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Out of Order

The Countryside Outside of Villa Tuscana
The Countryside Outside of Villa Tuscana

January 15, 2020

Villa Tuscana, Colombia

Wow, the last couple of days have been about climbing up to Villa Tuscana to visit Dave and Maria Luz. He is a retired postman from Medford and Ashland she is a Columbian accountant.  
Mostly uphill from Zipaquiera, this deep valley is spectacular.  Wait a minute, up hill to a deep valley, No.  Yes!  
After the flat ride to Zipaquiera,  I found, good word, a road to take me back to the Autopista and north.  The road had a small, 524 meters high hill, in just under 3 km.  Then a down on a dirt road, with lots of sharp curves, deep holes and big rocks.  
At the autopista, the highway opened up to 4 lanes and a nice shoulder of smooth pavement.  But of course it had to have some challenge or why would I do it?  It began a climb that would continue for the next 2 days.  
As you know I like to climb as I like the rewards of great views and ever changing landscape.  In Columbia that is very true.  This country is right out of a fantastic novel.  It is just not possible for the landscape to be real.  I do not have the capability to share with you in words what I am seeing.  As you know my eyes have witnessed many countries on this world. Every continent has felt my tires and Columbia stands out as spectacular!  

Dave had told me to go to Terra Negara and turn right at the sign for Villa Tuscana, well there was no sign but only one right turn so I took it.  I did ask and was told it did go to Janesano which I knew was close to David’s place.  
Ok, he said there was a climb and a rough road I had to negotiate.  Ha!  Yes, a climb of about 5 km with short grades in excess of 20%!  Rough road, yes.  But not too bad.  Much better than the dirt road of yesterday.  
But what awaited me was harder.  A big downhill.  A crazy stretch of 12 km of extremely steep down with no pavement in places, speed bumps, trucks on my side of the road, and all of this awaiting around very sharp curves.  Do not know how steep, but my nose was sore from rubbing on the road as I fell of the mountain.  The down was harder than the up.
Am now staying in Jenasano for a few days to get some dental work done.  Just think about travel to such a great place and dental work done for a great price.  A cleaning and 3 caps for $140.  Lida, the dentist has been in practice since 1999.  Lots of good experience and very busy.  She cleaned my teeth today and will finish the rest on Sunday and Monday. I had heard that prices here were low, but wow.

A Bicyclist Sculpture
Discovered a Bicyclist Sculpture!

Dave and Maria Luz have been great hosts.  They live in a small closed village with tennis courts, a large pool, several weekend restaurants, a bowling alley and a movie theater.  All tucked into this beautiful valley. 
Moved into town for a couple of days as Dave and Maria Luz left for Bogota.  Sunday Lida finished my work and I left for parts unknown Monday.  I have some towns in mind but overall do not know where this trip will take me.
You may notice this story is a little out of order, but then again so I am.  
I am writing this from the Altiplano where it is raining hard in the desert.  I guess the rain falls hard here because we are so close to the sky it does not have far to fall.
e.
You may notice this story is a little out of order, but then again so I am.  
I am writing this from the Altiplano where it is raining hard in the desert.  I guess the rain falls hard here because we are so close to the sky it does not have far to fall.

—Bill H.

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It is hard when you cannot remember…

