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Week 13: Circular trip through Northern Italy

Ok, well its actually more like 13 and a half weeks, but the trip I just finished started on a Wednesday and ended on a Wednesday, so it makes sense to include the extra half. Since my last post I stayed with Federico in Verona for a couple of days, left most of my stuff in his garage, then drove from his place to Forli to pick up Teo and start the one week trip around northern Italy.

From Forli we drove to Bologna to stay for the first night. I had been to Bologna before but had never visited the city itself, I has stayed in a hostel on the outside of the ring road. It was nice to walk around Bologna and Teo thought it was a beautiful city, I told her that there were even nicer cities to come. We bought a couple of beers and sat in the park having a drink before we headed back to the hotel.

From Bologna we drove to Padova where I left my motorbike in the garage of my couch surfing friend, Simone. While we were in Padova we stopped to look around the Cathedral of St Anthony and the large market square. From Padova we took the train to Venice. Venice is an amazing city, really beautiful and a great place to wander around.

Europe Trip

From Venice we travelled to Verona, I had already seen Venice with Federico and so I could make sure that we saw all the best things in the time we had. After Verona we headed to Lake Garda, I had visited a small part of this lake before but this time we planned to travel all the way around the lake. The lake is really amazing, the further north you travel the bigger the mountains get, making for a beautiful ride. We decided to stay the night near the lake with Teo’s aunt, this meant that we would miss Parma and would also double the amount of distance we had to travel the next day.

We left Lake Garda headed to Pisa, the trip took us through the mountains between Parma and La Spezia. This is a really awesome road, there were lots of other bikers travelling through. We eventually arrived in Pisa late in the night and went straight to the hotel, deciding to visit Pisa the next day.

Europe Trip

After looking around Pisa we headed to Florence for the last two days of the trip. I had never visited Florence so it was a new experience for me as well as her. Florence is a nice city and I enjoyed walking around there and having a beer in the park.

Europe Trip

After dropping Teo at the airport in Forli, I drove back to Federico’s house near Verona, where I stayed last night. From here I will head into Switzerland through the Alps for the next few days.

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Week 12: Couch Surfing Northern Italy

Three months on the road and still loving it. This week I have managed to arrange couch surfing, although I have had difficulties doing this in Italy. I sent out lots of requests, some of which were rejected, most of them were just ignored. I eventually placed some posts in the SOS emergency last minute couch forums, this did the trick, I had offers from some very kind people.

Firstly I went to Bologna and stayed in a basic, cheap hostel for one night before heading to Parma to meet my first Italian host. Ian was a great guy with excellent English, he is planning a trip by canoe in East Asia, which sounds like it will be great. The first night we started talking about travelling and had some beers and suddenly realised we had been talking for around 5 or 6 hours. The second night we went for a walk around Parma to get some food and have a couple of drinks. Ian also suggested a route through Switzerland which I am looking forward to trying out.

My next hosts were a couple who lived in Padova, around 30Km from Venice. The night I arrived we went for a meal and some drinks in Padova, it is a really beautiful place but I didn’t take my camera out that night. The next day we went into town again to see the main tourist sights of Padova, the Cathedral of St Anthony and the town square.

In the afternoon I took the train into Venice and explored. Venice is like a huge maze of tiny paths and bridges, even with a map it is a real challenge to find your way around. After exploring for a few hours I headed back to Padova to rest.

Europe Trip

From Padova I headed to my third Couch surfing host in Verona. On the way I dropped into a small town which had been suggested by my second host Simone. There is a beautiful castle but unfortunately it was closed when I visited. I got a good picture anyway.

When I arrived in Verona I stopped for some pasta before heading to the village where my third host, Federico, lives. After I arrived we headed back into Verona, by car, to have some pizza with another two Couch Surfing hosts from the Verona area. Yesterday we both headed out on our motorbikes to Lake Garda, picking up another Couch Surfer on the way. The lake is really beautiful but I didn’t get any pictures this time, I will be visiting it again soon though so I can get pictures then.

I am leaving most of my luggage here in Verona while I take a trip around the North of Italy, then in about a weeks time I will head into Switzerland, then through the south of France, Andorra and Spain. I’m also starting to do more research on the paperwork that I will need for my trip through Africa.

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Africa Route Problems

As you probably know, I will be arriving in Africa in a month or two. With this in mind I decided that it was probably about time that I planned the route, but I am having some problems.

Firstly the border between Morocco and Algeria is closed.

Secondly Libya.

As I see it there are three possible solutions.

1 – Travel back to Italy, after visiting Morocco, to get the ferry from Venice to Alexandria. The problem with this is that the ferry is currently not running, although there have been stories that it will start running again next month.

2 – Travel back to Turkey, after visiting Morocco, to get a ferry to Israel then drive to Egypt over land. The problem with this is that I will be doubling back on myself through Europe again. But I did miss out on Turkey the first time round, maybe this would be a good opportunity to see it.

3 – Go to Egypt the long way around. Basically drive south from Morocco, possibly as far as South Africa, then head north again, to Tanzania, then go to Egypt after I have stayed in East Africa for a while. The problem with this is the time it will take and the amount of money I may have to spend.

At the moment I am hoping that the ferry starts running again.