Bikes, Spandex, & Europe: Avoiding the Real World

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pictures on the Website

Howdy everyone!
Team Eurotrek is back in the good ol' U.S. of A. as of a couple of days ago, and is slowly making headway on recovering from the 6-hour time difference we passed through in getting here. We just thought we'd write a quick note and let you know that we're in the process of putting a bunch of pictures up on our website for folks to view, get a laugh out of, or use for blackmail as the case may be. You can see what we have so far at:

and the rest should be up and running in a few days.

Thank you all so much for tuning in for our adventures over the past two months- your comments and support helped an incredible amount in keeping us in touch with the States and the people there (and all over the world for that matter) that we care the most about. Until we ride again, I guess we'll be seeing you all on down the trail!

Joe, Jon, Jeff, and Bing - Team Eurotrek's mild-mannered alter ego's

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Photo Essay!

maxing out

french confetti


twin towers

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Made it to Paris!

Again, just a quick note because I'm beat and ready to get some shut-eye. The three of us are reunited again in Paris and resting comfortably in the hostel after dinner and a celebratory stroll up a hill to overlook the city at sunset. Much more to come soon as I have some hilarious stories from the trip, but at the moment I need some sleep as camping in the rain and surprisingly cold weather of Northern France isn't very conducive to good sleep. Hope this finds you all well, and we'll see many of you in just a few days now!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Maxing Out in Dieppe

For anyone "concerned" about Klaus and Sven, rest assured that we're alive and well in Dieppe, doing what our good friend Bing refers to as "maxing out." We hit the beach and the various local parks by day, wander the village markets, become kebab connoisseurs in the evenings, and then hone our chess skills over bottles of local beers at night. While we've now grown accustomed to life off of our bikes, we're still trying to keep in decent shape with daily runs to the local track (on top of a quintessential Normandy cliff with a view of the English channel). Not too shabby.

Tomorrow marks the end of our time here in Dieppe and we're excited to head to Paris for some more hard-core tourism. See you there, Joe!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Made it to Bayeux

Just a quick note that I made it safe and sound to Bayeux last night and am on my way to the Normandy beaches today. I'll probably be back in Bayeux to spend the night again tonight since there is a wonderful hostel here, and none for a ways south and east of here, which is where I'm headed next. I'll write more later!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Trains, Planes, & Automobiles

It has been a little while since our last update on the blog- some might suppose from the notice that we've spent the past week in recovery, but the finely malted truth probably lies somewhere closer to the bottom of one of the many wonderful Belgian beers that we've been sampling. It gets kind of hard to motivate oneself to find an internet cafe and commence typing after a relatively cheap and very delicious dinner followed by Belgian waffles for desert and a couple of Trappiste beers, which are brewed by monks who obviously have spent some time perfecting their art form.

Lest we give the wrong impression however of how we've been spending our time lately with the talk of the ongoing investigation into 'The Amsterdam' and beer consumption, it can best be summarized in saying that we've become much more akin to the standard European tourist on foot. After arriving in a city by train, we haul all of our possessions to our hostel or hotel from the station, check in and drop everything in our room, and then take to the streets to see the sights. In a way, it makes for a nice change of pace from the biking method, which traditionally allowed less time for siteseeing and less motivation to leave the hotel room to explore because there were other pressing concerns on our minds, such as sleep, consumption of high-calorie foods, or tracking down the source of the horrible smells coming from our panniers/persons.

Some of the highlights from this past week, including Amsterdam in as much as our legal council will allow:

Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general stick out in my mind as perhaps the most radically different culture from our own that we have yet encountered on this trip. For example, in terms of laws and law enforcement, we got the impression that pretty much anything goes as long as it a) doesn't represent a serious public threat, and b) the goverment can make money off of allowing it/regulating it. Well known examples are the legalization of 'softer' drugs and prostitution, the buying and selling of which are in part regulated by the government and heavily taxed. Many things that are illegal are kindly ignored by law enforcement as well on what works out to be a nation-wide policy of 'don't ask, don't tell.' We learned these things and got many other examples from our guide for a free walking tour that we took our first morning in Amsterdam. It turned out to be a 4-hour slog through the rain- 'classic Dutch weather' out guide called it, and the same clouds and rain predominated the rest of our time there. We toured the old and newer parts of the city, learned about its seafaring history, and the interesting nuances about living there. Other sights included the Anne Frank House, the Red Light District by day, and the proclaimed 'smallest house in Amsterdam,' which was sandwiched between regular housefronts but was only about 5 feet wide qnd stood the standard 4 stories tall. One would expect a skinny person of short stature to live there (think midget) but we were informed that it was actually inhabited by a 'freakishly tall Dutch women who doesn't like tour groups' and thus we were quickly ushered to the next site. Back on our own, we spent the next couple of days checking out the shopping districts, museums, and parks in the city. The Van Gogh museum was an awesome place to visit and had an incredible amount of his paintings and sketches.

Next stop was Brussels, where we found our way to the suspiciously named '2Go4 Quality Hostel' and found it to be surprisingly clean and comfortable. It is owned and operated by two very nice brothers in their early 30's who have a penchant for airy techno music which they play throughout the hostel from 10am until 10pm, trendy furniture, and fun movies to show guests, such as the horror movie 'Hostel' which was shown while we were there. The next day we split ways to explore and met back up for a fairwell dinner for Bing at a delicous burger joint we found near the hotel. It was decidedly American, which we counteracted by using mass quantities of the delicious mayonese sauces on our fries instead of ketchup. Let us hope that America never discovers how tasty mayo is on fries- we're chubby enough as a country already. After dinner we had beers and watched the sunset from one of the highest points we could find in the city- it was a long walk but well worth it.

The next day Klaus, Sven, and I headed for Brugges- an adventure we'll have to save for another update since this one has gotten too long already. In the meantime, rest assured that the remainder of team Eurotrek is doing well and is happily relaxing in Dieppe on the Northern Coast of France. Klaus and Sven can be found on the beach or wandering the streets here through Thursday of next week. I've been getting the itch to do some more travelling by bike, and will be back on the road early tomorrow morning headed South and West down the coast toward the Normandy beaches of WWII and then inland toward Paris where we'll all meet back up on the 17th. Only 10 more days left before we're once again faced with the prospect of the real world!

