Location: The Airport!, Singapore
Well I haven't managed tolog on in a few days as I was running around trying to do the last few things, Lambo, Ducati shop of course and a flying trip to Venice. Bologna is a great city (thanks Nick) and I really enjoyed the time there, it's not crowded with tourists which is nice.
Dubai was interesting, it took over 2 hours to get from the plane to the hotel which is only 500m from the sirport as it seems every plane in the world was racked up at Dubai, Jodie and Warren will be glad to hear I picked the longest, slowest line AGAIN! 3 hours sleep anf back on a plane to Singapore where I have half an hour before I head back to Bris.
Not sure how I feel about coming home, happy in one sense but part of me wants to stay away. I've had a ball and seen some incredible things, and met some fantastic friends along the way, thanks guys (Claire, Ken, John, Jill, Craig).
Best Pizza: Toss up between the pesto one at Vernazza and the one at Pina's in Bologna.
Best Coffee: Day 1 at Milan.
My biggest regret is that Tina never made it to do this trip with me, I've smiled at things she's like, and cried knowing how much she wanted to see Italy, but like the rest of you following along vicareously (sp?) through a blog, I know she's been with me all the way. That means she knows that Venice is inflicted with the overpowering smell of wet dog ;) It's been a blast peoples, hope you've enjoyed following along.
More pics when I get home.
Location: Bologna still, Italy
Bologna is very different to the other places I've been, the tiny little laneways are replaced with wide streets and arch covered footpaths. It really is refreshing. I'm bit churched out so have not really explored the historical parts of the city although I'd like to track down the anatomical museo, sounds interesting.
Every town you go to seems to have different hours of operation. Lucca was all closed up early, Florence going strong at 10pm. Here? Being a uni town it is just alive, there were more people on the streets at 12 last night than at 7pm on a Friday in Bris. I guess being a university town helps. I'm still a bit stumped by the shops though, they don't open until 10 (or whenever they like after that) then they close at 12.30 and open again anywhere from 2.30 to 5 and close at 7.30. I don't really know why they bother...
Pagani yesterday, a private tour of the tiny, and I mean very, very small, factory. Watching them hand lay the carbon so every (and I mean EVERY) line in the car matches up, you can, afterall, have your Pagani finished in raw carbon. Would you believe they will only make 50 Pagani Zonda F's? 25 coupes and 25 roadsters, and if you want to wait the 9 months for them to assemble one, it has to be one of the only 2 roadsters left available. The yellow one I sat in was just awesome, I'd certainly give up 2 wheels for one although ingress and egress was somewhat challenging. There were a couple of customers in for tuning as they are doing a track day tomorrow, they were belting them up and down the street, the sound is pure sex.
I had a look around town after coming back from Castelfranco Emilia (closest train to Pagani) and bought myself a present. I really am running out of space and will have to buy a new backpack I think.
There's a few observations I must make about Italy...
They certainly didn't invent measurement. We were told the bus dropped us 4km from the racetrack on Sunday when in reality it was more like 6, then the tourist office told me Ducati was only 4km from the city centre, I got a cab out but decided to walk back... it took nearly 2 hours at a decent pace just to reach the outskirts of town. Hmmmm.
It's not friendly in the wet. Watch your step everywhere... they cover most things in marble, that gets slippery when wet, very slippery. I think they use marble paint for the pedestrian crossings too as they are deadly, how I have not seen more scooters belly up from touching the white paint is amazing.
Everyone smokes. EVERYONE. You can't get away from it. About the only place they don't smoke is on the trains, but then they jump off at the stations to suck one back for the next 1 hour journey. Corey'd have a hard time, plenty of gorgeous women, all with a fag in their hand. I guess I've inhaled enough now I might as well just light up myself, and join the Europe lung cancer epidemic.
Make mine red.
I went somewhere today. Somewhere very interesting. I went and toured a company that has, in their existance, made calculators, shavers, radios, and a motor that could do 100km on 1 litre of fuel (and that was in the 1940's).
