Last Night in Italy

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We began our day bright and early with plans to catch the 8:00 train out of Pisa. We go to great lengths out here to avoid actually committing ourselves to anything, so we hadn’t actually bought the tickets, but we were planning on making the train. We were packed up and on the road by 7:00 after sharing our breakfast with a large host of annoying sparrows that were desperate for our crumbs. We didn’t have time to wipe bird droppings off our gear though, so we spent breakfast running around scaring them off.

The short ride through Pisa at our early hour bordered on magical simply becasue we had the town which was bathed in beautiful morning light all to ourselves. As we rode past the leaning tower, which a mere 12 hours ago had been teaming with tourists, we were the only people around. Pretty awesome.

We rolled into the station and purchased our tickets and boarded the first train to La Spezia. In the process, I managed to give myself a puncture wound with my bike as we heaved it up into the train. Loading bikes into trains is quite a tedious process when they weigh as much as ours do.

From there, we settled in to a long day of trains and transfers, stopping in La Spezia and Genova before catching the last train to Ventimiglia. I was amazed at how our attention spans have changed since we’ve been here, no longer needing to be entertained at every moment. We spent nearly six hours on trains today and for pretty much all of that time we were content just to sit and watch the world go by. Perhaps the limited access to the internet and really to any media at all has lengthened our ability to just be still.

As we watched the hours go by, we knew that our final stop, Ventimiglia (on the border between Italy and France) was coming up and we started packing up our bags and getting ready to go. We were the last people in our car, most people having gotten off many stops before we did. But then out of nowhere, the train just stopped and turned its engine off. We could see other trains on either side of us being cleaned, clearly out of commission for the day, and we started wondering if we’d actually missed our stop as well. We walked down as many cars as we could, but soon got to a locked portion. The outside doors were locked too. The minutes ticked by and we started to think that the train was stopped for the day with us locked inside it. We walked back and forth, poking our heads out the window and checking the time, all looking for some indicator that the train was going to move again, but nothing happened.

Just as we were coming to terms with the fact that we might be pushing our bikes down abandoned train tracks (provided we could get the doors to open for us), the train turned back on and rolled the last half kilometer into the station. We must have been waiting for a platform. I was so relieved!

From there, it was a quick ride through Ventimiglia to our tiny campground just across the street from a pretty rocky beach where locals were out fishing and riding their bikes. Knowing that this is our last night in Italy for a while, we purchased an entire kilogram of gelato containing pistachio, custard, and cherry flavors and downed the whole thing. We made fresh spinach pasta with cherry tomatos for dessert. If we are going to keep eating like this, it is time for us to get cycling again!

I’m stoked to get on the road tomorrow and to see what France has to offer!

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2 Responses

  1. Kim says:

    That last picture is is gorgeous! It’s is my idea of heaven. I love the mountains, but if I had to choose, the ocean would win. Will you switch from gelato to pastries once you get to France?

    • Ben says:

      The picture is awesome. Bree definitely won the picture of the day with that one. While the food here (in the south) strongly resembles Italian, I’m afraid our gelato days might be over. I”m sure they have ice cream here, though, to help fill the void. There are no questions to be asked about pastries being the thing here, though.

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