the drive home at the tail end of rush hour. We woke up at four, sleeping done.
This was a cycling holiday. We’ve done a lot of cycle touring and feel pretty good at it. Our tandem has well over thirteen thousand kilometers on it. J and I make a pretty good team and I’d have to say that the distances we had put in front of us for this trip seemed pretty tame with the longest day just around eighty kilometers.
What we had not imagined, before getting to Tuscany, were the hills. The first day we hit the base of he hill to the town of San Gimigmano totally unprepared for what was ahead. The day was hot, the sun was beating down, our water bottles were nearing empty, the bike was not shifting into first gear, and even though we had only come forty five kilometers from Sienna, we were not mentally prepared for what was ahead. We made it though. Three kilometers of hill at eight kilometers per hour (at best).
After that day, we got better every day. The bike was set up on the morning of day three giving us back the low gear and after day six we stopped carrying our luggage. Most important, though, was knowing a little better what was ahead, being mentally prepared to put our heads down and pedal.
It was worth it! The vistas from the tops of the hills and from the medieval walls were amazing with their patchwork of fields and forests. The narrow streets of these walled towns with their eight hundred year old churches were the stuff of novels and history books. It was particularly cool to be a little bit off of the path of the regular tourists in these smaller old towns.
Rome, at the end of the trip, provided a real contrast in terms of people and tourists. It’s really not hard to imagine Martin Luther’s disenchantment with the church and its hierarchy. I’m sure Wittenberg in Germany wasn’t all that different from some of the hill towns we visited. The contrast between them and Rome, with its over the top glitz and glamour would be enough to really impact any devout monk.
We saw the Colosseum, the Vatican, St Peter’s, and the Sistine Chapel because it would just seem wrong to leave Rome with having stopped at these highlights, but the long lines and the crush of people made enjoying these spectacles tough. These places will not be the things we talk about first. They seemed more like obligatory stops along the way.
On the way home we talked about the next adventure….not sure yet.