January 17, 2020

Terra Tuscana-Jenesano, Colombia

It is hard when you cannot remember the name of the place you are staying.  I had to stop for a while to remember.  Maybe I can blame it on the Spanish.  Yea, that’s it, couldn’t be old age…
Today was interesting?  Took David, my host to the cell store to help him with changing phones and upgrading his sim card.  His iPhone would not let him download any apps until he updated the operating system.  But it would not let update the system.  Great!  
He had an older Android and we changed the sim card….do you really care about all this?  I know I don’t care about discussing it.  We got that done and then he had to go to get his shoulder worked on.  
While that was happening, I walked around, went to the bank to get efectivo because the dentist would not accept credit cards, only cash.  I had a beer and an arepa.  They are lightly fried corn cake with cheese in them sometimes.  Very good.  
The ATM did not work.  More on that later.  “Really, now he is going to go on about a ATM , why?  Think I will just delete this story.”
Sometimes traveling is just day to day activities.  I found a dentist yesterday who would see me right away.  Lida examined my teeth and told me what problems I had and asked what I wanted to do.  We agreed on a cleaning and 3 caps.  Then we negotiated the cost.  The price came to be 3,400,000 COP. COP is Columbian Pesos.  In American that is $140.00!  So, she cleaned them and I have go back on SUNDAY, imagine and Monday to complete the work.  Now I must add in the extra cost of my hotel room.  For 4 days that comes to $40.00.  Very nice, lots of windows, clean room with on-suite in the center of town. Better than going to a dentist locally and just a little cheaper.
With more day to day stuff we finished the day by going to another town and bank to get the cash.  See I got the arm discussion in before you deleted the story. 
Returning to our casa Maria Luz called and asked us to join her at a friend’s apartment for hot chocolate and dulce pan.  The sweet rolls and cheese were good, but not as good as the Mexican detective comedy we watched with the family of older adults.  We had so much fun with the 1950’s slapstick movie.  
I have been losing weight.  Not so much from cycling but from Columbian eating habits.  In the morning breakfast, sometimes with a good hot soup, sometimes a normal American breakfast.
Lunch is the main meal.   A starter, soup, main plate with rice, a couple of small potatoes, a 3 bite salad, a drink and whatever main you choose.  I took my host to lunch and the total was around $5 for both of us.  Lunch can last 2 or 3 hours.  It the time the to share with others.   Eating local not only provides the local food, a learning experience, but is most enjoyable. 
Then in the evening the dinner is maybe an arepa or some fruit and a beverage. BTW very fresh fruits are severed with almost every meal and for snacks.  Very nice.
Even day to day can be fun and interesting.  
Question.  What picture should I have used for this story?  Maybe one  of me in the dentist chair with an open…never mind, No pic with this story.  And no hills!

—Bill H.

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Manizales (again still)

Manizales
Manizales, the Approach

January 8 (still), 2020

Manizales, Colombia

Manizales
Manizales, Colombia

The ride from Irra to Manizales was up a lot, hard and not very fun.  Heavy traffic, dusty and hot.  It took until after dark to arrive.  
I do like this city. It is worth the effort.  Not sure why, it just feels comfortable. The people are giving, smile a lot and offer a closeness.  It is cooler here, just enough to ask you to go out and enjoy the air.  
It is Feria.  Fireworks, street booths, dancing, bands and lots of people. I stopped a taxi and asked him to take me to El Centro and la feria.  He told me to take the cable, it was much cheaper.  Think about a taxi driver telling anyone that.  
Following the taxi drivers advice,  I took the cable car to the main part of town, which is much higher than my motel.  It seems that many cities in Columbia have cable car systems as part of their metro.  With all of the large hills and mountains, It is how people get around.  
On that subject of honesty of the taxi driver, honesty is a real thing in Columbia.  The other day, while standing on a corner, fishing around in my pockets I dropped my credit card.  I man tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to it, asking if it was mine.  Wow, can you imagine that happening in any city?  When I shared this story with my friend in Bogota he had a similar one!  Not the image that we have of Columbia via our media.

Manizales, Colombia
Manizales, Colombia

Called Steve in Bogota and arranged for him to meet me at the bus station when I arrived.  An 8 hour bus ride is not something to look forward to but I wanted to spend a little time with Steve and Mary in Bogota before he went to Ashland for business.
Walk to the bus station, compro me boleta for 8 AM tomorrow and back to my motel to write a little before dinner.  Did I say I like this city?  The motel staff has been super friendly, giving me a bigger room for my bicycle and stuff on the first floor.  They tell me not to order this or that because it is too much or it is a local dish that might take getting used to.  Just so giving.
Show up at the bus station an hour early and again the people are great.  A young man comes out from behind the glass enclosed counter to help me with the bicycle.  No, I do not have to disarm my bicycle it can be put on the bus with the bags on it, he tells me. Disarm in this case means to disassmble.  In a few minuets I am sitting at a table in the food court eating my breakfast and drinking coffee in complete comfort and peace. 

