We got lucky!

We got a little bit lucky today, and we are very happy about it.

Despite the dismal weather predictions, we did our whole planned ride today, all 103km of it! Whoot woo!

Looking out the window before breakfast this was the view.

Yes umbrellas were up, but the rain was light.

We went to breakfast, packed our bikes, walked over the bridge to the bike path to make the call. Ride or train? We decided to ride as it was more nuisance level rain and it was not particularly cold (6 degrees). We also had the safety net of riding within cooee of the rail line.

Our first goal was Wörgl, some 67 km away. If we had taken the train, we needed to change lines at Wörgl.

There was water around, and the bike track we took for most of today was a mixture of sealed and unsealed, the latter ensuring our bikes were filthy! So much for me cleaning them yesterday 😂😂😂

There were continual low clouds that made the mountains look somewhat mystical.

We criss crossed the flooded River Inn multiple times, using these wonderful covered bridges, for cyclists and walkers.

Churches, statues and picturesque villages.

Great carving on this footbridge and I loved the positioning of the church! It looks so eerie.

At one village we rode past a railway station. Needing to use a loo I walked through the station, down the platform to the ladies. I went in and here was a very strange looking woman standing outside the cubicle door. I asked her was she waiting, and she indicated no. I went into the ‘vacant’ toilet and shut the door. As I did, lo and behold a creepy man was hiding behind the door!

Now I’m not normally a screamer but hell I screamed! He scared the living daylights out of me. I told him to ‘get out’ and he did! WT????

I went and spoke with someone who looked official and they told me security were on the way as he’d already been reported by another woman. He was still lurking when we departed. Not sure what his story was, why he was behind a toilet door..he was not using the loo…he was in there hiding. Creepy dude.

Riding along…..

The sign said Bike Stop. So we did. What a great installation, complete with charging connections for electric bikes and a tube station. There was a similar one at the other end of the village.

The next village was Rattenberg, and it looked really cute. We did not detour as we could see half a dozen tourist coaches down the far end.

Rain wise, it totally stopped at around the 50 km point. We knew Wörgl would be achieved.

Arriving in Wörgl, we discovered a busy town that slowed us down heaps as we hopped on and off footpaths. We were both fairly dirty, so needing toilets we stopped at McDonalds! We figured they might not mind quite as much. No men hiding there either.

One Wörgl picture. The roof impressed us.

We turned right and entered a different valley to ride towards St Johann. So many views looked like picture perfect jigsaw puzzles. Austria is just so neat and tidy everywhere. The ride was more up and down as we climbed to a maximum of around 800 m.a.s.l.

Aside from the cute sheep above, Tony took a fancy to these cows.

Some of the gravel paths I was pretty slow on. More brilliant views.

About 8 km short of our destination we climbed and I found a seat! Beautiful place!

Another dirt section, and this one we climbed up was steeper. I pushed my bike up the loose gravel for that!

A clever guy had these sculptures outside his house.

Then our destination St Johann in Tirol.

We were both delighted with today. It was a great cruiser ride on a day that proved the forecasters as wrong as the pre poll ballots for the recent Australian election. We are hoping that our luck continues!!

Super impressed with Austria’s efforts with cycling. The trails (sealed and unsealed) on the whole, are fabulous. I think that we need to explore more of this country!

Tomorrow we are due to ride to Salzburg. Fingers crossed 🤞🤞🤞

Thanks for reading

Ooroo

The drought buster

Looking out the window before breakfast. A bit dismal….maybe it would look better after breakfast.

We packed up and bid our host farewell. He quizzed me as to what I was wearing…I revealed 4 layers on the top half. He said the weather would be crap all day. Great! He also told me he’d see me next year ( this is my second stay at his guesthouse in 12 months).

Just in case, we took a photo outside his guesthouse. Muhlbach is a pretty little village, and his guesthouse is great.

He has signs everywhere welcoming cyclists. His mother is the best dressed 75 year old, fussing over breakfast, immaculate from head to toe in a very trendy dress.

We headed out on a bike path cut into the side of the steep hill. We stopped at the waterfall briefly to make further clothing adjustments. Looking across the valley the clouds were low.

A little further on, we passed a lake that has a dam. These were the last two photos taken from the bike today.

Some friends joke that bad weather follows me. It is a reality here in Europe. I work in the area of regional and state economic development and think I have the answer for all the drought affected areas of Australia. Send me on my bicycle to tour the area and it will rain!!

We have had bad weather for many days now. Cold and wet. The forecast for today was shite and concerning as we needed to cross the high alpine pass, Brenner Pass, at over 1500m.a.s.l.

