Category: Travel

Settling in to Saliente

Settling into the house has been very easy in some ways, and in others not so much.

It’s wonderful to be in my master bedroom with the huge bathroom, but the hot water wasn’t working so we couldn’t have showers.  Also the washing machine kept stopping because of ‘not enough water’.

We got hold of a local plumber and arranged for him to visit.  We want to replace the gas cylinder water heater with a solar one, as well as the house heating system.  The current system uses red diesel and neither of us likes that so we’re going to get a pellet burner for the main living room that will act as both a fireplace and heat the radiators as needed.

The plumber’s wife does pool cleaning which we badly need – you can’t even see the bottom of ours through the algae and muck.  There’s also a crappy ‘jacuzzi’ on the terrace by the pool that we’ll have to empty and dispose of.

It turns out that the hot water does work, although the canister did need replacing.  The problem was that we kept testing the hot water in the kitchen, where for some very strange reason the hot water pipe was not connected (or turned on, or something).  Anyway I did get a very nice shower before we ran out of all water.

The plumber came up the next day with his wife, who said she could definitely rehabilitate the pool, while he went down to the lower, larger water tank and opened something up that allowed a bit more water to be pumped to the smaller upper tank that feeds the house.  He also arranged for another fellow to partially fill the lower tank from his tanker truck in a couple of days.

A few days later we went into Albox and had another meeting with our bank guy – he helped us setup our new cards, and we also arranged house insurance.

Back at the house we realized that the loud ‘cawing/squawking’ that we’d been listening to day and night was not a large exotic bird, but a small frog living in the pool.

I thought I’d rescued him and proceeded to scoop him out (on only my second try with our new net) and deposited him in a shady part of the garden in a bit of water.  Well – it turns out he didn’t want to be ‘saved’ or relocated, as the very next morning we found him once again singing his mating call at the top of his lungs from the pool.

We’ve seen other local wildlife such as rabbits, and this morning Colin saw a fox, who seemed to be interested in the rabbits, but I was too slow to get a pic.

Sitting on the terrace at any time of day is very pleasant, and there’s always a beautiful view to be had.

I’m also enjoying being able to do yoga again – my master bedroom is large enough that I can put out my mat with plenty of room to spare.

Another fellow has come to do some measuring for balustrades for the inside stairs, as well as fencing for the front yard.  It’s quite a large space so we’re only going to enclose part of it – the raised beds for our veggie gardens will be outside the fence, although we will have to ensure that they are rabbit-proof.

One afternoon we walked the dogs on the rambla to the nearby restaurant – it was just packed, and there was a bouncy-castle for kids and music playing.  We didn’t think it was an after-funeral party and decided it was either a wedding celebration or christening party.  There were lots of kids and the little girls were all dressed up with frills and bows – very cute.

When I sit on the terrace beside the pool it’s easy to envision how it will look next year with some strategically placed flowering shrubs in pots and a couple of nice large umbrellas – it’s going to be gorgeous and I can’t wait!

Slow days over Easter and another step forward

We received the contract for the house by email from the lawyer late one evening.  We had a couple of simple questions that we emailed back to them but by then everything was shut down for the five-day Easter weekend.

Not able to do any business we had a couple of very slow days, taking only one day-trip back north to Chirivel.  Once again we commented on the beauty of the area, and doing the loop in a different direction we came back via Oria.

Sitting outside one afternoon at the campground we got a bit of a shock – we had the canopy out as it was nice and sunny and were surprised by a large thump above us and seeing some spray.

I jumped up and stepped away to get a view of the canopy and could see what looked like bird poo spread out all over.  Colin got the hose out and sprayed it off – it was gross.  I was very glad for the canopy as I’d been sitting right below where the worst of the poo was and might have gotten it right in the face!

A short while later when inside the campervan Colin noticed that some of the brown shit had come thru the open vent above his bed and was sprinkled on his duvet – since we had just done a bunch of laundry the duvet cover was hanging on the line drying so the poo/goo was right on the duvet itself.