Monday, August 07, 2006

For Immediate Release


To: General Public and appellate Courts
From: Team EuroTrek Legal Council

To Those Whom It May Concern,
The recent lack of statements from this office on behalf of Team EuroTrek for the period from August 2nd through August 4th, 2006 or simply "The Amsterdam" have come at this office's behest. We have urged all members of The Team to respond with 'no comment' to the press and plead the Fifth amendment if questioned by the courts concerning any activities taking place during The Amsterdam period with the sole exception of "Yes, the Van Gogh Museum was Lovely/Rad."
Furthermore, under the cover of gunships and naval blockade, Team EuroTrek has been extracted from The Amsterdam for rest and recovery in the nearby oasis of Brussels. Due to the heavy toll on the souls of certain members of the team, a one Bing Knight will be shipped back to the United States immediately for further questioning under protection of diplomatic immunity.
You may contact this office or Team Members directly for more information as the investigation unfolds.

Thank You,
Team EuroTrek Legal Council

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Theft in the Netherlands and Beef with the Brits

Team Eurotrek here with some sad news from our hostel in Utrecht, Netherlands, where we're spending an extra day regrouping and strategizing after last night's theft of Sven's faithful steed. This morning saw us at perhaps our lowest point of the trip- four downtrodden faces taking in the spot where Jeff's bike had been the night before and admiring the handywork of the thief, who had deftly snapped his beefy lock at its weakest point. Perhaps the rain clouds that are currently dousing the hostel have a silver lining in that after several pow-wows and some internet research, new plans for the remainder of our trip have been worked out, which I'll outline as much as we know at this point below. Less productive moments have lead to more 'sweeping statements' about this new country, and what choice blunt implements we would most like to use on the perpetrator of last night's crime. Brief thought was given to leaving another bike out tonight as 'bait' while 4 ninja's waited in and behind the trees of the neighboring park with said implements, but dear concerned parents and readers, better judgement has a funny way of reaching even team Eurotrek from time to time, and we will be safely positioned in our room in the wee hours of the morning. Besides, it will be harder to return the slingshot fire when we have the cover of windows and walls on our side... :)

Another contributing factor to our change in plans is vacationing Brits, who apparently flock to the French coasts like so many lemmings during this time of year, thereby clogging up all potential domiciles in their path. Despite Klaus' valient attempts to secure lodging in any of the towns between Dieppe and Mont St. Michele (a leg that was originally planned to take 5 days)- he has contacted in the neighborhood of 20 places and been turned down by them all - we have been left with a gap in our schedule during that time.

Between the loss of a bike and the lack of places to stay, our new strategy is one that involves less daily travel (i.e. longer stays in fewer places), and obviously, less biking. From Utrecht here, we'll train to Amsterdam tomorrow and spend two nights and three days there. On the third day, we'll train to Brussels, cutting out the legs of the trip that put us into Antwerp and Rotterdam for overnights. Bing flies out from Brussels on Monday, the 7th, at which point we could potentially keep his bike with us and once again have one steed per dragonslayer for the remaining 2 weeks of the trip. The only hitch is that Sven is of such proportions as to make standard bike sizes appear comically small, so some comfort would be sacrificed even with significant alterations to Gunther's bike (who would use Bing's instead). Also, due to the invading British mentioned above, we've secured housing in Dieppe for 6 nights, thus eliminating 5 days of travel, and leaving only 5 more days total after Brussels that would require riding. 3 of those days are around or over 120km days (in a row as it turns out) - not very fun on ill-fitted bikes, so we're touch-and-go currently about whether or not we will train or bike that portion.

So as you can see, our trip has become much more fluid due to circumstance, but as a whole, we're content with the transition and consider ourselves pretty lucky that something like this or worse didn't happen earlier. One of our rally calls for the trip has been the comical saying "Circle the Chuck Wagons!!" - I think most recently we've found that we're pretty good at it when it most counts. No quitting now, there are many dragons yet to slay for these intrepid explorers!

-Team Eurotrek out, reminding you that when Life gives you lemons, cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice in Life's eyes. That'll show Life.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Romantic Rhine & Concrete Jungle

From Strasbourg, we headed down the Rhine to the cities of Karlsruhe and Heidelberg. On our way into Karlsruhe, we chatted up a local man in his 30s and he decided to show us the "nice way" into the city. We spent the next 5km following him as he swerved through traffic, cut off other bikers, and had a close encounter with a massive I-beam. Despite following our temporary tour guide with a death wish, we made it to the sun-shaped city of Karlsruhe without incident. Since the crew was feeling a bit tired, we decided to take a train the following day to Heidelberg.

Taking the train reaffirmed our belief that off-days are totally sweet. We spent the morning seeing the sights of Karlsruhe, napping on park benches, and making amazing purchases (read: mesh tank-top, blinged-out belt buckle with 'jefe' spelled out on it, and white euro-style shoes). The train ride was nice and quick as we discovered that German trains accelerate faster than most sportscars and make futuristic beeping noises while burning through their amazing arrays of gears.

The next section of the Rhine was definitely the best. Overarching flatness to the South was replaced by highly sculpted hills and we enjoyed the gentle descent towards Bingen. We met a nice Swiss couple during that day's ride and decided to have beers with them in Bingen (20km from our destination of Bacharach). Rudolf and his wife proceeded to tell us that we were "girly men" for only averaging 90km a day. Easy to say when you're staying in 4- and 5-star hotels and getting massages whenever possible. Oh, disposable income, we'll get to know you one day...

With a half liter of beer in us, we rolled to Bacharach where we spent the evening sampling the local Rieslings and eating delicious local cuisine. We poked around that famous section of the Rhine the next day, looking at castles, cathedrals, and fortifications all from the 13th century. It's a tough life.

Monday, July 24, 2006


For those of you currently not acquainted with the luxuries of
the german Health and Wellness center, allow me to enlighten you.
Not only do these oasi (plural of oasis) contain talented massusi
(roll with it, it´s a theme) they also contain a locker room with
many nude german men and no less than 6 saunas of different heats
and humiditi, complete with a room at the end of the hall aptly
labeled "relaxitorium." Also included in this 18 swiss franc
extravaganza is an area labeled "Shower Power." Shower Power
consists of 4 different stalls with shower heads providing high
pressure cold water in a variety of ways. We have named these
stalls jet-waterfall, 4-headed small stream assult, plate stream
anhililator, and not to be outdone, the simple yet elegant 3
gallon bucket with chain tip mechanisim suspended a full three
feet above the occupant´s head (2 feet if you are Sven). Needless
to say, we left the wellness center uber-relaxed.