On most days, the rain gives up…eventually!

Today it just kept getting heavier, and the temperature dropped to around 4 degrees.

There was a train track running parallel to the road and we thought hmmmmmm. If there was an alternative we decided to grab it as it was not pleasant and Tony is recovering from a head cold, and I think I’m getting one.

A bit of googling whilst taking shelter in a tunnel we had two options. Continue riding towards Brenner Pass for about 15 km, or go back about 3 km. I normally prefer the forward option but we were both wet and cold so we headed back the 3 km.

Purchasing a train ticket was easy enough, despite it being an unmanned station. There was only one train heading to Innsbruck in the next few hours so I purchased two tickets from the machine. The problem was the bikes! Normally there is an option to buy bike tickets.

A lady told me that bikes were not normally allowed on ‘the German train’. Sure enough, the train was heading to Munich and was of German origin. Someone else told me that ‘possibly’ the conductor would allow it. Stress!!!!

I cleaned the bikes as the train was delayed. It was very cold on the railway platform with a wind tunnel effect being very cooling. Cleaning the bikes gave me a focus, helped warm me a tad and take the edge off worrying about the conductors decisions. I also thought if they looked clean we might have a better chance.

The train arrived and we tried to open the door with bike markings. The male conductor shouted NO! We ran up to him and he said to go to carriage 452 and to run! We were running and a female conductor said NO!

She looked at our tickets and screamed a German lecture at us…I explained I was Australian and did not speak much German. She rolled her eyes and told us to run to the very last carriage.

It was a long train, we are running pushing our bikes, metal cleats on our shoes in the wet…..grrrrr. We literally threw the bikes and ourselves on the train. The train started moving and we breathed a sigh of relief. Ah but there was more to be said.

The next lecture was in English and we were both rattled, and all I could say was ‘sorry’. The gist was that we should have known to buy the bike tickets on line, the previous day! Anyway, there were two spare bike storage spots in the carriage, and 20 Euro later she left us alone.

Now we are in Innsbruck, my third time here, Tony’s first.

A very famous local landmark, with the ‘golden roof’ was a 15th century residence of Duke Friedrich IV. The roof is covered with 2,657 fire gilded copper tiles and was commissioned by Emperor Maximillian I ( 1459- 1519) to commemorate his marriage.

This next building reminds me of some of my daughter Hannah’s toys she had as a youngster. The ones where little doors could be opened.

You can see from the photos all the tourists and their umbrella’s.

We paid to walk up to the top of the City Tower, constructed between 1442 and 1450. in 1462 a fire alarm bell was installed. How many rings indicated where the fire was. For example, the Imperial Palace was five rings.

Tower sentries worked at the top, keeping a lookout until as recently as 1967.

The stairwell to the lookout is very interesting. There are two sets of 133 steps, one going up, one down. They create an interesting image. The second photo shows the glass you walk on at the top overlooking the vortex.

We stood in the rain at the top. On a clear day you would see the mountains that surround Innsbruck. Today the views are a tad localised, including the Olympic ski jump.

We stumbled into a Swarovski exhibition. Quite amazing but on the garish side. The display below is coloured by Swarovski crystals. The exhibition leads into a massive shop, akin to an IKEA store! That is, hard to get out of quickly.

One more photo before we headed back to the hotel.

Back at our hotel we discussed tomorrow. We are due to ride to Sankt Johann. Rain and cold conditions are forecast for the day. In fact, Central Europe has been issued a weather alert for lots of rain and flooding to potentially affect millions.

There is a train. We are not stuffing around in such situations if there is an option. Safety and health first and foremost. Disappointment we just have to suck up. Our final decision will be made after breakfast when we check the up to date forecasts.

We have a brilliant view out our hotel window of the Old Town. The third photo is from the City Tower. Our hotel is the salmon coloured one, and we are on the third floor ( so 2 stories above us). The two windows on the very right are ours.

We decided to walk back into the Old Town, braving the rain to visit the Cathedral. On the way we past the Imperial Palace, that had closed for the day.

St James Cathedral has nicely painted domes. It commenced life in around 1180, as part of the legendary Way of St James medieval Christian pilgrimage.

The Cathedral was badly damaged by earthquakes in the 16th and 17th centuries and substantially rebuilt between 1717 and 1724.

We sat down for dinner. I am glad they clarified what kind of kids were being fried! Not sure about ‘foal’ in my goulash either.

So that’s it. This trip is potentially ending not the way planned, but that’s life isn’t it!