It actually didn’t smell bad so we’re not really sure what it was – maybe mud and bits of grass or leaves/needles.  We couldn’t figure out where it came from – we hadn’t noticed any large birds, although it was very windy and could perhaps have come from one of the large trees nearby.  It’s a mystery.

Another day we drove up near the new house and while Colin sat with the dogs outside the restaurant and had a coffee I finally – for the first time this year! – got on my bike.  I rode up the nearest rambla and pedaled leisurely along below the house and north almost to the sanctuary.

It was a very nice ride, although I did have to pay good attention to the ‘road’ surface, which is a combination of dirt, gravel and sand, and having many washout grooves from all of the recent rain.

I think being able to explore the ramblas will almost make up for not being able to ride the canal paths in and around Worcester anymore.

The ride north was all gently uphill, and hardly noticeable – you could only really tell there was a gradient at all because going back south to the restaurant I hardly had to peddle – I might even have been able to coast the whole way if I’d wanted to.

After the long-long Easter weekend we got to do some more business.  A quick visit to George at the estate agent office answered most of our questions regarding the contract.  He printed it for us and we signed it.  We then popped into the bank, which we were lucky to get into as it was market day and the street was packed with stalls.

Our representative was with other customers so we made an appointment for an hour later.  When we saw him at noon he did a transfer for us of 10% of the house purchase – our bank cards hadn’t arrived yet and we also don’t have an NIF number so we couldn’t do it ourselves.  We gave him the papers showing where the large transfer of cash from the UK came from to back-up the anti-money laundering file on the account.

After the bank we returned to where we’d parked the camper van – about a km back along the road out of town because of all the extra parked cars for the market.  Next stop was to drop off the papers at the lawyers – a one-pager from the bank showing the 10% had been done, as well as the signed contract.  Another step forward!

Day Trips and The Shaggy Dog

A few days ago we took another day trip to the Sea, this time heading for Playa de Mojacar.  It was quite a pretty area but we could see that it would be infested with tourists in peak season – even now it was almost over-run by brits.

We did have a nice drink at a cafe, then took a walk along the beach back to the campervan before driving a bit further north to the beach near Villarico again.  We actually got the lawn chairs out and sat in the sun before having lunch overlooking the Sea.

Another day we took a little drive north, going through Taberno, then taking a smaller road winding through the hills to the town of Velez-Rubio.

There were very few settlements along the way but mile after mile of lovely  almond orchards. The distance was 32 km and it took an hour.

We took a short walk around and had a drink before heading home via a different route.  This time we went west to the town of Chirivel where we turned south – and was it ever a beautiful drive.

We ended up joining the road that goes past the Sanctuary, then on down to Albox.

Again we got to sit in the sun for a bit, and we watched as more and more campervans arrived – Pedro, the owner, had told us he was hosting a paella party and had invited some friends.  The place wasn’t totally full, but there were dozens and dozens of new arrivals.

Saturday was another beautiful sunny day, and the music started around noon.  The paella was served up mid-afternoon and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Although the ‘party’ ended quite early almost everyone stayed for another night.

Since Henry was getting very shaggy he was starting to look like a sheep so he got a grooming.

It took about two hours and he’s now half the dog he was before.

Now instead of looking like a woolly sheep he looks like a baby lamb.

Bacares and Sanctuary

Finally a warm and sunny day – I did a load of laundry and hung it on the line, then we decided to take another day trip, this time west to the town of Seron.  One of the houses we were going to view was just outside the town and George had told us how lovely the town centre was.  As we’d bought the other house on the spot we didn’t need the viewing of the Seron house but we thought we’d like to see the town anyway.

The drive west wasn’t the most picturesque as there’s a lot of industry and gravel pits, etc but the further we went the nicer the countryside got.

You can see Seron from a distance as it’s clustered around a castle at the top of a hill.  We drove along the base of the hill but decided not to take the campervan up into the centre as we were concerned about how narrow the roads were likely to be.