This lead to the following day having the overall fastest
average speed of the trip. Team Eurotrek threw the hammer down
all day on winding roads, outrunning a rainstorm even on the way
out of lunch. The ride finished into Colmar with a delightful 5k
through a shady and winding bike-path through the woods with the
team maintaining a pace-line (worm) formation at over 35km/h! An
observer watching might have even said it was quite the
precession of precession! (Come on! A combination SAT vocab and
physics joke! If you´re not currently in stiches, we need to
seriously re-evaluate your standards for humor...)

The next day riding from Colmar saw team EuroTrek divided, as
Gunter and Sven wanted to check out the myriad castles and
vinyards on the wine route while Bing and Klaus preferred to take
the "fat of the land" approach. This method involves no riding up
hills, and turning anytime someone saw a "bike path-ish!!" through
fields of rolling grains. Avoid burning any fat while riding in the general direction of Strausbourg. This adventure was aided by an
illustraited profile map which was, of course, missing 80% of all
roads and towns traveled on and to. Needless to say, we spent
most of the day happily deep up in lost, riding through skinny
roads in the cornfields and encountering just about no cars as
they wouldn´t fit anyway. Classification: Perfect.

Nearing Strausbourg and low on supplies, we pulled into a lonely
church in the middle of nowhere. Water from the church in the
field filled our legs with the holy spirit that sent us rocketing
the last 20k into Strausbourg, unfortunately it did not lead us
from temptation, as we found ourselves coming to a honking and
skittering stop halfway down the on-ramp to the AutoStrassa
(translation: InterGallactic Highway, no place for dragon slayers
on ubertrekers) A short bushwack later through some aggressive
foliage found us on a small dirt path beside a lake. The path and
lake were both filled with stately older gentlemen sporting all
manner and colour of speedi (plural of speedo for those who have
not yet grasped the concept). After our own gawking precession
(still funny) in spandex along the edge of the lake, we arrived
at Hotel Esplanade, and splended it was!

Poor man hot-tubs (read: shower-beers) were prepared, though
sadly all the beer was consumed before any rinsing could occur.
An hour later brought the 3rd and 4th memebers of team Eurotrek
to the yard with stories that spoke of beautiful old castles and
roads that wound up and down. We noticed the deft replacement of a wine bottle for a water bottle on the Joe´s cages, so take the story about
who was winding, the Joe or the Road with a grain of salt...the
wine, apparently, was very good.

Showered and shaved, we headed into town and had a delicious
Alsatian meal while watching the classical music and light show on
the city´s Notre Dame, a Gothic style church in the center of
Strausbourg that really brings all the boys to the yard. If you
know anything about this group then surely you can grasp the awe
and excitement that flying buttresses (even the name is killer)
filled with death spikes and evil spitting gargoyles brings to
this group of slayers.

Next morning took us up 66 meters to the top of the church for a
quick photo-op and then 40k across the lovely french countryside
to a lovely town with a lovely bridge across the lovely Rhein,
which was out. Discussion of fording was followed by a less lovely
ride down the hot and rocky bike-path along the still lovely
Rhein in search of a sound structural means of crossing said
loveliness. This part of the ride lead to what some might refer
to as "sweeping statements" when the group began to feel the
withering effects of dehydration. Comments such as "Why doesn´t
France have public water like every other European country?
France Sucks" or upon arrival in Germany and tangling with
AGGRESSIVE german drivers, one might have heard the slanderous
statement "Watch Out! The old krout in the benz has lost his
mustard!" However, such animosity was short lived for we have
arrived in our hostel for the evening and discovered that some
local genious has concocted a layered dessert composed of lucious green jello and savoury white flavour pudding. Spirits are lifted as we look forward to our next adventure, Wednesday.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Farewell to the Land of Chocolate

The castle at Hohenshwangau

Team Eurotrek, reporting from Basel, Switzerland where we´re making our introductions with the Rhine and saying goodbye to this country and its tasty chocolates which go straight to the spandex-clad hips. Good thing we´ve been biking our butts off for the last few days to get here, logging four 100+km days since our last update in some fairly sweltering heat. A quick shout out to our friends back in the States who just finished their marathon bike trip from coast to coast about a week ago (see the Burney´s bike tour link on the right toolbar to get to their blog)- you guys are much tougher than us Pillsbury doughboys complaining about our 100km days. In fact, we have a confession to make in that three of our number are currently at a spa in Basel getting massages- yes dear reader, you can all pass judgements on us now.

To keep things short, I´ll pick up our daring adventures as we rolled into Fuessen, Germany back on Sunday evening. The day ended up being around 120km traveling East from Bregenz. After getting into the town center and asking around, we soon discovered that the guest house we were supposed to stay in was about 2km outside of town in the direction from whence we had just come. When we grumpily arrived, we were told by the owner, a Slovakian named Lotto, that there were actually two guest houses, one of which was in the process of being remodeled back in town. Naturally, we were staying in the one being remodelled, which to its credit had a beautiful view and hot water for at least 10 minutes in the shower. Lotto instructed us to follow him in his van to the other guest house- easy enough, so we got on our bikes. What followed was the hardest 2km sprint of my life back into town, trying to follow the rapidly disappearing van in the distance and the clouds of black smoke as Lotto apparently was putting his van through the paces like any good formula racing driver would. Jeff took a lead early on, with me close behind, and Kling with a chuckle let us huff and puff our way into the horizon. Bing stayed back for moral support, and eventually Jeff had to go back and lead them in once we were shown, wheezing and sweating to our new abode for the next two days.

The next day we took the bus to Hohenschwangau (spelling?), home of no less than 2 amazing castles. Apparently, back in the 1860´s, the King of Bavaria got the idea he wanted a house in the country, so he found a big hill backed by giant mountains and a gourge upon which to build his castle. That castle later became the inspiration for the Disney Castle, so you can imagine it makes for a stark profile with the wooded hills and rocky cliffs that surround it. We followed the crowds up the winding road to the top, littered with the droppings of the many horses taking guests in carraiges up and down, and managed to miss the fact that tickets to see the inside of the castle were sold at the bottom of the hill only. So we, the stupid Americans, were effectively weeded out from the crowd that got to see the inside of the castle, which I think was the purpose behind selling the tickets at the bottom. Back to the guesthouse, where we cooked a dinner of brats, mashed potatoes, and kraut, then off to bed.

