Geneva to Rome #4
Its been a while since my last post and it most certainly feels like I'm worlds away from Corsica. I'm writing from Trebinje, Bosnia after a couple of tough but rewarding weeks biking across Italy and Croatia. Last I wrote Phil and I left Corsica and ferried to Livorno, Italy. From there we squeezed into our bike shorts, downed an espresso and promptly biked to Pisa. The ride was only ~20 miles but we immediately noticed the stark difference between French and Italian drivers. Not only were they more aggressive toward bicyclists, they don't seem to care much about road rules in general. To make things even more exciting most of the roads in Italy are deplorable. Oh how I could digress into my pavement preferences after this trip!! While the adjustment to Italian roads and drivers was rattling, Pisa actually turned out to be one of our favorite places in Italy. Maybe it was the gelato, maybe it was the campground with actual TOILET PAPER (France if you're listening, WTF is up with your “No Toilet Paper” policy??), maybe it was just the relief that we made it out of Livorno. In total we spent about a week (with two days off) crossing from the Mediteranian Sea to the Adriatic Sea by way of Florence, and Arezzo. We could have done without Florence and its massive hordes of tourists, but I will say the Duomo was absolutely mind bending. The road between Arezzo and Ancona offered up some serious elevation gains, gravel roads and tough days but fortunately we found ourselves well taken care of by Warm Showers hosts. Finally, on October 9th we not only reached the Adriatic Sea but we passed our thousand mile mark. I won't lie, as I saw the sea I felt a swell of pride. I have never in my life biked this far or attempted any athletic feat of this nature. It was never a dream of mine to cycle around the world, in fact this is only the second trip on a bike that I've ever taken...the first being a three day trip around Vermont last summer. But, I got on a bike in Geneva and I somehow made it across Italy, pushing myself day by day across the arc of the earth. I was and I am proud of us. Though I've had some days where I've questioned my own sanity, I've felt the accomplishment of traveling and exploring outside of my comfort zone, and that alone has been worth it.
Our decision to travel to Croatia started as a “what if?”. Niether of us knew very much about Croatian biking, and we weren't sure if we'd have the time to travel across the Adriatic. I can say now that we've made it here I'm extremely happy that we decided to go for it. Croats have been hands down the nicest people we've met on our travels, and Croatia has offered up some scenery that has rivaled Switzerland and Corsica. As an added bonus we bumped into some cycle touring Kiwis on the ferry and ended up splitting an Air BnB with them in Dubrovnik a couple days later. Encountering other like minded bikers has been one of my favorite parts of this whole adventure, especially when you have time to trade stories. I have seen every type of cycler on this trip; older couples, young couples, single men and women from all over the world with all types of gear and from all walks of life. We've met people staying in hotels every night zooming along with e-bikes, to travelers with zero money wild camping and cooking every meal. It has given me a special glimpse at a whole group of people that I would probably never encounter otherwise. After parting ways with the Kiwis we spontaneously decided to divert our route into Trebinje, Bosnia. Southern Bosnia is beautiful but it offers up some reminders of what life is like in a country still suffering from the affects of a terrible war. Biking out of Dubrovnik and into Bosnia we enetered into a large forrested area that was unihabited. We passed many crumbled villages and eventually came upon a sign warning us that the area we were biking through still had thousands of active land mines beyond the safety of the road. Phil and I were quiet for a lot of the ride, no doubt engrossed in our own thoughts about what we were seeing. The war in Bosnia ended in 1995, and I know that witnin the last two days I've interacted with people my own age who were deeply affected by it. How differently we've grown up, and how differently we must perceive the world.
Phil and I only have a couple more weeks of this adventure before we fly out of Rome on November 1st. The days have been long and the weeks have flown by in a flurry of campgrounds, pizzas, dotted white lines and kilometers. Tomorrow we bike to Kotor, Montenegro, and then perhaps to Albania. My eyes are bleary as I write these lines and its only 8:30pm, but I know tomorrow I'll get up ready to see what this next day has to offer on the road.....