A circuitous route to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Stage One beginning in Munich, Germany ending in Jerusalem - traveling through Austria, Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Second stage from Vienna, through Germany, Czech Republic, Holland, Belgium, France and Spain.
Final destination - Santiago!

Post Script: The changeable situation in Jerusalem has led to a change in plans. The Rome to Jerusalem leg of this journey has been changed to the 'End to End' in the UK, after which the journey will resume as above in Vienna.

Thursday, 31 July 2014


Bologna is a city of arcades. Not the type of shopping arcades we get in Australia, but rather massive verandahs with elegant columns that protect the pedestrian from the elements.  As much of the old city of Bologna has these collonaded arcades, one can only assume that there is a reasonable amount of time each year when the elements must be quite severe!
The colonnaded arcades are many and varied, as you can see from these photos.
This arcade is near my hotel.
If the arcade stops there are overhanging buildings that give some shelter.

 Sometimes the columns go on for a loooong time.......
.......and sometimes are richly decorated.

I arrived in Bologna by train.  When showing the hotel receptionist in Ferrara the directions for walking she was horrified, as there was a considerable distance on main roads. Later, over lunch, Michael also confirmed this and so I decided that safety was my prime concern and hopped on a train, smiling all the way to the station as I listened to the creaks and rattles  of the bikes passing to and fro.
 I couldn't resist taking a photo of the post bike in Ferrara (every other place delivers mail either by van or scooter).
and here in Ferrara a couple of young women stop to get some running repairs.

Bologna is a very vibrant city, friendly, and easy to get around, though pretty expensive. I knew little about it till I arrived here, least of all how big it is.  I also didn't realise that this city is also known for its towers.  Interestingly one of them looks to me to have more of a lean than the Pisa tower!
This is the base of one of the towers in Bologna.  I think the lean on it as much, if not more than the Pisa tower.  Hopefully you can see the sort of lean I mean from the three photos below.

The leaning tower, the smaller of the two, was 
lowered because of fear of collapse.  It is just over 48 m high while the taller one is just over 97 m high.
So much of these northern towns have their historic buildings shrouded in scaffolding and fabric as busy beavers work behind restoring them.  This is the side of the massive cathedral, the front had a dress of scaffolding.
King Neptune, near the central square of Bologna, and below, part of one of the old buildings in Piazza Maggiore.

 An old building in the market area.
 I love looking through the gates and doors, and also the patterns made.

Here is a good reason to underground power lines!  These lines look like they are for trams, but there is no sign of tram tracks!
A canal flowing through Bologna.
A public building on the Plaza Maggiore, complete with a stone "lounge suite".

Monday, 28 July 2014

Life is full of surprises

The first surprise is the city I am in - cycling city!  However barely a sign of lycra....... or helmets........ or flash bikes!!!

I arrived in Ferrara, a UNESCO world heritage site, on Saturday, by bus.  I had been walking along the Po cycle way along one of the levee banks.  The levee banks are quite high and wide, and there are times when they are some distance from the river - the Po is a big river and would need a lot of space in the event of a flood.
Walking towards Bergantino, along the levee bank.  You can judge the height a little by seeing the gap from the road on the left, the access ramp in the centre and the top of the bank on the right.
The levee bank has access via ramps and stairs.  This gives a good idea of the height.

The river is quite some distance away here.  The flood plain is very fertile, and every opportunity is taken for cropping.
The Po, near Ostiglia.
Without a skeric of shelter from sun or rain while on this path, and waking to thunder and lightning I decided it was prudent to hop on a bus, very prudent in light of the story of those struck by lightning in LA!  I had no desire to be the highest point on the highest point!  The thunder storms continued throughout the day, even 28 kms down the road, and interestingly, the bus took 1 hour 10 minutes to get here!  I saw a whole lot more on the bus, going into each little village than I would ever have seen on the levee bank!

