See the section for Europe of the Trento Bike Pages.

London to Rome

By Wayne Wakeman (wakeman@lamar.ColoState.EDU), September 1995
This is the one-file version. You may want to browse the various sections instead: or see the Index.

4 July 95

My plane left Portland early in the morning. I had a short flight to Atlanta and a long one to London's Gatwick airport. So much for a 4th of July. Today only lasted 15 hours. I got to London early on the 5th.

5 July 95

I made it. I am at Cristin's flat. I just had breakfast at Leigh St. Cafe; the 'Full English Breakfast' - 2 grisly bacons, a sausage, beans(like Van Camp's pork & beans) and 2 eggs (over-easy?). I ate most of it and washed it down with Vimto soda!

6 July 95

What a day yesterday was! I stayed up until late last night which was almost two days straight. Cristin's roommates, er, flatmates are really cool. In no particular order:

James from Montreal, Canada
Bridget from Memphis, TN
Adam from Kentucky
Creighton from Virginia
Aileen from Maryland
Dawn from ?

Bridget and I ran around town yesterday. We picked up a package she sent to herself 7 weeks ago. Then we went to the theater. She has a theater degree and that is the kind of thing I would never do on my own. We saw 'A Passionate Woman'. It was okay, I guess. The best part was the really old, ornate theater where it was at.

That night we had a dinner party. They invited some English friends. I learned the Ricycle (Rice Krispie) trick. You stick your head in the cereal box and coat your tongue with Ricycles. HA!

It is 5 am now and I am wide awake.

9:30 After everyone has showered, I get my turn. They had this bizarre control box to control the shower instead of just hot and cold knobs.

I rode my bike carefully over to Condor Cycles to borrow a pump and fill my tyres to a more acceptable level. I also gave in and bought a Cateye cycle computer for #25. I busted the old bracket when I put on the handlebar rack at Victoria station. It still worked but this one is much more reliable.

After I installed the computer and removed my racks, I rode around a bit. It is a little scary but very fun. I am getting much better about being a part of traffic and navigating on the go.

I took the tube to Westminster after that. I saw the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. They were cool - so huge but so detailed and intricate. Westminster Abbey is across the street. They are renovating the outside so it pretty ugly. I went inside, though, and was stunned by the magnificence of it. It is huge and a truly gothic design. I paid the student admission (#2 cheaper) and walked through the place. Amazing. So many dead people with huge monuments. There were so many little nooks and crannies. It took forever to explore the place but I was enchanted for every bit of it. People buried there include Henry VII, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Robert Browning. There were also alot of monuments to people that weren't buried there. Lawrence Olivier had a stone dated 1989. What a contrast to all the 18th century dates.

After that, I walked by the Tower of London and across the Tower Bridge but was too tired and cheap to go inside.

Creighton took me to a cool bookstore. They had many cool, cheap books. They also sold internet access - #3/ 30 min. I am going to head back there and e-mail everyone at home.

7 July 95

Slow day - I went with Cristin to get her National Health Security # or something like that. It means she will be able to get insurance in Britain anytime she ever works here. We stopped by Bond St. to turn in her work timecard.

We went to Camden Market. I got a pair of oxford Dr. Martens. They were #40 but I get #7 back if I leave the country with them...meaning I will have to ship them from France. They are cool. I wore those and a 'Manchester University Football Club' t-shirt out tonight. The crew went to Friars & Fricken. We met up with some British people. Also some canadians and a drunk guy from Delaware. Good time though. Had a great hockey discussion. Might go to Stratford-upon-Avon tomorrow.

9 July 95

Did go to Stratford-upon-Avon. It was really nice. Took a very roundabout trainride to get there. London-Paddington to Reading to Leaminton Spa to Stratford. Saw the Reading Abbey ~12 century -OLD. Saw Holy Trinity church where Shakespeare was buried. Beautiful church, lots of stained glass. Had Beef & Ale pie at a pub and watched a bit of the Tour update. Indurain had a 49 second breakaway over the peloton. We got #5 standing room tix to 'Taming of the Shrew' at Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Creighton, James and Beth stayed the night. They didn't have a room - were just going to walk around all night. We caught a night bus back because the train was no longer running. Got home around 2:30.

10 July 95

After doing laundry, Bridget, Cristin, Aileen, and I went to an Indian restaurant for dinner. A nice one. It was a small, quiet back room, everything done up in pink. I had the HOT curry. Bridget had the mindlessly HOT! curry. It was such a good flavor but our eyes watered and noses ran. Wow. To cool off, we stopped at a pub on the way home. Most everyone had to work the next day and retired early. Aileen & I and Creighton watched part of a wildly surreal Soviet movie 'Come & See'. Absolutely bizarre. Oh - James had come home from Stratford earlier in the day and Crieghton & Beth returned that night. Apparently they slept in the Holy Trinity cemetery with only wine to keep them warm. I think James was on the verge of frostbite.

