Thursday, April 30, 2009

Buseto Palizzo to Nubia

Yesterday's ride was nice and short. From the interior hills of the western part of Sicily we rode to the coastal salt flats. A highlight for me was passing through a flock of sheep. There were 4 sheep dogs who tried to make us part of the flock. The shepherd had to speak strongly to the dogs to tell them we were not sheep and to let us go. Our friend lagged behind a bit to film the flock and the dogs were not happy about that, giving him a run for his money.

A low light is that Chris gimped his knee. He managed to tough it out and get to our lovely hotel. And we hope with rest and ice it will improve. We are working on some plan B options that will not involve cycling.

Thankfully yesterday was a short day and today we are in the same location, so Chris can sun himself by the pool and rest up while we ride off to Erice.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


We were transported by a very small little taxi from our hotel in Palermo to the lovely agritourismo Tenute Plia in Scopello. The briefing for the bike trip was over shadowed by my hunger - luckily someone else was paying attention and we got written directions. The lunch was just fabulous - in fact, my mood improved so much with the good food one might have thought I was a bit manic. A hard napping session of 3.5 horus helped.

In the evening we headed into 'town' and saw the lovely wildflowers, bakery and the turning for the road to the Riserva Zingara. The bakery had these amazing 'sandwiches' made with fresh bread, tomatoes, olive oil, cheese and some green herb that are typical to the region. That and a beer completed our supper.

The next day we ate a lovely breakfast and headed off to the nature reserve. Only in Italy would the tourist shop sell perfume, nice perfume that smelled like the flowers of the nature preserve. The nature reserve was wonderful, we managed to hike almost the lenght of it before we had to head back. The winds were terrific - our friend felt as if she was going to be lifted into the air like a kite. DH and I had no such problem being such grounded folks.

The afternoon was spent with chef Tony in the kitchen of the Tenute Plia. Our hostess took us into the field to gather the artichokes, fennel, onions and fava beans that we would later turn into our meal. That was an amazing cooking class. Later that evening we were able to eat the meal we had cooked. It is hard to express in words how much we all enjoyed the experience.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Orto Botanico & Cerda

Wow - the botanical gardens here are just lovely and the citrus fruits were really fun. The royal we tried 4 oranges and we all consumed the grapefruit. Who knows whether we should have or not, but hey! They were good.

Then the adventure to the Cerda artichoke festival began. I thought we had it all worked out. The Cerda train station is 7km from the town and all uphill. Sigh. Our friends were smart and hitched a lift into town, we toughed it out and hiked. That was a rather tougher option than I thought. By the time we arrived the parade was over and things were slowing down. We were also rather foot sore and not looking forward to the return journey. We managed to procure a taxi cab of sorts that took us from Cerda to Termni Imresse where we caught a train back to Palermo a mere 5 minutes after we arrived. The walk to the festival was probably the best part of the adventure - at least the first hour. The second hour was a bit of a grind. I did managed to find the speciality of the day roasted on a grill with salt, pepper and olive oil. It was good, a nice treat, but not really worth the walk. Wait til you see the photos though. The landscape was picture postcard material.

Tomorrow, the bike trip begins!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


We arrived this morning at the Palermo train station with our million bags only slightly exhausted. We managed to get some sleep. I freaked myself out thinking I'd gotten my passport(s) stolen. Happily I was just farfing and Chris pulled my bacon out of the fry pan before I got too badly bent out of shape. I'd put the passports so deep into my little backpack that I didn't find them on the first or second check.

Anyway, my excellend friend Monica found us a van cab that agreed to take us to our hotel with all the bags for only 15E. Cheep at the price I say. The Hotel Ambasciatori is fabulous. They let us check in at 9am, thank God, as we were all feeling more than a little worse for wear. A quick shower and coffee on the fabulous top floor terrace had us all feeling much better.

We eventually wandered out in search of sustenance, which we found and enjoyed with some of the house red. At which point I mentioned that the last night of the opera was tonight. Long story short, we bought tickets, although we were almost refused on the grounds of our innapropriate apparel. We literally sprinted back to the hotel, did a quick change, and were greeted by "elegante" on our return. I would have to say that Die Tote Stadt is not that accessible when the sur titles are in Italian, the singing in German. It was very post modern in feel with a monochrome set of grey, black and white. We didn't make it past the intermission I'm afraid. It was still fabulous being in the Teatro Massimo.