Anyway back to the surprises.  The first one was leaving the station, at the end of the journey.  Here I saw - a bike park, big bikes, small bikes, new bikes, and old bikes.  I just can't wipe the smile off my face every time I go outside, just seeing ( and hearing) all the bikes.  I have since read that Ferrara is one of the cities with the largest number of bikes in the world.  I can believe it from what I've seen.
The first bike park I came across.
The bikes carry all sorts of things, including pooches!
It tickled my fancy seeing people riding and holding an umbrella in one hand while steering with the other.  I sat in the square watching, fascinated, as bikes came from every direction, and as I wandered the streets the "parking" of the bikes took my eye!  The air is filled with the soft rattle of them as they roll across the cobbles, the squeaks as they are shaken, and the periodic screach of brakes.
Trying to keep dry!
Baby sits in the red seat, mum or dad sit on the bike seat, and toddler (up to about 5 yrs) sits on the black seat behind.  No fear of baby getting dust in their eye - note the wind shield!
When bumping into friends, one stops for a chat, sometimes for a very long time!
Got to shop?  Just park anywhere!
Piazza Trento Trieste. 
The Cathedral wall right, and the town hall, back left.  The tower is just like the castle towers and this was originally the home of the Duke's family, until they upgraded and moved into the Castello.

Enough of cycles, now the other surprise while in Ferrara - I spent a day with a former pupil of mine and her husband.  We were both equally surprised to see each other, and indeed if it hadn't been for Margaret's eagle eye I would have continued ignoring the pedestrians because of my fascination with the cyclists.  Thus, I had great company visiting the city, including the castle, and shared a delightful lunch with them.  A wonderful day indeed, especially as it was so unexpected.
Part, a small one, of the Castelllo Estense, Ferrara
The ceiling frescoes in the castle, reflected in mirrors.  Note the strips of "masking tape", presumably part of the protection / restoration process.
The castle wall taken from the orange grove on a terrace in the castle.
Looking out on a street through a " hole" in the brick work at the orange grove.

 The bell tower
The Cattedrale exterior,
and inside, just after Mass.
It's Monday - the chairs aren't needed so they're stacked! 

Friday, 25 July 2014

Heading to the Po

After leaving Verona i decided to head by bus to Villafranca di Verona.  This proved a very wise decision as the bus went the same way as I would have walked - along quite a busy road with no verge, and only footpaths in the villages.  The way is now flat - not even undulating.
Castello di Scaligero, Villafranca di Verona.
A small piazza in Villafranca di Verona, with Duomo dei SS Pietro e Paolo in the background.
The heavy keys that Saint Paul carries atop the Duomo.
Looking back at Villafranca do Verona and its castle, Castello di Scaligero.
The walk to Vigasio was mostly pleasant, though walking on the roads had me deciding to check out the maps to see how much road walking there would be in the next few days.  Mostly this day was through orchards and crops such as corn.  At one stage I went past a farm where the were rows upon row of plastic "glasshouses", all growing tomatoes.
Looking over some of the crops, corn in the front and covered fruit trees under the black shade cloth.
Having studied the maps I decided  to brave the roads, which were minimal, and walk to Isola della Scala and from there catch the train to Ostiglia.  The ten or so kilometres I walked were mainly through rice fields, with occasional corn fields.

You learn something every day!  My hotel at Vigasio was called the Montemezzi and all the art works on its walls were music related.  When I asked why i was informed that a famous composer, Italo Montemezzi, was born in Vigasio.  Looking him up I discovered he was born in 1875 and died in 1952.
 The road, and the limited or overgrown verge.  You can see above there is not a lot of room to get off the road before falling in the ditch, and below it is tricky to know where the potholes are to avoid twisting an ankle.

After walking along the road the path changed to this which made for peasant walking, except for the clowds of mosquito's due to .......
 ..,........the rice fields.

I took the opportunity while at Ostiglia to go to Mantova, the capital of the province.  This is a city of old buildings, churches and castles, and well manicured gardens.

The castle in Mantova.  It is huge, and no way could I take the whole thing.

A particularly interesting building, with a close up of one of the window frames.

Colourful buildings.  Look closely at the wire basket on the tower.  This is actually  very old and was where miscreants were displayed to the public back in the 16 hundreds!

At Rigoletto's house in Mantova there is a statue of the joker in the garden.
 Just some of the views of the churches.

The day I had off in Mantova it rained.  A good day not to be walking.