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Last day to Rome

12 Jun

 

IMG_1817       My last night sleeping with Italian men… I left 2 of them sleeping soundly in the little village of Fromello as I disappeared into the day that I knew was going to be a scorcher.
I was surprised to continue on trail for a fair way before it became obvious I was about to enter a major city. The rubbish everywhere was disappointing. That breakdown lane below was a garbage dump.IMG_1818

Really Italy. You need to clean up your act. I’d noticed yesterday that there were TVs dumped in creeks and bags of waste just chucked. Bottles and cigarette packets galore 😠
Anyhoo…. Bought myself a gelato and some focaccia and made my way south. The roads were choked with traffic in parts and I was travelling faster than the cars. IMG_1822

At other times I was on ridiculously dangerous roads with no verge. Nothing worse than getting cleaned up in the last 15 Kms. The photo below was taken when there weren’t two lanes of traffic speeding towards me with nowhere for me to get off the road. IMG_1823

The signage wasn’t easy to follow and was once again grateful for Roger’s help fixing my GPS. It would have been like a stranger navigating their way from San Souci to Manly.
At one point I entered a park above Rome and sat for a few minutes. Not really thinking about much, not emotional, just numb really. I’d planned to get to the Vatican at 1pm and it was around 12. Just a big zig zag down the hill on shitty uneven trail and navigating a few more streets and I was there.

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It was 35 degrees and I was just beginning to realise that I wouldn’t have to do this tomorrow… Or the next day… Or the….
There were people everywhere. Not one was interested in me. These were your typical tourists walking 4 abreast and complaining about the heat and looking miserable as though they were suffering more than anyone else. Oh how I haven’t missed first world problems.
It crossed my mind too many times what the people really suffering would think. You know, the ones not on a holiday.

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I entered “The City” and felt like an ant with so many people around. I took a photo to let everyone know I had arrived while waiting for my Testamonial (a stamp and a piece of paper) and waited in line with a bunch of people complaining about their tour…..
30 mins later I was out the door with my prize. IMG_1828

I sat down amidst the throngs and searched for a hotel on my phone.
My phone went crazy with so many texts, emails, FB messages.
The support from friends has been huge and a major comfort in the last 6 weeks. It hasn’t been easy or fun, but I did it. I’m not doing it again, but I’m glad I have. If you know what I mean….

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Last 60km day … Forever! 😩😂

9 Jun

imageEffing hot, buying water in 1.5 litre bottles instead of Princess like 500 mls. The temps were in mid 30’s and felt every bit of it.

Pretty village of Capranica… all stone, lots of men drinking coffee and chatting in all the cafes. Just something they do at 8am before they start drinking wine an hour later…IMG_1805     IMG_1809

Did a bit of sight seeing around Sutri. Some of this shit is seriously older than me! Must google it when I get home to find out what I was actually looking at..

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From Vetralla to Formello should have been 53 Kms… Then why did my Garmin read 60kms? Those last 7 Kms ( and quite a few before then) sucked. Must be close to 40 degrees. Passed a pretty picnic spot but should never look into the rivers/ creeks. Rubbish galore. Bags of the stuff and a couple of TVs in this one.

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Passed an Australian couple (smart people had just day packs as their luggage was moved to the next spot each day) trying to sit in a square of shade out of the heat. A kilometre later, a girl from Luxembourg doing the same .. They weren’t impressed with distances either. There had been nowhere to buy water for too long.

I managed to contact the Australian couple the next day to try and meet up in Rome when they got there, but the man had collapsed just after I saw them and they were taking a day off.

Staying in Formello at Ostello Maripara for 15 Euros. Clean but no privacy. Nice view…

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Lying on a bed (bunk) two Italian guys in here as well, but they’ve gone to eat … I can’t be bothered going to get food.. or a wine.. I’m clean and shoeless. Not all that excited about finishing tomorrow… just sitting here wondering why the hell I decided to do this in the first place.

The building I’m staying in is pretty cool… all modernised on the inside but all original old stonework outside.

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So, tomorrow😳 who’s going to be in Rome??😔

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Stinking hot.

9 Jun

Kept awake by barking dogs most of the night, so got up early, packed tent away for maybe the last time? A hand written note 30 cms from where I was sleeping spooked me a bit when I woke. Made me realise how a tent has no security…. that’s my tent zip in the bottom left hand corner of the photo!IMG_1781

Beautiful around the lake before the rest of the world woke.