11 July 95

Oh my! I learned alot about bicycle touring today. If everyday is like this, I might not make it. Of course, I say all this as I relax in the TV room of the Moonrider's Rest youth hostel in Brighton, UK. I left the flat in London before 5am to beat any traffic. No problems. I was out of the central city in no time, only twice deviating a bit from my planned route. I followed the A23 towards Brighton. The first 60? km were great. The road was not unlike 99E; a busy road but not too bad to ride. Then it turned into the M23, even though it said it was still the A23. M meaning big freeway. But the shoulder was wide enough and I was doing alright. I even stopped on the side once to have a snack and lightly slept for 15 minutes. Then the flats started. First one was alright. I changed it quickly, put in the brand new tube and took off. My tire had been low on air from the beginning but I figured I couldn't get much more pressure if I tried. When I filled the new tyre, the pump had no problem getting almost enough air in. I remembered how to get it right. So I'm riding along the freeway and the tire slowly deflates again. It just slowly leaked out. I filled it up and kept going. Of course I didn't get very far but I didn't have much further to go either. I kept this up and just got frustrated. I was out of water as well. I don't know why I didn't just change the tube again. I wanted to get off the freeway. I took an exit, got to the service station, and loaded up on water before I started working. There was a hole in the tube so I changed it and got back on the road. Not far now. I took the turnoff for New Haven ~13 km. Pas de probleme. I get to the passenger ferry about 11:15 am. The last ferry left at 10:15; next one at 19:30. Damn, not getting to France today. I got a ticket for 10:15 tomorrow and start looking for somewhere to eat and rack. Nothing cheap. I thought about sleeping out of doors but ended up riding back to Brighton. It wasn't far and I found the hostel w/o much difficulty, thanks to an address and a friendly cycle hire man. Brighton is weird- a real carnival town. All along the pier are games and little race cars. People lie on the beach also. I might go down later. Starting Odometer = 14.3 km Ending Odometer = 155.3 Total = 141 km

Bonus notes:

12 July 95

Brighton to New Haven was 18 km. Made it w/o any problems. My front tyre was a bit low when I was at the hostel but I filled it and it seems okay. BTW Newhaven is the home of the Parker pen factory and the ferry port but is overall a dingy place. I just met three persons from Oxford cycling to Grenoble.

Rouen, FR - I have now cycled France. I did 30 km or so on the busy N27. Then a smaller road intersected it. I decided I wasn't here to tour the Highways of Europe so I took the small one. I found out soon after in Auffy that I lost my Kryptonite lock key. Merde! I had it in Dieppe! Oh well, I bought orange soda and animal crackers at the supermarche because I really didn't know what to buy and I had to hurry because my bike was unlocked.

I was starting to get mad because I could never figure out what road I was on. I finally figured out to not worry what road it was and just follow the signs pointing to the next town. Although I wanted to stop earlier, I pushed to Rouen. Looking at the Berkeley guide, their useless map wouldn't tell me how to get to the youth hostel (Auberge de la Jeunesse). So I picked a cheap hotel (100F or so) and headed that direction. On the way there, I saw a camping sign. What the heck, might as well. Although I thought I had lost it, it wasn't far away. 26F, not bad. I hope it isn't cold tonight.

I have a new idea. Ride to Versailles? tomorrow. On Bastille Day take the train to Paris and spend the night sans velo. I might not even sleep. The only problem is where to put the bike. Youth hostel? Bike shop?

The ferry had a Pontoon (Blackjack) table. It is 21 with screwy rules. I laid my #11 down (#1 min.) and went to work. (1) Dealer takes pushes. (2) Any 5 cards wins. (3) Dealer only takes one card until after everyone has concluded their hand. Bizarre! I lost quickly. Down to #1 several times. Then I built back up to #10.50 but lost it all after that. Oh well, it was fun.

Well I tried to use my French. I went looking for something to eat. EVERYTHING is closed. It isn't even 9:30. I found a bar. Hoping they had food, I went in. I got beer (F8.50) and tried talking to the barman. He was nice. He asked if I was German. All right. I said I was American. He was Algerian. We tried to talk. It went so-so. i left to look elsewhere for dinner. I finally found a little market and bought some briochettes, fromages, and a Heineken. Et voila, diner.

Okay, two more things. This town has the absolutely longest traffic lights in the world. I've started running them just out of boredom from waiting. Ending ODO = 257.9 Today = 102.6 km

13 July 95

Frustrated. The day started great but then it seemed I could never really get where I wanted. The worst was at Magny-en-Vexin where I realized I had been going north a bit instead of SE. Also I was needing water really bad and all the Patisserie lady could think of was mineral water (5 F each). I was so thirsty that I paid for water. At Magny, I lay down in frustration for 20 min. I got up and could not find a suitable way out of this town. I said 'What the Heck' and hit the N14 freeway. I had a tailwind and made great time but riding on a freeway with no shoulder sucked. I took an early exit and wandered, wondering if tonight was the night I would have to find a secret spot to rack in. I hit Meulan, which seemed like a pretty big city. I started to leave but after a few km, I knew it wouldn't get any better. Downtown, I finally found an ATM, and found a hotel for F85. Not bad for a private room. It is on the third floor above a bar. I carried my bike up the narrow circular stairs and then took a shower in the sink. I splurged a bit on dinner (Lasagne Boulognaise) and went to the Bar/Hotel for a beer. I spoke to the locals about my adventure and one man even bought me a beer. Vive la France! Then I went upstairs. OH, I also bought a map of France. I hope it helps. Cool things that happened today (that almost cancel out the bad parts): After taking some small road that probably led nowhere, I ran across (5 time Tour de France winner) Jacques Anquetil's chateaux. Whoa! There was a monument. I got a pic. -Also rode by Claude Monet's house in Giverny. There were many people there. -The other customer in the restaurant who saw I had a map and offered to show me where I needed to go. -My french is great when it works. Otherwise, they stare as blankly at me as I do them. Odometer = 384.1 Today = 126.16km

14 July 95 Bastille Day

I did it. I planned something and it worked. I rode to Versailles with only a little dallying in a banlieue (Paris suburb) and found L'Office du Tourisme. They showed me where the camping was and here I am. Now I take the train to Paris. Odometer = 438.9 Aujourd'hui = 54.8 km

I just got back from the feu d'artifice (fireworks). It makes me so proud to be Fr... err, I mean they were very cool. They played this hardcore classical music even before the fireworks began. And then everything was totally choreographed splendidly. Really was a good show. For me, it was the 4th of July since I missed mine.

