Nancy Cycles!

Nancy Cycles!
"You got to be careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." ... Yogi Berra

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ending our Nice Adventure

Jenny and I were right -- Susan chose a pizza birthday dinner. It is hard to tell here who is enjoying her birthday sweet more ...

Our flight home early the next morning went smoothly and we were soon touching home ground at SeaTac Airport where Sarah and Jaydon met us and drove us home. After cleaning up a bit we then met the rest of the family for dinner at Red Robin. I have no photos to share, but Susan got her birthday ice cream and song which intrigued Jaydon who clapped for the singers.

To let you know the answer to an early pondering: Susan is very happy to have made the trip, but she says I have not created a monster, and she does not "need" to travel abroad in the future. So our trips together will most likely be domestic, and there are lots of places we have yet to explore on our turf. If I do any further travel abroad, I will choose to go with a tour company, or with someone who ropes me into a trip! Any takers?

I have learned to love doing a blog! So much so that I am starting a second one that will chronicle some of my/our less extensive "adventures" and I am calling it little wanderings-Nancy. If you have interest, please visit the site. The (perhaps only) disadvantage I can think of is that with the blog I don't get the comments and emails from you, my friends and family, that I got when I directly emailed (or tried to email) you. I missed those.

In the mean time -- we keep on going, and have just returned from a four day jaunt in Oregon where we found this beautiful trail to ride -- more in the new blog (soon). See you on our next adventure -- thanks for coming along, we love having you with us.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Photos .. that may have not made it...

It seems that two photos I have been working with to get to the correct orientation may not have made it to my last blog post. I am sending them under separate wrapping here... We'll see what happens. Our dining room taken from the hallway entry --- and Jenny working in the kitchen - you can see the deck behind her,

One more tee shirt to buy..

...make that two tee shirts. I couldn't pass up the one in Cinque Terre with a bicycle on the front, but Susan (the tee shirt hound) hadn't found one yet. We (after walking down those 243 steps) took the tram to Old Town one last time where we not only found (two) tee shirts for Susan (could not make a decision between the two), but also stopped at a food stand to try "socca". For lack of a better description, it's kinda like a thin potato pancake with no distinguishing taste. Perhaps we were supposed to put something in or on it, but it wasn't served with anything so we ate it plain. Next was a stop at the gelato stand for ... well, gelato, then to the grocery store for our marketing.

Susan kept the heavier goods in her backpack and gave me the lighter bag (thanks honey) and we hopped the tram back for those 243 steps UP.

We took no photos this day, so here are a few taken earlier of "our" apartment, and one of a delightful and delicious meal that Jenny prepared for us. You will note that I have not yet mastered the app for picture orientation! It shows right side up when I drag it and it drops sideways. Sorry.

Today is cleaning and packing day. We have a taxi coming to pick us up at 4:30 tomorrow morning to take us to the airport for our 6:25 a.m. fight home. We will go out for dinner this evening to not only avoid creating something to clean up after, but also as an early birthday celebration for Susan. Her birthday is tomorrow and we will be on the airplane for home. Jenny and I have a bet of where Susan will choose to have dinner, as her most often search has been for .... Pizza.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Museum Day (7/24/11)

Marc Chagall, considered the most successful modern artist of the twentieth century, expressed his art through several media - canvas, stained glass, book illustrations, ceramics, tapestries, stage sets -- and painted part of the ceiling of the Paris Opera as well. Modern art is lost on me, but I try to stretch my brain. We walked the three miles to the Chagall Museum as we knew it would be our only exercise today.

We hoped we would not be as bored as these kids sitting on the step waiting for their day trip to the museum to end!

We were a little better than they appeared to be...

I am much more familiar with Matisse, but there was no picture taking allowed inside the museum.

After museum visiting we had lunch outdoors in the adjoining park and saw this carousel from 1900.

On our return walk we stopped for fresh baguette and a selection of pastries to bring home for dinner. After dinner we packed the bikes into their suitcases as our adventures on this trip are closing in to the end. One more day of vacation, then a chore day of shopping for household goods we have consumed, cleaning the apartment we have lived in and packing our suitcases for home.

Friday, July 22, 2011

One more bike ride on the French Riviera

I had to get in at least one more bike ride even if it meant climbing that last mile UP the winding narrow road back to the apartment. We were in search of a cafe to have petit dejeuner (breakfast) out this morning. After several unsuccessful inquiries at places that do not serve food until mid day, we found our spot at the Promenade.

The street we have taken on each day for our riding seemed a lot busier this morning and many more cars parked in the bike lane! Made for some squirrely riding.

Sun, blue skies and beaches, oh yeah.

