Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Last Full Day

Augusto – Pozzallo      105.3kms              1160’ascent (which I think is understated!)
This was to be our last day of cycling. As a result of all the excitement and fatigue of yesterday, we had completed fewer kilometres than planned, so we knew that today would require a good effort –just how good, we were soon to discover. A second deviation resulted in another 20 or so extra kilometres in order to avoid the MOTORWAY! Temperatures had not diminished and our route, while safe, took us through huge industrial areas (not very beautiful but, I guess, jolly useful for the well- being of the country). Mr. Master Navigator performed faultlessly and it wasn’t his fault that the last 30 kilometres of a 100 kms ride were uphill! We passed through towns which deserved more observation than we had time to give; Noto and Ispica both of which had ancient citadels perched on rocky bluffs. Our schedule allowed little time for anything except pedalling and refuelling with fluids.
We reached Pozzallo eventually, in the early evening, and thought it prudent to check on the actual whereabouts of the port. (Pozzallo was just a little dot on the map but in reality was a huge muddle of buildings which stretched for miles.) As we were still in Italy mode, we had little expectation of large, well defined signs for Porto, but none at all was an achievement even for Italy. After several sets of directions provided by the local populace, several more kilometres, and a few well-chosen expletives, we did eventually discover the embarkation point. In the knowledge that we had to return by 0800 the following morning, accommodation nearby was going to be useful. There was still some doubt as to sailing times as a member of the dock staff said, “Tomorrow at 0930.”  Another said, “At 1500.” We made the decision to be there for the 0930 and hope.
A sign, at last a sign, this time for an albergo just 500 metres up the road. A fee was negotiated, a room allocated and we performed our end of day routine – wash the clothes and then ourselves. I had asked the signora if there was any wine or beer to be had but she shook her head and generously gave us two bottles of very cold water which was magic. At a point when I was halfway through our routine and thus totally naked, there came a knock on the door. Throwing a towel over my nakedness, I pulled open the door and there, the signora presented us with a nearly full bottle of local wine. No charge. There are so many kind people in this world. This must include all those of you who have been good enough to take an interest in our undertaking. We thank you for your comments, emails and phone calls which have often provided encouragement when things have been tough.
Tomorrow should see us at journeys end – fingers crossed.

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