Today was the opposite of yesterday. Started out bad - ended great. I had a little trouble getting here. Even then jets were flying overhead in formation. Then I got here, got set up and took the RER into Paris. Saw the Eiffel Tower, bien sur. It was so big, it was hard to get a good pic. Had lunch at an outdoor cafe. Le prix fixe. I had the plat du jour - spaghetti? Saw the Arc de Triomphe. Very cool. Walked down the Champs-Elysees. Even stopped at McDonalds, HA! Cheeseburger & Large Shake 17 francs. They did call it a Royale Cheese and you could buy beer there. Weird. Saw the Place de la Concorde. It began to rain so I headed for the Louvre. Saw many fine things including ... Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Nike (Winged Victory), and 'Liberty Leading the Masses'. Got kicked out because it was closing time. Hung out at Pompidou center. Took train back to Versailles.

I unloaded the bike and road into town (off the computer). Had a sandwich jambon (ham) and vin rouge at an outdoor cafe. While I was eating, I saw two Mormon missionaries walk by. I talked to them. They were from Florida & Utah, of course. Weird. Then fireworks and bed.

Bonus entry: My Manchester Football shirt worked again. In the Metro some huge guy walking past, taps me and goes, "OY! Great team!" He wore a football shirt also.

15 July 95

Hallelujah! I was in Paris today and it rained hardcore. I knew when I got back everything would be soaked. Wow! This cheapy little tent kept everything totally dry. Paris I went to La Cimitiere du Pere Lachaise and saw the final resting place of James Morrison (The graffitoed bust had been removed but it was still pretty cool; 2 guards; Best quote of the day: 'So what did he sing anyway' 'Omigod, don't even talk to me!" Were they American college girls or what? Also at Pere Lachaise: Moliere, Honore de Balzac, Eugene de la Croix, Victor Noir (a 22 yr old gigolo shot to death - His tomb has a statue of him. Apparently it is good luck to run the bulge in his pants. I didn't.) and Oscar Wilde (On the same subject, someone had broken off the symbolic stone penis from Oscar's tomb.)

Next stop - disappointment. My idea of the ideal gothic cathedral, Notre Dame, was not the great. First, it was covered in scaffolding. I climbed to the top of one tower on a Very Narrow Circular staircase. Up top many gargoyles were covered. Nevertheless I saw some gargoyles, the great bell (Quasimodo), and a good view. Then I went inside the nave with EVERYbody else. It was nice but had none of the history? beauty? of Westminster Abbey. C'est ca.

Escaped the rain in a quiet brasserie then headed for L'Institut Pasteur. The museum was closed today but I got some good pics.

Took the metro to the Eiffel Tower. Paid F12 to climb to the 2me etage, then F17 to take the lift to the top. It IS so Big! On the ride up, I kept thinking 'Okay, we are almost there' but we kept going up. At the top, ears were popping. Worth going up if you have the time to stand in line on the 2me etage.

Took the RER back to Versailles. I figured I should get back early to deal with all my wet stuff. Ha! Ate diner at the same cafe (discovered the Croque Monsieur) and biked around Versailles chateau.

Other notices -All around Paris were people who wanted to write my name on a piece of rice (for a small fee) That is not something I want. -Was B-I-N-G-O the dog's name or the farmer's name? -I like kilometres better than miles because they tick away quicker and it sounds like you went further.

16 July 95

I turned a short day into a long one. Got up at 8:30. Showered and paid F28 to run through Versailles and get some snapshots. It was neat and I would have regretted not going. Packed and headed for Chartres. Got a bit lost in an area that reminded me of Tualatin for some reason. Eventually got on track and got some miles down before it started to rain. Twice I had to hide in a doorway but never for very long. Made it to Chartres despite the wind. I could see the cathedral from miles away. I found the youth hostel and put on some pants to check out the church. I made it in time for the organ recital. It was very cool. The cathedral is huge. It is like Notre Dame but impressive. It also did not have all the tombs and what not of Westminster Abbey but that was alright. It was very dark and a little chilly or maybe that was just the sinister organ music that filled the nave. Looked around a bit, took some pics and headed back. There are several other bikers here. I had the dinner they offered for F30. I think it was duck, and though it totally looked like canned dog food, it wasn't bad. My table has an excellent view of the cathedral. Try for Blois tomorrow.

Other notes: -Saw the National Institute of Agricultural Research in Versailles (where I was going to work but it never worked out) -Saw another monument to Jacques Anquetil 1934-1987. Odometer = 538.9 Today = 100km

17 July 95

The windy day. I don't understand why the Loire is considered such great cycling country. Except for Blois, where I am now, and one small forest it was all flat, windy, wheat fields. It looked like Eastern Oregon with small stone buildings every 5 km. The wind was mostly at my right side until the last 10 km which were awful. But I made it and got to the hostel 2 hours before lock-out was up. Time for my witch book (The Witching Hour by Anne Rice). Another guy just cycled in. Chuck, from Vermont, is cycling from Spain to Paris. My right knee is swollen. I hope it holds up. ODO = 658.4 Today = 119.5

18 July 95

What a good day. I had planned to ride to Chateauroux and hope for a campground. Instead, I found a place 25 km before Chateauroux but just as close to the next stop (It is due west of Chateauroux). So I got here and got set up early. Actually the camp office didn't open until 2:00 so I grabbed some lunch. I had lamb and white beans. They weren't very good but then I asked for cheese and brought out a tray of 5 cheese. Mmmm, cheese. I don't know how much was an appropriate amount to eat but I ate alot of each. Wonderful. It wasn't terribly expensive either.