Since it was still early we chose to drive south a ways and do a loop back before going home.  The road wasn’t too bad as it wound up and up to the summit, with an elevation gain of over 1400 meters.  There were quite a few cyclists making the effort and it couldn’t have been easy.

The views along the way were fantastic but there was nowhere to stop and take photos from – a couple of view points would have been great, or even just a pullout.

Stopping in the village of Bacares we had a walk around – it’s not a bad little place, but very isolated.

After our walk we sat down outside the cafe/bar and had a coffee.  There were a bunch of birds in cages on the windowsill – the cages are so small the birds can barely turn around in them and they make little noises at each other.

It seems very mean to me – I wondered what kind of bird they are, and if they’re perhaps on the menu of the restaurant, or what else their purpose might be.

The sparrows come and land near the cages – wonder if they’re communicating with them or just trying to steal their food.

After leaving Bacares we stopped partway along the road north and had a nice lunch on a flat wide spot with a great view.

Nearing the town of Olula del Rio I actually got a decent photo of a sculpture that’s outside a museum/art gallery.  She’s called ‘La Mujer de Almanzora’ (The Woman From Almanzora) by spanish artist Antonio Lopez.

When we returned to the campground it was sunny and warm enough to actually get the lawn chairs out and sit outside under the canopy.  We weren’t out there very long before the wind became too much and we had to wind-in the canopy and retreat inside again.  I’ve still been wearing my winter coat and the lighter black jacket hasn’t been out once yet – so much for warm southern Spain!

We’ve now signed some papers at a notary’s giving our solicitor power of attorney to get our tax numbers and other house-related things for us such as sorting out utilities, etc.  We also met him at a bank and he helped us open some accounts so we’ll be able to deal with a local spanish bank – things are moving along rather nicely.

Rain, rain and more rain – spending lots of time inside watching YouTube videos.  Finally sometime during the night the rain let up and there’s actually a bit of blue sky this morning.

A couple of nights ago Mo fell out of bed and seemed a bit out of it when I hauled her back up.  We think she’s injured something on her right side – if you pick her up in the wrong position she yelps.  Nothing seems broken or anything as she’s walking fine, but just a bit tender.  She now has pink marks on the back of her head as I’ve been kissing her more than usual.

This morning we took a drive up to the sanctuary – El Santuario del Saliente – a work crew was clearing some of the rock falls caused by the recent rains but the drive was worth it.

The sanctuary is on a promontory with fabulous views of the valley below to the south.

I went inside and it was lovely – a tiled inner courtyard and then the ‘church’ part.

I was all alone and it was a very peaceful feeling – as near a ‘religious’ experience as I’ve ever had.

We stopped at the local restaurant on the way back to the campground and had a lovely lunch of fried calamari.  Back at the campground we watched two races on GCN – the Scheldeprijs and then the third stage of Itzulia Basque Country.  

A Brief House Hunt

We got hold of the estate agents and they managed to book three viewings for us mid-week.  

As we had a day before the viewings we drove to the nearby village of Arboleas and had a coffee.

There are lots of brits here but the village was lovely none-the-less (hahaha – just kidding – I love brits).

There seemed to be an extra large number of cats in the village, some of which were quite cheeky – sitting on parked cars, and sauntering by slowly taunting the dogs.

After our coffee we walked around a bit, then got driving again and just kept going.  It’s less than an hour to the sea, so we drove past Vera and north a bit along the coast to Villaricos.

We found a large space next to a beautiful sandy beach and had our lunch, then took the doggies for a walk into the town.

The next day we viewed three properties, all of which are ‘country houses’ as we requested but as we drove to the first one we wondered if we’d chosen the wrong category.

Part of the drive to the first house was on a ‘ramblas’, which is a dry river bed – well, dry most of the time other than a few times a year when it’s briefly flooded.  The road is maintained and not too terribly bad, but the house was quite remote.

The house had a lovely pool area and lots of rooms but was rather dark inside and other than the terrace around the pool there was no outdoor space.

