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Old 01-02-2009, 10:18 AM   #91
V@lentino OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaulstat
You two having way to much fun. These pics of Saint-Tropez, Nice and Monaco bring back memories. But this part of France is sooo expensive that it can brake your wallet very fast.

Take care and stay safe.
Yup that's for sure, it's why we opted to stay at l'Étape in Aubagne and just rode through the more expensive spots, more money for Greece.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Subdivided
V & J

Thanks for the great ride report! I am living in Luxembourg since August and will travel many of these same roads in the next 3 years on a Honda XL 1000 Varadero. You have given me a good road-map, and a Goal.

Sub

The Vara will be a great bike to do this type of ride, you can take it off-road a bit, which we could not do with the ST.

If you want specific tracks just send me a PM.

Cheers,
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The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:53 PM   #92
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Freewill

"Freewill"

There are those who think that life has nothing left to chance
A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance

A planet of play things
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
'The stars aren't aligned
Or the gods are malign...'
Blame is better to give than receive

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill

There are those who think
That they were dealt a losing hand
The cards were stacked against them
They weren't born in Lotusland

All preordained
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate
Kicked in the face
You can't pray for a place
In heaven's unearthly estate

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt that's far too fleet

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose freewill


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Old 01-05-2009, 07:44 PM   #93
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La Stelvio

One of the most anticipated part of the trip for me was the Stelvio Pass, the highest road in Europe at close to 3000 meters, it consists of 48 hairpin turns in the Italian alps. This road was originally build by the armies of Napoleon to open a way for his troops and armory to attack Austria.

This morning we again woke to the sound of thunder, and stormy weather as we peaked from our hotel room window.



Starring at the white peaks of the Italian Alps surrounding the ski resort town of Bormio in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige, just at the edge of the National Park de La Stelvio, we felt more in Switzerland than in Italy.



Boy it was wet, pouring out, the peaks were covered by clouds. Over breakfast we reviewed our options; we would first go to the information desk to see if the pass was open, yesterday we had met a couple of German bikers that came in from Milan, and they told us that the latest info on the pass said not open for the season yet. It didn’t look good for today.



Hum! what do they do I thought to myself.
Cliché, but as usual, I expected the best but braced for the worst, and thought about a potential alternative to get to the Adriatic side of Italy from way up here without having to trace back our steps.

Hence, we headed under heavy downpour to the tourist information place, and to our surprised (or maybe not...) you know serendipity theme for the trip and all.... the pass was open, actually I believe it was open just for us.

I am a fool, but hey! First day of the season, time to go for a ride.

We first had to make our way to the top,



The 19 km to the top were perfect to get acclimatized to wet and cold.





It reminded me of Soccer practice when I was a kid and had to fill in for an absentee goalie, first thing you did was get your cleats and socks wet to the ankles, so you would be ready to dive in the mud hole to make that save.



Cascades were impressive.



We made our way to the summit, getting wetter and wetter as we climbed and shedding a degree or two every 100 meters or so.





Ok half way there let's have a look back.



The peaks were magnificent.



I'm getting the hang of this, and we are wet and cold, so all is good in the Alps.



Come on bring it on, we grew up in Montreal and live in Winnipeg, snow is great.





We're not pussies, we're Canadian Hey!



Pressing on.



Almost there.



And that Valentino dood so cool with his mesh Jacket with a Corona logo at the top of the Italian Alps.



By the time we reached the summit it was -2 C and snowing. Yup you got it, it was snowing. I was a bit worried about ice on the road, but differed it to a meteorological misinterpretation on the part of ST. It really was +2 C, despite what the temp gauge said.

However this reminded me to proceed with caution.



So it wasn't very sunny, but considering that the Stelvio is a very coveted spot. At times a territorial battleground between sports cars, crotch rockets, and bicycles for every inch of space on the narrow sinuous pass.



Well not today, as we made our way down the mountain, it was not until hairpin 42 that we crossed an Audi Quatro tail gated by a red Ferrari. The Descent was glorious, we had the pass to ourselves, we stopped at least 3 or 4 times to take pictures and admire the view.

The quintessential Stelvio.



Ok, one more.



By the time we reached 2400 meters, Mother nature was even kind enough to reduce the snow to a light drizzle, before resuming the downpour a little bit after hairpin 48.



To the sounds of RUSH, Freewill if you haven't guessed by now, we twisted and turned at every heart stopping curve, zigged and zagged our way down the Napoleon express, veered, and snaked to the bottom of the Stelvio.