Susan wasn't real into riding today so after going both directions on the promenade we did some marketing and headed home. She says she thinks she is feeling low energy because she is tired of the heat, the sun and feeling sweaty. I say it is because she is ready to come home. She agrees it is a little of both. We each feel that we have had just the right amount of time here with our three weeks, and are both ready to come home, but I am not tired of the sun and heat.
The town has set up petanque courts all along the promenade for a Pentaque Show. There were a few teams playing this game that is similar (maybe even the same but with metal balls) as bocci ball that most of us are familiar with. I assume there will be a big tournament this week.
That is about all our day consisted of. Once home with the groceries, showered and dressed, we walked (down -- and later back up -- those 243 steps) for dinner at a neighborhood pizzaria (yes, pizza in France -- Susan's favorite food) for dinner with Jenny. It was a cute place with very nice cook and waitress and we enjoyed our evening.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Return to Nice (Thursday 7/21/11)

Fortuitous that we had planned to return this morning as we learned that a train strike would begin at 6:00 p.m. this date through Friday! We bought our tickets upon our return to town from our hike, and our train leaves at 10:55 a.m. Phew, we came thisclose to needing to ask you all for money for an extended stay in Cinque Terre!

After our delightful breakfast in the "Lemon Garden", provided by our hotel, we had time to look around town one more time.

And I had time to try (and fail) uploading those photos

And then the three trains that would bring us back to Nice.

As we hiked in the "wilderness" yesterday, Susan started listing the ten essentials she had not brought. Those of you who know the penchant of preparedness that Susan possesses, will know the dilemma she felt we may end up in. Never mind that this trail is well used by many hikers. Except for fire starter, which we thought may be more a hazard than a help in the hot climate amongst dry foot trails and leaves, we thought we could improvise nine of those ten essentials. That would mean using our lip gloss to coat our body for sunblock, but oh well.

Now seasoned travelers, our train trip back to Nice was uneventful, proving that there is more adventure and chance meetings with interesting people when you don't know what you are doing! No interpreter angel for help communicating, no young math student for guidance, and no young Romanian couple to entertain us.

Another photo at the padlocks.


Hiking Cinque Terre (Wednesday 7/20/11)
After an all day rain on Tuesday, Wednesday greeted us with sun and warmth once again. The two times of rain we have had on this trip have come at the best time for us that they could, and yesterday being mostly a day in transit was no exception.

Today we would hike the Cinque Terre (CHINKwa TEHrah) trail(s). The cinque towns are actually villages tucked into the cliffside along the Italian Riviera. A trail connects all five of the villages, and at times a portion of the trail gets closed due to landslides or other bad conditions as was the case from Corniglia to Manarola this day. We had the option of taking a shuttle bus, the train, or walking the detoured route. We, of course, chose to walk the 3 mile more difficult, mountain trail! We climbed rocks, scampered some scree, (and me without my trekking poles) (and Susan without the ten essentials -- more about this later) and walked along the terraced wine fields above the sea. Without this detour we would have missed spectacular views of the villages way down below us, the wild white surf crashing along the rocky coastline, the blues of the beautiful Mediterranean, the lush vineyards, and the farm homes that dotted the countryside.

We hiked just about ten miles and with a variety of stops - photo ops, gawking, eating our packed lunch, and meandering in a town or two - we were out for seven hours. The train back to our home village took nine minutes.
There was such beauty with each bend in the trail, it was difficult to know what photo to take. As it turns out, I don't think we took very good photos of much of it, so you will have to make a trip here to enjoy the beauty more than we are able to convey to you.

Nearing the end at the final town of Riomaggiore, the trail is named "Via dell'Amore" (Pathway of Love) and a tradition of padlocks (you can see a few of them above our heads) has been carried on by lovers who place a lock somewhere to signify their locked love. By the number of locked locks here, there are many lovers locked together out there.

At the end of the day, we met up with a few folks we had been seeing along the way, and chatted about the hike. As it turned out, we were the only ones who hiked the mountain detour, and everyone was impressed that we had done it all (the white hair fools them every time). They called us courageous and gave us high fives all around, and we could tell they were envious and a bit in awe.

We head back to Nice on Thursday.

Cinque Terre (Tuesday (7/19/11)

Five Lands. Three trains got us here in what seems to be becoming our Amazing Race-esque style. No confirmed room reservations in a summer resort area in the midst of summer was slightly concerning (especially to me who was born to worry) as we disembarked from our first train from Nice and boarded the second train in Ventimiglia that would take us to Genoa for our third train to Monterossa. This is the first town of the cinque towns we would enter from our direction of travel, and where Susan had a "potential" room reservation by email but we had left too early to get a confirmation email. Our seats in that second train were in a compartment little "room" that we shared with four other travelers. As luck would have it, our first compartment mate (a very attractive olive skinned Italian woman) spoke fluent English, and her job is as an interpreter from Italian to French. She said her English is not good enough to be an interpreter, but she is wrong!