The second house was even more remote, and badly needed a lot of work before being habitable.  The owner was a brit who gave up during covid and basically abandoned the house to the lizards and the elements.  While we could see great potential if fixed up, there was just too much to do.

The last house of the day was on a better road, but the house itself as well as the pool, while nice, was quite small – the koi pond wasn’t enough to make up for it.

As we discussed it later and the next morning we decided to look for ‘villas’ rather than ‘country houses’ but had to eliminate quite a few as they were right in a town.  We visited the office and had a good chat with George, who is british but speaks fluent spanish.

He helped us narrow down what we should actually be looking for, and mentioned a large country house that had recently lowered the asking price.  We hadn’t noticed it before as it had been above our budget at the time, but now wasn’t.  Someone was viewing the house that afternoon, and we indicated that we were eager to see it also, as soon as possible.

The next morning we got a call from George – the homeowners were open to seeing us in less than an hour!  They had received one offer on the house, and it was insultingly low – they are desperate to sell so wanted to see us asap.

We met Andy, the very nice fellow that had taken us around the other day, and he led us to the house which was about 20 km out of town.

The only hitch was the side road up to the driveway – it wasn’t paved and with the amount of rain recently the dirt road was a bit soft and the campervan couldn’t make it up.  As we tried repeatedly to back up and get more speed a tractor came behind us.  He realized we weren’t going to make it so pulled back and over a bit so we could back down past him to the paved road and pull over on a conveniently placed wide spot.

We walked the short way up to the house and one of the owners was waiting for us.  As we’d watched a video about the house on the website earlier we kind of knew what to expect – and we weren’t disappointed.

After a tour of the grounds, pool area, and the house we had a quick private discussion and made an offer on the spot.  It took about two minutes for the agent to get a positive response from the owners and we shook hands on it!  And for less than the asking price, which was already discounted quite a bit from the original.

We were in the office later that same day signing the papers and are already waiting for a response from a solicitor to take care of the legal paperwork, etc.  We own a house in Spain!!

From Italy to France to Spain – Long Drives and Lots of Rain

Leaving Poggio early we headed to the peage and crossed into France – no border guards or anything so passports and covid certificates put away again.

While we thought it could take up to three days to cross southern France we just kept going.  We made it past Narbonne before stopping for the night at an aire/sosta in the marshy area at the western end of Carmargue, next to a salt-water lagoon.  

There were a lot a flamingoes but we only saw a few of the horses that are famous for running through the surf.

After a quiet night – despite the thunderous surf and storm, we got another early start.  We found a Lidls in Rivesaltes for a few groceries and then a pharmacy in Alenya so Colin could fill one of his prescriptions, then went south along the coast and into Spain.  

It was a very beautiful drive, winding around through lovely towns and up and over.

Crossing was, once again, not a problem – this was the border point between Cerbera, France and Portbou, Spain:

There’s a huge railway station and yards, including a hotel and other stuff in Portbou that the Spanish government spent millions and millions designing and building but somehow missed one crucial thing – the gauge on spanish and french railways are different so it’s a gigantic white elephant.

Taking the peage south we made good time and didn’t leave the main road until around Tarragona, finding a nice little aire/sosta in El Catllar.

There were already several campervans there so we pulled onto the car parking area which was empty.  Right then a local cop drove up and told us it was only for cars so we had to ask one of the other campervans to move over a bit so we could squeeze in.  By morning three more had arrived so the place was really packed – the car park was still empty.

There are quite a few hiking/biking trails marked, and also looks like some Roman ruins with an aqueduct in the distance.

Deciding to get away from the coast we took slightly smaller roads and headed west, travelling through varied terrain and changing vegetation – all beautiful in different ways.

Just before noon we saw our first Camino sign while passing through a town – in Spain for over a day before spotting one!  After a long day of driving we ended up at a lovely aire/sosta on the edge of the village of Benageber.  

It was a bit off the main road that had been very steep with many hairpin turns – as well there’d been a small rockslide that we stopped and cleared a bit so we could get by.