Now they make insanely beautiful motorcycles, and I want one.
If my praise isn't enough, the fact most of the staff own and ride the product to work every day should help. A staff of just 600 turn out every bike they sell, along with the 2 successful race teams they run. I was surprised by the small size of the factory, let alone the workforce. It's tiny. Parmalat in Brisbane probably covers more area.
For those lost by all this, it's Ducati. To see them machining engine parts, assembling the engine, then putting it all together in the frame and then testing the finished bike on the dyno was a treat, EVERYTHING is hand assembled, every engine cold tested and then every bike dyno tested, 120 bikes every day. Monsters, Multistradas, 1098's and my favourite, the Hypermotard, all being assembled at the same time. They wouldn't let us in to the 'Corse' section, their racing arm, that's off limits while they make Stoners bike faster...
A bit of useless trivia, Ducati actually started life using the 'Prancing Horse' logo but the mother of the Ducati boys GAVE the logo to one Enzo Ferrari and it now takes pride of place on the other famouse mark from just up the road...
I'm off to Pagani tomorrow to see more mechanical goodness, then a short bus trip to the raging Bull. What a way to end (really?) the trip. I guess I can relive it all in 3 months when my red Hypermotard arives ;)
Location: Mugello and Montecatini
An appointment with an Irish Doctor.
Woohoo, well what a few days... I had a fantastic dinner with the Intrepid Group on Thursday night (maybe a new career path?) at a FANTASTIC local restaurant in Lucca, Friday morning I headed on to Montecatini with some trepidation for my rondevous with the crazy Irish, they were late on Friday so I didn't get to meet anyone really, I sat next to some at dinner but decided eaves dropping on their conversation was more fun... I hooked in with 2 fantastic couples and chatted all the way to the track on the bus, lucky bastards being in Europe get to go to a few races a year, if that's not bad enough, Gillian's cousin is a mechanic on Chris Vermulen's Rizla Suzuki team so she often gets pit passes.
We started out a bit soggy (Ken in more ways than the weather) and after taking some cover from the rain in the beer tent (now c'mon, did you REALLY expect anything different) we donned our new protection and baraved the grandstand in the rain. If you think the Irish are nuts, you just have to look at the millions of motorhomes, bastardised scooters and ampty collections to realise the Italians are just plain crazy, balance point wheelies 2 up on scooters, burnouts on scooters, megaphones exhausts on scooters EVERYWHERE. Oh, there was some qualifying too, the Aussies obviously putting in a good show, not that the crowd on Saturday cared for anything not Italian.
I initially promised myself an early, sober, night on Saturday but someone led me astray, maybe it was the beers with cute 'melodies' at the track, or the bundy by the pool at the hotel, or the red wine at dinner, or the Montenegro after, even a swim in the freezing pool in my jocks sometime after I-don't-know-when-o'clock didn't save me and Sunday dawned very cloudy, last of your then is a bus ride, at least I fared better, much better, than Claire and Ken... I think I broke them, especially when an unamed Irish lass went looking for a bag...
Not sure why we bothered with a transfer on a coach on Sunday, The Italians may be able to party but they certainly couldn't organise a passionate union between 2 consenting adults in a house of disrepute with a fist full of 50's... well you get the picture. We had to walk about 6km to the track as they wouldn't let the bus in, this was after a 3hr bus ride to go about 50km... meant we missed the 125 race, plenty of angry people in the group. If Saturday was madness, Sunday was just bedlam. I'm not really sure why, but people kept stopping me to take my picture, have a look in the photo's page... Someone must have recognised me as an Aussie as when I walked into our stand, some fellow quiet Australians instantly started the 'Aussie Aussie Aussie', call. The flag on my backpack must have given me away.
