We have been looking forward to this moment for the past four months. I rehabilitated and returned to my old job. Q was able to work at the Plublic health service. Children of friends were born, houses were bought and we attended a wedding just before departure. We are completely sucked back into the “normal” world.
Now that we are on our way to lead a completely different life, it still feels unreal. We have yet to break free from home, from our friends and family. We both have a crazy feeling in our stomach. Like something isn’t right. We recognize this feeling from last time. Fortunately, we know that this feeling quickly disappears when we get on the bikes.
Now first a long bus trip. Installing the bicycles on the bicycle racks is not as smooth as expected. We improvist by using our bungee cords to securely fasten them. Once they are standing and we leave 20 minutes later than planned, we constantly have the bikes in the back of our minds.
Fortunately, we and the bicycles arrive in Dortmund in one piece. We are looking for a place to sit out the upcoming 4.5 hours transfer time. We arrive at a nice vegan restaurant ‘Café Guttut’ not far from the station. Enjoy a luxurious evening in a restaurant once more.
At nine o’clock our night bus leaves for Milan. Here, the start is stressful for another reason. We arrive at the bus and one of the drivers immediately shrugs no and points to our bicycles. There is no bicycle rack and the bicycles cannot be taken on the bus. He is very temperamental as some Italians can be and doesn’t take a moment to listen to us. “No it’s not possible!!”
Fortunately, Q remains calm. After talking for a while and agreement from the fellow driver, the bicycles are allowed in the cargo hold. The bicycles are stacked on top of each other with the bags underneath and next to the bicycles. We’re on the bus! Now we have to wait and see how the bikes will arrive at the terminal. We’re going to try and get a few hours of sleep.
Its a heavy bus ride. At every stop we have to move because we were in someone else’s seat.. we made the mistake of not booking seat numbers. Every time we dozed off just a little bit we were woken up again. After a long journey we finally arrived in Milan. We look for a spot in the park to try to sleep for a while, but we notice that we are getting too cold and start exploring the city.
After half a day of cycling and walking through Milan we go to the family where we will sleep tonight. We found them through ‘Warm showers’. We are received very warmly and relaxed. It’s nice to see the customs here. I think food is the heart of the culture and what strikes me is how relaxed they are about this. Everyone is serving food for themselves and eats without waiting for each other. We start with the appetizer. There is different dishes on the table. Everyone picks something different and eats at his or her own pace. The most delicious wine is put on the table.. but it is just a sloppy wine they say. Main course comes to the table. I don’t think they have been in the kitchen for very long, but I haven’t eaten such a tasty pasta very often. Then dessert with limoncello and coffee. And meanwhile we are talking about everything. Cycling, Italian customs, Dutch culture and teaching each other words. In between, daughter proudly tells us which grades she has now achieved. Nice to see how relaxed everyone is even though there are two total strangers in their house.
This bodes well for the rest of Italy. Now we have a good night sleep so that we can start our bike ride tomorrow rested. Sleep well!