The bus arrives and the driver loads my bike, standing up in the basement of the bus.  We are given a headset for the music and movies shown on the seat back screens.  The seats are wide and comfortable.  Off we go, in airconditoned comfort.
The terrain of Columbia is wonderful.  As the bus climbs out of Manizales the mountains and valleys are revealed. I almost wish I had ridden.  Almost as the bus takes over a half hour to crest the first climb.  That would be over half a day on the bike and we have a few more climbs to get over this chain of the Andes. The wish goes away as I take a sip of my cold orange juice and turn on a children’s movie.  I watch these to learn Spanish.
We go on and on as the scenery gets better and better.  Soon I realize that am watching a Disney movie out the bus window, as this just cannot be the real Columbia.  And if it is, it not possible for the next lush green mountains to be better than the last, but they are.  

Manizales Gondolas
Manizales Gondolas

We stop for lunch in a town just on the other side of a large river.  I learn that the pedestrian bridge that I see just down river was the original bridge and was build in the US and emailed here.  Well, maybe not emailed, shipped here, maybe with Amazon Prime.  
Back to the ever changing road.  Now about 3 hrs left.  Bogota is about 8000 feet and Manizales about 7000, not much difference except when you know how much you gain and loose along the way.  Up and down, up and down, up and down, dizzy yet?  No, up and down, up and down, up oh well you understand. 

Soon Steve is standing at the door of the bus welcoming me to Bogota and their hospitality.

—Bill H.

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Another Spanish School…

December 30, 2020

Medellin

Another Spanish school but this one is very different.  The students are mostly in their 20’s and 30’s, European and travel extensively.  They also like to party.

Another Spanish School in Medellin
Another Kind of Spanish School…in Medellin

Met a very interesting family.  I overheard a young man trying to explain the race to a younger girl.  He really had no idea what was going on, so I asked if I could help.  We talked and I shared what I knew.  I asked where they were from.  Tanzanian they answered.  He was studying architecture and she was in high was in high school.  What university, I inquired.  Well, he said it was in China.  They looked up and waved at a man and woman across the street and said that was their mother and father.  Soon we were joined by them and the conversation continued.  I learned so much from this wonderful family.  Their hopes and dreams and about their lives.  

Last night I was having dinner in a sidewalk restaurant when a student came up and asked if I wanted to join the rest of the group on the patio at the school.    I had the waitress put my meal in a box and headed the one block to the school.   There sat about 10 students drinking rum or wine.  Quite lively with singing, a little chair dancing, animated conversation and texting.   Yes, they text during everything.   There’s an app that I discovered is used almost everywhere in the world except the US, What’s App.   The school has an address and I am constantly being updated on what the others are doing.   Not sure I am that interested but does show me a new way of being.   
Last night a large guy from Balitome was teaching a English man how move his hips without moving other parts of his body.  It was fun watching.   A girl was holding Oscar’s hips trying to help or maybe something else as she had her head very close in.   The non music continued along with the frolicking as I bid ado and walked by to my apartment in the rain.   
Spanish is very hard for me.   I have studied it in at least four  countries and continue to study at home but have not mastered it.  In fact not even close.   From the classes I take I know that my vocabulary is more than sufficient and often my grammar,  at least in the present tense is acceptable,  but hearing Spanish eludes me.   Not sure if I will take another week here or move on to see the country.  Will decide on Saturday.   
Looking at the route from here to Tonya where I have a contact from Ashland who has been emailing me with helpful information, David.  Then another friend from Ashland lives in Bogota and has invited me to visit him.   Steve says is leaving for Ashland at the end of Jan so time is short as it will take at least I  weeks to pedal to Bogota.   If possible,  I will not pass up an opportunity to stay with a local or at least, semi local.
It has rained every afternoon.   Something I must keep in mind when I begin my journey.   It only rains for an hour or so.   That means I will be forced to take break from the mountains for a time each day.   Darn I hoping to beat myself up with a non stop 8 hour climb every day.   Please feel sorry for me.   

—Bill H.