Thanks for reading

Ooroo

Looking for oompah loompahs

Today we bid farewell to the Dolomites. Very low clouds and light rain, 6 degrees…so what was new there?

We climbed, again nothing new for the Dolomites, but it was an easier climb to Passo Di Cimabanche at 1529 m.a.s.l. The pass witnessed much fighting during WWI, with a military cemetery nearby and a bunker established by Mussolini.

No photos at the Passo sign as it was raining and we were cold and keen to keep the legs spinning.

The following photos Tony took as he was riding. He gets the camera out, points and clicks! As I am behind him, I just he does not lose his balance, as I know I would!

Here I am climbing the hairpin bends shortly before the top of the Pass.

There is a lovely lake, Lago de Landro. My bathers have not yet made an appearance on this trip, and won’t be today either. Thanks look like a pretty cool spot for a hot summers day though. The water depth is quite shallow, and the clarity transparent.

Only a few km down the road is another quick stop.

As you can see, the road is wet…it is raining and the temperature has dropped to 4 degrees. Brrrr….moving on.

A few km before Dobbiaco, is Lago di Dobbiaco. I had ridden past this lake last year but had not stopped and ridden off the main road to check it out. Today we did the very slight detour and very glad we did

The lake is the most incredible green, with amazing transparency.

We went into over water cafe at the end to warm up and drink coffee!

At Dobbiaco we turned left (West) to follow a different valley, and the scenery was certainly different. Despite still being in Italy, the language also changed. Signs were now in German. The Tyrol.

The weather also dramatically improved. The rain stopped and the temperature increased dramatically. Clothes off! It was in the high teens!

Now I mentioned oompah loompahs! Last year I was highly ‘entertained’ by a ‘performance’ in the town of San Lorenzan by a group of Tyrolean ‘performers’. It was a Sunday and they ‘performed’ outside the local church.

By pure coincidence today was Sunday, but a few hours later in the day, but we would swing by just in case…..

I’m looking, but sadly no!

A view of the village from a slightly higher position with an old castle higher in the hills above the town.

The adjacent village also had some nice old structures.

We joined a sealed bike path, in great condition. Crossing a bridge, Tony found a replacement for the recently deceased ‘grumpy cat’.

There were numerous small Tyrolean villages.

Well sign posted, great paths.

More animals to pat.

Nice views.

This old castle is at the entrance to Muhlbach, our overnight stop.

I stayed in Muhlbach last year, en route from Zurich to Asolo. I booked the same overnight accomodation.

Last year, we arrived to great festivities with a band playing, dancing, drinking and lots of people wearing Tyrolean costumes. It was the annual Vespa party.

Today was much quieter, and I was told the Vespa party was a fortnight ago and washed out due to bad weather.

Today was a shorter day of 83 km. Tomorrow is Brenner Pass, a very busy mountain pass for all, as there are not that many in Europe. We need to cross to drop down into Innsbruck, Austria.

Todays route and chart.

Fg

I was sad to say goodbye to the Dolomites, but I did not look back. No point lingering as we are not headed that way. Great memories, but looking forward to what is ahead.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

Lago Di Misurina

Last night we wandered back from the shops and took this photo of the main church in Cortina with a (partial) mountain backdrop. Unfortunately low clouds have ensured we do not see all.

This morning, around 6 am this was the view out one of our bedroom windows. It was a promising start.

Unfortunately, that was the best of the day weather wise! At least we caught a glimpse of it.

Our ride today therefore was a shorter one of around 40 km, climbing Passo Tre Croce (1809 m) and then heading into Lago de Misurina.

It is quite a stiff climb, with non cooperative cold legs protesting somewhat. As can be seen from our climbing graph, within 8 km, we went from 1200m to just under 1800 metres a.s.l. By most measures, that’s a killer warm up.

The rain was drizzling quite lightly but consistently. You are heating up quickly despite the very cool temperature. A layer of clothing came off.

The camera did not venture out a lot due to the moisture. As you will see there are drops of water on the lens on some photos.

This small lake is only a few km up, and there were signs dictating dogs were permitted.

The following three photos show damage caused by rains, floods, snow melting.

I was pleased to get to this pass. The raincoat went back on. I double gloved as my fingers were really cold.

The road plateaus and descends before turning off to Misurina. You can see that the clouds are extremely low and you only get glimpses of the mountains occasionally.

The lake was frozen. The duck has the ice field all to himself.

We drop into the first open cafe complete with bike parking. We hang our bikes and head inside for coffee.

