This page collects posts from my other blogs and hosts what fits no where else. Sundays the Beach follows my journey to all of Sydney’s beaches (in alphabetical order); I’ve taken to Learning German with Christoph Waltz and am starting my Push Bike Diaries about bicycle related things and my preparations for my coming Big Ride (through Australia, Europe, the US and Asia … or something like that).
Aldi is called Hoffer in Austria and before leaving Bludenz I get an Austrian SIM card here for less that EUR 2. Sarah and Tobi had helped me research my options – to keep using my Italian SIM is too pricey – and the Hoffer card looks a good deal. Now if I can just make it work. I’ll need help from tonight’s host with the German, I think.
I won’t say that more of my German has returned but I am feeling more confident about using the little I have. My ear seems to be tuning more to the sounds of the language and picking out the few familiar words as they flash by. My Italian – poor as it is – is much much better than my German.
As promised the day’s ride is almost entirely flat or downhill. The sun shines, the big mountains retreat behind me and are…
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I rode my bicycle into Zurich with low expectations and modest hopes. I expected to see Inglourious Basterds on the big screen and Christoph would be there in some way. I hoped I might, not meet him, but perhaps be able to say Hallo.
The expectations were met. But here’s what I hadn’t anticipated: it was all in German. The parts of the film not in German had German subtitles; the brief interview he did afterwards was in German.
On the one hand that’s really pretty tragic – I rode over 800 kilometres across Europe to attend a screening and hear a man speak and I couldn’t understand but a few words of either. On the other hand, it is both comical and encouraging.
In the grand telling of Learning German with Christoph Waltz – the final tale of this project – that I rode to Zurich and it was…
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When my train arrived yesterday evening Tobi was, unexpectedly, on the platform to meet me.
I’ve found the guest/host relationship on CouchSurfing and Warm Showers – both web-based hospitality communities but the latter expressly for bicycle tourists – can quickly form and, even untended, be lasting.
Tobi and Sarah had stayed with me and my then-husband in 2012. They were medical students. Their Austrian university allowed/encouraged their students to do learning-rotations at hospitals overseas. They were in the midst of a year-long series of such placements interspersed with travel when they visited us in Sydney.
At the time, the idea of visiting them was a slim, but desirable, hope. But two and a half years on, down one husband but immersed in my own adventure, here I am in Bludenz and here is Tobi – warm and welcoming.
They are now proper doctors and working in the hospital in this small…
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My first morning in Austria hasn’t begun well. It’s rained overnight and I wake to find a fairly significant puddle between the floor of my tent and the footprint (groundcloth) and some water has gotten into the tent as well. I think it’s a combination of a poorly chosen site and signs that this tent – beloved as it is – may be on its last legs.
The rain has stopped falling but the sky is heavy and the morning is cool. As I lie in my tent and contemplate the tasks ahead I want to be someplace else. It’s the first time of the trip where I really want to be elsewhere – not home, home – not for good – but if I could fall back asleep and wake in Sydney just to spend the day there, that would be really nice. I’m also feeling the weight of…
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Days 22 – 24 (15 – 17 June 2015)
Monday 15 June – From Rovereto to Bolzano
I wake to the sound of the nearby church bells striking seven and pedal away at 8:15 only to stop at the first café I see.
I take my cappuccino and Germanic pastry (apples, nuts, some sort of cheese) at a table on a cobblestone square with a view of Neptune’s ass – the café is behind a statue/fountain. A couple seated nearby are switching between German and Italian through out their conversation and, as I’m getting ready to go, they ask about my journey. They have a friend in Berlin who they think I’ll have lots in common with. I give them my card and hope to hear from them. It feels like a good start with German speakers.
It is another long day of riding on an almost entirely separated cycleway. The…
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Saturday 13 June – Firenze to Verona
I could take the train from Firenze to Verona with changes in Prato and Bologna, but manoeuvring the bicycle and the bags on and off trains and through stations is a pain best avoided when possible. I haven’t ridden in days. I’m keen to get back on the bicycle and just ride. So I set out to cover the 20 or so kilometres to Prato and skip one transfer.
I won’t say it’s a mistake – because I am glad to be back in the saddle – but it’s a pretty shitty ride. Not the suburban and light industrial areas I pass through to leave Florence but the 15 kilometres on an ugly, hot, heavily trafficked state highway. Motorists are, as usual, respectful but it is not a nice place to ride. Once on the train, however, the journey is smooth and easy.
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I’ve forgotten to re-post blog entries here but if you look at this post you can find the older ones as well.
10 June 2015 – Wednesday
It rains while I am on the train to Florence. A pelting rain slanting into the Tuscan landscape of green hills, fields of crops and towns whose names escape me. The station in Florence, Santa Maria Novella, is a huge building from the fascist era – modern and art deco-ish. The main hall is utterly jammed with people through whom I walk my bicycle.
Jerry Lee lives a few kilometres away and I make my way to his piazza and there we meet for the first time in 25 years. He’s the same; I’m the same; we’re completely different and have led whole lives in the interim.
Me and Jerry Lee
We take my stuff to his place then go out to a laundromat. We talk, as people do, about this and that – we walk around his 500 year old neighbourhood waiting for my clothes…
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