Without missing a turn, loosing my line, or causing Jackie to cringe more then required. -not-









It was pure bliss, would the weather had been more cooperating we would have shed all the cargo, and turned right back to do it again.



But, cliché for cliché, once lucky, twice a fool. Instead we decided on a hot cup of Java, and a piece of almond cake so we could warm up before completing the next 3 hours of riding.



And down we were.



We remained under steady downpour till the Alps were far behind us and we entered the province of Veneto.





With the sun finally peering through the clouds and the air, now warmed up to 25 C, to drying our wet gear. By the time we made it to Padova at about 1600, we had gone through the complete cycle and were almost dry fluffed, and although the adrenaline had left my system a while ago, surges of insanity still made me shiver, or was it moments of pure clarity, moments as they rarely exist, still sending tremors of joy coursing through my veins.

Hard to tell, but we still had a wide grin on our face some 200 km later. Whatever it was, today was a perfect day, and will stay with us for the rest of our lives.




Must rest now tomorrow Venice...
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FEAR ===> False Expectation About Reality. GSA08
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The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode

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Old 01-07-2009, 05:22 AM   #94
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Great Trip

Hey J&V,
Just wanted to check in and say I've really enjoyed reading your report. What a trip! And great pictures too!

And I grew up in Montreal too...lived in Dorval for 17 years!

Keep up the great report!

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Old 01-10-2009, 03:26 PM   #95
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Thanks for checking in Catalyst,

I have been busy with our move lately but it's time for another installment.
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Old 01-10-2009, 05:32 PM   #96
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un bacio da Venezia

We would spend the last day of May in the mythical city of Venice. We are now well into the second part of our trip -Italy- a good place to reflect and take the time to breath in all the magical places we were privilege to visit. I know I don't have to try to sell this crowd, but for those of you that are thinking about about a long bike trip, start talking and get planing, until you reach that point of no return and you can let yourself be carried by the wave of things to come. I don't believe trips are ever about time and money, their just about making choices, in our world of instant gratification its sometimes hard to see how those choices will payback in the future. This adventure is for us the most amazing thing we've done yet, but as so many before us all it has really succeeded in doing is setting the stage for things to come.

Over there to the left, there she is.



Ponte della Liberta, would take us as close to the city as possible with anything on wheels.


The great thing about riding is the ease of finding parking space. This said, as we arrived at the last parking space possible in Piazzale Roma, ST was again the fattest gal on wheels, and it took a lot of maneuvering until we felt she would be happy to wait for us for the whole day.

We parked just next to the bus terminal were the "F" points to on the map.


And off we went.


Recorded, or known history dates Venice as early as 150 AC, however there are no historical records that deal with the origins of the city.



To many visitors, it is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Build on more then a 100 small islands, the city of water stands at the north of Italy on the coast of the Adriatic. Despite its fairly small size (412 km2) and a population of just 271000, it’s a complicated place to get around in.

But the mail still gets there on time.



The streets are very narrow, some less then 2 meters wide, with building 4 to 6 stories high, and many many bridges, and narrow canals make it very confusing to walkabout.



Undoubtedly it's part of its charm, and we had great fun getting lost, and not finding our way. Once you stray away from the Grand Canal it quickly becomes confusing to know where you are in the city.



Comparing notes with other tourists just adds to the confusion. To put it in perspective, Venice has a 150 canals, and 409 bridges.



No wonder we got lost a lot. What was also a bit disconcerting (in terms of landmark) is the abundance of Murano glass jewelry stores, and boutiques-workshops selling masks, all having more or less similar displays in their windows.



Yes yes I know where we are... ask for direction! Why would I do that? I don't know where to go



The only remedy to this confusion other then an aspirin was to get on the Vaporetto. The Vaporetto is the water bus that allow you to get around the city of bridges, and let someone else do the thinking.



Yes the city is quite beautiful, and being in Piazza San Marco was extraordinary, magical. Venice was crowded with tourist, and at the end of the day we were, if somewhat melancholic, glad the visit was done.



What I personally found the most extraordinary about Venice is its absence of anything on wheels. There are no cars, no scooters or motorbikes, and no bicycles. To get around in Venice you either walk, or take some kind of floating device, hence there are no sidewalks, or better there are only sidewalks, the entire city is pedestrian only. To me that was truly special.