Another bonus - a swimming pool next to the campground. I put on bike shorts and headed over. Only they wouldn't let anyone in w/o the appropriate maillot. Which means I had to go buy one of those cheesy Robin Leach bikini suits. (F65) I spent a couple hours swimming and trying to get rid of my bizarre tanlines. ODO = 762.1 Today = 103.7

19 July 95

Another great day. I talked to my camp neighbors in the morning, a retired couple from Southampton, UK. They were SO impressed with my ride and kept wishing me well. I started riding and everything went really smooth. The terrain is getting prettier, a little more hilly and lots more green & foresty. After a short easy day, I saw a campsite at Lac du Mondon. It is gorgeous. I put on my bikini and headed for the lake with everyone else. By 4:00 there were even two topless women. Whoa! Odo = 841.1 Today = 79 km

Would you believe, not that I paid F90 ($20) for dinner, but that my dinner was well worth F90? I had a little seafood platter. I didn't really know how to eat it and made a mess. I had a wonderful beef, onion, potato, and sauce dish, another cheese wheel. (She cut some for me, instead of leaving it all) and a mousse a l'orange with plenty of Grand Marnier in the bottom. It was fabulous except they wouldn't bring me the bill. I finally called for it. Bon nuit.

20 July 95

I am so lucky. Okay, it was a short day anyway, but very hilly. I was most of the way to St. Junien anyway, but as I was going up a hill, this old guy honks and starts speaking to me. I thought he was going to two me up the hill. But he stopped. We loaded my bike in the back of his 4X4 and off we went. He didn't speak any English but we had a pretty good conversation. He rode mountain bikes, raised horses for equestrian, and played rugby for France when he was young. We went to his house in St. Junien and his wife fixed us a wonderful lunch. He even had me take a shower before. For lunch, we had cantaloupe, some fish in vinaigrette, beef and baked potatoes, cheese (roquefort & brie), Bordeaux wine, fruit juice and this ice cream/cake dessert. Everything was incredible. After he took me to his son's leather factory and showed me around. Interesting. And then he drove me to the youth hostel. That is the way to tour France! I got a newspaper with Tour info. Everyone is buzzed up about it. Odometer = 909.1 Today = 68 km

21 July 95

He did it! Lance Armstrong, 24, of Texas won the 18th stage of the Tour de France in grand fashion. A solo breakaway for a long time. Last 1/4 of the race? I was bursting. This is why I came to see the Tour. It really doesn't matter. Indurain retains the maillot jaune. (There was an entire young Spanish contingent singing his praises the entire day.) But to hear my country mentioned as the best of the day was great. And to see a guy with a background not too far removed from my own made me happy. I will probably never win another cycling race. He (likely) will never get a microbiology degree but we each are doing pretty good in our own fields.

Limoges is a big city. I got in and was pretty much lost. I floundered my way to the Office du Tourisme and they set me up with maps, directions, everything. As it turns out, the finish was very near the camping. I rode by early, while everything was being put together, then did laundry (finally), ate lunch, and came back. We waited for 3.5 hours in the hot sun. I was 26 metres from the finish line. There was a huge TV that broadcast the race live and a parade of sponsors down the course. I got cycling caps from Champion supermarkets and Coca-Cola. I was waiting for Novell to throw floppy disks.

The ride to Limoges went good except for one rear flat. I got up early to beat the sun. (When I stay in hostels, I get up at 7:00, in campings, 8:30. I don't know why the difference.)

Extra: -The latest fad must be these dumb-looking white canvas shoes with thick soles. I swear I can tell if a girl is attractive just by noticing if she wears these ugly shoes or not.

Odo = 977.7 Today = 68.6 km

22 July 95

It's raining today. I'm not going to ride the 40km to Lac du Vassiviere to see the time trial; I might not even go into town. Instead I am just going stir crazy in my tent.

Took the bus into town and watched 'Batman Forever'. I thought it would be subtitled but it was dubbed in French. I didn't understand much. Of course the visual was enough but I drifted off a little anyway. Funny to see all the Americans speaking French. Sometimes it worked, sometimes (Bruce Willis) it didn't. Odo = 977.7 Today = 0

23 July 95

Today started out fairly bad but got much better. As always, I had a hard time finding my way out of Limoges. It is always like that coming out of big cities. Immediately, there were two LONG hills; they weren't terribly steep but they went on and on. I figured the whole day would be hills like those but that was the worst of it. The rest was hilly, but after I had shaken off the lethargy of the previous few days, I caught a rhythm and couldn't be stopped. In Brive, the campground and youth hostel were close, so it was just a choice. I took the hostel. (Oh..the camping in Limoges was only F40 for 2 nights!) This hostel = F65 including breakfast.

I finished my book tonight. 1042 pages. I started it on the airplane. It ended, or rather didn't end, horribly. I don't know if I will read the next one or not. ODO = 1100.9 Today = 123.2

24 July 95

Oh man, were there a bunch of mountains today. It always happened like this...I would go along and then hit a long downhill into the next city, cross the bridge, and have to climb out of the little valley. It was hard, but today was a good cycling day. I went really far.

Tonight's youth hostel must have been some kind of dorm. I have my own small room with bed, dresser, desk, and sink, and heinous flower wallpaper. Yesterday I ended up with my own room also. ODO = 1238.9 Today = 138 km

25 July 95

The Massif have broken me. 3 things; A hard wind from the S and E; Always uphill; my damn chain is messing up. I made it to Rodez, the closest town big enough to have a gare(train station), and got a ticket to Beziers near the coast. I know I could have made it in 3 more days like today, but I was not enjoying it and vacation is to be enjoyed. Also I feel like I need to get to Italy. I just feel like everything would be much better if I could get away from these mountains.