The next morning we said goodbye to Lotto, who repeatedly shook our hands and even gave Sven a hug (presumably for being able to keep up with his lead-footed antics on our arrival), and biked our way directly West, basically retracing ground until the very end where we stayed north and arrived in Lindau. Situated on Lake Constance, we soon discovered that there was in fact beachfront on an island where one can hang out in the sun and nap off tiredness from a long ride. We had dinner in the hostel that night, then turned-in early. The next day we continued roughly West toward Schaffhausen, a ride which saw us first join up with and begin to parallel the Rhine. Our hostel that night slightly resembled a castle, and we arrived right at check-in time at 5:00pm. It was at that point we were told that we in fact didn´t have reservations there, but with much smiling and persuading that we had made a reservation online, the receptionist ´found space´ for us in the attic. It turned out to be a perfectly good room, though a little warm and Sven kept hitting his head on the low ceiling. That evening, Klaus and Sven played a 2.5-hour chess game over some scotch (probably the reason for the long game and its precipitous decline) while Bing and I hung out with some Italian students who were staying there as well.

The ride to Basel the next day was a warm one, and was predicted to be our longest ride of the trip at 128 km (though we already exceeded that on our second day of the trip in Italy). Fortunately, we realized that our mileage prediction for the day was based on the meandering bike paths (which we´ve heatedly sworn off as being the least direct routes between towns), and by sticking to the roads only we managed to shave that to about 105km. We started the morning with a side trip to visit the Rhine Falls, the largest waterfall in Europe, which at 150m wide and 26m tall is impressive, but like any red-blooded ´mericans, we decided it paled in comparison to our own Niagra falls. For lunch, we spied water from the road in one of the small towns we passed through, and were pleasantly surprised to discover it was a sand beach on the Rhine, complete with a ropeswing. What ensued was perhaps some of the most entertaining attempts at backflips off of the ropeswing by Klaus, and some less than successful attempts by Bing and Gunther as well. Klaus demonstrated all of his usual grace in his attempts, but it was through his unusual persistance that we learned he has a cat-like ability through much arm-pinwheeling and squirming to right himself from any angle before hitting the water. Gunther on the other hand demonstrated that he is only capable of 1.25 rotations, versus the 1.5 he was trying for. The result was one of the more catastrophic and painful backflops from about 15 feet that we´ve ever seen.

Eventually we made it into Basel, took naps, stuffed ourselves with dinner, and then went to see the movie ´The Sentinel´ at the local theater. Late night beers on a dock over the swiftly flowing Rhine followed, and we turned-in relaxed and ready for our day off today. This city is amazing so far and has a wonderful atmosphere with 15 museums, fountains everywhere, and lots to do. The Rhine flows right through it, and everywhere it is outfitted for the public to enjoy the water with walkways, beach area, and showers for rinsing off. The current is actually incredibly swift- fast enough that many folks in fact use it as a means of transportation by floating and swimming their way downstream. Everyone carries around orange drybags with them instead of purses or bookbags, which I imagine hold their swimming clothes on the land. Then it´s a quick stop at a telephone booth for a superman change and they hop into the water with all of their belongings and some air in their drybags to help them float. What an awesome way to get to work!

Alright, I´m off to float down a couple of km to meet up with the others for dinner and to make fun of them for getting their massages. Secretly though, I have to admit I´m kind of jealous...

Hopefully we´ll find a place soon from which we can post some pictures, sorry it´s taking us so long to get around to that. Next report to come from Germany, land of the Black Forest and the delicious little gummy bears that call it their home!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Lichtenstein and Austria

Just a really quick note since internet is once again ungodly expensive. Team Eurotrek finds itself safe, secure, and happy in Bregenz, Austria, our fourth country of the trip (fifth if you count Vatican City, which is hard to do considering it has fewer residents than our graduating class). Since our last installment from Interlaken, we took our zero day in that fine town to go canyoning, an adventure which we will not soon forget as it involved hucking yourself bodily off of rocks into murky waters of unknown depth, each time with helpful words of advice from our guide in broken English about where and how to land. At one point we were instructed to hold our hands in front of our face because Interlaken doesn´t have very good dentists- good advice considering we all hit our hands on a rock wall on the way down.

The next day was a longish ride to Luzern with another pass to climb, though it was much lower than their bigger cousins in the Alps. Luzern was a fairly bustling and young town, and we took the opportunity to take a break from walking the streets and watched ´The Da Vinci Code´as the Pirates of the Carribean 2 isn´t out here yet.

From Luzern we biked to Rapperswill, staying in a hostel that was in the south of town, right on a lake. The afternoon brought an impressive thunderstorm, with lightening striking all up and down the lake and thunder that shook the hostel. It also meant cooler temperatures, and we all used the hostel blankets given to us for the first time that night. From there, it was off to the tiny country of Lichtenstein, which has no border patrol and uses Swiss money since they don´t want to bother with their own. That night we sat around at the outdoor picnic tables and watched the sunset and a another distant thunderstorm over beers. The next morning we tried to visit the royal family in their castle, but were snubbed as apparently they have better things to do than pose for pictures with 4 goofballs in spandex. Alright out of time, but more to come later, hopefully with pictures.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Alps Schmalps

Team Eurotrek summits the Grimsel Pass - 3rd and final!

Hello from Interlaken, or 'between lakes' for us gringos who came screaming down into town early this afternoon. That's right, moms, dads, concerned friends, and bored internet surfers, we actually survived our seige on the Alps and are resting comfortablty about 30 feet from the entrance to our hostel's bar- happy hour soon to come into effect. It's quite the change from the small villages through which we passed, either wheezing for air or praying for salvation, depending on our level of cooperation with gravity at the time.

A quick blow-blow on the events of the last 3 days (since time is both expensive and short for the interweb here). Saturday we decided to get an early start in Bellinzona, meaning awake by 7:15, LEISURELY breakfast until 9:00 and then on the road by 9:30. Okay, we failed. Elevation at time of departure was just under 300m. Gradual climbing occured for the next 45 km to Ariolo, where we had lunch, apprehensively eyeing the snow capped peaks before us and once more, speculating on the route by which we were to be spanked in the coming hours. Back on the bike, and we encountered our first switchback- little did we know there were 29 more waiting for us. Somewhere around switchback number 7, Klaus began to hum AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck,' substituting in the words 'Granny Gear' with lyrics along a similar vein. Somewhere around 2100meters we peaked out in foggy, cold weather, snapped some pictures, donned all of the warm and wind proof clothing we had, and descended the 9 km to Hospental in record time- max speed about 46mph.