Once again it poured rain all night long, but otherwise was a peaceful place.  We got turned around a bit when leaving, looking for a different road than we came in on.  Eventually finding it we were glad to not be going down the hairpin road as this one was much straighter and less steep.

There are signs now and then warning of short fat cows from Canada – and they don’t mean me!  I know that’s not what the signs mean but they struck me as very funny – I wish I had a sticker of the maple leaf to put on one.  We never saw any cows though, short, fat or otherwise.

After a small diversion near Utiel we got going south and on to the village of Ricota that had another nice, but empty aire/sosta.  

Another night of unending rain, but again a very quiet area so slept well.  It’s a good thing we go to bed early as Henry is a very early riser – 6:00 is a late sleep-in for him, or if we’re very lucky perhaps 6:30.

With not far to go for the day we reached a campground in mid-morning, after passing workmen clearing a mud/rock slide and splashing through several small washouts, then winding our way along very narrow roads through the village of El Berra.  We get to have showers and do laundry – luxury!

Milano-San Remo – La Primavera…from Poggio!

After a nice shower and a bit of breakfast we continued on south.  Since we weren’t in a rush we took the ‘scenic route’ rather than the peage/motorway.

Part of the drive was quite nice but part was a bit drab – narrow winding valleys and not much greenery on the trees yet.  Also the gravel works on the river weren’t that attractive.

Making it to Imperia right at noon we took the coast road west along the Sea until turning off to go up to Poggio.

The car park at the top was pretty full but we managed to find the perfect spot – right near the fence and overlooking the Sea.

It was very windy so we didn’t spend much time outside, although I did take Mo for a short walk after lunch.  We also went to the cafe/bar a little later for a quick drink.

The bar is right at the corner where the riders will come from the crest of the climb, make a sharp left and start the descent to San Remo – we’ve watched the race from near that spot twice now, staying in the same car park overlooking it.

Race day was overcast but somewhat less windy.  There are only a few other campervans in the car park with us but it’s almost full – most of the cars were there yesterday so we assume the owners must live nearby and just leave their cars all the time.

Going early to the cafe we had a nice cappuccino, then a stroll through the town.

A couple of hours later another cappuccino, this time followed by a walk across the road to the wine store – the one with the taps coming out of the walls.  I opted for a ‘bag-in-box’ red that the lady said was dry and a bit rich but very good.

Partway through the morning many of the barriers were already up and the officious fellow with the whistle was already directing people here, there and everywhere.  Many amateur riders have been coming up, and there are definitely more folks around than the last time we were here – the 2020 race that was delayed to August because of the covid.

Since crowds were gathering we walked down to stake our spots fairly early, knowing we’d have an hour and a half or more wait.  I stopped at the very same spot as I did in 2020, and Colin continued down just past the next corner.

I saw a Bianchi bike above me and wondered if it belonged to a former Jumbo team rider as it had Jumbo Visma on the cross-bar.

I made friends with both the ‘official’ guy and the policeman that was nearest me.  Lots of folks were still coming up from places below and they eventually tied a rope across the opening I was sitting at.

The policeman made sure no one got in front of me, and ended up standing just down from my right shoulder.

I kept asking the official guy how long until the racers arrived and he gave me updates – they were way ahead of schedule because of a fierce tailwind.

The first rider passed at 4:37, followed closely by Pogacar, van der Poel, van Aert and Mohoric, with the peloton right behind.

Because it’s a sharp corner the riders lean into it and swing very wide to my side of the road.

By the time the last racer passed about 20 minutes later the race was long over in San Remo.  It was a sprint to the finish with Matej Mohoric coming out on top.

We tried to get into the bar to see any replays but it was so packed we didn’t bother until later when we were almost the only ones there enjoying a refreshing beverage.

Milano-Torino from San Martino Canavese

We placed our chairs at the side of the road just across from a campervan with a couple of very annoying barking dogs – ok it was ours.  The race approached at the early end of the predicted time.