There must be a university in this town. I have seen many young people and my room is like the 'College Inn' in Corvallis. It is nice - a toilet and shower in my room. ODO = 1316.3 Today = 77.4 km -Also, maybe I pushed too hard yesterday? -Okay, this is pretty funny. I went down to the TV room, watched some game show for a little then turned to the Family Feud, only it was called 'A Family in Gold'. After that I found a video channel playing old Rolling Stones, but they followed with Bon Jovi so I left. The French love Bon Jovi, I cannot understand why. -It is so weird talking to people who know about as much English as I know French. It becomes this bizarre mix of both languages yet it seems to work.

26 July 95

Today has been so completely different than any previous day but that is what I wanted. Took a bus from Rodez to Severac Le Chateau, then the train to Beziers. Although I anticipated the worst, the bike was no problem on either one. We got to Beziers just before 4:00pm. I knew I should stop for water but wanted to get out of town so bad I didn't stop. I could do the 30-40 km to Sete. Well, it was flat and the bike was working a little better, but the wind was truly hardcore against me. I started to wonder if I should just stop at the next camping. But I caught up to a guy on a trick Mt. Bike. We started working together and were doing 30 km/hr in a heavy wind all the way to Sete. I had forgotten that drafting really works. In Sete we split up. I had to get some water. I didn't stop during the way because I knew I wouldn't make it w/o this guy. Sete is a great city. It is on a narrow slice of land between a huge lake and the Mediterranean. It is full of canals and, of course, right now everyone is on vacation there. I stopped at the Office du Tourisme and finally ran into the July/August crux. There were no rooms or campsites to be had anywhere. I ended up riding 8km back the way I came to an absurdly expensive campsite (F115, more than I have paid for any hostel or hotel room). It is huge and is right across the highway from the sea. These people must make a fortune in the summer.

I made reservations at the youth hostel in Sete for tomorrow. They said get there before noon. I will be waiting when they open. I got here too late to hit the beach today but will do it all day tomorrow. Good thing I have my little bikini. I also have an air matress since the Therma-Rest deflated.

A couple people helped me today, just out of the bleu. When I was setting up the tent, a boy stopped by and asked to help. And when I was blowing up the raft, the mother across the way brought over her air pump. I was impressed. Odo = 1383.3 Today = 67 km Okay, this is weird. I just went to the beach. The water was a little chilly because it is late. Should be really nice tomorrow. Anyway, they have a sand Zamboni: a tractor that goes back and forth and smooths the sand out.

27 July 95

What a great town, Sete. I absolutely lost track of time today. I got up and rode the 12 km or so to town. The hostel is up a giant hill. I rode most of it but ended up pushing the last few, just because I couldn't get my cleat in on such a high hill. I showered again because I was dripping in sweat and headed for the beach. I spent just about all day there alternately applying sunblock, lounging, and swimming in the sea. Tonight I plan on dining (Indian, I hope) and losing some francs at the casino (not too many). Odo = 1399 Today = 15.7

-I had a great Indian dinner but the casino must have just opened. All they had was some game similar to roulette but not roulette. Just as well. Walking back a motorcycle wrecked just behind me. The two passengers were fine but it was a little scary. I'm not surprised it happened. There are so many little motorcycles going so fast in and out to traffic. I walked around downtown. It had really come alive. Everyone was at a restaurant or a bar. I went into the Simp'son Bar. It was decorated with pictures of the Simpsons. Cool, but expensive. I had a beer and headed up the hill.

28 July 95

Got up early and rode the 35? km to Montpellier. The hostel was full and the camping was back at the beach so I found a fairly cheap hotel room (3me etage) and went to the gare. They wanted to ship my bike separately by way of Paris. It would be at least 5 days before it caught up with me. No. I broke it down and wrapped it in the space blanket with lots of tape. I hope it works. I am Very nervous about it. -Didn't do much in Montpellier because I was stressing over and preparing the bike. At night I finally went out again. As it happens, I was in town for the Petanque tournament. Wow! They are worse than golfers, always checking their lie and replacing their divots. That was in the Place de la Comedie, a huge square where everything was going on. It was great and my hotel is just down the street. Had a gruyere crepe. Wonderful, and I had almost gone to McDonalds for a cheeseburger.

My train leaves at 2:00 heading for Nice. At Nice I change to a train for Milan. Then at 1:30 in the morning, I get a train to Florence. If everything goes right, I arrive at 5:30 Saturday morning. I am so nervous about it. Odo = 1439 or so Today = ~40 km

Montpellier - Nice 1:55 - 6:12 Nice - Milan 6:25 - 11:00 Milan - Florence 1:35 - 5:14

29 July 95

It seems to be working so far. I managed to load my bike on and find my way to my seat. It was really crowded. I had to kick someone out of my seat. I sat with my big shopping bag on my lap to Marseilles. Just out of Marseilles now (I looked for Le Corbusier's apartments but couldn't see them). The guy next to me got off so now I have some room. I think the hardest is over but I do have a 13 minute connection in Nice.

-Part two was a little more adventurous. At Nice I ran to make the connection - barely. It looked like people were standing anyway so there probably wasn't room in the compartments. No problem. I stood near the door, keeping out of people's way. People got by, the conductor punched my ticket, no problems. Then 3&1/2 hours into the 4&1/2 hour ride, some guy starts giving me shit for having a bike. He is talking about kicking me off at the next station. I just keep telling him that is not possible; I can't do that. He finally gets around to it that it is OK if I put my bike in one of the compartments. Well, why didn't you say so? It is less crowded now and I find some space in one. In Milan now, and worrying about the final leg. I can't believe it will be a problem. The train leaves at 1:30 in the morning. Who will be on it? -Extra notes: -You could tell when we crossed into Italy. Everything looked a little dirtier and poorer(Of course, this coming directly from the Cote d'Azur). -Either I'm getting used to paying alot or money does go further here. I just bought a ham & cheese on Focaccia at the station and didn't feel like I got ripped off.[NOTE: I was getting used to paying more; Italy wasn't that cheap.] -Ever since I've gotten to the more touristy places, I have felt a little less safe (not for me as much as my luggage and fanny pack).