The locals went absolutely crazy when Rossi came out on the track, I mean crazy... fireworks, bugels, horns, cheers, and you could hear it go aroungd the track as he passed. Makes the MCG for the footy seem pretty tame. And what a show the Doctor put on for the crowd (for those not MotoGP savvy, Valentino Rossi -multiple World Champion, and Italian - is affectionately known as 'the Doctor'), from 9th place to first... Shame Casey went backwards after such a strong start and qualifying, but to see the, arguably, greatest rider of our time win in his home country was worth the trip over alone, even Claire got some colour back in her cheeks.
Those poor buggers had to be on the bus at 4.45am to fly home to Dublin, so why then were they still up at 11pm drinking beer around the pool? Beats me but I couldn't be a bad sport and let them do it alone ;)
Racing's in Catalunya next Sunday, which is only about a 50 minute flight from here... wonder if Carl will notice if I don't make it back just yet??????
EDIT: Would you believe this Piece-o-Crap (PC) is still running Windows 98 and therefore is missing the drivers necessary to upload pics... Get a Mac.
To keep the Americans out?
Mmmmmmm, Positano. True to form the weather cleared just as I was leaving Positano, I would have loved to stay longer but the bad weather and time constraints to fit it all in meant I headed back north, it was a long way to go for 2 nights on a wet rainy beach but the road was worth the trip alone, only time I've ever actually felt car (or bus) sick in my life. I take my hat off to the bus drivers, they are millimetre perfect along that road. I am in awe of the way they develop locations here, if Positano was in Australia it would be just like the Gold Coast, overdeveloped and just a horrible place to go, but here, they get to a point and stop, Positano is the hip place to holiday yet they refuse to expand it any more than it is. Beautiful. No high rise, no Maccas, just local people doing their thing. It's just a shame you have to go through Napoli to get there... what a shithole. I didn't get to Pompei unfortunately but then I need to leave some things to do so I can come back ;)
I'm now back in Tuscany (after a full day of travel, I left Positano on the 9.40am bus and arrived in Lucca at 7.40pm) in a cute little walled city called Lucca, the wall is still completely in tact (the only one in Italy) and it must keep the obnoxious people away as I haven't been annoyed by any yet. Search it on the net for some history, it's pretty interesting. I'm finding it the hardest city to navigate, all the laneways seem to have no order and I keep finding myself completely away from where I was trying to go. It's bizzare wondering through this centuries old village that is almost like taking a trip back in time, to then find a Bang and Olfsen shop... it just doesn't fit. Hanging out with a New Zealander of all things, too scared to get herb out as being away from his 'pets' he might take a fancy (sorry Andrew) ;) Probably going to the opera in one of the churches here tonight, we'll see how we go with the wine tasting we're about to do.
I hate to upset everyone but haven't had any Pizza today, having local cuisine here, rabbit and wild boar. Pretty rich but beautiful. mixed with Vino Rosso della casa it's just beautiful. I did have a look at Real Estate here but it's a bit expensive and couldn' scrounge up the 400,000 Euro it costs in Lucca.
Location: Positano, Italy
The real world.
Obviously celebs have taste, I'm in the 'fashionable' holiday spot and I've finally found an internet joint with Macs, oooh it feels good after all those PC's, it hasn't crashed like the 'others'.
I take back the nice comment about travelers from that Bush country, there are plenty of them here and they SUCK. How the world ever got anything done without them is a mystery as they are the foremost experts on EVERYTHING, including Italy. I could go on about the wanker here trying to sell a new website to the internet cafe guy like this for ever but that'd just bore you all.
Todays been pretty quiet, I just lounged about and read a book as the weather is crap, hence me being in here having a cheap a beer and a Mac fix. Sorry Suze, a CHEESE fix and some Mac time.
Have I mentioned the food here yet? It's awesome, Teeny would be amazed by the Bruscietta, but my mum still makes the best Lasagne in the world. Seriously. How they stay so thin eating so many carbs is a mystery.
