Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back in Bologna

Here we are in Bologna.  It has been a day.  Jim's gastrointestinal distress continues.  Immodium was obtained prior to going to the train station, and so the trip was uneventful on that front.  Did you know that on the Italian trains, the toilets flush directly to the tracks?  Neither did I.  There is a sign up in the restroom requesting that people not use the facility while the train is near a station.  Ewwwwww.
We had assigned seating in the first class car.  When we got there the door to our compartment was locked because the conductor had left his stuff in there.  It was sort of weird because we didn't recognize the stuff that was left on the seat as "conductor stuff" and could not figure out why, out of all the possible compartments, ours was locked.  Eventually he showed up and let us in.  We weren't expecting the six person seat configuration.  The train down just had seats in the car. These had compartments with doors.

When we arrived at the hotel, Jim was feeling sufficiently under the weather that we considered flying home early.  I called TravelGuard to see if the airfare upcharges would be covered.  I took out this insurance within 10 days of the first trip deposit, which gives me a pre-existing condition waiver.  Because I wasn't on my guard I let it slip that Jim had had a cold prior to leaving.  The person on the phone immediately countered with Jim's having the cold would negate all of our medical coverage that I paid for.  I am not amused by this.  When I get back, I'm going to call them and ask them for a precise definition of the meaning of "waiver of pre-existing medical condition". So, based on their seeming desire to not pay out anything, I told Jim to buck up and that we were going to go get the car.
We cabbed to the airport.  In both directions it has seemed like a really long drive.  It has been.  After getting the rental, we drove back by a much more direct route. Getting the car was tedious.  We're dropping the car in France.  The people on the reservation line said it would be a 750 euro drop fee.  We were pretty upset by that, but Hertz was the only company that would let us do a drop, we already had plane tickets from Marseilles, so we decided to suck it up and pay it.  Then we get to the airport to get the car, and are told there is an additional 200 euro drop fee for the GPS.  At this point we started discussing not getting the car and just taking the trains.  Miraculously, the rate book came out, and the car drop fee turned in to 200 euro, and the GPS drop fee became 50 euro.  So that was interesting.  We can't figure out why they would quote such a high drop fee over the phone, unless they really do not want people leaving the cars in other countries.  Our first GPS unit was in-op.  We took that back, and the new one is very nice, it's intuitive and it works.
Driving back to the hotel was not awful.  It's good to have round-abouts everywhere, they give a person time to think and the ability to reverse course.  The GPS calls them rotaries.
Tomorrow we are going to Padua.  We had planned to bus in to Venice from Padua on Tuesday, but that plan is now made uncertain due to Jim not feeling well. 
We keep reminding ourselves that long vacations have an ebb and a flow, and that one must tolerate the low ebbs and wait for a rising tide.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 15 - The Last Day of the Belvedere Hotel

Last night was the big sea food dinner again.  Marina made the giant seafood paella.  There was also this dish with tiny octopi.  That's a teeny tiny octopus wedged between the two black olives.  Jim and I ate a few mussels and this morning we really wished we had not done that.  We have been slightly queasy and under the weather for most of the day.

We rode out to San Clemente with Don and Jamie.  It's just a delightful ride with a little climbing, but not a lot.

This is the view from the top.

These flowers were growing in profusion.  They look like crocus, but I think it's the wrong time of the year for them.  They're pretty.

Tomorrow we are up and out.  We take a shuttle to the train station at 9:30, arriving Bologna about two hours later.  We'll drop our luggage at the hotel and then taxi to the airport to pick up our rental car and drive it back to the hotel.  I'm not sure what we were thinking when we decided we needed to have the car on Sunday.  I think we may have been thinking we'd leave Bologna on Sunday, but now we're not.  So, there you go.  We're going to drive to Padua for two nights.  One day will be spent in Venice and then we will head out into the great wide open.  We need to buckle down and make a plan, because it's almost upon us.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Day 14 - Walking in Riccione

Last night was the pool party.  It was within minutes of being moved indoors due to rain, but miraculously it stopped.  Plastic was brought out to keep the tables dry.  It was good that it stopped, the wait staff puts a lot of effort in to this.

Our center piece with candle light.