For those of you who have not been to Venice, don’t take that statement lightly, it is actually quite something to be in a fully functional city without seeing anything on wheels, no road signs, no lights, no stops, no noise. no traffic (there is a bit of noise pollution from boats), but nowhere near as loud as any busy downtown street of any city in the world. It was posted in several places to please walk as you would drive (on the right side of the street) and to avoid stopping on bridges. Nice advice, but from the number of people that were perched on the Ponte Rialto, easier said then done.



The city is also quite romantic, the gondolas, the piazzas, the small secret corners... As Charles Aznavour sings in if famous "Venise au temps des Amours morts", it must truly be a hearth-wrenching experience to be alone in Venice, on a rainy afternoon thinking about the one that does not share your love for them.

Indeed quite a romantic place




Jackie was having a good day.



She found some friendly critters.


The cathedral was another beauty, time to start to tally how the Italians will fare against the Spaniards in the Cathedral contest.

Saint Mark would get a high mark.





And the arches.



From this side



The famous clock of St Mark, most known in the world after Big Ben, one of the outstanding characteristic of the mechanism is the astronomical indications.



Watching the sun set over the canals and lighting the building from a westerly angle was truly mesmerizing.





As you would expect Venetians have, like most Italians, a lot of style, and more than anywhere else in our trip so far, tourist were the easiest to spot here. It was quite neat to watch people leaving the opera house, or just sitting in cafés, you could instantly identify the locals. Thinking about locals, I wondered how difficult it would be to live in a city that is so small, and constantly overrun by visitors, indeed something to be proud of, but at times they must get on your nerves.



Looking at the Venetians strolling their amazing mazed city, going about their business, they appeared to be quite content and unbothered by their surroundings.

Ponte Rialto.



A quick note on style, if you want something really nice, be prepared to pay. We saw in the window shop of a designer who’s name we were not familiar with, not that I would know much about designer names anyways, a purse that would set you back € 4700.00, add € 1800.00 for the shoes, and € 475.00 for the gloves, and you have the beginning of a very nice ensemble. You will need to add a few more thousands for a skirt, belt, and shirt. Then, step next door to complete everything with a nice negligee for just under € 700.00. Nice if you can afford it.

Indeed Jackie was having a great day.



Thank you Venice for sharing your magic with us, truly wonderful day in a magical place.



Tomorrow we rest and spend the day around Padova, time to get ready for Tuscany....

Ciao.
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The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:26 AM   #97
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Hello twin (bike & name) and Lilianne

I followed your trip on your blog, but this is a great report.
I assume 'you did it again' while you wrote this.
My bike is so happy that you are back in Canada, now she is the only black ST 1300 in the Netherlands, as it used to be...

We hope to visit you in your new house!

Take care!

René and Laura

ST1300 2006 (the only in Europe) black metallic!!
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Old 01-16-2009, 10:12 AM   #98
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Photobucket difficulties

I am have been having a bit of trouble with photobuckets the last few days , I will try again this weekend to update.

Thank you for the readership.
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Old 01-16-2009, 08:49 PM   #99
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Entering Tuscany

June 3,

We left the province of Veneto, and the city of Padova after a couple of days resting and visiting the beautiful Venice, then Padu, and Treviso.






We have been lucky with the weather, it’s perfect for ridding. Hopefully it will hold for a little while. Even if the weatherman's predictions do not seem to be on our side.



Next stop is the walled city of Lucca, just for one night, we found a really nice B&B our first Tuscan stop, after a ride through the most famous arched city in the world - Bologna.





We had wonderful pasta at a roadside restaurant, and chatted up with some Italian bikers on fancy looking Ducs who had a lot of questions about the ST, and the bufala (buffalo in Italian) on the license plate. (Manitoba plates have a buffalo on them). It was quite fun to explained where we had been, and where we were going. When they asked us if we had flown the ST over from Canada, it reminded me of another traveling tale of long ago.

The roads were glorious


Nice and curvy smooth as silk



Pure joy.




And more.


Quaint little village, the first of many to come.


And so the story goes a bit like this:
Working for the airline industry you do a lot of travel, and surprisingly enough to those that are not familiar with the industry, a lot of this traveling is done by car. This is mostly due to the fact that airline companies have the recurrent habit of going bankrupt, and before you know it, the quest for your next jobs takes you on the road again. Where am I going with all of this? Well back to our Tuscan bikers, and their questions about our trip, and our plate.

I have crossed Canada many times from East to West and back, seeking that ever-elusive airline jobs. For the longest time my car was plated from Quebec (the province only requires one plate in the back). So in the front I had placed a Hawaii plate with the prodigal slogan of the islands: “ALOHA”, I was then asked countless times by as many countless people: “But... but... how d’you get the car in the boat?”