On the way home we ate gelati whilst walking through what seemed to be an impromptu back alley rave - complete with dogs scavanging in the garbage. The evening ended with a glass of wine on the terrace.

Tomorrow- the gardens.

Day 2 Rome

We had a wonderful day wandering around in the gardens of one of the famous sites. We even managed to get into the museum using a slight ruse offered by our hostel host. It was extreme renassance and baroque art over load. We managed to also squeeze in a visit to the Spanish steps.

Then we were off to the Roma Termini to get our bags out of hock and catch the night train to Palermo. Everything went so smoothly we ened up cooling our jets for a hour waiting for the platform for our train to come up.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Why did I think I'd ever be able to sleep on a flight? Well, par for the course, I didn't. Both Chris and I were too excited to sleep until we were about 45 minutes from Frankfurt. Not enough time. The coolest thing was the Lufthansa agent who met Rome bound passengers at the bottom of the stairs. Yes, stairs.

Word to the wise, if you are landing in Frankfurt go pee before you land, because it takes 20 minutes to get to the terminal. Anyway, back to the special bus for Rome bound passengers. We hopped on and realized fairly quickly that we weren't supposed to be on that bus. There was a 7:25 flight that a number of passengers were trying to get on. The coolest part was that the bus for the Rome passengers went through a special security area and passport clearance. It looked like we actually woke up the crew running the area. We got run through security, passport clearance, back on the bus whisked around the airport, chucked out on the tarmack underneath the Rome bound plane. I'd never been on the tarmack in front of an aircraft before.

Long story short, we didn't get on that flight, but on the one 3 hours later. We arrived in Rome, collected our bags, all 4 of them and realized we had a problem. We have too many bags! We managed to make it into Rome on the train - thank-god for all the exercise I've been doing in preparation or I would never have been able to heave that 60lb bag up 3 flights of stairs onto the train. On the way into Rome it occurred to me that the left luggage could be our best friend. Our faithful bike friday's are patiently waiting for us to pick them up at Roma Termini.

Got lost looking for the hostel. Found it eventually. The folks running it are great. Mabry encouraged us to take advantage of the free entrace for the Colloseum, Palatine and Forum. Some municipal celebration has lead to a free entry. We managed to trot our tired carcasses down hill and all around the fabulous sites. Photos soon.

We did take the subway the 2 stops back as we were dead on our feet. That was like being a sardine in a can, not possible to fall as other folks pressed from all sides. Luckily a short ride and with Chris as my point man, no problems getting out. We then managed to find the shoe store that Crhis bought his last Birkenstocks at when we were here 4 years ago. He bought another pair just before closing time.

We staggered into a grocery store for my favourite pop and succumed to a few other sundries. All in all the longest day I can remember in a long time. That happens when you pack 32 hours into a day...

Today Rome, tomorrow the world!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Bon Voyage

We're on our way to the Italian holiday. After a tense Saturday of packing and coputer crashes (FU Microsoft update) we had a very early morning start. The fun thing about living in the Yukon is how you end up knowing so many other Yukoners. Not just in the departure lounge in Whitehorse, but in the first class lounge in the Vancouver Airport. Yes, I did say fist class lounge. I said to my dear husband (hereinafter dh) I like that we associate with the class of people who you find in the first class lounge! ;-)

My first attempt at this post was blocked by the Airport WiFi, but was impecably spelled thanks to a fellow lounger who knew how to spell 'passepartout'. More later...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

9 Minute Commute

My best ever time from my front door to the underground parking at my office. 9 Minutes. On a bike. Yes, bike. I loved it! I have always gotten an indecent thrill from passing cars when I'm on my bike. This morning it was past thrilling, it was heart pumping JOY! My new bike friday is fast, nimble and I may be in love.