At the last party, we had the dancer and fire guy from Rio to entertain between courses.  They were not here last night.  The was more audience participation in drinking and dancing than the previous week.  This man was at the table that was ordering large glasses of gin on ice.

Now he and many other people are headed into the pool.  Several people ended up in the pool fully clothed.  This one planned ahead.

Today we took a long walk up the beach.  We passed by this church.

This is a pretty cool painting at the back of the church.  They had a key as to who each person in the painting was, but it was all in Italian.  There look to be a lot of saints there.

A very pretty Mary standing on a korbel.

This is something I have not seen before.  Up until today, all the Catholic churches we have visited were still using candles.  These are electric.  You pull out a candle and set it on the plug and it lights up.  It's just not the same.

As we continued our walk, we went by the Grand Hotel.  That's the one that has been under renovation for several years.  The gates were open, so we walked in.  It's just an amazing building.  I hope they can bring it back.  On our way out we were confronted by an Italian woman glaring, shaking her finger at us, and saying "No" in a firm voice.  When is the last time someone shook their finger at you?

More beach bagnis.

On the way back, Jim spotted this plaque on a brick wall.

This was the villa of Mussolini.

The amount of war that has taken place almost everywhere you go in Europe is saddening.  Yesterday when we were on top of Panoramica we were reading a poster about the Gothic Line in WWII.  Over a million men were involved in the fighting around Rimini, and over a million rounds of ammunition were fired into the city.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Day 13 - Ride to Pesaro Returning via Panoramica

Today Jim had reached his limit on group rides.  Guides are good when you have no clue as to where you're going, but group rides can be difficult because you're with people who don't ride at your pace, slowing occurs at every round about so the guide can be sure no one was left behind, and etc and etc.  So we decided we would ride SS16 to Pesaro. SS16 is a limited access road, it's not divided, but there are no lights.  It was not a particularly attractive ride, but it was an efficient route.  We got into Pesaro and freaked out a little. We had to ride on an off ramp for the autostrada for a bit, there was a lot of traffic.  However, it soon thinned out, and we lived.

This gate caught my eye on the way in to Pesaro.  We walked across the road to get a closer look.

This is what's behind the gate.  It's an old ... something.

Close up of the statuary.

This is an old church in Pesaro.

The inside of it.

This is a breakwater they're working on.  Look at the hills beyond, that's how we went home.  If you refer to the yellow squiggly line on the map at the top of the post, that's the route.  There's a fair amount of up, but it is an absolutlely beautiful ride.

The beach.  Pesaro is also a resort town.  According to the internet, foreigners go to Rimini and Riccione and Italians to to Pesaro.  They are, however, in the process of rolling up the sidewalks.  The season is over!  It's a beautiful time to be here.  I can not imagine the numbers of people and cars that are here in the summer.

Fences are going up along the beach fronts.

We continued on south on a really cool bike path.  It went along the ocean front for miles.  After awhile, it was time to turn around and return north.  The route through the park was just delightfully deserted. We did 70k and it was enough.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Day Twelve - Resting

We had intended to sleep late, but woke up starving, so we got up to feed.  We met a fellow guest on the stairs who said he felt like all he did was ride and eat.  After breakfast we put our dirty clothes in our backpacks and walked off to the laundry.  While waiting for the clothes, we sat in a lovely little cafe and had a water and a cappucino.  Why can't the laundromats in the US be in these pleasant surroundings?

Later we walked up to the train station to determine upon what platform we should stand Sunday morning.  Taking trains is something I am not yet comfortable with, I have very little experience with them.  We saw this hotel on the way up.  Is it not lovely?

OK, guess what this is.  It's the car elevator for the underground parking.  Pretty cool, eh?

Finally, it was off to the grocery store.  They have these nifty baskets.  You can carry them, or if they get too heavy, they have wheels.

Then it was time for lunch.  That has been about it for today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day Eleven - Urbino

Holy moley I am tired.  Today was 100k and 4,600 feet of climbing.  It was an exhausting route because most of the climbing comes in three spurts.  We went to Urbino, but by the time we arrived I was too tired to move around much and take pictures.  This is what we saw at the top of the first climb.  Italy out of the cities is just gorgeous.