We stayed in a small hostel in Hospental with an italian motorcycle gang and ate and tested our less than sufficient German at a small restaurant there. Needless to say, each of us were surprised when the plates came out and we discovered what we had actually ordered. The next morning was slightly better, up at 7 and out by 8:15. By 11:00 we had all climed the 800m to the Furka Pass (2400m) and had lunch between it and the Grimsel pass. Grimsel pass took us until 2:30pm and then it was an incredibly long and sweet descent of 30km to our hotel in....and the internet cut out on me with no more coins to buy extra time (Sneaky Swiss and their coin-operated computers). So, that sweet descent put us into the small town of Meiringen and a hostel neighboring a pretty sweet water park complete with loopy slide and diving board. We had dinner at a local hotel that served steaks cooked over an open flame (and I'm sure it was a sight to see us demolish them) and then went back to the hostel to watch the Italy vs. France World Cup Game with the other residents there. Much rejoicing when our friends in blue (Italy) pulled it out in the very end, and it was a very content sleep that night.

Next morning we lounged in the local park until noon and then had a leisurely ride to Interlaken of only 30km. More to come on that soon, as there's much to tell. Hope everyone's doing well, and wish us luck on our next big climb to Luzern- not anywhere near as big as what's behind us, but gravity lurks around every corner....

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Some of the 40 cobblestone switchbacks on the ascent of the St. Gotthard Pass.

Klaus enjoys the steep climb while Bing feels a pain in his loins.

We have determined that Europe was not built for big people. Sven hits his head daily...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Howdz from Swityerland!

A verz interesting countrz where thez've switched the 'y' and 'z' kezs among manz other kezboard modifications... you don't realize how often you actually use those keys until some other country decides to point it out with the deft use of a screwdriver and a superior knowledge of Microsoft Windows.

This morning we left our last hostel in Italy on Lake Como (which is absolutely gorgeous) and begin our ascent over one of the foothills for the Swiss Alps toward the border. It's been amazing being surrounded by beauty and basking in the favor of lady luck for all of Italy...and then we crossed the border into Switzerland. Granted, the scenery here is beautiful as well, but then it started to rain- our first rain of the trip. So, we don our raingear and push on, quickly realizing that keeping dry is a losing battle on a bicycle. Up, up, and up we go, when somewhere between steep and 'holy crap, I can't believe they were able to pave this!' steep, both Kling and Bing's shifting started going awry and they lost access to some of their gears. Pushing on, the intrepid Mr. Kling ran over a roadsign that had submitted to the pull of gravity and was on the pavement, earning our first flat tire of the trip with a satisfactory bounce and swerve toward the sidewalk. He still holds that it 'Looked at him funny' and had pulled a knife on him when he skillfully deflected a near certain stab to his vitals with his tire...I'll leave the reader to make up their own minds on this one.

So we spent the next 20 minutes putting in a new inner tube while the light rainfall was upgraded to torrential downpour/thunderstorm and mack trucks began appearing out of nowhere throwing up huge wakes, presumably to come out and 'play in the rain.' Back on the road, it was more uphill until finally we crested, surveying the fairly substancial descent into Bellinzona through the rain. As we began decreasing our potential energy with a corresponding increase in kinetic energy (nerdspeak for rocketing downhill) Bing offered the sage advice above the noise of the rain and thunder to 'conserve your brakes' as they wear much faster in wet conditions versus dry conditions. It seemed logical enough at the time, but the theory went untested as it was quickly abandoned approaching the first soaking-wet hairpin turn at 43mph. Lots of hard braking, squinting through the rain and the water being thrown off of the back tire in front of you, and a few exhilerating moments later we were nearing the bottom.

And that's when Sven and I simultaneously logged our first crashes of the trip. It was the third to last hairpin turn and we THOUGHT we were going sufficiently slow. Jeff was in the lead when I was suddenly confused by the vision of him clipping out with his inside foot trying to regain his balance. Instinctively I tapped on my rear brake ever so slightly, which is exactly what Sven had either done or was doing at the time, but right at the same instant we both found ourselves sliding on the pavement. Luckily we both popped up only slightly worse for the wear and limped our ways to the shoulder. Since we were going fairly slowly we didn't slide for long- Both bikes are okay, Jeff has a new 'speed hole' in his shorts, and we both have some new scabs to show off on our legs and hips. The next few days of riding will be spent in creating elaborate stories to tell people about how we acquired our wounds, probably involving a deranged liderhosen-clad chocolateer, a hedgehog with a bad disposition (we've seen a lot of them as roadkill), and four intrepid explorers who ride in on bicycles to save the day. Perhaps after this trip is over we should bike our way straight to Hollywood and make our fortune...

But back on track, as any rodeo rider knows, if a horse bucks you off you've got to let 'em know who's boss and jump right back in the saddle. We arrived in Bellinzona looking like we swam the whole way there and found our hostel after getting directions from a couple of little old ladies (L.O.L.'s as we call them because they're such a great resource for information)- if you're ever lost in a foreign country, look no further than your nearest L.O.L. to give you sound advice. The receptionists at the hostel were surprisingly nice considering the amount of water we dripped on their floors and we slipped and squeeked our way to our room and the warm showers- another day behind us! Dinner tonight was Beer and Brautwurst- our first of many, though the pastas and pizzas of Italy will be much missed.

And with that, I'm signing off to go watch the thunderstorm for a bit- it's so much nicer when you're in the dry!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Strikes and Gutters

Hello Dear Reader. If you've been bored and comparing our "itinerary" to the days that we've blogged about, you'll see that we're about a week behind, and as you might predict, riding in spandex all day doesn't begit (spelling?) daily up-dating of our travels. So. I think for my entry I'll skip the description of the week that's missing, except to say that it went swimmingly and I'll post some pictures*, such that you can make your own judgements on the gradiation of the term.

*but not really, as Italian internet-cafes have more digital security than all their airports combined.

As you may have guessed from this blog's title, we have recently been the recipients of many strikes, while I personally had a recent gutter day. Certainly we shall start with stories of when we ate the bar...