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INTERRUPTION

December 20, 2019

Ashland, Oregon Ashland, Oregon Ashland, Oregon

Bill Heimann's Bicycle Workshop at his home in Ashland, Oregon
Bill Heimann’s Bicycle Workshop at his home in Ashland, Oregon

This journey does not want to start. It keeps distracting me with other things. First, there is the city’s form of government that I want to see changed. I have been working on a change to our city charter for about a year now and the work is just ending the first major phase, taking a lot of my time.

Then my daughter came from Atlanta for a visit. Doesn’t she know better than to interrupt her father at this time? Children, just no thought for their parents. Well, I did, as always have a wonderful time with her. We get along very well and enjoy each other as adults. It was a good time, but will I ever prepare for this leaving?

I believe that as we reach true adulthood we can make a choice. We can decide if relatives are going to be friends. It is not written in stone that we must spend time with a sister, aunt or any other relative just because of a one night stand by another relative.

The house, oh for Pete’s sake the house; nothing like living in a 110 year old house. It is just like living with an old man. Always complaining about something and demanding you fix it. So, I must go around looking and listening, trying to figure out what this place is asking me to do. That hinge, drip, leaking door seal and on and on, stopping me from the real task of preparing to ride Columbia.

Oh, I guess I have not said where I am going. Yes, Columbia. I am flying to Medellin on December 27th and as per normal don’t have much of a clue where after that. It is interesting that friends keep giving me information they think I will use to plan my stay. I do thank them and may find the information useful but as to planning….

Yesterday I finally began to prepare. I had put the panniers on the bike last week but then had to stop to help John referb his bike. I like working with John on his bike or anything. We find joy in sharing time.

See, even talking about starting gets interrupted.

I have a travel list that I have been using with small modifications for many years.  Using the list I find each item and check it off as “have.”  Then as I pack it I check “packed.”  As I went through the list I could not find my stove.  Last summer returning from Brussels the airline lost a pannier.  Not the one in which I keep, oh well talking too much. 

TRAVEL LIST

 CLOTHES

H             P                                                                              H             P

____        ____ DRESS PANTS                            ____        ____ SANDALS

____        ____ BELT                                             ____        ____ HELMET

____        ____ 2 RIDING SHIRTS                       ____       ____ LONG SLEEVE SHIRT

____        ____ DRESS SHORTS                          ____        ____2 MIRRORS

____        ____ RIDING GLOVES                        ____        ____ DRESS SOCKS     

♦ ♦ ♦

Anyway I thought the stove was gone.  I went to the store to look for another as it was too late to order one from my pro deal with MSR. 

Ran into someone who has been working with me on the charter change; see again, interruptions!

Returned home without a new stove, but looking again I found it, right where it should have been!  Sometimes distractions can bring fortune. 

Got most of the items on my workbench, some packed.  Maybe, just maybe I will finish on time.  Wait, isn’t there some big event next week?  Most likely have to take a few minutes to celebrate my first Christmas home in several years.  Just have to be patient with yet another interruption!

–Bill H.

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The End

July 18, 2019

Ashland, Jackson County, Oregon, USA

This morning I got up and made coffee.  Standing in the center of the front window of 647 Siskiyou enjoying the steaming cup, I viewed a doe, a fawn and a buck, an unusual site to see such a family.  But the viewing from my favorite morning place was also unusual for me.  It has been over 3 months since I last stood in this place.  A very good 3 ½ month journey has ended and another chapter has begun.

All my journeys have chosen their own paths and their own times.  I seem to have little say in the matter.  When I found myself in the very small Greek village with a broken bike I had no desire to return to the island of Evia, but the trip had its own idea of where I was to go.  After the repair and a stop in a cell phone store to talk with island born young man, I spent another, almost 2 weeks on the island. 
My original trip plan was to try to find a way to cycle to Norkapp in Norway but the road would not have that plan.  Brussels and the Tour de France became the destination.  A wonderful hostess in Brussels, a friend in Prague, a meeting with a family from Tanzania at the Tour, all combined to show me the end of this journey. 