After the 5k climb, there was the 4k descent.  At the bottom, one of the rider's tire sidewall was ballooning out.  It blew out shortly thereafter.  Iris, the ride leader, wanted him to walk 15 minutes up the road to wait for the van at a bar, but he wanted to change the tube and put a dollar bill in the tube so he would not have to walk.  That left us sitting on the side of the road for about half an hour being hot.  Eventually we moved on to the next climb.

This is also what we saw while waiting for the tire change.

After a bit, we got to the next climb which was 10k.  At the top we regrouped and waited.  Apparently after we left the regrouping site, one of the women had an issue with her cleat.  She hollered at a friend to tell her husband, a fast rider, to come back.  Unfortunately he never got the message, and neither did the ride leader.  It was not until we reached Urbino that Iris was told the woman was not with the group.  At that point, Iris and the woman's husband went back for her.  Did she stay put?  No.  She rode around, eventually finding part of our group, while Iris and hubby searched for her.  No one had a phone that works in Italy, so we could not contact Iris, so we spent at least an hour in Urbino waiting for the search to complete.  The first rule of being left behind on a group ride is to stay put.  The ride leader will come back, do not strike out into the great wide open.  Stay where you can be found.
We had lunch.  These are like quesadillas, but are incredibly salty.  The dough is salty, as is the ham and cheese inside.

The church across from the cafe.  I was too tired to go inside.  Sorry about that.

This is a terrible picture of Iris.  She's so cute it hurts me. She works here 9 months of the year, and then goes home to Switzerland and works as a secretary in the winter.  She is so strong.  After riding with us from 9 am to 4 pm (it was a really long day) she goes back to work in the hotel office.  The male guides go home.  I hope they're paying her more than the guys.  We like her leading style, she's very calm and does not wick up the pace on the way home.  A couple of Paolo's rides have been pretty dang quick on the way back.

We are not riding tomorrow.  I think we'll do some relaxing stuff like laundry, go to the grocery store and down load some more books for the Nooks.  Have you read Gone Girl?  I just finished it.  I was spell bound up until the last 20 pages, I did not like the ending, but for 450 pages (those are Nook pages) I could not put it down. Soon it will be time for dinner so I must go.  I think I am eating dessert tonight.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day 10 - Rimini and the Country House

After two days of Panoramica, we declared ourselves tired.  This morning we rode with the Leisure Group to Rimini.  It's a slow ride, one is allowed to stop and take pictures without incurring the opprobrium of the group for the delay.  Here is one of the original gates to the city.  I did not get a date of construction, so I'll just leave it as really really old.

This is the duomo in the city, also really really old.

Inside the church.

Another window.

While I was in the church, this nun was following me.  I'm not sure what gave more offense, the bike shorts or the taking of pictures.  I could absolutely feel disapproval radiating from her.  So I left, and apparently leaving was not good enough.  Here she is glaring at me some more.  I have several shots of her giving me "the look."

We then sat at an outdoor cafe and watched people.  I love that, it's my favorite thing to do.  Isn't this young woman pretty?  She and her companion seemed to be having a discussion that was not pleasing her.

These are happy guys.

The innate stylishness of Italians never ceases to amaze me.  They have a panache that you just don't see anywhere else.  The Parisians are close, but I think Italy wins on style points.

This used to be a fish market.  Now they sell flowers and other stuff.  Not too much was happening today.

Another old building.

Danelo said this bridge dates from the 1st century.  Updated, I looked on the web and found this:  "Made of Istrian limestone, it was begun by Augustus but finished by Tiberius in 21 A.D. and marks the beginning of the ancient Aemilian Way (Via Emilia). It's been a national monument since 1885 for it is one of the most remarkable Roman bridges still in existence and in use! Apparently the foundations of its pillars are not disjoint from each other but form a single foundation thus giving more stability."

The goal of today's ride was the weekend house of Marina, who owns the hotel.  Apparently her Dad bought it some time ago.  They don't use it a lot because it needs a fair amount of work.  This is the view from their back yard.

They were doing a barbeque for the hotel guests.  That is the back of the house.

One of the living areas.

There is a staircase going to the second floor.  This is on the ceiling over the staircase.  I'd be interested to know who the lady is gazing over the fence.

It was a fun day, we got to see stuff and rest.  We came back with the C group, which was faster than Leisure.  We got 43k.  We hear tomorrow is a big ride, we're wondering what that means.