Treviso: The Perfect Game
Treviso brought with it Bing's family friends, and now our good aquaintances, Giulietta and Davide. Their living room was a bastion off soft beds, their kitchen one of delectible meals, and their town one of relaxation, new kicks, and new rags. The three gentlemen not sporting the uber-sporty green Crocs (and this trendy American footwear is certainly unique here...while Sven may be getting longing looks from the gentle men of this land, I certainly pick up my share of wayward eyes for my polystyrene footwear) have all had chance to purchase Man-dals, the euro-trendy version of lacy sandles for the Roman Soldier, now for all as an alternative to the ever-popular Birkenstocks. In addition to now stunning footwear, the group followed Giulietta's keen shopping prowess and aquired flowing linen pants for all, as well as the 90% spandex and surprisingly comfortable Euro-undies sported in the previous post with the lady of the land, Giulietta. Clearly, the day-glow top had to come back with Klaus as he sprinted toward it joyous as a schoolboy with a bug after spotting it in the store window on the way home from the visit to the Pinarello store, biker's paradise. Treviso gets two thumbs up from this group.

And sometimes the bar, well, he eats you:
Then of course, being sent off from Treviso on the final eve of our stay required a fine dining extravaganza where Klaus took the fateful step towards his downward spiral. Having been told that the guts of crayfish (not just the tail area as most Americans eat) and fried fish-heads are standard fair for the region; at the heed of our hosts, Klaus sucked the crustations dry and munched on semi-lucid eyeballs for the evening. The next morning, dear reader, Klaus had what those in the medical profession refer to as a loose and oily stool. This upset GI system combined with a 2 hour train-ride and a wake-up time of 5:30am lead to a lengthy and vicious bout of off-gassing by Klaus. Not feeling his best and concentrating on not covering the inside of the train with the previous evening's meal, poor Klaus made a compounding mental error...he left his helmet on the train. So, helmetless and queasy Klaus set to follow the group 100km to Iseo. Unfourtunatly, the recent movement of Klaus's seat postition caused what those in the medical profession refer to as a total loss of circulation to the groin area, causing numbness, leading to distressing pain in the same region. Numbness, crayfish brains, and some of the steepest hills yet encountered on project EuroTrek lead to Klaus going to a move high on the difficulty scale, the boot and ride. Never clipping out from his pedals during this move, Klaus was actually proud of himself for pulling it off until he heard the crisp snap of his spoke giving way, the 2nd of the trip.

Fear not, gentle reader, for today has found the pendulum on the upswing. The evil has been expunged from the internal spaces of the Klaus, and a rest day in Iseo has brought with it a bike shop for parts and helmets as well as an internet café for relating the tale. Tomorrow we train for Vicenza and the US Military base there to meet up with Klaus's cousin Pvt. James Davis for the 4th of July. All fingers are crossed for an up-close Howitzer demonstation in honour of our nation's birth.

For Those About to Rock,
Team EuroTrek

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Change of Plans...

So we've been having a lot of fun in Treviso...

A LOT of fun.

So plans have changed...we'll explain later. In the meantime, quick summary of coming days: EuroUndies purchased, new jobs found, modeling pays, headed to Iseo, see photos.

More to come later, Team Eurotrek (a.k.a. 'Party club Disco') out.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Firenzuola To Bologna

We are currently safe and sound in Treviso- a town just north of Venice where Bing has some of the nicest family friends we could have hoped to run across in our travels. We're staying with a young couple Julietta and David who have graciously let us take over their living room for our bedroom. More about this section of the trip in our next post, but since we're behind I thought I'd catch up on our Firenzuola to Bologna section of the trip.

Firenzuola was the only town we've visited yet in which we didn't already have reservations made for a place to stay. Unphased, the four intrepid explorers went through the hardship of talking to the attractive female receptionist at the tourism office who landed us space in an 'agriturismo' - kind of like a rural B&B on a working farm - about 3km back uphill from whence we came. By then it was already around 6:30 and the grocery store was closed, so despite the prolonging of time spent in our spandex outfits (dubbed 'logging Chamois time' for the discomfort caused by having to sit in sweaty biking shorts) we ate at a small pizzeria in the town square. It was here that we discovered common toppings for pizza in italy include Wur (hot dogs) and egg- either hardboiled and sliced up or simply cracked raw over the center of the pizza sometime during the cooking process so that it comes out mostly cooked and very gooey.

After dinner it was off to the agriturismo - a working beef cattle farm up a steep gravel road. As we crested the hill in front of the main farmhouse, we were surprised to find a huge table set up out front with about 20 italians having dinner and drinking wine. We spandexed our way past them into the door and met the nice family that ran the place who were occupied in the kitchen serving the group outside. So we were shown to our room and started the shower train just as the dishwasher downstairs fired up her stereo at full volume. What followed was the most awesome eclectic mix of classic rock, 90's music, and eurobeats any music-starved americans could have hoped for. We capped off the evening by sitting at a table outside drinking wine, eating bread, and writing in our journals, all-the-while getting curious glances from the increasingly loud table of 20 next to us who were putting down the wine like it was their job.

We were soon to find out that the group was actually a bunch of school teachers from Firenzuola who were celebrating the retirement of the drunkest two in the bunch. A couple of them were English teachers, so we struck up a conversation with them, which was interrupted by the appearance of one of the retirees, slightly swerving with a bottle of champagne in her hand and talking very animatedly about 'the Americans.' Next thing we know we're toasting champagne to retirement and providing endless entertainment to the group beside us in the amount to which we didn't understand what in the heck was being said to us in slurred, rapid italian but WERE TRYING REALLY HARD to keep up, smiling like idiots and having a great time. Eventually they said their goodbyes and left the kitchen crew and us in comparitive silence, which was quickly filled by the cranking of the dishwashing stereo to full volume. At this point, motivated by our encounter with the teachers, the music, and the fact that this really nice family was taking us into their home very cheaply, we decided to help them clear the tables and move furniture back inside. More rapid exclamations in italian, ear-to-ear smiles to try and cover up incomprehension, and suddenly more wine was given to us to thank us for our help. Obligation to finish the wine took us right up to about midnight when the dishwashing (and music) ended, and we stumbled our way upstairs and into bed having had one of our most entertaining nights yet.

