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Off to Europe

7 March 2008 No Comment

We finally got everything wrapped up and I am typing out the rest of this blog entry on our looong plane ride to London. Yeah! All packed and most of our plans made below with lots of room to explore and make up some side trips as we move about. Nacho is at the pet hotel and our bikes all tucked away for a couple of weeks… boy am I going to miss my bikes.

We made it through some tough last few weeks and Monique got sick last week and I managed to make it through VQ and my presentation but started to breakdown yesterday. Nothing like sitting on a plane for 11+ hours with your nose running and your sinuses feeling you shoved a soccer ball up behind your eyes… No worries though… We are on Vacation and I have plenty of time for recovery and rest. The outline below is really to help us have links back to what we were looking at because we have spent so little time putting the trip together but making decisions the day of just makes it more exciting.

March 7th -8th
We should land at about 10am London time and we have some open plans to explore the Windsor Castle and some areas around our Heathrow/Windsor Marriott Hotel. There are a few trails around our hotel and Windsor like the 180 mile Thames Path National Trail that begins near Kemble and runs to Thames Barrier… We don’t have too much planned on this day because of the jet lag and short time before we head out to Italy.

March 9th – 13th
Leaving London the next morning we fly to Rome and we are staying at the Rome Marriott Park Hotel for about four nights and our schedule is pretty open. We plan to hit up some of the main sites/tour attractions (Palatino, Coliseum, Vatican, Villa Borghese Parioli, Sistine Chapel, etc) but also explore as many back roads as possible.

We are looking into trading one night or maybe a day trip to the island of Capri and visit the Grotto and in between renting some bikes, mopeds and …maybe even get in an open water swim? We brought our suits! We have gathered so much advise and emails from friends over the last few weeks about “what to do in Rome” that we are just going to work through a list. I am glad Monique and I have the same attitude towards planning. Low stress, high level of surprise around every corner.

On our last day in Rome we pick up our Lancia rental car and head north to Siena. I was so stoked to see the admiration for our sweet little rental car in this YouTube video. We have to do some testing!

March 14th-16th
Departing Rome we drive a little ways north to Central Tuscany for our stay in Siena were we were originally going to stay with the Vertigo Mountain Bike Tours but elected to say at the Via Scacciapensieri and take our day trips out from there. We are still planning on some tours/rentals from Vertigo and hopefully we can find some nice single track as we wind our way through the hilly vineyards of Chianti or get a nice long ride on our way to see the historic town of San Gimignano.

There are a few tours we want to look into from trails to vineyards to ones that include cooking lessons so we are keeping it open for a day or if we want to stay at a bed and breakfast. We are also looking into a spending a day south of Siena exploring the ruins of San Galgano that were built in around 1200AD and surrounded by dense woodland…Should be a nice change in scenery from the hills of Chianti. There are so many trails and little towns that we can explore so we again have a pretty open schedule.

March 17th-20th
Next is a few days in Florence which sits between West and Eastern regions of Tuscany and is close enough to explore any other region in Tuscany in a day. We will still have our car for a couple of days here so we may take some longer trips to another region at first and then dig a little deeper into the City Center to explore some local sights in detail. Much of what we got advice about is that the little neighborhoods are so diverse that you can get lost discovering little nuggets and great eats around every corner so we plan on spending the last day or two just hangin out in the center area. Also on the list is some sights like going to see David at the Accademia, check out the Uffizi gallery and Bargello but we may decide to just jump up to Venice for a day. . . and that would be just as normal for us as a week gets. We plan the big picture and let all the little stuff fall into place.

March 20th-23rd
On our last Thursday we head back to London and we get to hang out with Marius and Mandy who will be heading back from South Africa and meet some new friends who live near West Wimbledon. So stoked to see them over there and hang out at some local spots! We are planning to meet up on the 21st so that gives us a few days to explore the parks, museums and some courses in the area….Who knows we may be back to race one day…soon? Our only solid plan is to head out for a day to Bath to see some sights. I have been advised about the great food and romantic atmosphere at the Moon and Six Pence so we will have to go there for some dinner. We have also tossed around the idea of taking the chunnel to Paris for the day but we will have to see how far we can stretch our Euro…

On our trip back we are staying in the Grosvenor Square area that is right next to Hyde Park. The park is over 350 acres with plenty of room for us to get out on the trail. It also has a lake with its own open water swim club that said we can join along so we may do that a few times.

I think that is about it… for now but hopefully we can post a few times when we are over there too or put some pictures up. We wish you were all here with us and hope to see you soon.

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