I DID IT! I am at the Piazza Michelangelo on a hill overlooking Florence. It is near the campground. Check-in starts at 10:00. It is 6:30 now. Train arrived at 5:00. As everyone warned me the streets are bizarre. Mild cobblestones and all one way, only never the way I wanted to go. Sunday morning is the best and worst time to arrive. No one on the roads but everything is closed. [Nonsense, everything opened later.] I still don't know if I got away with something on the train or if I was just another guy with a taped-up bike. I haven't really slept since yesterday morning and I am kind of hungry. I bought some food for yesterday and today but can't really eat or sleep right now.

30 July 95

It happened. I was taking a picture of the Duomo. A gypsy girl holding her baby runs into me. (It wasn't that crowded.) My first reaction was to get her away from me, then I checked my fanny pack. Nothing missing. I was totally dazed though. I just started walking and checked my bag alot. A guy came up to me right after and told me. I said that I knew and she hadn't gotten anything. He had been watching her and said that she just ran into me and the baby stuck his hand in my pack. I have to admit she picked a good target. My hands and eyes were occupied and my pack was open. The thing is it was just the section where I keep my camera and plane ticket, not the compartment with money and cards. What would she have done with a ticket to Portland?

I saw much today, though. Lots of churches and tombs and such. The two big galleries had short days and long lines. I might not get to see them. As far as the cathedrals go, it is nice to see a different twist on the same idea, but I like the big grey gothic ones better. These are green and white with domes and a slightly different layout.

The Ponte Vecchio was interesting. It is a very old bridge line with shops. Lots of expensive jewelry. Of course the gelato is great. Between that and all the pasta, I could spend alot on food here.

As I was walking back, I happened upon another huge, more gothic church. It turns out this is where the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli are. Dante's tomb is also here but he isn't. This was the Santa Croce.

There are at least four statues of the David here. I know the real one is here but I'm not sure where it is.

31 July 95

The day I didn't do anything. I got up, cashed some travelers checks, had an Italian lunch -spaghetti, bad ham, good mozzeralla, good wine, and walked by all the closed museums, came back to camp, slept & sweated in the heat. Got up, rode downtown, got water & breakfast for tomorrow, went to dinner. Wonderful dinner L35,000! Excellent Lasagne, Veal, Wine, Gelati. Try for Siena tomorrow. Odo = 1454.6 Today = 15.6 Tired all day today. Hope I can make it to Rome. Camping = L29,000 for 2 nights.

1 August 95

Once again I turned a short day into long. I had an easy route planned for Siena but the signs to Siena took me on another route. No matter, I did okay. Had to ride on the freeway once until the polizia reminded me I couldn't. I wanted to get off anyway and the exit was 300 metres away. One major hill with a closed snack bar at the top to tease those who were about out of water. Actually ended up at Slovicille, SW 13km of Siena. Three more good days like today and I will be right outside Roma. Odo = 1557.0 Today = 102.4

2 August 95

I can't believe I actually made it. There were several times I was sure I wouldn't. Today was the day I didn't think I could find a camping or hostel in one day's range. But looking through a camping guide at last night's terrain de camping, I found one that might work. The only problem was getting there early enough to beat the reservation game. Got up (yesterday also) at 5:30. On the road at 6:30. Had ~7km of steep, rocky dirt road early. No problem, got through. About midday, the chain started acting up again. I've two more days of riding. I'm not going to get a new one. That and the hills started. The kind that go on and on. A couple times I was probably more bored that tired. Anyway I started making my goal the next town (10km to Montalchino) and eating away at the last 30-40 km. Got here before 1:00. Plenty of space. Also, three pools, meaning expensive. (L27,000) Everything in this town is closed: closed till 4 or closed because it is Wednesday, whyever that is. Had a great dinner of spaghetti and pizza that would have been cheap had I not ordered two Cokes also. It is so hard (or expensive) to get a cold drink here. Two more good days and 1 short day into Rome. Not long now. Odo = 1673.5 Today = 116.5 -They must take a nap from 2-4pm. The camp 'directions' prohibit any traffic and noise at this time as well as at night.

3 August 95

WOW! This has been such a great day. I don't even believe a day like this could exist after yesterday. I got up at 5, on the road at 6. Started mild, then hit the usual long, slow, painful, boring climb. But it was early, and cool still, and my attitude was good. After that hill or two things leveled off. Towns on the map started coming quickly. Stopped in Aquapendante for breakfast. Had to wait 40 min for them to open but I didn't have to go much further so I dozed (and let my legs get cold) until they opened. Got some pastry/cookie things, almonds, yogurt, water. Back on the road at 9:30. Made it to the campsite just after 11:00 (L12,500). Lots more forest today and this campsite is in a forest on a huge lake - Lago di Bolsena. Odo = 1756.6 Today = 83.1 km

4 August 95

Although I expected the worst, today was exactly like yesterday. A few more hills but once again up a 5, on the road at 6, wait for supermercado to open until 8:30. Make campsite in forest by big lake just after 11:00. Only today I am only 35km from ROME! (camping = L15,000) ODO = 1847.7 Today = 91.1 km

-Kind of weird. I speak French to these people. I always say Oui instead of Si, and other phrases just come out French. I don't know if I'm just used to it from being in France or if I don't want to sound like a unilingual Americano. -Last night a lady asked if I was German. That happened once in France too. I wonder if it is because I am off the American vacation path. Most non- Italians here are German, Dutch, Danish, etc. -I've quit shaving, partly because I am almost out of cream (They only sell huge cans), partly because it reflects my attitude - I am ready to get out of here and come home. -In Italy, they mostly drink this bottled, carbonated water. I've gotten to the point I don't mind paying for water, but I hate this gassy stuff. It is just Hooper water, and I never did like that.

