Days 31 Through 40

Day 31

Today's number one priority: find the part I need to fix my rack. I went over to a bike shop, they didn't have stuff for racks, but they sent me down the street to another place. That place had what I needed. I saw it, I held it in my hands, there it was. Only problem was that would only sell it to me if I bought the entire new rack that it was part of. Made enough sense, their rack was useless if I took this one part with me... The new rack would cost like 50 bucks, things looked bleak. But just then, the store owner pulled out a business card and made a call to someone. After he got off the phone, he told me to go to some cafe, where a guy would be waiting for me. Sounded kind of strange, but I walked on over. Entered the cafe, and found a guy off to the side fixing a bike, this had to be him. Sure enough I went over and as soon as it became clear I didn't understand any french, they guy cheerfully exclaimed, "Oh its you!" I told him my conundrum and he told me that he had what I needed. Only problem was, it was at his other shop, and I needed to wait until tomorrow it get it. Too be continued. I went back to the hostel, planned my route out to Genoa, drank some beer and enjoyed the evening.

Its officially been one month. Seven more to go. Sounds doable, 12.5% of the way done, not too bad. Despite some difficult days, the time has been flying by and I'm having a fantastic time. Good to get a month under the belt, now I sound ever so slightly less like a ridiculous idiot when I tell people I am biking to China haha.

The magic business card...

Day 32

Sent a text to my bike mechanic friend from yesterday to see if I can get that part I need. He responds, "Hello, yes I wait you." Sounds good to go. Walk through the streets of Marseille and down a narrow alley where I was instructed to find him. He opens up the garage door to his shop, and there he is, surrounded by bikes, parts, and tools. He busts out a couple of those little metal forks I've been desperately looking for and tosses them over to me. Sweet. I try to pay him, but he refuses to accept my money. We start talking and it turns out he's done a good amount of touring himself, Including a 5 month trip from Marseille, through Turkey, around the Mediterranean, and deep into Africa. This guy is great. He even offers to go get a beer with me. In recognition of his awesomeness, I put a couple of his bumper stickers on my bike.

I get back to the hostel and work on the bike. Fixed rack, readjusted brakes, lubed chain, realigned handlebars, cleaned water bottles, and I even got a decent amount of sight seeing in too. Overall a great day. Everything feels good to go for my next stretch into Genoa.

The most clutch bike mechanic ever

Day 33

Forecast called for 0% chance of rain and strong winds. Ended up getting a lot of rain, and not too much wind. Go figure... No couchsurfing for tonight, so I checked into a Formule 1 hotel. I had kind of wanted to check these places out. Interesting business model. Automated check in machines, communal selfcleaning bathrooms, and keyless entry rooms made this place run with practically no staff, and thus was fairly cheap. Tomorrow to Nice, should be nice...

Trying to dry everything out on the space heater

Day 34

I have been seeing ads for some circus for the past several days. Well it just so happened they were set up across the street from a grocery store I stopped into in a small town today. As I sat outside the store and ate some food, I watched as a two humped camel ran out of control onto the adjacent street. Haha anyway, thought that was interesting.

The second half of the day was spent on a coastal route, following the Mediterranean Sea as I made my way into Nice. A bit rainy but awesome views. Met up with my couchsurfer for the night, Karina, and her two children. Had a nice time talking with all of them, and got to best nice and early. Nice day.

Day 35

From Nice to Genoa, I'm taking a road directly on the coast. Today was slow, not because of the rain or hills (there was lots of both), but because I kept stopping to look at the views. Just amazing stuff. I also spend a small bit of time meandering around Monaco, and checking out the sites in the world's second smallest country. Crazy place. I stood outside the Monte Carlo Casino thinking about how I was at the richest place of the entire 8 month trip, and how I would probably see some interesting juxtapositions as I head east. I entered back into France before getting to Italy. 3 countries, 1 day. Boundaries are totally arbitrary, but sounds cool nonetheless.

Couchsurfer Karina

Day 36

Amazing views, terrible weather. Another hard day of pounding rain. Another day of wet, soggy existence. When I left on this trip I obviously anticipated going through some rain. I even figured I'd have a couple days of torrential downpour. But man, its been raining almost everyday, many days quite hard. It has of late been a constant struggle to keep dry and keep the bike in shape. Every night I work to get all of my stuff dried out, and when I leave in the morning, everything's wet again within a half hour haha. It can be incredibly frustrating at times. The bike takes its toll as well. Rain especially messes up the gear shifting and the brakes. Anyway, have to deal with whatever weather comes my way, its all part of the fun.

Got to Genoa, two hostels in town, one in the city center and one way out of town up like a 3 mile hill. You can probably guess which one I tried to go to. Unfortunately though, no space, so it was up the hill I went. Nice hostel, only problem is that they literally just reopened today, and they still haven't set up the internet, opened their kitchen, or done several other things.

Another milestone city reached. Original itinerary called for 5 days between Marseille and Genoa, but I did it in 4. I might take that day I just saved and tack it on as an extra day off here in Genoa. Not sure yet, probably decide tomorrow at some point.

Day 37

Beautiful blue skies and very comfortable temps today. To bad its my day off... Number one priority today - get a phone plan for Italy. As much as it makes me sound like a self absorbed teenager, having a number and a data plan are incredibly important to me. Not so I can gossip on Facebook, but so I can take care of logistics, like finding a grocery store, contacting a couchsurfer, planning my route, and looking up a hostel. Of course you can do all these things without a smartphone, but its a lot more streamlined when you have the internet. Also, due to the equivocal nature of traveling by bike, I refuse to couchsurf unless I have a working phone. With couchsurfing the trip is more fun, more "authentic," and a hell of a lot cheaper. Anyway, got a sim card, mission accomplished.

Ever since yesterday morning, I've started to feel a bit sick. Tonight it got a little worse, so definitely taking tomorrow off here in Genoa.

Day 38

Last night was a little rough. Went to bed shivering, woke up sweating a couple of times. Nevertheless, didn't feel too bad when I got out of bed. Hopefully last night was the worst of it. Suppose time will tell...

Mission for today - send out cocusurfing requests. Sounds easy enough, but since my hostel still hasn't hooked up their internet, and i can't send them using my phone, it turned into a bit of an ordeal... In my quest to find a computer, I ended up getting a pretty good tour of the town. Turned out pretty well, and in the end I found a library that could help me out. As I write this, I still feel a bit sick, but I think I can probably head out on the bike tomorrow.

Friend from the hostel, Ivan

Day 39

Leaving Genoa was a bit difficult. I knew I might be in for something interesting as I passed some signs indicating mandatory use of chains. I took a road through the mountains which was incredibly steep. The grade of the road, coupled with the fact that I was still sick meant that I had to stop to catch my breath every half mile of so. It took me a while yo get to the top. On the other side, a decent amount of snow. It was of course very cold, but also great scenery. Again soaked in rain and shivering as I got into town, but a good day nonetheless. Lots of sleep tonight and hopefully I can get rid of this cold.

Day 40

I looked out the window this morning and saw the most incredible thing, blue skies and sun. I knew today was going to be great. Easy biking, good weather, and great couchsurfers for the night, Bene and Diego. They taught me a lot about Italian food and were nice enough to cook me the most fantastic Italian meal. Delicious and filling too. Perfect for a bike trip. My town for tonight, Cremona, is famous for producing stradivarius violins. When you hear of someone having a million dollar violin made in Italy, there's probably a good chance its from here.

Random town, sister cities with Gilroy, USA