As I sit here at my home computer talking with you, flashes of this journey come into my vision.  The first days with John visiting an old touring friend in Phoenix, cycling to Bisbee, AZ through the Sonora desert and camping on Lake Pleasant for a farewell to John and the US. 
The first days of cycling, out of Athens in heavy traffic and up the steep hills to find a campground that had burned down in their version of the fires of our west, comes to my eyes.  The long, yet short ride to Thessaloniki that I thought would mark the end of Greece but again the road had other ideas.  A night with a wine producer added another day to my stay in the country before the final crossing into North Macedonia and the bringing of a new country to my tires.   
The meeting of a missionary family in the Skopje, the capital, a food tour and enjoying the old bazaar, where my hotel was located added 3 days to my stay in Macedonia.  Then Serbia, a country I had heard a lot of negative about, most of which turned out to be untrue.  The wonderful mountains with their great climbs, the friendly people and good food left me with a whole new picture of what is Serbia.
An unplanned short stay in Croatia because I followed the river the wrong way did not give me enough time to really appreciate what I was finding to be amazing people.  Leaving Mitrovica I followed the Ibar NW instead of NE, forcing me to turn north into Hungary much earlier than planned, producing another example of the road leading the journey. 

Budapest brought the beginning of the end.  Now I was headed to Brussels and the Tour. 
Next, Munich instead of Passau due to a train mix up.  I wonderful mix up as I met a Spaniard living in Munich, Mixx.  How more appropriate could that have been.  We spent 2 great days together enjoying Munich and its beer gardens.  It is always great when what appears to be a problem shows itself to be a wonderful opportunity. 

Then Karlsruhe, the home of a long ago friend I could not find and back to cycling.  Up the Rhine to the Saar and then the Mossell and into Luxemburg, trying to be in Brussels by the 5th of July.  Good riding along the rivers with paved bikeways, no climbs or motor vehicles. Soon the bikeways became a little boring, just pedaling along though the little changing scenery.  Not really why I tour but great for making time.  One hundred kilometer plus days are easy.  I finally pedaled off the rivers into Luxemburg, back into the mountains and their ever changing views. 
My hostess in Brussels and I had been talking using What’s App and she suggested that I find my way to Wiltx, Luxemburg and pick up a ravel (pronounced havel) a rails to trails facility and follow it to Bastogne. Then another ravel to Libramont-Chevigny, Belgium to catch a train to Brussels as my time had run out.  No matter how tight my schedule I cannot miss the opportunities of meeting the locals and learning about their lives. So, extra delays always appear on my agenda. 

Marilyn is a great hostess.  She met me at the Brussels train station and we cycled to her narrow 5 story, 100 year old downtown home.  From then on we toured Brussels, watched the Wimbledon finals, ate good meals, worked on her 8 bikes, her son’s commuter and enjoyed each other’s company. 

The Tour de France was exciting and fun.  We walked around the Fan Zone buying once in a life time items, seeing the riders, talking with the sponsors and soaking up the atmosphere on Friday.  Then on Saturday during the Grand Depart I stood on the starting line.  While seeing the wonderful backs of all the taller folks in front of me I watched the start on the big screen in the Royal Plaz.  Sunday brought the Team Time Trial, with a great viewing place within touchable distance of the teams as they flashed by.  It also gave me the opportunity to meet a wonderful family from Tanzania there for the race.  The son is studying architecture in China, the daughter is studying in a Brussels high school and the mother and father work and live in Tanzania.   It was fun sharing with them how the race worked and learning about their very unusual lives. 
Oh, you are talking to an international bike mechanic.  I went to visit a friend in Prague, leaving Marilyn with some instructions on getting parts for her son’s bike.  While in Prague she texted me asking what had to be done with the parts.  After a couple of texts back and forth we got the problem solved.  Think about that process, an American bike mechanic in Prague working on a bike in Brussels. 

The trip to Prague was very nice.  To meet an old traveling friend, share a wonderful city with a food tour and learn about the culture while staying with a local, how much more can I say? 

The road brought me to all I have seen and experienced on this journey.  Over many years letting it decide and direct my travels has always been my way.  I say that like I have a choice, I do not.  I hope the road continues to guide me the rest of my life and maybe beyond

—Bill H.