5 August 95

Rode into Rome, found the youth hostel w/o too much problem. Decided to hit the hostel instead of camping after a not-so-good night. Lack of air mattress and perhaps a little food poisoning. Felt much better today. 2 hours and 38 km to get here. Check-in isn't until 12 but I will wait. Sounds like they have room if you are here at noon. -Got a room but I don't know where my hostel card went. Had to pay L25,000 per night. Oh well, I am now set up until I leave.

-There is so much to see here. But I got a start and a plan today. I took the bus and metro to the Spanish Steps (disappointing, they were all blocked off) because that is where the AMEX office is. Cashed the rest of my cheques. Should last me. Wandered around until I found Trevi fountain. It was spectacular. The play of the water over the sculpture is perfect. Walked to the Pantheon. Wow, it is so incredible. Just huge. Impossible to get a good perspective of camera angle. I had to stop by again later and make sure I had inspected it properly. 1900 years old. The big surprise of the day was a church around the corner. Looks absolutely dull on the outside but inside it was delightfully gothic. The ceiling was a heavenly blue/stars motif with the usual assortment of characters painted against it. Had some nice paintings and Micheangelo's statue of Christ bearing the cross. Also had tombs of some famous? saints and what-not, but it had some tombs with skulls and crossbones on them. I don't know if they were real or sculpted, but it looked great. These churches are so nice because they are dark and quiet and cool, often have pews to sit on, relax, check the guidebook. Only I would loved to have taken some photos but it seemed inappropriate. Headed to Piazza Navone. A huge square where they used to hold contests and such. Now it has three big fountains. The middle one was great (Bernini, I think). A tall obelisk surrounded by four figures representing the major river of each (4?) continent. The head of the African one was under a shroud because they didn't know where the Nile began. Followed some famous street to the Ponte de Saint Angelo and the Palazzo de Saint Angelo across the river. Cool bridge lined with angel statues. The Palace has Saint Angelo sheathing his sword, which some guy saw as a vision and caused the Black Death to end. (Tell that to the bacteria) Anyway, I'm crossing the bridge and some kid walks up to me with a newspaper. I say 'No thanks' and keep walking. He keeps up with me and, like a sucker, I eventually look down at the paper. He holds it up against me to block my view as he reaches for my fanny pack. If it hadn't been so pathetic, I really would have lost it. Anyway, there was a period when they turned this Saint Angelo place into a fortress and in looking for a way to get on my way away from it I ended up walking along the very tall wall of this deep trench eventually only ending up where I started. The palace/church whatever is right near the Vatican and is connected by a long, huge wall. Cool. Since I was close, I headed towards the Vatican, even though that will be my Monday trek. I caught the Poste right before it closed and stamped my postcards so I can get a Vatican postmark. It really is a separate country. I paid in Lira but my change had the Pope on it. Their stamps were different, too. Caught the bus back to the hostel. The hostel itself is pretty cool. 350 beds and so different than those tiny French ones in the middle of nowhere. It is huge and full of cool young people. The girl behind me in registration was from Portland. Downstairs is a big cafeteria and bar. Dinner was great. L10,000 for pasta, meat, and roll and then big Tuborg beers for L2800. The guy running the cafeteria is zany. He just blew a whistle and threatened a girl with a soccer yellow card for something. Planning on Colosseum & Forum area tomorrow, Vatican on Monday, home on Tuesday.

I also stopped at the McDonalds on Spanish Steps (1st in Italy, 1986) just to spite my guidebook. It was full of sculptures and stuff, pretty nice actually. Had two expensive cheeseburgers (L5600). I don't know how to say 'Hold the pickles and onions' so I had to pick them off. The tray liner had an ad for an art exhibit. Can you imagine that in the States? -I'm glad I changed my mind at the last minute and went to the hostel. That bed felt so good after sleeping on the ground for the last week. ODO = ~1886 Today = 38 km

6 August 95

Got up at 7. Had the included breakfast - a roll and cup of hot milk. Took the metro to piazza del popolo at the base of the Villa Borghese (Central Park). Another big obelisk (3200 yrs old) surrounded by statues of Rome and Neptune. Walked down Via del Corso, which is lined with bands and nice clothes stores to the Piazza Venezia. Huge monument to Vittorio Emanuele (?). Climbed up the stairs around the side to the famous Campigdolio (Capitol Hill). The palace and steps designed by Michelangelo were under scaffolding and the museums up there didn't have change for a L50,000 bill, so I didn't see much. Also the famous equestrian statue was removed because of the pollution. Italians need a bill somewhere between 10,000 and 50,000. They also need a L1,000 coin instead of so many little bills. Around the corner from this, I got the first site of the Roman Forum. It was ruined! Paid the L12,000 to get in. (Had to get change from the guy selling L5,000 Pepsi's). It was worth it. I can't believe that they totally let people loose inside there. Of course, many things are blocked off but you can still just walk around and climb over all these old, old buildings & monuments. I thought the ruins just included the Forum but I just kept walking and exploring lots of different directions. I walked for a long time checking out every little nook & cranny. Ended up on Palatine Hill. Some good views. Eventually found my way out near the Colosseum. I was stoked for this. This was truly one of the biggest reasons I wanted to see Rome. It is big and it really is just a colosseum. Once again, it was great the way they let you wander in and around it. The ground floor is free and then I paid L8000 to get to the next level. I saw one sign saying they gave guided tours of the basement (There's no basement in the Alamo!), but I couldn't figure out when or where. Too bad they pillaged the whole thing so bad, but it is still big and spectacular. It actually is kind of good that the floor is gone so you can see the maze underneath. Wandered a little more, came back to the hostel for lunch and took a wonderful nap. Odo = 1886 Today = Zero