The view from the cafe paints a fairly bleak picture.

So we order a second coffee, as the rain is now heavier, and the temperature below zero.

We note the stuffed animals! Can’t say that I am a fan but is this a mink?? Vicious looking thing, quite unlike The Mink I know all too well! 😂

Rain or not, we needed to bite the bullet and press on. This is the view from the other end of the lake.

This is a ‘borrowed’ picture taken on a nice day!! It highlights the fickle nature of alpine weather.

We then descended, slowly and controlled as the road was very wet, and it was cold. We did not want to slip and fall.

The rain eased up once we had descended a few hundred meters which was good as we were cold!

At the junction, we then turned left towards Cortina. The weather was a lot more comfortable now…4 degrees Celsius. A pretty junction that we will pass again tomorrow (heading out to Dobbiaco).

We did enjoy our hot shower back at the hotel.

We leave here tomorrow as we head towards the Tyrol, very close to the Austrian border.

There is unfinished business in the Dolomites. Any excuse to return!!

Todays map.

Thanks for reading

Ooroo

😊💪🚴

Dolomites

Fingers crossed, we peeked out our bedroom window early. Rain had been forecast on and off for the whole day. There has been some, but it looked potentially ok.

We had mapped out a few different routes we could ride for our two full days here.

Heavy, misty clouds hung over all of the peaks surrounding Cortina. We decided to attempt a climb up to Passo Falzarego (2120m.a.s.l) and take it from there. I had done this climb last year arriving to sleety and cold conditions at the top, huddling in the small chapel trying to warm up before descending.

The climb is certainly not the longest or highest single ascent we have done. It is a 16 km climb from around 1200 m.a.s.l to 2120 m.a.s.l, so around 920m single ascent.

We headed off and climbed, climbed and climbed. Within a few km we already had great views of Cortina.

Through the one and only tunnel. The signage appeared every 1 km advising you how much further the summit was.

Tony saw two deer…look closely. An adult and fawn are just to the right of the green tree, behind the brown area. Snow clad peaks in the distance.

Patches of snow started appearing when we were at 1600m.a.s.l gradually thickening as we attained greater altitude.

The climb was at a tempo pace, so quite comfortable, despite the continual but steady ascent.

About 2 km from the top, a guy came past in his car, wound his window down and gave us a thumbs up. Ride on!

At the top, there was an amazing amount of snow for this time of year. I had previously thought that maybe the heavy rains may have melted it.

Here I am, just cresting the last incline.

There were a couple of motor bike riders at the top. One guy kindly took this photo.

Also taking a break were these dudes. There were three groups of these disguised test cars using the mountain roads as a private testing ground. They had overtaken us at huge speeds. Tossers!

This is the little chapel I used as a refuge last year. The snow is very deep around it and I did not attempt to revisit it.

The weather was good, we pushed onto Passo Valparola.

When you get to the top of a climb, it is traditional to have your photo taken with the sign, showing the altitude. I was having problems! When I did eventually stand up, my feet went down so deep that the snow was at thigh level, so maybe three feet deep.

So Tony went up instead, and then I used his foot well marks!

Now we had decisions to make. One part wanted to roll on down to Corvara. In fine weather, no problem, but this is an alpine region where conditions can change very quickly. The dark clouds ahead looked a tad ominous.

The sensible voice said, head back to Cortina, you got lucky, had a great climb and views, do not push your luck. The other, competing, very loud voice said, go for it!

I hate internal conflict. I asked Tony what his opinion was. “Whatever you reckon”……🙈🤷‍♀️

The road ahead did not immediately descend greatly. You could see a straight section for maybe 500 metres…so maybe ride it and then have a better look at what is ahead of the descent?

There was a WWI Museum (closed), and when I looked down the descent, I thought ‘nope’, not today.

So we did an about turn and headed back down to Passo Falzarego and then down to a cafe near Col Gallina where a cafe open. Coffee time!

We kept a good eye on the conditions and after a couple of coffees rugged up for the descent. All clothes on. These photos are of the cafe and Col Gallina.

The descent was very cold. Holding the brakes the whole way back to Cortina, with minimal peddling required ensuring you stayed chilled.

We were pretty pumped that we had achieved our higher altitude ride with no rain. The conditions at the top were as good as you could hope for. We got up there before the tourists (two buses arrived as we started descending).

The climb epitomised my love for the Dolomites. 💕

The map route and ascent chart.

What will tomorrow bring? Well the forecast looks like rain…but let’s wait and see.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

I’m back!