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Brussels–The Tour de France!

The Tour de France, the Grand Depart

July 10, 2019

Brussels, Belgium

The Tour de France!  At the start line of the Grand Depart!  How much better could it be.  After so much effort and changes I am here to watch the boys take that first of thousands of pedal strokes that will carry them to Paris over the next 3, very hard weeks.  
Well, at least I am right on the start line.  Maybe all I can really see is the backs of those in front of me and the large tv screen on the Royal Plaz.  Still, I am here.  
Yesterday I went to the Fan Zone, saw some of the riders, picked up some free and some not so free souvenirs, and got into the atmosphere of the event.  Today the race.  Did see a few of the interviews and got up close to the team buses and support caravan.  Yes, I am here.
The next morning I found a great place to watch the team time trails.  I was so close I really could have touched the riders as they went by.  Wow, how fast they go!  I could feel the wind of their movement.  Such a wonderful rainbow of colors flying down the road.  First the police motorcycles, then the rainbow of riders followed by the support cars, all passing at over 35 mph.  Worth every mountain climbed and every obstacle overcome.

Tanzanian Family in Brussels

Met a very interesting family.  I overheard a young man trying to explain the race to a younger girl.  He really had no idea what was going on, so I asked if I could help.  We talked and I shared what I knew.  I asked where they were from.  Tanzanian they answered.  He was studying architecture and she was in high was in high school.  What university, I inquired.  Well, he said it was in China.  They looked up and waved at a man and woman across the street and said that was their mother and father.  Soon we were joined by them and the conversation continued.  I learned so much from this wonderful family.  Their hopes and dreams and about their lives.  

The race ended and we said our goodbyes with photos for all.

—Bill H.

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Belgrade Twice

June 18, 2019

Sremski Karlovci, Vojvodina, Serbia

Interesting village. The birth of the Serbian Orthodox church was here. During WWII the Germans occupied and made it part of Croatia. It has the first high school in Serbia and it is still an open high school. It is the heart of the northern wine region of Serbia. It also contains the first Serbian Orthodox seminary in Serbia. Such a nice, walkable town and a great plaza. To sit and watch the people here is a very nice experience. Just could not resist stopping.