As the official vehicles and motos just in front of the riders rounded the curve below us I saw a black car in one of the driveways start to move forward.  The fucking idiot partially entered the road and the nearest official car had to swerve to avoid broadsiding him, meaning that the moto nearest to that car had to swerve also.  If not for the excellent handling skills of the moto driver I would have been flattened by a skidding motorcycle.

I just sat there screaming obsenities as the first racers passed, having seen what had happened right in front of them, with the front end of the black car on the road.  There was a breakaway of three, followed in about two minutes by the whole peloton.

The driver of the black car that almost caused carnage stood beside his vehicle looking totally bewildered, having finally backed up into his driveway a bit out of the way because of all the oncoming traffic.

How can you possibly not be aware that a World Tour Race is coming through your town?  The oldest Classic there is – 103 years now!  There are signs everywhere about no parking and pink arrows and everything – how can you be that dumb?  In addition to being furious I was also extremely relieved that I hadn’t been crushed by a moto – what an asshole.

Shortly after the race had passed an ambulance roared by with lights flashing and siren on – a rider must have crashed on the downhill not long after going by us.  We hope he’s ok. 

We watched the end of the race on Colin’s phone – Cavendish won!  The first Brit ever in 103 editions – good for him!

We stayed at the roadside spot for awhile, moving later back to the place we’d spent the previous night (across from the cemetery).  I read in bed until I finished the book I was reading about the Roman legions and had another very early night, with Mo tucked in beside me.

It rained lightly much of the night and we got up to a grey day.   With a relatively short drive back to the fruit farm near Cavour we weren’t in any hurry, stopping in Pinerolo at a campervan dump and to restock with more water.

Settling in at Cascina Mombello I made a nice and tender beef stew for dinner.  As usual momma Maya, little Spreet and the big lab welcomed us.

From Papiano to San Martino Canavese – via Cavour

The next day was a day of rest, laundry and watching the final day of Tirreno-Adriatic as well as Paris-Nice on tv.  Winners of each were as expected – the two Slovenians, Pogacar and Roglic.

Pogacar won TA in rather convincing fashion, but Roglic needed a good effort from Van Aert to rein in one of the Yatesies on the final climb of PN.

Packing up again on Monday morning didn’t take long as we hadn’t completely emptied the campervan the other night.  Saying goodbye to Papiano once again we left under beautiful sunshine and a clear blue sky.

Without being in any super-great hurry we ended up continuing on all the way to Cavour.  As we got further and further north the sunshine disappeared behind the clouds and the rain started, but we made it to the fruit farm ok.

As usual the dogs were in the courtyard to great us – mama Maya and her little one Spreet (he’s at least five now but still smaller than his mama, and she’s tiny) as well as the young lab that they got a few years ago when the old lab died.

It rained most of the night but by the time we got up it had stopped.  After a nice shower and some breakfast we saw the older fellow (father, we think) approaching.  His english is much worse than my Italian, and I managed to convey that we were just finishing eating, then would get some water and be ready to leave in about an hour.  That seemed ok as he said he’d be in the courtyard and we could find him when ready so he could open the gates for us.

The farm must be doing ok as there’s a shiny new tractor in one of the outbuildings.  In addition to producing the fruit they also make it into jams, etc, have occasional lunches and dinners, and sometimes run a pre-school.  Accepting campers isn’t a huge part of their business, but we’ve enjoyed staying there several times now.

The first time for me was five years ago when I spent six or seven days there upon my return from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Colin came and picked me up and we went to Mt. Ventoux for the dedication of the Tom Simpson memorial.  Colin had know Tommy years ago in his riding days so it was quite special.

The drive to our next destination didn’t take too long as it’s only a bit north of Torino.  Very shortly after leaving the motorway we saw a pink arrow and it was easy going following the route from there to the small town of San Martino Canavese that we’d chosen to watch the race from the next afternoon.