12 months ago I spent 4 nights in Cortina d’Ampezzo, bang smack in the middle of the Dolomites. It was cold and wet for a few of the days. Will it be this trip?

Leaving Belluno we took a few shots as we walked our bikes around the narrow cobbles streets to the main piazza. The fruit stall and fish vendor had set up since we walked through here last night.

The route plan today was to stick with various cycle routes and paths, as these were options in this area. It would be safer, but slower. We had the day though as it was a shorter ride of just under 80 km. It would be uphill pretty well the whole way, starting our ride from just below 400 m.a.s.l. and finishing at just over 1200 m.a.s.l.

No big towns or cities today, just villages and the outskirts of towns. Here are some earlier photos.

Along the trails there were various signs, water fountains and fantastic views. These trails are shared use with walkers and the occasional car.

You will recall the heavy rains that dumped down only a few days ago necessitating a change in plans. Today we were to witness first hand some of the dramatic consequences. In the photo above, as well as a nice mountain you can see fresh landslide activity.

The bike track went down a slope to this, freshly moved gravel alongside a river. With the flooding, the track was gone.

It was very soft and spongy but at least we got across.

Back onto the road for a short time, off onto a quieter one where we found this herd of sheep being relocated. They were huge with goat like ears. They definitely had a loud baaaa and many wore bells around their necks.

In the next village, a sign indicated that our route was closed. Looking behind us we could see these workers clearing the railway line from landslide deposits.

Whilst we were watching these guys, a cyclist came down the closed road and we asked was it passable for bikes. Yes, but be careful as narrow. We got through without issue, to then switch back onto bike path. Another closure sign but we thought we’d see. Maybe it would be like the last one.

We were riding very slowly and carefully. Just as well because……

Yes it had been partially washed away by the river in flood. That is quite some undercut. In the photo above, you can see the track stops….it no longer exists, and there was just a drop off to the river. I imagine it will be some time before this track is repaired.

A bit of quick map checking and we headed into the road for a few km until we rejoined the bike path and route further along.

We stopped for lunch at a ‘pub’ I’d stopped at last year in Ospital. It was getting a bit cooler and windy. So we made tracks ASAP as rain was the last thing we needed.

The climbing was more intense with a series of switchbacks getting us up around 800m.a.s.l. More climbing to be done.

We eventually turned left to head towards Cortina. There is a brilliant rail trail that runs for nearly the entire length. We went through many small villages, where the old stations have been repurposed. The old tunnels were used for the route, and I think we rode through 7. It was well sealed (with a 3 km gravel section where avalanche barriers and drainage courses are being constructed).

Got to have a Milka first!

On the outskirts of Cortina d’Ampezzo is the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics ski jump arena. Now in a reasonably bad state of repair. I read that the only issue faced was a lack of snow!

The Italian Army transported snow to the area and the competition was hailed an outstanding success.

In conjunction with Milano, Cortina is on the short list ( along with Stockholm) for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

A few more km of riding to reach Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Here we are! Just a nudge above 1200 m.a.s.l. In winter this place buzzes as a major ski resort. That provides advantages to cyclists travelling with bikes as all the hotels have a ski room, for the storage of skis and boots. Perfect for bikes in the skiing off season.

We have three nights here. You need that as the weather can be temperamental at altitude. We have two rides in mind, totally weather dependant.

It is pouring with rain so we got here before it started. Good result.

The last photo is from the bike rail trail. A cafe has set up and this is outside the cafe.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

Knock, knock, knocking on the Dolomites doors

I’ve changed the line of a famous song there, but the Dolomites are heaven for many…skiers, bushwalkers, rock climbers, cyclists and sight seeing tourists, as well as being the backyard home for many lucky Italians.

I fell in love with the Dolomites last year visiting as part of a bike packing bike ride I did with my cycling friend Geoff, returning a few days later with Italy Bike Tours and the Giro d’Italia trip climbing part of Monte Zoncolon and other roads around.

It was on the ‘must do’ list for this years trip so Tony could experience the majestic beauty.

First things first, we needed to complete our crossing of the Venetian Plains. I am not a big fan of the Plains having crossed en route to Venice (from London) on a 2016 bike trip.

Our day started with a beautiful breakfast prepared by our host Wanda. She is a very kind and beautiful soul, and we really connected with her. The first shot is at breakfast, where we are holding her dog Pereuka, who recently delivered 6 very cute little pups.

The second photo is with Wanda as we prepared to leave, only to discover Tony had a flat rear tyre courtesy of a tiny slither or broken glass. At least he could change it in a dry garage.