Except for the 3 days in Belgrade, I have been riding more.  Well, it was really 5 days depending on how you count.
“What the heck does that mean? Pretty easy to count days.”
The ride from my “kissing of the Danube at Smderevo to Belgrade was very difficult.  Many  steep climbs of 2 to 5 km, where 10% was just a little bump.  Two 12 foot lanes on a very busy highway for 75 km.   Temps in the mid 90’s and humidity about the same.  I could keep my elbow bent and touch the trucks as they passed.  Did not do it but was tempted at times.  Took this road to save 20 km, not the best choice.  By the time I arrived in Belgrade I was happy for the city traffic, blowing horns, being cut off, normal speeds and passing distances.
After arriving in Belgrade it was time to look for my apartment. Had the address plugged into the phone, so no big deal.  But Serbia has it own gps directions I have discovered.  The addresses are really not the addresses.  They can be off by half a block and on another block! After searching for about an hour and texting the owner on a regular basis I found it!  Well,  even though it had the same name and a very similar address it was not where I had booked. The lady said “Why don’t you have a look while you’re here and then decided.  You can always cancel your other reservation.”
She showed me 2 rooms, a single and then a double that had a kitchen, separate bedroom was away from the street and she priced it below what my reserved apartment was priced at.  I texted and canceled the other room and stayed.  While we were filling out the paper work a cold beer appeared.  Now I knew I would stay.  Did I say it included breakfast at a local restaurant?  I am now drinking cappuccino on a regular basis.  Not like the Serbs, but some.
Saw the city, got my cell phone screen replaced (dropped it) and stocked up on food items from the “supermarket.”  More like a large convenience store.  Packed up on the 3rd morning and rode out.  I like to enter or leave big cities on a Sunday.  Even if it is not a Christian city Sundays are still good traffic days.
Good riding day to restart.  Major destinations always seem like an end. So, when I leave that place it is like starting again.  It was about 70, wind at my back and just enough sun to make me happy. Rode about 30 km when I saw a packed bike at a biker bar.  Ok, I know, a biker bar and a touring bike?  Well, the bar was named Route 77, a Harley was parked out front and the staff were in black biker shirts?
I stopped to talk.  The touring cyclist was from Belgrade on the last day of a 5 day tour.  Milos was a new tourer but really was enjoying the experience.  We talked a while and he asked me to look something up on my phone.  I could not get it to work.  We checked the time and data finding out I had no credit left.  OK, he said that is easy.  Every little store sells time.  Right next to the bar was such a store.  Guess what?  Their internet was down.  OK, the next store.  No, problem what is you telephone number?  I took my phone case off to look at the sim card holder for the number.  I always put my US sim card and the foreign card holder in the case so I have easy access.  The case was empty!  Great!  Now I had a problem.  In the case had been my Verizon sim, my Vodaphone sim for the EU and the number of the Serbian sim card.
We called Milos’ phone to get my Serbian number and updated the minuets.  OK, now I have service back.  But, I really needed the Verizon card.  Sometimes I have to call my bank or credit card company and they use my home cell number to verify that it is me calling.  So, I will switch the cards from time to time.  I knew where they were.  The store that had replaced the screen had not put them back in the case.  They were in Belgrade!  Damn, a trip back.
Milos said I could stay with him and we loaded up and headed back to the city.  The trip should have been around 2 and half hours but Milos was not a strong cyclist and he had to stop every hour to have a smoke.  Everyone in Serbia is born with a cigarette in their mouth.  It is very hard for me to go in a hotel room or a café or anywhere.  Anyway, got to his house by about 7:30, long day.
He said he would sleep at his sister’s place and I could have his bed.  No, thanks.  I said I would set up my tent in his very nice garden and sleep there.  No, he insisted, his bed.  I let it go for a while and then told him I had slept indoors too much lately, it was going to rain that night and I liked sleeping in my tent in the rain.  A little more work and before we went to dinner I set up my fabric home.
The next day we went to the cell store and picked up my cards.  They had all but the Vodaphone which was not that important.  I will buy a new one when I reenter the EU for about $3.00.
Milos then showed me Belgrade.  I learned a lot and saw many parts I never would have known about.  He is a great guide and host.  It is amazing how events occur.  Stopping to talk led to the discovery that my sim card was missing, learning how to update my cell credits, seeing a city I thought I knew a little, in a new way, a great night’s sleep to the sound of rain on my tent and meeting a very nice person.
Today, again I found myslef riding to Novi Sad, trying to get in my required 100 ks every day to be in Brussels by the night of the 5th of July.  Rode into this little village and could not continue. Wineries, c 1700 churches, an Orodox seminary, just a cute town.  I still had done my 100 plus but had not completed my planned day.  If necessary there is always the train or..
I am sitting on the banks of the Danube river as I write this, watching the river traffic.  I have seen 3 river cruise boats go by.  I wonder if they would allow me to take my bike?  Maybe I will see what kind of a deal I can make. A cruise to Vienna would be nice.  I am not an EFI kind of guy.  You will have to ask me directly what EFI means.  I will say that the “I” represents inch and the “E” every.

—Bill H.

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Climbing again

June 3, 2019

Negatino, Macedonia, Greece

Just a short note on an interesting feeling.

For the first month of this tour I climbed almost everyday.  Up some pretty big mountains.  Grades above 14%.  For those who know the Ashland area, Green Springs climb averages around 6%.  I got used to getting up in the morning knowing the whole day was up or at the best level.  Not sure how it worked but I don’t remember many downs.  Of course there were, they just do not stick in one’s mind.

For the last 4 days the road presented itself as a rolling path.  Sometimes rolling to down and sometimes rolling to an up, but no big climbs.  I have riding through the plains of Greece and now Macedonia.  All the features including the winds.  Yesterday the wind blew in my face all day at around 15 gusting to 25 mph.