I am unsure what the fascination is with plates from a foreign land, but they seem to instigate as much conversation as the last team to qualify for the Euro cup, or this time of year the Super bowl.

From this


To this



Ok, ok! Enough about plates, and back to Tuscany. We left Lucca around 10:00 (sorry not many pics of the city the 3 batteries of the camera were dead).

View from the room of the B&B



A short hour drive true rolling hills with twisties galore, was a great start to what would be a wonderful day.






Since we have now ridden over 8500 km, I thought it would be time for ST to get an oil change, so the original plan was to drop her at the Honda spa that stands a stone throwaway from the leaning tower of Pisa, spend a few hours at the monuments around the oblique tower, pick up ST, and head to our second Tuscan stop, Heart of Tuscany, a hostel in the middle of an olive grove, some 10 km from the sleepy village of Lamporeccio, where we would relax for a few days. Once again thanks to lastminute.com.




What a great morning ride this was.


Well, so that plan did not work, three of the mechanics at the shop where out with the flu, and the boss would be alone for at least the next three or four or days, funny how its always the boss that’s left alone. So instead of getting its fluid changed ST also got to see the leaning tower of Pisa.



And what a site it was.



And I do mean a site, although I could also say what a sight it was.




It's the lean to look at the leaning tower picture.



The phrase “Piazza dei Miracoli” (the Miracle Square) coined by Gabriele D’Annunzio, epitomizes the amazement and admiration that for centuries have seized those who, upon passing through the gateway of the circle of walls from via San Maria, embrace in one single glance the pure whiteness of the monuments, with its leaning tower rising over the lush green of the turf. One is also amazed by the unique isolation of the group of monuments.





The large walled area where the sacred buildings rise is actually on the edges of town, in the northwestern corner. Jackie and Valentino were quite impressed, and ST was beside herself.



That Valentino dood is so slick.



As I climb the 300 steps to the bell tower, I could not help but ponder on the millions if not billions of feet that have done the same before me. There are actually deep rounded grooves in the white marble steps formed by years, and years of trampling.



It was phenomenal, so many amazing things to see in the world and so little time to do it.



The tower of Pisa was absolutely amazing.


Plus, you do get that funny feeling due to the angle on the south facade, of going down as you walk up the steps, and going up as you walk down the steps. Sounds confusing?

View from the top:

The Cathedral



The Bell



Pisa to the left.



And Pisa to the right.




We then rewarded ourselves with a chocolate and pistachio gelato from a Gelateria propria (home made).

Well in very short that was Pisa. We got back on ST, she was especially frisky from having been included in the visit, and quickly made our way via some more twisties to the Heart of Tuscany.



Ciao Pisa molto gracie



The way to our villa.




And the view from the balcony.




Tomorrow I think we have a date with Firenze...
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Old 01-16-2009, 10:14 PM   #100
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Excellent!

The Adventures of J&V! Thanks for posting!

The weather here in Luxembourg has been well below 0 grad for the past several weeks, unusually cold for this area I am told. This makes the roads very slick, even with the salt.

I have managed to get in a weekly ride though, Sundays around nearby:







My wife Diana goes along for the ride on the Varadero



"Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight

Somewhere out of a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights..."

(Niel Peart)


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Old 01-25-2009, 02:24 PM   #101
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wwwwhhhhhhaaaaaatttt?

dont stop now, i wanna see more....i order you!

been enjoying this, my wife and i have visited a lot of the places you have been:bairiz, santiago, bilbao, cordoba, granada, barcelona, seville, florence, piza, lucca, bormeo, stelivo.

your report has been excellent. keep it coming.
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Old 01-30-2009, 02:14 AM   #102
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Excelante !
I have enjoyed this RR so much, especially considering that we are under 2 inches of ice at the moment. You have inspired me to take my wife and my GSA to Europe next trip over.
If you head south this year drop us a line and drop by.

Big Mike (and Kate)
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Old 02-03-2009, 08:05 PM   #103
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More on its way

Quote:
Originally Posted by falcojake
wwwwhhhhhhaaaaaatttt?

dont stop now, i wanna see more....i order you!

been enjoying this, my wife and i have visited a lot of the places you have been:bairiz, santiago, bilbao, cordoba, granada, barcelona, seville, florence, piza, lucca, bormeo, stelivo.

your report has been excellent. keep it coming.



Order acknowledged,

sorry for the delay last weekend we moved from Winnipeg to Victoria and the last 2 weeks have been pretty busy, we are at the hotel for the next month so I will post more Vsoon.