The new Terry Liberator X saddle arrived yesterday and that is what I sat on during my ride. 9 minutes isn't long enough to provide a decent test, so perhaps a longer ride is on order. First impressions? The saddle doesn't pinch my precious parts, but boy is it HARD. I know that is what some recommend, but really isn't comfort what counts to keep you on your bike?

Oh yes, 4 sleeps and counting...

Monday, April 13, 2009

4 day weekends

Sigh. If only all weekends were 4 day weekends. It is just so relaxing to have an enitre chunk of time that is 'unscripted'. Of course, it never is totally unscripted. We had a last hurrah Easter supper with the Year Without Winter folks. The last of the fall goose was cooked and eat with the required gravy.

Packing for our Italy sojourn continues. Just when I think I've decided on X, another factor comes into play. Like, for example, should I bring my running shoes. It is a bike trip, so already I've got that form of exercise, but for those stationary days, should I bring them? I just can't decide. I've already got enough sports gear to go for a run, just no shoes... If only all life's problems were so inconsequential...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Africa Bike Gets Around

Africa really speaks to people. I notice a lot of drivers pointing me and Africa out and turning to their passengers. Other cyclists give her a second look and let me tell you she is popular with the ladies! She gets around is all I'll say... :-)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bicycle Saddles

Judging by the huge number and variety of bike seats my problem is pretty common- I want a bike seat that is comfy and keeps my precious parts from going numb. I have yet to find one. My DH (dear husband) swears by his Spiderflex seat, I find it hideously uncomfortable. I bought some 'Moon Saddles' for us for the new Bike Fridays. They get an OK. My precious parts didn't go numb, but my ass cheeks did! OUCH.

Africa bike has a wide fairly comfy seat, but it isn't perfect either. Luckily Africa is only for short rides so the numbness doesn't go on for very long. Next up is a Terry Liberator X which I've ordered from MEC. I love their Rock Solid Guarantee - if it doesn't work, return it for your money back. Stay tuned my intrepid readers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bicycle Like Her Majesty

A friend loaned me her Kona Africa bike and today I rode it to work. I couldn't stop smiling! It is a nice, feel good ride. I wouldn't call it fast though. The flip side of that is you can be at a complete stand still (almost) without putting a foot down. It is a very stately ride. It does need a running start to get it going.
Check out this link for more intel;

Canadians & Weather

If it wasn't for the weather, what would we talk about? This morning it is -10. Yes, the date on this post is right. Sigh. How many days until our Italian holiday? 12. Thank God.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Morning People & My Night Owl Manifesto

Why is it that morning people, so secure in their righteousness feel it is OK to call at 8am on a Sunday? The Tyranny of the morning people must STOP. This is my night owl manifesto;
  1. call all the morning people you know at 10pm - be chipper, ask hard questions;
  2. engage morning people in challenging intellectual pursuits after 6pm;
  3. make fun of them when they can't do simple arithmetic in the evenings;
  4. invite them to parties that they can't stay at because they are too tired;
  5. serve them dinner at 9pm; and
  6. make them start work at 3pm and work until 11:30pm.
To all you night owls, implement the manifesto and take back the moral high ground! Sisters and brothers of the evening, this is the day of the REVOLUTION!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Holy $#%@#$2

Minus freaking -20 this morning. FLEE the COLD! We are tough, but holy, this is just beyond the pale.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Here's what my bike looks like all packed and ready to go. I hope to get faster with the process of putting it together. Right now it taks about 45 minutes for me to get it ready to roll...

the coolest thing is the little plaque on the side that says custom built for me...

Travel Planning

I'm one of those folks who gets a kick out of planning trips. Sometimes it is mere armchair travel, like the trip to Morocco I planned out. Other times it turns into real travel.

I tend to think the world is divided into pre-packers and day of packers. I've found out that I'm a pre-packer, I enjoy the packing as part of the trip. The weird thing is that i still get stressed about the packing, even though I am doing it days or weeks in advance. So anyway, the reason for this story is that I've already started the pile of stuff to pack for the Italian Holiday. Which is kinda cool because we are planning a 'shake down' ride on Sunday with the new bikes and all the gear we plan to pack with us to see if it fits and how much it slows us down.