The next morning we were up and on the road by about 10:30 and enjoyed some of the fastest downhill twists and turns bicyclists can hope for as we descended out of the foothills. The destination was Bologna, a fairly large city that proved a bit of a bear to navigate. In the end we found our way to the city campground where we had a bungalo for four, but more importantly- access to a pool. So from about 3:00 until 6:00 we hung out at the pool where we met another traveller from Britain named Sarah who was headed to the south of Italy. That evening we all went to dinner together downtown, checked out the main Piazza in the towncenter, got some Gelato, and then crashed back at the bungalow around midnight.

More to come later....

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Alps Training to Firenzuola

Safe and Sound in the small town of Firenzuola as of about an hour ago, and can't believe our luck at finding such a wonderful place to stay. It's a very small town with narrow streets leading into a large, stone-paved square. That in itself was nice, as was the chapel with gigantic bell tower at it's end, but the real attraction for the 4 intrepid explorers were the two competing gelateria's on either side of the square. As true Americans know, fierce competition usually leads to better prices and higher quality, and we weren't disappointed as we slurped our way over to the tourism office with gelato cones in hand. It was the perfect end to our ride for the day- 62 km over the 882 meter giogo pass.

When we said goodbye to our campsite this morning in Florence, we weren't much above sea level and the temperature was already rocking through the 80's like Sven on his guitar. We've discovered that entering and leaving cities are the most stressful times for us on our bikes, and Florence was no exception. Eventually we slingshotted out of our last roundabout onto S65 and began heading directly North. The riding was fairly flat through lunch, which we had in the square of a town called Scarperia (which Bing informs me means 'shoe store' in Italian) at the front gate to a 700-year old castle. We were riding along the main road when off to our right we saw a castle in the distance-it was an easy decision to make the side trip for a prime eating spot. We also discovered that the roasted onions soaked in olive oil that were for sale at the grocery store is laced with tasty, delicious crack because we are all addicted to it now on our standard bread, cheese, and meat lunch.

Things got ugly from there as we gained view of a positively huge mountain directly ahead of us on the road. Casual predictions were made as to where our path would lead us in relation to said mountain, 'I bet we go around it' or 'there's got to be a pass we're not seeing'. There was a suspiciously road-looking cut very near the top...and to it's right on the summit was a giant white cross. As we climbed the switchbacks, the incredibly steep ascents with the rubber of countless Ferraries and Porche's adorning the pavement, our rally cry became 'La Croce!!!' which is Italian for 'the Cross!' Head for the Cross! The climb took about an hour, but we were awarded with a beautiful view at the top and an incredible descent down the other side. We had the sounds of revving engines and paddle shifting at our backs for the entire climb as well, since for some unknown reason there was a Formula one track in use at the base of the mountain.

That's all for now. We finally found an internet place where we can upload pictures, so if you look below at our old enttries, I'll try and put some pictures with them.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It hurts to sit

Perhaps that shouldn't come as a surprise considering we've been on the road for 4 days now, but the problem is that it hurts to stand as well... Fortunately, we here in the eurotreking group are all about growing character- fathers reading this, have no fear that our wine swilling and fine cheese eating are turning us soft.

Picking up where Sven left off, we left the 'plus' camping at Marina di Grossetto on Monday morning bound for the city of Sienna. As one of our good friends, James Lamb had spent a winter there, we were excited to arrive and check it out. The trek there was just over 100km, and would see us moving away from the western coast toward more central Italy. In topographic terms, this could only mean one thing- UP. Fortunately, the rolling hills in this section of Italy are very forgiving, as were the makers of our bikes when they lovingly placed a third ring on our cranks- giving us a very much appreciated 'granny gear' with which to tackle the steeper uphills at a reasonable 5-8mph. The views from the hills were wonderful-lots of olive groves and vineyards. We had lunch in a stretch of road where the trees on either side formed a canopy of shade, and toasted to Italian 'trees with hats' that balloon out at the top.

Monday night saw us safe and sound into a 'budget' hotel about 8km south of Siena proper. It had been three days on the road at that point, and we were excited at the prospect of a 'zero-day'- a day when no miles would be covered on the bike- spent in the streets of siena. We had our first restaurant dinner that night with two courses, some wine, and Gelato (REALLY tasty ice cream) for desert, then returned to the hotel to pass out and get a good night's rest. We were mobilized by 9:30 for breakfast, and having put a severe dent in the hotel's continental breakfast spread, retired back to the room to discuss what we wanted to do with the day. It was 10:38 when Klaus, glancing at our itinerary noticed that there was only a number '1' in the space for the number of days we were scheduled to stay in Sienna. A couple of choice words and a minute later, we discovered that the check out time for the hotel was 11:00...

At 10:58, 4 spandex clad riders were out in front of the Autostrata hotel oiling up there chains and checking their brakes. It was a late start, and with temperatures hovering right around 100 degrees, it made for one of the tougher "zero" days that I've ever experienced. The ride was absolutley beautiful though- encompassing Sienna and the Chianti region to the North. Think rolling (and at times steep) hills passing through vineyards and the occasional ancient italian town built up on the the highest points in the surrounding countryside. Some of the views from the piazzas in these towns were amazing, and we took a lot of pictures to share when we can figure out how to get them on internet cafe computers. The descents from these hilltop towns had some of the most exhillerating turns a biker could hope for, and more than once we tested the limits of our Windsor 'uber-trekka' bikes loaded down with gear. Klaus used these times to gloat about the benefits of greater mass and momentum, as we had been singing the praises of being lighter on the uphills. So far, we've been weathering all of it very well though- ups, downs, turns, and spandex tan-lines.

It wasn't until about 7:00 that we made it to our Camping 'Plus' site overlooking the city of Florence. Except here they call it "Firenze" - I guess they would know if anyone would. We hit up a grocery store, and then took our bread, cheese, olives, tomato, basil, and wine to the steps of the Piazzale Michelangelo and had dinner over the sunset into the smog. It was a great end to the day, and we ended up staying there until around 11:00 talking with other travellers who had found their way to that spot. Strangely enough, there was another Joe there from North Carolina.... it's a good thing I've switched over to my Euroname.

Today we had breakfast outside of our tents and then wandered into the city. So far we've seen the Duomo and the outside of the Uffizi (it costs too much to go in, so the statue of David will have to wait). The Duomo is gigantic, with the top of the main dome rising 300 feet off of the floor. Now it's back out onto the streets, and we'll see where we end up next!