It was raining and only 5 degrees Celsius. It was a tough first 100 km today as our route was predominantly urbanised, traversing the large city of Padova which took us over one hour to shuffle through, continually hopping on and off the bike, walking over street crossings, scootering, manouvering around chicanes.

The number of trucks experienced today was extraordinary for arterial roads, given the highways running parallel.

In between the there were patches of interesting buildings and features.

In the distance, you can see the Dolomites. That excited us, as we were a bit wet. We noticed a bike shop promoting Specialized, our bike brand, so swung in. Ooh some nice new bikes, and we parted with 55 euro. Tony was suffering with cold hands so we purchased thicker riding gloves for him.

For a short distance we rode alongside this canal. The temperature soared…..from 5 degrees up to 9! I needed to take one of my 4 layers of tops off! Which layer shall I shed?

There were more interesting old buildings in the next town.

Check out the base of these olive trees for sale.

More interesting towns with mountain views closing in.

The last 50 km were great. We started climbing, the lands were green, the towns smaller, and tiny villages. This is what we enjoy. The sites were great. Here are a series of progressive photos that I had trouble deciding what to include.

Riding on village lane we followed this guy for a while. He climbed up the 15 percent pinch quicker than us (a bit further along the road).

You can never get enough of the Dolomites. More views just before our arrival into our overnight town of Belluno.

This is our route and climbing graph.

Today was a challenging day predominantly due to the bad weather for the first 50 km or so, and the amount of urbanised ‘riding’ across the Venetian Plains.

We are glad to be in a more rural setting now, knocking on the Dolomites front door.

Tomorrow we climb up to 1400 m.a.s.l to Cortina, our base for three nights. It will be colder and more prone to inclement weather but my fingers are crossed! The forecasts here change regularly. What will be, will be. We are in an area of no Plan B options so whoever is holding the Sharron bad weather voodoo doll, be kind!

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

On the road again

We were so pleased to be back on our bikes as we felt sluggish from not riding the previous two days.

It was a respectable 13 degrees Celsius when we packed our bikes up outside the hotel. These two photos are from the hotel whilst clipping our gear on.

We rode about 10 km of what I now call footpath scootering, hopping off and on the bikes, pushing, criss crossing roads whilst we competed with peak hour Bologna traffic. A few more shots on the way out.

Finally we hit the agricultural flat Venetian Plains. Not my favourite riding as I recalled from our 2016 London to Venice bike ride. You can see some of the crop damage caused by the heavy rains in the top photo. The busy road to the left is the European truck route, and it is packed.

We saw many fields like this with indiscriminate flat spots.

There were also many stone fruits, spinach and potato crops in other paddocks.

The rivers we crossed were flooded, muddy waters with floating debris.

We stopped for lunch in Ferrara, and were highly impressed with the historical town and buildings we saw. We past one of the historical gates.

Here I am riding slowly down one of the many narrow roads.

We turned the corner and found more history.

We settled on lunch at a cafe adjacent to Este Castle “Castello Estense” dating back to 1385. Surrounded by a moat, it has three entrances with with drawbridges.

Walking through the centre there were plenty of old canon balls and wells. No that is not me pushing my bike.

You just cannot eat your lunch in peace in some countries, including Italy. Hawkers hassle you. We were approached by four different guys selling ‘genuine’ articles! This certainly did not happen in any of the Eastern European countries we were in.

The guy below was selling necklaces and beads. He gave this particular couple a really hard go. He did not get far with us….Tony moved him on in ultra quick time!

It was nice to see the sun! That had not been forecast, but totally welcome!

Leaving the delightful city of Ferrara, we headed across the Po River, a 652 km long river that flows into the Adriatic near Venice. It is Italy’s longest river. It flows through a series of channels that Leonardo da Vinci helped to design.

Here it is in flood from the last few days heavy rains.

For about 15 km we followed the river riding on a cycle path on the flood levee. We turned off the levee to head through this village.

After 96 km we arrived in Rovigo. At first glance, less culturally preserved and interesting that Ferrara. Something is seemingly not square here. The house is on an angle. Riding under that arch we were in the central area of the town.

After showering we headed back into the central area to check it out. Somewhat disjointed, there are a number of surprisingly interesting buildings.

The first one we came across you could not miss given its height. It was adjacent to a roundish building named La Rotunda.

La Rotunda was being renovated and we were surprised to find a door open, so we wandered in. Our expectations were blown away and we were amazed with what we saw.

The place was one gigantic artwork.

