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.

The rest of “that” day.

1 Jun

imageI ended up in Pietrasanta after my sad day. Spent the night in a room with a German girl, three Italian girls and an Italian guy. Got the last bed.. Poor small climbing into top bunk :(
What a shit day. Amazing how you can be turned upside down by witnessing something like that.
Maybe I’m tired, I’m not usually super emotional but that seriously hit me like a truck.
Life is a gift. I reckon I get 110% out of every day… sometimes a little bit more. My glass is always half full (but I’d rather full)..
Anyhoo. Moving on.
Here is my friend Mario preparing my next sports drink…..
Pietrasanta is beautiful but I can’t appreciate it being in the headspace I have right now.
Oh… Forgot about the rain.. You know those videos of cars splashing people? Get this. I was hit waist high for a while… Then I got the full “IN YOUR FACE” by a bus.

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Seriously. I was laughing so hard I wanted to stay there and get video ( except it would wreck my phone) Then 30 mins later the tears. That’s all I got. Too much going on in my head.

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Black day, witnessing a suicide.

1 Jun

I never expected today. Never. How confronting to see an end to life. A lifeless body, 20 metres away… On the banks below a small bridge… in the real world (not at work) is something I have seen before but not in such raw context. How can it get that bad?
I am so sad for the family. I spent the next 10 Kms walking up a hill crying and feeling very alone. Nothing should be that bad that you end your life.
I wanted to start CPR.. anything to try to erase the lifelessness. To feel so helpless and wonder why it happened…
I know I wish I’d never seen my brother lifeless in a coffin. I’d rather remember him laughing and drinking… and smoking. Nothing worse than a life ended too soon… no matter how.
Go hug someone.

Extinct species in Tuscan hills

31 May

IMG_1667The day wasn’t all bad, thanks for asking :)
Still far too much mud and plenty of hills, but not as crazy looking trail as yesterday.
So many towns and I have no clue to their name within minutes of being there.
Had the crap scared out of me when I was within millimetres of stepping on a snake… spent the next 30 Kms thinking every stick was slithering. And the snake really was “this” long!
Had a moment up in the hills when I found what I thought was an extinct species. 5 women, all with aprons on and not a phone in sight…

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Was happy to do a 54km day finishing in Sarzana after a shitty decent (pretty much ankle breaking trail) Found Parrocchia San Francesco di Assisi and staying in crappy room ( with stacked chairs, desks and mattress on the floor) with Spanish girl. Pilgrims can’t be choosers when all this place asks is €5/ night.

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