Cost varies depending on where you are, in Cinque Terre it was 2 for a 600ml beer, at the bar on the beach here it's 8 for a 355ml Nastro! Food varies from town to town but around 8-14 for a main meal in a restaurant is average. Cheap fix is a piece of pizza (in a piazza or not) for like 2.
I'm going to get off here and check the train timetables now... Only a few days until you should all be looking out for Herb the kangaroo at the MotoGP.
Location: Positano, Italy
Another day, another train ride and now in another city. After 2 sleepless nights in the dirty stinky hostel I finally had enough and found myself a hotel, what a relief! A nice bed, cool air and no snoring farting other men, not to mention my own (clean) bathroom. It certainly lifted my spirits some, although once I got my directions, Roma was not so intimidating. As mentioned I saw all the tourist sites but also tried to keep to some back streets to see a bit more of the real Rome. Danieles' parents picked me up yesterday morning and took me on a great guided tour of Rome, all the places the tourist buses don't go. (look, I found the apostrophe key!). Dan, your mum and dad are great people, I've promised them I'll buy them dinner when they are in Brisbane. It was a bit freaky, seeing a friends parents on the other side of the world, they made me feel very welcome, even with my (very) limited Italian.
I enjoyed Rome much more than I expected I would the first night, exercise (sp) the demons I guess.
Alright, I'm the first to hang shit on Smart cars at home, overpriced Mercedes crap, swatch should stick to watches and all that, but I have developed a secret desire for one, especially here, they are just fantastic, park wherever you want and fit down the laneways etc, if only they made them with more power... Maybe that'll be what keeps me here, shoehorning Ducati 1098 motors into Smart cars...
I have to take back a comment about Americans from earlier in my rantings too, I have actually met a couple of great ones, it still doesn't outweight the "Does anyone speak American in this country" wankers but it's refreshing. Met a couple of guys yesterday that are here recording a jazz album, it was interesting given my 26 friends (I passed on your website guys...www.26theband.com) but they were really nice guys, shame about his name though, head to www.landonknoblock.com to hear some of their stuff. What were his parents thinking? Landon KNOBLOCK, if that's not a chastity belt in itself I don't know what is! I guess 'knob' meeting 'knoblock' was fate.
I've also run into a couple of Contiki tours and I must be getting old as I don't see the point. They get off the bus at the tourist stops and go looking for a toilet to spew in cause they're so hung over, why pay all that money to come over here and all you see is the inside of a bar or a bowl? I could do that at home and save a shitload. Better still I go to the local backpackers, buy a few rounds (still saving a shitload) AND have sex with someone foreign.Better still I wouldn't have to sit on a bus with a hangover...
After taking Herb for a walk at the Vatican courtyard today I jumped a train to Naples, then Sorrento and a bus along to Positano, if only they could get rid of the buses and cars it'd be an awesome bike road, it's really only wide enough for a bike! I was going to hire a scooter and ride along wearing my pack but it's pissing rain here so I thought it better to take the bus (that should keep mum happy). It's beautiful, but wet and windy, steeper than Cinque and I paid the price for thinking I could 'shortcut' to my hotel with my pack, about 3000 steps and a 1km backtrack later I realised my mistake.
As I chat to people and we talk about my travels, it seems all the Aussies and Italians know what the Moto GP is, but none of the Americans! Strange given it was an American who won the championship last year (he's doing well this year too isn't he? ha ha ha). I can understand the Italians knowing as they all ride (both Daniele's parents have scooters), and every second shop has some Rossi souvenier (no Biaggi ones though ;), they're a crazy bunch, I watched a group of teenage guys doing balance point wheelies up and down the street last night, on 50cc scooters, it was an awesome display just a shame I didn't have the camera with me.
Well the rains cleared so time for a beer, will be here for 2 nights, maybe three and then I head north again for the bikes, having a few issues fitting Lucca into the mix but I'll get there somehow!
Hope everyone is enjoying the working week... Ciao