“Good things keep happening to us on this trip!”. We have been saying that sentence a few times lately. Whenever we feel down, something surprisingly good happens to us. Not always, we have also had lots of little catastrophes on our bike touring adventure so far: bird shit on the tent in the morning, no food, little arguments between Matt and me, shitty hills, motorcycles almost running us over, lots of sweat, dropped all the pasta when straining it after it was finally al dente, countless mosquito bites and many more. But this blog post is dedicated to the good things that have happened to us so far. The list of lovely people we have met is long, here are our top four happy encounters:
In Italy we started to have routing cappuccinos during the day. We would go into a Cafeteria, have a cappuccino and work out our route over the restaurant’s wifi. We were doing so in the beautiful old town of Bergamo. An Italian man who was having lunch at the table next to us was listening to our conversation. It was obvious that Matt and I were clueless how to get to our next destination so the man jumped into our conversation and gave us a few tips. His name was Alessandro and he is probably Italys best looking pharmacist. He told us to meet him in his pharmacy on the corner after we finish our cappuccinos. As we arrived at the pharmacy he went into his office in the back and came out with isotonic drinks, magnesium tablets and some power gels. What a champion! Our day was good before but as we were leaving Bergamo we both had even bigger grins on our faces.
On the way from Lake d’Osea to Lake Garda we got lost. We saw arrows to our direction but they always led us to the motorway. It was close to midday and we were hot and hungry which made the situation twice as hard for Matt and three times as hard for me. After entering the same roundabout for the third time we finally found our track. Slightly frustrated we continued along a busy street. Suddenly, a car stopped a bit ahead of us. A lady got out and waved at Matt but Matt only had eyes for the letters R-E-S-T-A-U-R-A-N-T-E at that time and did not see that she was trying to stop us. When I passed her she literally waved her arms off so I stopped. She told me that she saw us a few km’s back and thought we were lost. “I’ll buy lunch for you”, she said very quickly and adamantly. I laughed and stuttered a nervous “okay”. 4 km later we found ourselves in a cute little garden café having lunch with the lady who introduced herself as Miriam. It turned out she has ridden the Panamerica with her motorcycle for two years.
Miriam did not only buy a delicious lunch with dessert and coffee for us, she also taught us two things that she had learnt on her own big trip. Nummero uno: Be careful when you are enjoying yourself. When you are having fun at a party or having a nice lunch you might not be as careful with your possessions as you normally are. Thieves know that too. Nummero due: When you are having a difficult time, keep your eyes open for help. There will be someone or something to help you. You will always find a way through, just be attentive to possible solutions. We will keep those well learnt lessons in mind. After Miriam rushed off to work Matt and I stayed at our table in the café for a while. We were both in disbelieve. Who does that? Who buys lunch for two stinky people they don’t even know? Deeply touched of so much generosity we rode on.
At the end of another long day in the saddle we arrived on a little river. There was no camping site or cheap hostel in sight. We decided to cook dinner at the river bank and then eventually wild camp when the surroundings became a bit quieter. As we were eating our vegetable-couscous we saw rowing boats coming in after a training session on the river. I looked at Matt and knew that he was thinking the same thing. The clubrooms of the rowing club behind us had a little garden with the perfect pitch of grass for our tent. Matt began to talk to some of the rowing boys. 15 minutes later we were chatting and eating cake with the whole rowing team. The president of the club insisted that we do not pitch our tent in the garden but sleep inside of the clubrooms so we can use the toilets and hot showers. That’s how we ended up spending the night on our two inflatable mattresses in the gym of an Italian rowing club. There was even some cake left for a midnight snack. It is as if bike touring wants to show us how good it is.
Last Sunday we were cycling from Padua to Carbonerra (the town’s name is sadly not connected to Spaghetti Carbonara, we checked). Plenty of other cyclists were taking the beautiful cycling path in between these two towns also. We stopped to have a cold drink at a little wooden bar along the way as it was well above 30 degrees that day. As we got back to our bikes an Italian couple was closely studying our bike setup. We had a chat with them and they told us that they are planning to cycle the way of St. James in Spain with their electric bikes. We bumped into them again a bit later down the track. Ciro tried out Matts bike with all the heavy luggage and I didn’t say no to a ride a on Bianca’s super light and fast electric bike.
We said goodbye again and found them waiting for us two minutes later. “We have to go the same direction, why don’t we ride together for a bit?” they said. As we rode along we got hungry and ended up having Pizza at one of their favourite Pizzerias in their home town. I will not even try to describe how good the pizza was. When we wanted to pay they both grinned and said it was already done. They insisted to accompany us to the neighbouring town where we had organised a host for the night. We searched for the house of our host for over an hour. Ciro and Bianca did not leave our side until we arrived at our destination. Again we were mind blown from all the kindness.
We both can’t believe with how much generosity people treat us at the moment. Sure, there are also old ladys who swear at us in Italian when we ride over a cross walk and cars that horn because we take too much room on the road. But these are the exceptions. Whenever we tell people that we are on a bike touring trip from Switzerland to Australia they get excited. Most of them don’t believe us at first, second and third but once they do they all support our journey in some way. The four stories above are only examples. People give us smiles on the way everyday. A man opened up the supermarket in his lunch break only because we were hungry and another guy opened up his Pizzeria earlier than scheduled to make a Pizza for us. Crazy. We are very thankful for all these generous gestures. We both had made a point to ourselves to return these favours to strangers, travellers and to people in need.
There are so many bad things happening on this planet, so here’s to the small good ones. Cheers!
Matt and Jasi
Ps. I wrote this blog post just before we entered Trieste. In Trieste we met a Dutch family. We had chat with them and they gave us 10 Euro to have a coffee on the way. It doesn’t stop.