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Strolled around Montefiascone and then on to Viterbo and Vetralla. 56kms on the Garmin.
I was hoping to sleep at Monasterio Regina Pacis in Vetralla. The prices are rising the closer I get to Rome. These dudes wanted €30 but I told them I’d rather eat in my room than get some weird ritual placed upon me again and the price dropped to €20.IMG_1797

Good deal. They wanted to give me breakfast but not when I said I wanted to leave at 6 am.
The weather is stinking hot. Can’t believe the extremes I’ve had. Only a few weeks ago freezing conditions traversing snow.
So up and ready to go at 6 and I’m locked in. Took a bit of noise and 20 mins of walking around before Julie Andrews shows up to let me out….
Few hurdles still to overcome… my Visa card is very close to being in two pieces and I’ve hardly used it. Really wrapping myself in cotton wool and nothing (not even the German chick that coughed all night last night) will stop me getting to Rome.
Plan to not bush bash anymore after a shocker in a field yesterday.. Looked like a typical snaky spot and had prickles and welts all over my battered body. Massive shout out to Roger for getting my GPS waypoints loaded for the final 300kms. Saved me big time. Mwah xxxxx
Off to Formello via Capranica and Sutri for my last 50 plus km day. Temps expected in mid 30’s😩

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Sucking toes and cleansing soles

8 Jun

 

IMG_1765      Sucking toes? I thought that went out with Fergie! Last time I posted, I was concerned about saying a prayer at the dinner table. Not getting my feet caressed and kissed by someone that had stolen Batman’s cape! Woah!! Still not sure what it was all about but we had to say “Amen” a bit…
Ok..
Dinner was great. Nobody spoke English.

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Sleeping quarters were me, two German girls and two Italian men.
Pretty much what I’m getting used to 😩
Lucky me got a bottom bunk and top was spare.IMG_1770
Next day was a late start as we all (again) had to eat breakfast together. With temps now hitting above 30, I wanted to get going but there it was… The plastic covered prayer (yes, mine in English) to give me guidance on my ” journey” (god I hate that word)IMG_1771

I found a resting place for my dear, faithful, worn and weary Hokas on the side of the trail.

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Plan was to get to Bolsena as the accommodation looked like there was enough to choose from.
Pretty day through Acquapendente. Temps really getting up there. Fine if I didn’t have my pack and at least a couple of litres of water.IMG_1777
Got to Bolsena and some Italian ” mob” had hijacked all the Pilgrim beds. Tried another place but there was no phone reception… Hot, tired, smelly and ready to call it a day.
Damn it… I put my pack back on and walked on out of the town. Thank God I have my tent.
Reason behind no post last night … If you don’t have walls, you don’t have power points. No phone, no GPS, no Garmin…
My solar powered USB charger is working well but only want to use it in an emergency. (like getting lost)
Crappy nights sleep with dogs barking all night. At least I was warm and it didn’t rain.

 

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60 k Hoka happy day

6 Jun

IMG_1761Couldn’t have asked for a better day (maybe a hill or two less…)
Absolutely stunning. Dreaming of a bike or 6 with Lindy, Al and the boys.
Broke in my new Stinson Trail shoes delivered last night. 62 Kms and no worries. Even managed to get them wet 😒
The climb up to Radicofani was evil. You can see it for miles and know it’s a slog.

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Met a lovely girl climbing up. Her name was Elenor … I asked her if she had stayed at Ponte d’Arbia a couple of nights ago as her name was on my door last night! (She had!!)
They are making a doco. We arrived at our accommodation together but the God botherers wouldn’t let her and her friends stay there because they were “working” and not “religious pilgrims”!!! First time I’d seen that. Wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t told me🙏
So now I’m sitting on my own writing this and hoping to God they don’t ask me to say a prayer before dinner.. They told me dinner is at 8 and we all sit together and eat. First time I’ve done this .. wish me luck! Nobody speaks English, so I’ve prepared “hooly gooly round the table, fill ya belly while you’re able” Reckon I’m safe with that?image
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Hokalujah!!

5 Jun

imageHoka one one.. Two two!! Two brand new pairs waiting for me when I arrived today!! Thank you Roger for arranging with the European gurus. I was relaxed with finishing my run into Rome with my old faithfuls but when you think about it.. Would I start C2K 240 Kms in these sad soles.

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Monteriggioni to Monteroni d’Arbia

5 Jun

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I was defs the only one in the hostel last night without a penis. Instead of lying in bed listening to the walls vibrating from the snorers on the other side, I smartly got up early anticipating some chest beating and horrific early morning rituals from the cavemen.
Best day ever. Hope the photos do it justice. Apart from an hour of rain and a bit more mud it was pretty much the best day yet.  Thanks to Roger for all the help getting my GPS sorted at 3am this morning. Definitely worth a few hours less sleep to know that if I go off track (😜) I’ll be able to find the next way-mark.IMG_1729

Some great little villages …. and some vicious dogs. Shame this little Pilgrim refuge didn’t have a fence around it… and hot coffee… and pizza.

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So I got a bit off the track. I blame the big sign COOP. I was nearing Monteroni d’Arbia and thought, best get some food for the night as that’s where I was staying. Little did I know that it was 10 Kms north of the Monteroni d’Arbia where I was staying ( Ponte D’Arbia Localita)
So, with an extra couple of kgs of shopping, I hit Centro Cresti after 50 plus Kms.
What greeted me is worthy of it’s own post…

Naked men and flesh eating insects

4 Jun

 

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Holy CRAP!
Did I do the right thing or what??? I’ve just come into the hostel in Monteriggioni after having dinner with Roger (well he’s the only one up at 2 am to chat with on FB…) and there are naked men all over the place! Well, 3 of them.. All in a state of undress. Jesus Christ, put some clothes on! I splashed out and paid for my own room, otherwise I’d have to sleep with these sleeze buckets. I know I work with naked bodies everyday but thank God they are unconscious!