We had a nice chicken and rice lunch and spent the rest of the day reading.  Relocating just a bit for the night we found a large flat area across from the cemetery – far enough off the main road that the traffic noise was much less.

I took a walk around the cemetery the next morning, and was just pondering the fact that many of the folks residing there had lived to nice old ages…

…other than the ones named at the two war memorials…

…when I saw a teddy-bear.  The baby only lived a couple of months, and the plaque was very touching, being from ‘Mamma and Papa’.

The Alps loom in the distance, still of course, covered in snow.

Mid-morning we went for a walk through the town looking for a cafe – there’s another war memorial next to the steps going up.

We didn’t find a cafe, but did come across barking dogs behind every second fence.

Having some time before the race arrives we took a short drive to the next decent sized town on the route, managing this time to find a nice cafe that served delicious Segafredo coffee – totally worth the search.

Back at San Martino we parked in an area right on the race route, and settled in to wait.  A police car pulled up to warn us that the road was going to be closed soon but we assured him it was ok – that’s what we’re parked here for.

Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 6 – Carpegna

Having driven so far the previous evening it was less than an hour to where we wanted to watch stage 6 from.  We passed very close by to San Marino – we could see the city itself perched on it’s hillside just to the north.  Going in error to the centre of the town of Carpegna we were very nicely asked to turn around by a local cop.

Eventually on the race route we only got to the base of the real climb where we were stopped by a barrier – they’re not letting any vehicles up the best part!  There were several campervans already parked on the wide verge but it felt a bit soft to us so we followed the other small road down a short distance – driving over a large patch of solid ice on the way – it’s still very cold up here.

We parked on the side of the road behind three other campervans and had another cup of tea.  I took a couple of short walks – it’s another very beautiful area.  At the foot of the steep part of the climb are several homages to Marco Pantani – he didn’t grow up in Carpegna, but he trained on the climb many times.

A farmer across the road has put up a ‘parking’ sign and over the next few hours his field became packed – at least sixty or more vehicles so I hope he has a good day.

We watched as hundreds of people trecked up the road towards the top – seeing so many fans making the effort was great.  Around 2:45 we grabbed our lawn chairs and cameras and made our own trek, although not to the top.  We stopped just after the barrier as it’s the first of 22 hairpins and the riders should slow at least a bit as they go by.

A breakaway of five, including Alaphilippe arrived at 3:17…

…and the peloton arrived just a minute later with Pogacar in blue right near the front.

The sprinters arrived in a large bunch only eight minutes later, then I decided to cross the road to shoot the second time around.

A half hour after the first arrival they made their second pass – this time a slightly larger breakaway, including, of course, Pogacar.

It took over twenty minutes for the last rider to pass us, and one of them dropped his chain rounding the corner – he was not happy!  Luckily he managed to get it back on, and with a push from a spectator got back going up the hill.

I must say a word about some of the ‘fans’ – I find many of them very disrespectful.  The riders are on the last few miles of a very long race, and the hundreds of spectators that had taken the time and energy to walk to the top of the climb were coming down in droves as the later riders were still coming up.

At one point the people walking down were taking up the entire road as riders were trying to dodge between them.  I shouted and swore a couple of times at the f’ing idiots, especially when they walked right in front of me when I was trying to get a shot.  I’ve now been to dozens and dozens of races, and can hardly remember a time when I haven’t stayed where I was and clapped and cheered until the very last rider had passed – just wish more people showed more respect.

Back at the campervan we had a little surprise, and I couldn’t stop laughing.  Henry had managed to drag the garbage bag out of it’s door-side container and had strewn the contents all over the floor – he’d chewed the crap out of the lid and yanked it off, then grabbed the bag and pulled until it came up and out.  And we had no doubt it was Henry and not Mo that did it, although she may have egged him on from her perch on the bench.

We made the drive back to Papiano in time to shower and head down to the bar where Antonio was having another festa.  John and Janet were just about to leave but we did have a quick chat.  Then we went inside for one drink while talking with Afka and Janpietro before getting our pork-in-a-bun to take home.