Thanks for the readership

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyorride
Excelante !
I have enjoyed this RR so much, especially considering that we are under 2 inches of ice at the moment. You have inspired me to take my wife and my GSA to Europe next trip over.
If you head south this year drop us a line and drop by.

Big Mike (and Kate)
Hey big Mike,

No more ice for me, we are waiting for ST to arrive, I counted 3 palm trees and 20 motorbikes on my way to work this morning.

Soon be riding again
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The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino
The Southern Episode
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Old 02-05-2009, 09:18 PM   #104
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The museum city

June 5th


The capital of Tuscany and its most revered jewel. Firenze is the cradle of Renaissance, (la culla del Rinascimento) a true museum city.



Hard to believe but we were really here contemplating the works of masters.





The most impressive were the statues, and the painted ceilings. Many Roman Divinity tales are told just by the marble statues, and many Christian tales are told just by the ceiling frescos.



Jackie was having fun with the stuff wine leaves.



The frescos were phenomenal.


Frescos actually originate from the latin al fresco (fresh), a style also born from the renaissance where painters would decorate walls and ceilings directly on the white wash freshly applied plaster.

The beast


And the fountains were not so bad either.



We sauntered through the arched streets and made our way to the Duomo.

Beside


Under



And along the river


To eventually find the Duomo.



The Duomo is gigantic and one of the largest in the world. The cathedral itself is one of the largest in the world at 149 meters long. The intricacy of the design on the outside of the church, rivaled in my eyes (although of a complete different style) the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. You cannot help but being in awe when contemplating such feats of architecture. It took 120 years for the cathedral to be completed, 16 years alone for the Duomo. Itself an intricately complicated design, a wonder of engineering just from sheer height and span.







Brunelleschi, the architected who won the competion to build the basilica, completed this dome in a world still a few years away from the invention of the printing press. The original painter, who’s name escapes me now, started the Duomo when he was 72, and finished by his pupils after his death. He was so weak that he had to be hoisted in a basket so he could work on the frescos as he was too old to climb the would be scaffolds.



We made our way up this street.


Found this place


And Jackie had a Florentine thingawatchamacalit.



The magic of Firenze is however more than just the Duomo. We loved the bridges over the river Arno. It had a unmistakable medieval feel to it. Walking on the ponte Vecchio with its old houses turned diamond stores was incredible.



We also had the chance to briefly hook-up with a friend, he is a busy hotel executive, and only had a couple of hours before his next conference call, but nonetheless it was great to see him.


But we got talking and forgot to take a picture.

The traffic of the city was challenging, not dense enough to be slow, so just a lot of different vehicles going really fast in all kinds of directions. I am feeling at ease in the urban jungle now, but when the roundabout is four lanes wide, and your not a hundred percent sure which one of the 6 exits is yours, sometimes its better to go around one more time, and take another look at the sign.

ST made lots of friends.



But she did not know what to make of this chump.



Just another arch.


Our friend Thomas, who came from Milano, had interesting comments on the city where he has been living for almost a year. It is quite boring he tells me, not a lot of places to go out, or not so many things to do once you’ve seen the sites. Because there are so many tourists all the time, its even difficult to find a good restaurant, all the menus are similar claiming typical this, and artisan that, all for a pretty penny.



The Synagogue.



This said, we had the best ice cream of the trip so far, in a little gelateria just across from the park de la Fortezi. Jackie claimed that the Bacio ice cream was even better then the chocolate and espellette she had in Biarritz so you can imagine.

Of course a girl has to look good after stuffing her face, and the mirror in the top box came really handy once again



We spent a whole day in Firenze from early morning to late evening. With our head filled with so much beauty, our belly filled with so much ice cream, and our feet tired from all the walking, we were glad to hop back on ST and enjoy the comfort of our Russell Day Long saddle for the 20 km ride that separated the city from our villa in Lamporeccio.

A few more views from the top.

The Duomo



The arche bridges crossing the river Arno.



And the classic century old view contemplated by so many before us.



A few twisties to make a perfect day an even better one, and we were back to the Heart of Tuscany.







Tomorrow, we take the day off and stay home for a bit of well deserve R&R...
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Old 02-07-2009, 01:26 AM   #105
flyorride
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Great stuff again.
Ah Victoria! How nice. Is this a permanent move for you guys? I was last there doing a little book tour in 1998 and fell in love with the climate and lay of the land. Are you still chasing the airline industry? (I'm an old pilot and my daughter is a flight attendant) It's a crazy business.
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