Friday, September 30, 2016

See-Through Toilet Paper

        Camping in France is exceptionally good. Our fellow campers are from all over the world...we all have warm showers and clean and women all use the same unit, so Lisa and I often get to take a shower in the same stall...some of the showers are even hot and some are communal shower rooms with six heads coming out of the wall at different heights (family shower). The toilet paper situation is not as good, we don't stay in places with bidets so, you'd better carry your own paper. If they provide paper it's as this as a Chinese rice cake...and falls apart like one.
        The bicycle riding is phenomenal...sharing the road with very courteous and non distracted drivers. Many of the roads we ride are only ten foot wide and curvy so you have to be extremely alert when driving them. Potholes are few, I'm not sure how the French gov't can afford to keep up a million miles of pavement to such perfection. We have been concentrating on the high roads of the Pyrenees during the first three weeks of our vacation and will move toward the lower lands in October.
       Our fellow cycling fanatics are from all countries and of all ages.. The majority of the French cyclists are men over 60 years old. French women are usually on sensible upright bicycles and working on errands. We have rented a Citroen Berlingo van for 7's a five speed stick shift and about the same size as my Honda Element. This is a huge advantage on narrow roads.
       We have not found many swimming opportunities, as yet, but the water quality is exceptionally good anywhere in the Pyrenees. The prediction is for a warmer than usual October so we may find ourselves swimming more in the lowlands.
        Nearly everyone in France smokes which conflicts a little with our healthy vacation strategy. Wine instead of beer, ale...along with bio foods and healthy cheeses with Dijon moustarde on Pave sourdough bread, on top of three hours a day climbing the hills under our own efforts... makes for lighter and healthier bodies when we return.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Fifteen Years Later...

        France, it has been fifteen years, to the day (Sept. 10). Our first journey across the Atlantic landed us in Paris. 2001 was not a good year for America, however the three of us had embarked on a fantastic adventure and we were treated very well around the world, for six months, on bicycles. We are on our sixth journey across the Atlantic (2016) and we expect great results one more time.
        We travel with bicycles and the focus is always on improved fitness while searching for the finest cheese and wine and swimming holes of each region. We have no set itinerary, we follow our noses, throw out our camp in the ripest of locations. Yes, we expect to be lucky...the glitches are few and far between...we've experienced a week of bad weather in Italy one year, we had a fender fall off our rental van in the Pyrenees, we lose track of baggage occasionally and now we have a broken bicycle, but none of this gets us down for long. The fact that we pre-plan minimally is what drives our friends nuts.
        What brings us back every couple of years is the courtesy and respect we are shown while pedaling the back roads of France. I have written all of this before and yet, I am pleasantly surprised each time we experience the "love of cyclists" that shows up when we jump in the saddle here. We are more focused in on the "south of France" these days because we can still climb outrageous hills and the weather seldom disappoints. Yes, I know "bad luck" lurks but, we works to keep our immune systems strong and our attitudes topped off so, I'm thinking we have set the stage for another superlative expedition.