Monday, 28 May 2012

From Barcelona to Tehran: Day 25

Day 25: What a Day! From Rome to Primevo in Italy

May 24, 2012; Distance covered today: 131 Km; Total: 1576 Km

I actually didn’t want to leave this campground because I didn’t want to face the traffic of Rome, and I didn’t know either to take a train or to hit the road. The problem was that even if I wanted to take a train out of Rome, I had to ride into the city center and then take the train, something that I didn’t want to do. I left the campground with no clue about where I was going. All I knew was to get out of the campground.

Just outside the campground, I stopped to look at my GPS and figure out what I should do. After a minute or so, I saw a cyclist going the opposite direction. He shouted, ‘Chao”, and I shouted, “I have a question”. He stopped and rode back to me and I asked him if he knew a good way toward Naples. He said something in Italian, which I didn’t understand. Then he meant he would go to that direction so I should follow him. Before we started, two other cyclists, who were with him had arrived. He told them about me and what I was going to do. I didn’t understand what they were talking about, but it was clear that they were arguing about what he had decided to do which was cancelling their original plan and helping me find my route. They argued for two or three minutes. Then we all rode together. After a short distance, one of the cyclists disappeared, and after a couple of more streets, the other one said, ‘bye’ to us. It was absolutely clear that the guy who was helping me had decided to leave his friends behind and help me out!! What a nice gesture! He rode with me for about 20 minutes until he put me on a highway and gave me some direction. I asked if we could take a picture together and with no common language, we communicated with each other. He was a former cycling champion in Italy, had seven kids, and was an informatics professor. I was amazed at his friendliness. At the end, when he was going to leave, he hugged and kissed me Iranian style and wished me all the best. With his direction, I found my way toward Naples; however, I was still stuck in heavy traffic jams.

The Champion Who Ruined his Day to Help Me

It was very very hot and I was sweating and drinking water like you wouldn’t believe.  At the beginning of my route, the road was bad, busy, with no shoulders. At about 2 pm, the road got a little better. I had decided to be away from the coast to see real Italian people, but instead I was seeing a lot of dirty busy roads with car related cervices on sides. It was not fun at all.
Looks so Unreal

At about 5 pm, I had no water left so I stopped at a big supermarket to buy some. I picked two big bottles of water and one litter of grape juice. I also bought some goat cheese, bread, and a can of green peas. When I got out of  the supermarket, I opened the grape juice and drank about one fourth of it. It tasted a little … sour at the beginning, I thought that the grapes in Italy were sour or what? I had a little more when I realized what I was having was actually wine! A woman in a parked car was looking at me in awe. I could see her eyes rounded and her eyebrows raised.  I though I should drink a little water to dilute the wine I had drunk. I opened the bottles and I heard: “Pissssss”, like gas getting out of the bottle. I thought to myself,  “No problem. This is sparking water. Which is fine”. I had a little bit of it and realized that it was not even sparkling water. It was not water; it was soda. I hit the road, but for the next half hour or so, riding was…rather care free. 

It was 6:30 when I began to look for accommodation. I checked the map and I saw a lot of small towns ahead. That would leave me no opportunity to bush camp. I had to find a campground or a hostel. I used my GPS to see if there were any hostels around. There was one, some 25 Km away. I thought, “No way!”  I was not going to bike 25 Km half of which out of my way onto a different direction only to find that the hostel is not open or something. I kept going, but I bought some water from a bar. At 7 pm, I was a little worried. I thought that I needed to find a place especially since there was going to be many towns on my way. 

I stopped and asked a gas station staff. He spoke no English, but he took me to the adjacent building, which was written “Agency” on it. He told the guy about me looking for camping. The owner of the agency shook his head to show that there was no camping. Then I said, “Ostello?” meaning, hostel. He said that he didn’t know. Then I showed him the name of the hostel from my GPS. I asked him to call the number. He did.  I was not surprised to know that the hostel was closed. But the person on the phone gave the address to another hostel in the same area. I got the address and started to push it hard. It was close to eight o’clock.
The GPS showed 118.5 km. The guy at the agency said 20 km. So I thought I would be able to get there in an hour. So… I kept riding and riding, and … riding. I had cycled at least 25 km when I saw a little town on top of a mountain where a local said there was no hostel but a bar who would also run a B&B. The sun had gone down already. Then I, very simply, walked my bike into the corner of an empty lot and pitched my tent: my first guerrilla camping on this trip. I had cheese, bread, nuts, dates, green peas, and of course… some wine.  
Where I Spent the Night

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