Some other curios included the local duomo….no doors opened for us!

A few other local photos before we retired for the night.

Tomorrow we head to Belluno, regarded as the ‘front door’ to the Dolomites. A longer day of 150-160 km, depending upon which route we take. We are hoping the rain and winds are kind.

The last photo is from Ferrara. I was intrigued as you could tell this tunnel went under the Castle much further. Secret passages for me are like locked door on towers…mystery and intrigue!

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

Rain, rain go away

We have had two days of intense rain with flooding and landslides in the Emilia-Romagna region throwing our plans into Plan B mode.

Yesterday was always destined to be a rest day in Split, as we were boarding our ferry to leave Eastern Europe after a brilliant three weeks.

The weather was shite, per the forecast.

We needed to vacate our little apartment by 10am and then kill time until the ferry embarkation commenced at around 5.30 pm.

The day was long, as it was cold and wet and we had two bikes and our luggage with us.

We ventured from cafe to restaurant, spending a few hours at one with outdoor heaters. Check out the size of the base of the olive tree behind me.

Do you recall the story a few days back of our Wolf Creek sports Jaguar driver? The guy who offered to transport us, and our bikes, in his Jaguar coupe? He was the guy who got really crabby with us for not accepting his offer. We have since ridden around 350 km since we saw him.

Guess who walked up to us and greeted us like long lost friends at this restaurant in Split? If I had been sitting on a perch, I would have fallen off in astonishment! I was gobsmacked! Split is a really big city….what were the chances of that?

After closing my amazed mouth, he told us he was looking for accomodation. We bid him farewell. 30 minutes later he reappears with a suitcase to chat again and eats at the same restaurant wanting to know if we were staying the night. We left pronto!

Wandering around the old town here are a few photos. Not many taken due to the rain and trying to find places to keep warm.

Split is famous for the Diocletian’s Palace, built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 4th century. Today the remains form about half the old town of Split.

It is not a palace as you would normally think a palace looks like, but more if a large fortress. There are hundreds of commercial enterprises contained within. Tours are available but the bikes prevented that.

Here are a couple of photos showing parts of the palace.

We headed over to the Port of Split early….hanging around like a bad smell. We were there so long we got asked for Euros over and over and again by the same guys so they could buy cigarettes.

We were two of the first three to board the cargo hold. That was good as it meant we were not out in the rain like these guys. The third person was a German motorcyclist, who told us he realised he had boarded the wrong ferry! He was meant to be on the Jadrolinjia on the left. That is the Croatian government owned ferry company. We were on SNAV, the Italian based one. They run the same time and day schedules! Crazy!

The crew were far from ready for us, or the vehicles. They worked really hard and fast through their duties. 🙈

The second photo is of the wall some 10 metres from where these two are sitting. Maybe they should have gone to Specsavers!?!

Our bikes would eventually rest against the yellow parallel bars. The guy on the left tied them securely.

The guy on the right is new to the job but seems to be fitting in well. He told me he was from the Ukraine and wanted to know if we would cycle there too. Umm let me think about that…nope!

Our last daylight photos of Split taken on board the ferry. The ferry left one hour late as we watched the difficulties they were having with the main rear match door closure.

Plan B for today was activated when we awoke (being woken up at 5.30 am by the p.a.) to look out the window. Damn those meteorologists, they were right yet again.

We decided we would not hang around Ancona and ride north. It was bucketing down and the winds were a 50 kmh northerly (headwind). These photos were taken on route to the railway station.

Here I am googling train timetables and routes.

On the train at 8.42 am and we were heading to Bologna, where the Giro d’Italia had started only a few days earlier. Bologna would line us up with the next day’s ride in what seems to be an improved weather forecast. Not great, but hopefully minimal rain.

As we followed the coastline along what would have been our riding route, this was the consistent view. The Adriatic was smashing over breakwalls.

An announcement was made that due to a river flooding, railway infrastructure had been damaged on the line ahead, therefore there would be a significant delay as they took a longer option to get to Bologna.

5 hours it took all up for what was cited as a 2 hour rail journey. We later learned that there had been significant flooding and landslides in the region. We made the right call!

So now we are in Bologna. It is cold, but the heavy rain has stopped and now only occasional showers.

We are hopeful of continuing our ride, as planned, in the morning.

Bologna is a very interesting city and is the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Etruscan in origin, then Roman it is famous for its towers, churches and porticos. The world’s oldest university is here, established in 1088.

Some photos from our walking tour.

The army guards the San Petronio Basilica located in Piazza Maggiore.