7 August 95

Last full day in Europe. Walked to St. Peter's. It is just a BIG church. Even after seeing big churches all through Europe, this one impresses with it's size. It has all the usual paintings and sculpture in and around it. Michelangelo's Pieta behind bullet-proof glass. A cool and weird altar by Bernini that only the Pope can use. It is supported by four pillars that are wavering spirals. Lots of little bees on it. That was the symbol of the family in power at the time.. This is right under the massive dome. No stained glass but some windows letting enough light in in beams as if from heaven. A sculpture I liked was some monument to Alexander VII. It had him and some angels or something, then underneath was a silky brown marble 'cloth'. A skeleton was reaching out from under it holding an hourglass. It looked really cool. As I walked around, occasionally, I would step over little 'sewer covers' where you could see below. The basement? I found where to go below. It is where they keep lots of dead popes. It was short and a little eerie. More artifacts, then up to the entrance to the dome. I saved L1000 by using the stairs which went on and on in a circle. At the top, the base of the dome, you can look down and see from up top where you just were in the church. I was ready to go higher though. This is where the stairs got weird. They were tiny and near the top you had to start leaning sideways. The view at the top was worth it, except that Rome is very hazy. Took it all in for a while, then headed down just as many stairs to get down. At least here everything was senso unico (one way) so people weren't climbing over each other to get around (like at Notre Dame). Got down and headed to the Vatican Museum. Huge line. Saved L5000 with student card. (I think I might have broke even with it, but it was nice to have an extra piece of international ID anyway.) You have to pick a tour route: 'A' being the Sistine Chapel only; 'D' being everything. I followed 'C'. I probably ran through everything too fast but I know what I like to see. Started with lots of Egyptian stuff. Sarcophagi, scarabs, trinkets. They even had two mummies - one exposed. This was a really old, very well preserved dead person. It was black and withered. Gross but fascinating. There was just so much here, I'm trying to pick out what truly caught my attention. There was a long, long room with a wonderfully intricate ceiling and old painted maps all along it's sides. I like maps. My favorite was a really old one of Tuscany where I could pick out all the tiny cities I had been through to get here. I know we passed some famous Raphael rooms but I really don't know which they were. Saw what must have been the Borgia apartments. They were some immaculately decorated rooms that looked fit for royalty. Had to flounder through a bunch of religious modern art, which was bad. I like modern stuff, but the religious theme, and having the truly great art doors away, made this stuff pale. Eventually got to the Capella Sistina. Packed so full with people. A guard that kept 'Shh'ing everyone and clapping to move along. The paintings really were great though. I like the one covering the whole wall above the altar. It was Michelangelo's vision of the last days. It was very busy but you could just stand there for a while and pick out each part of the scene. The side walls had a cycle of Moses and Jesus on each side and then the ceiling recounted the Genesis stories. It really was cool, but it was hard to really focus on each panel and give it the time it deserved. It was a relief (bas) to get out of there. I think that was the climax for all four tours. After that were rooms of modern papal trinkets - silver hammers, jewels, wardrobes. The library was neat. These huge old Latin books amazed me. I was tired and ready to be done though. Bought my souvenir L5000 t-shirt and trekked home for the traditional pasta, meat, roll lunch for L10500. Each day when I come back, there is a huge line of travellers waiting to get in. Nice to be done with that. There is a lockout till 2pm. Then I go to my room and nap till 5.

Last night after dinner, I hiked up the hill next door to the Astronomical Observatory. It was nice. I found out the name of the bird that has been taunting me at campsites all through Italy. Of course, I forgot it already, but it has this awful call. This shrill, quick 'CAA' that it repeats over and over and over and over and over and over...

I tried to call Delta several times today about confirmation & bike boxes but never got anything.

8 August 95

I'm in America! That was a long flight. Watched two movies and part of a documentary on the space shuttle. Outbreak and The Englishman who climbed a hill... Outbreak was probably the most I've studied microbiology in five weeks.

I certainly took my time getting to the airport from Rome. I had a flat at 25 km, changed it quick (probably carelessly) and had a blowout right outside the airport. I walked it the rest of the way. Got to the counter with only 1 1/2 hrs left. As I walked my bike inside the concourse I was immediately intercepted by security guys. I even saw one with a bullet-proof vest and submachine gun. They asked for my plane ticket and passport and decided I was just some American with a bike. They showed me to the Delta counter. The Delta people were really good about getting me a box. I think they realized how close I was cutting it and wanted to get me on the plane. They also asked if I would put on something besides a tanktop and bike shorts. I had brought along fresh clothes to wear on the plane so I wouldn't stink too bad. I tore the bike apart and just threw it in the box. They gave me some tape to tape it quickly. Everytime I turned around someone asked me what I was carrying, had I left my luggage at all, had anyone given me anything, etc... Eventually I made the plane with only minutes to spare.

I had to take the bike through customs in New York. The box was a little beat up, but I figured it would make it. By the time I got to Portland, however, they brought my luggage out piece by piece. Mark and I got it together and headed to Canby. The only permanent damage was to the cyclecomputer mount that I bought in London. Someday I will get around to buying another one. ODO = ~1950km

Addendum - 3 September 95

Last weekend I drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park. Absolutely amazing. I liked a sign near the visitor's center.

The elevation at this spot is 12,005 feet, higher than Oregon's famed Mt. Hood.

Wow, that is really high. The park was as astounding as any single thing I saw in Europe...and it is right in my backyard.