IMG_1721 IMG_1723Last night, in Gambassi Terme  .. I turned off the light after removing 3 ticks and was immediately a food source for the next needy soul. The damn mozzies ate me alive. Thought I’d try sticking toilet paper in my ears so I didn’t have to listen to them but every time they landed was like touchdown on a helipad. The sheets this morning told the homicidal axe maniac bloody story.
Beautiful Tuscany again today. San Gimignano, Colle di Val d’Elsa and now in Monteriggioni.
My Garmin Origin has no waypoint memory left, so I am now without it to point me in the right direction. Have waypoints in my phone, so lets hope I don’t get lost with another technology challenge.
Tomorrow I go through Sienna and hope to finish in Monteroni d’Arbia. Should be 50kms but my Garmin always ends up saying I’ve done more (whether I get lost or not) Weather is hitting high 20’s but defs feels warmer.image
Tonight was the first night EVER that I have eaten in a restaurant alone. Well, technically I was having a conversation with Stinky via FB messaging the whole time, so I really wasn’t alone. The other diners were a little concerned at how many times I looked like I was choking ( if you know Roger, you’ll know why) One glass of crap Italian wine and a pizza (no, I couldn’t finish it but I’ll have it for breakfast)
I’m now holed up in my room waiting for the shit to settle on the fan before I go to the bathroom, clean my teeth and lock my door.
…and it’s raining 😒

Postcard from Tuscany

3 Jun

imagePicture postcard day. It’s getting pretty warm now and I’m trying to slow down the days and enjoy some of the towns. San Miniato was the greatest. Of course it was way up a hill but I’m used to that. Bought the best Fragola and Limon gelato and schmoozed with the locals. It was a public holiday (1948 Republic holiday) so was carrying heaps of food and water incase everything was shut. In hind sight, not necessary…
So now I’m in Gambasse Terme eating like a possessed pig and trying to get a bit of my body back. I look ridiculous. Never did I think I’d be dipping breadsticks into the olive oil from a tin of salmon to try to beef up a bit!
Anyone that’s ever said “I’ve tried everything… I just can’t seem to lose the weight” How about you move. A lot. Every day. And stop eating crap.
Excuses for anything are just the cheap, easy way out of achieving a goal.
Was that a bit harsh? Nah, didn’t think so. 😉
De ticked myself again this afternoon .. Wondering about a spot on my back.. Tick or rub from my pack? Wonder if Advantix works on people?
Trying to stay focused on doing 50 Kms a day. The “nearly there” comments from you guys sure beat saying nothing. Really love all the messages I’ve received. Getting one today from the French dude that co founded Hoka absolutely made my day.

More mud, mountains and MAMILS in Tuscany

2 Jun

IMG_1691Hey! NO RAIN today!!! 55 Kms of blue sky on the Sabbath. Left Pietrasanta early after sleeping on top of the Italian guy last night…. He must have gone to the bathroom 5 times overnight and was generally keeping the rest of us awake.. Me more so as the bunks kept moving.
Thought there were going to be monster hills early on today, guide said it was “fairly strenuous” Pfft.
Nothing to complain about but trying to skirt the mud pits. At one point got totally stung by prickles on legs, arms and hands (bloody idiot decided to hang on to them…) You know those stings like fire ants when your hairs stand on end like you’re being shocked… I must have reached 6 feet tall looking like that ;)
Arrggh… Just found a tic! (I was perusing my newly aquired scratches) Hope he’s the only one. Had to do a surgical extraction after only getting half of him out.. Lucky for 25 gauge needles.. I’ve got a room with 5 beds in it all to myself (and the parasites I’m feeding)

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The middle aged men in Lycra ( MAMILS) were out in full force today. Really tried to get a photo of the peloton as it came towards me but was to busy staking my claim to 6 inches of space.

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Went through Lucca. Pretty city. I think I like the cities I go through on the weekends where everyone looks relaxed.

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I was hoping to get to Altopascio as there is Pilgrim accommodation (looks like it’s run by Tourist office/council). Why Pilgrim accommodation I hear you say?
Firstly, he who has to be obeyed had messaged me to ask me not to camp in any gravel pits/ side of the road, pitch my tent style that I was becoming quite fond of. I told him he could up my life insurance but he said the house needs cleaning and needs me home.
Also, I will never be a Pilgrim again, so may as well make the most of what they offer to us. There is never a question of whether this is a religious, cultural, personal, whatever pilgrimage. As long as you have proof of what you are doing, the doors are open.. Until full. It’s also a hell of a lot easier charging phone, GPS and Garmin via a powerpoint. My tent doesn’t have one of them….Damn it! Another tic!!

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My Pilgrim Passport. The bit I blocked says “May God hold you safely in the palm of his hand” I know I’m small, but I’m not that small.

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