The pillars are extraordinarily huge, with the gothic vaulting a feature high up. Construction commenced in 1388. It is the 10th largest church in the world (based on volume).

We also wandered into another local church. It amazes me how much money has been spent constructing, in the creation of sculptures, massive art works and the like. It borders obscene extravagance (notwithstanding my appreciation for the artisans skills). What that money could do for the homeless and impoverished in the world…..

Heading back towards our hotel, Tony ordered a caramel cappuccino. I said I’d try one. This is not what I was expecting.

A fortnight remains of our cycling journey. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.

My last picture is from Split, where there is a Museum featuring stuffed frogs! No is the answer in case you were wondering.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo 😊💪🚴

Split

First things first. Back to the sea organ to listen to the beautiful sounds created by the water underneath this structure, released via a series of vents and openings. It was crisp and clear today despite a mob of school kids on an excursion. I was so pleased we swung back here before continuing our journey south.

03BD73FC-2FA4-488D-83E9-9C7121BFA186The first 75 km we did not take photos as we were on a reasonably busy, one laned, no verge arterial road. Eventually our route took us onto less busy roads. Below is the arterial road where you can see zero verge with a cambered gutter you cannot ride on.

We kept our eyes open and wide looking for this wildlife. There were numerous signs, but sadly no razorbacks appeared. Probably a good thing

We did see a few snakes (alive and dead), and some beautiful green and yellow lizards.They are too quick for photographs though.

The snakes creep me out though. I forgot to mention a few days ago, on a warm day, Tony called and pointed…as he veered wildly to the left, there were two black snakes entwined in passion. If he had not called out I would have gone over them. As it was I missed them by inches and their two heads were already 6 inches off the ground…peddle height.

I am not sure what we are looking at. The structure at the top of the hill almost looks like an observatory of some kind?

We pulled off the busy road when a sign appeared for a ‘panoramic’ restaurant’. Certainly a great view. The body of water is the Krka River and flows direct into the Adriatic Sea.  Upstream is to the left under the bridge and into the Krka National Park.

Found a nice table for a rest.

Our route took us to the outskirts of Sibenik, another historic Croatian city. It is the oldest native Croatian town on the shores of the Adriatic.

Our route then turned inland, well away from the Sea. We were totally fascinated by the amount of rock and thick stone walls, in various conditions.

The roads became quite minor and narrow. We turned left here!

More walls.

When you are riding along with hills to the left, hills to the right, hills in front of you and no obvious valleys it means only one thing, You are going to climb!

Tony took this one at the saddle of quite a pinch of a climb that was between 9-11 percent for the most. There was a bit more after it but not as steep. The graph shows the  ashy little climb.

0337C0CA-4ADC-4D85-83CA-010894CA4125.jpegLooking back down the valley

When you are at around 400 m.a.s.l. eventually you must descend if heading to a seaside location. Here is our first view of Split.

We are still about 40 km ride from Split at this point. It is looking like a big city to ride into. Aargh, but it is Saturday so maybe it will be quieter.

Fortunately it was a bit quieter and we made our way into the Old Town without too many hairy near misses.

Once we got to the old section, we walked our bikes. There are numerous narrow alleys, highly polished and well worn cobbles with an extraordinary gloss ( ie, slippery) and tourists galore.

Our accommodation is a tiny 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor of an old building overlooking multiple little cafes and restaurants.

After a lovely meal at one of those we wandered around.

D8E924CD-A8DC-4923-9661-E815D387024C

This is the waterfront section. Old facades to the left with eateries and tourist oriented pop up shops to the left.

4A7E8867-56C9-4289-A633-A74FEB5115FA

D6A57F01-8858-45EA-BB64-978CEB81BE49

We survived Croatian car drivers. An extraordinary country of contrast. The mountains, the sea and everything in between. It will leave an indelible memory.

6A406672-4BE0-456C-992A-252EADB6CEB5
Old town Split

Today this was our route.

B4CF41C9-2D1C-4D4F-9967-0F8827F74666.jpeg

I deliberately made our 145 km ride route smaller, so that you can see where in the world we are. Multiple countries not far from here, with Bosnia very close.

We have a rest day Sunday as we wait for our overnight ferry to Italy.

We will wander around the old town, with our bikes, kitted up in case we hop onto them, fully loaded as this accommodation cannot store them.

Rain and cooler conditions are forecast. I hope it waits until evening and buckets down before we arrive in Italy, where bad weather is forecast. Fingers crossed he meteorologists are wrong.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo

lrg_dsc02352