After some conversation and telephone questions, our translator angel gave us her cell phone to call our potential hotel, and then took over the phone when Susan had trouble understanding the receptionist at the hotel. One problem solved -- in the style of the Amazing Race -- we had a room. A second member of our "team" was a young college student studying to become a Math teacher and was returning to her home in Genoa. Her English may not have been as good, but her sweet beckoning hand gestures led us to the correct station stop, to the ticket window, and toward the loading track where we needed to go for our third train. Next problem (knowing how to get here) solved in Amazing Race-esque style.

Waiting for our train, we met a woman and her daughter from Vancouver, BC, and a young couple from Romania heading for a day in Portofino. They reinfeorced that we were in the right place, and that this train in front of us was NOT the train we wanted. Last problem resolved (getting on the correct train) -- Amazing Race anyone?

Finally in Monterossa, checked into our room and fed, we took our afternoon walk too see the town ---- in the rain.

Have been having problems downloading photos so am a little late with updating the blog.... and there will be a couple of days worth all at once -- if I can get to them right away...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Now that I am learning how to do this...

... I want to keep blogging --- poor you all!

Since there were several questions about my "birthday parade", I thought I would clear that up a bit. The Pink Pride Parade is the Gay Pride Parade that we have in the states. A parade is held in the summer (June or July) in just about all the big cities everywhere, and I was fortunate to have it be part of my birthday celebration here in Nice. Sheri will remember that we marched in one of the first parades ever held, in Boston oh so many years ago!

So here is our pride in photos. We were happy to have Jenny with us for this annual celebration. I will say that the Parade in Seattle is much bigger with LOTS of floats, clubs, organizations, bars, and political figures joining in for a very festive event. Nice had a lot of people walking, dancing and singing/cheering behind the two or three vehicles, but not nearly the extent of everything else.

I have not learned yet how to, or if I can, change the orientation of the photo, but couldn't help but include this one of me with "Madame (Monsieur) Butterfly".

ps... Susan says, of my last post, that we did not climb "hills" we climbed mountains. And that we did.

I remain on the learning curve

Having my learning difficulties. I am adding some photos from yesterday that I had trouble with posting. We shall see if the problem persists... Here is what that side road looked like from the other angle -- opposite of where Susan was standing in the sawdust.

When we got home from our short but hilly ride here is what we felt like ......... Heroes. Note Susan in the Hill Climbers jersey.

Once we were home we watched a storm roll in. We actually watched it chase us home and were fortunate to miss it. There was thunder and lightning and then rain, which we walked to town under to get to Paddy's pub to watch the final World Cup Women's Soccer game (we lost to Japan by penalty kicks as the tie breaker). Unlike Seattle, the rain stops. And today is full of sun again.

We think it is a "rest and plan" day today as we ponder a two or three day trip to Cinque Terre by train, and as I continue experimenting and testing this app and blog thing!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Into the Mountains

Often a day of adventure can start with a glitch. But there are worse things than fixing a flat in Nice (she who is not fixing it says, sunnily). The flat tire was a result from the previous day's ride, and soon it was repaired and we began our day's cycling adventure.

Susan and the GPS found our way out of town and into the mountains. Couldn't resist stopping for some fresh fruit to have with our lunch-to-come. The village of St. Andre was as closed up as any other on this Sunday afternoon, so we made sure to back track for a block to the sandwich shop that appeared to be open. Not exactly open, but the manager gave us three baguette sandwiches and a baguette that they were preparing to discard (made fresh everyday and left over from the day before) with no charge. As we cycled on with the baguette poking out of Susan's pannier, he said "there, you look just like a French girl".

"We'll follow the river", Susan said, "that will be a flat ride". And it was -- until we started climbing! See the river waaaaaay down there ... And the hill we are climbing ... In the mountains.

We took the "yellow road" which was short but took us off the busier road for about a mile. After a very short distance we were thinking it was a dead end and we would have to backtrack. Instead, we squeezed through a couple of tight spots to arrive at the connection to the main road. Made for and interesting detour.

Our destination for the day, Tourettes-Levin, was holding what they called an "exposition" and what we call a flea market. There were 180 plus venders for this big event. We walked our bikes up a long "stairway" into the town.

I am again frustrated because I have not yet figured all this out -- like how to post a photo I chose without it duplicating one I have already posted and NOT the one in just chose... grrrrrr. This will do for now and I shall continue on the learning curve.