Back to the feeling.  After riding through the plains for 4 days today I face the Macedonian mountains.  It is interesting that I have a small feeling of trepidation. Can I make the climbs.  Will I be able to keep going?  How steep will it get?  Are my legs strong enough?  Silly, right?

This guy has climbed some of the toughest mountains in the world.  What is he worried about?  Yes, it is a crazy feeling, but it is the kind of thing that occurs while adventure traveling.  One only concerns their self with today.  Yesterday is gone and cannot be relied on. Tomorrow, well who the heck knows that word even mean?

So, be with me as I learn how to climb big mountains, again.

–Bill H.

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Thessaloniki

June 1, 2019

Thessaloniki, Greece

It has now been 6 weeks since leaving Ashland. Two weeks getting to and cycling in Arizona and now 4 weeks in Greece.  Still think another 2 or 3 days in Greece before North Macedonia or as the Greeks call it Skopje.  
On the Red bus tour yesterday the commentary often referred to this area of Greece as Macedonia.  That is why the other country is named North Macedonia. There is a long story here about how it is believed that Czechoslovakia took most of Macedonia from Greece which many Greeks like to share.  
As you know by now I seem to keep running into opportunities to meet and enjoy the locals.  As I was cresting a hill in the first, on the road rain there was a group of wheel chair bound elders, a large bus and a 2 vans parked on the side of the narrow road.  At first I thought the bus had broken down but soon learned they were touring a ruin.  
Pedaling into the ruin I was approached by a Dutchman who I learned was a Reformed minister. The group was being sponsored and guided by his congregation on a tour of Macedonia (Greece) Bisenteen ruins.  We talked for a while about the  Bisenteen history and it role in today’s church. He pointed out the site docent saying the docent would talk with me after the group departed.
I walked over the hill top, well maintained site reading the information posts.  Soon the docent and Freddy came over and Freddy asked what language I spoke.  English and maybe little Spanish.  Together they thought I could understand enough of their English to learn the site’s history. Asking me to follow they walked off at a fast pace.  
The site was at first a Bisenteen church, later a Ottoman moask and then a castle. The Blue moask in Istanbul was mentioned as a comparison.   After walking the entire site the docent and Freddy asked me to come to the office to sign the guest book.  We sat and began talking about my time in Greece and their lives.  Freddy is an expat German carpenter who has lived here since 1985.  I do wish I could remember the docent’s name, but no. He moved to the local village about 10 years. 

It has now been 6 weeks since leaving Ashland. Two weeks getting to and cycling in Arizona and now 4 weeks in Greece.  Still think another 2 or 3 days in Greece before North Macedonia or as the Greeks call it Skopje.  
On the Red bus tour yesterday the commentary often referred to this area of Greece as Macedonia.  That is why the other country is named North Macedonia. There is a long story here about how it is believed that Czechoslovakia took most of Macedonia from Greece which many Greeks like to share.  
As you know by now I seem to keep running into opportunities to meet and enjoy the locals.  As I was cresting a hill in the first, on the road rain there was a group of wheel chair bound elders, a large bus and a 2 vans parked on the side of the narrow road.  At first I thought the bus had broken down but soon learned they were touring a ruin.  
Pedaling into the ruin I was approached by a Dutchman who I learned was a Reformed minister. The group was being sponsored and guided by his congregation on a tour of Macedonia (Greece) Bisenteen ruins.  We talked for a while about the  Bisenteen history and it role in today’s church. He pointed out the site docent saying the docent would talk with me after the group departed.
I walked over the hill top, well maintained site reading the information posts.  Soon the docent and Freddy came over and Freddy asked what language I spoke.  English and maybe little Spanish.  Together they thought I could understand enough of their English to learn the site’s history. Asking me to follow they walked off at a fast pace.  
The site was at first a Bisenteen church, later a Ottoman moask and then a castle. The Blue moask in Istanbul was mentioned as a comparison.   After walking the entire site the docent and Freddy asked me to come to the office to sign the guest book.  We sat and began talking about my time in Greece and their lives.  Freddy is an expat German carpenter who has lived here since 1985.  I do wish I could remember the docent’s name, but no. He moved to the local village about 10 years. 

–Bill H.