Italian Coast

The crew has successfully covered some serious distance now and we're sitting in an internet cafe in Florence. The last few days have taken us out of Rome and into a multitude of smaller towns.

Our first stop was Tarquina--an awesome medieval town on a hill right near the coast. We stopped in town for some gelatto and directions to our beach-side campsite. We stayed in a bungalo that night, right near the ocean. Beach shorts were put on and we went for a dip, then played some beach volleyball before an awesome dinner with local wine and a little world cup viewing.

From Tarquina, we headed up the coast to Grosseto. We jumped off our larger road around lunch time to explore Orbetello and the island near it. It turned out that we left the main road a little early, but it was ok since we got to see an amazing sea-side town on a hill on our way to Orbetello. After a stop at the gelatteria, we ate our standard lunch of bread, cheese, meat, apples, and wine in the piazza near a fountain. The rest of the day ended up taking quite some time due to some more wrong turns and our missing the fact that a bridge on our map no longer exists. Thankfully we stopped for information at an awesome agricultural tourism hotel and were informed about the bridge. By the time we rolled into the campsite, we had done 150km.

Thankfully we had gotten reservations for "camping plus." We didn't know what that meant until we rolled into the campsite and heard loud techno music and an Italian woman talking a mile a minute over a microphone. After some much-needed showers, we went to investigate... It turned out that there was a national beauty contest going on with beautiful, tall Italian women in bikinis prancing around on a stage. Needless to say, the 150km were well worth it. After watching for a while, we walked 100ft to where they served dinner. Just as we were finishing off our meals, the entire group of models walked past us to eat dinner at the next table over. Even though our meal was over, we found reason to stay for quite some time.

Everything is working out beautifully and we're very excited that we'll be doing this all summer.

Joe's working on the Chianti and Florence updates now, so I'll sign off.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Holy Bickering Popes Batman!

Being Friday, two days before the Lords Day, it was time to pay the Roman Catholics a little visit in their house, since Gunter got his stuff in the mail today, we have reason to sing praises. Though I have some stellar photos to post, those will be done later on a computer that has a USB connection, so for now you will have to believe that "secuirty" is not really "tight" around here as this guy in his bright green clogs and 4inch cheese knife balde was able to cruise by the swiss gaurd through the metal detector (which went off, though the security response was diffused by the showing of a big teeth smile and wide eyes. Apperantly they fear not goofy looking american tourists with bright red foreheads from lack of sunscreen)

So today we went to see the Pope. St. Petes place was dopeshow and we were unwittingly snared into a free tour by the alluring Mietra of Swedish/Finnish/Iranian decent. Certain members of the group agreed that after the free tour of St. Petes, we should all follow her voice through the Sistine Chapel, etc, however, her wiles were not enough to ensnare 37 euro a piece from this highly educated group. First young american male tourist trap cleanly avoided!

The Chapel and all else in the Vatican can't really be described in a Blog, only to say that we American's have a respect for wide open spaces, and these Euro's went ahead and put those wide open spaces INSIDE. Michealangelo was just as talented in his first life as he was when re-incarnated with the nun-chucks (notice working in the church and then later with a weapon that sounds like a diciple?? eh? eh?) Well that and many other brilliant ideas comming to this group as today we will polish off our 8th bottle of wine as we watch Mexico play a little football with out Mexican roomates here in the hostel.

Our legs are totally worn from walking everywhere, but it has been well worth it, and we're all looking forward to biking 40mi tomorrow to "relax and spin out the legs" as the bikers in the group put it. Tomorrow we shall see how big Klausie handles said "relaxing" into the Roman hills. Needless to say, it has been agreed that water bottle holders should be modified to be wine bottle holders, and that should make all difference in the ability to "relax"

Glad to be known by the company we keep,

p.s. Power battles for control of the world are neat. Especially if you get a monument when you win. I look forward to being embronzed after my idea of training horses to fish with fly rods takes off!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

buon giorno!

ciao bambini! siamo stati in Roma, la bella città! Rome has been lovely so far, and surprised all of us. Each of us had come expecting plenty of smog and horrible pickpockets, but nothing evil has happened thus far, aside from the British gremlins that stole all of Joe's belongings! Today, we did the tourist traps, seeing the Coleseum, the great Roman Forum, and the Parthenon, but managed to sneak away for a lunch on the river bank. It's strange hearing english everywhere we go, but I think it's a bit comforting for the other lads who non hanno capito niente! As soon as we can find Joe's stuff, we'll be making the mad dash away from the big and bustling city for smaller and slower towns towards the western coast. Although we've gotten excellent at dodging cars in the street (the theory on jaywalking here is the same as hanover, go figure), I think we're all looking forward to the real cultural soaking that only comes with a true italian town that is devoid of MacDonalds and the Griswald family parading their children around with camera's pointed skyward.

Til then, we'll be stuffing gelato in our faces, and continue washing our cheese and bread down with 3 euro bottles of wine on the steps of the Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore. It's not a bad existence at all.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Trains, planes, and automobiles

So the first hurdle has been cleared, and to our four mothers, you can at least stop worrying about the chances of our success at arriving in Rome- we did it. Sure, it might have taken 3 lost bags (one still missing), almost 20 hours, and some pretty questionable encounters to do it, but we're all here and in one piece. Senor Kling had quite a go of his trip, having left 11 hours before the rest of us and getting in 2 hours after us (he spent the night in London), but riding the general wave of confusion at the airport, still managed to beat us back to the hotel. While he was relaxing and putting his bike together, Jeff, Joe, and Bing were waiting for him to come through customs at the airport, and for the arrival of 3 'misplaced' bags, 2 of which were bikes, and one of which encompass all of my worldly possesions for the next two months. The bikes have been delivered to our hostel- the bag has not. Hopefully we'll have that all sorted out by tomorrow.
We spent the afternoon checking out some of the closer cathedrals, which are absolutely stunning and walking around the streets playing chicken with the insane drivers of Rome. Now it's time for bed though- all told I've had a combined 8 hours of sleep over the last 82 hours and it's starting to catch up with me. More pictures and stories to follow when I'm not falling asleep at the computer.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Let the Games Begin!

It's been quite some time in the making, but the trip is finally starting. We all leave Boston today and arrive in Rome tomorrow morning!

We'll put up a blog once we've arrived and have gotten settled.