Thursday, November 15, 2007

What a weekend!

I have been meaning to write a blog about my last weekend in Europe all week but the time has just flown by. We had a really interesting weekend and driving down to Italy from Germany through lots of snow to be greeted by sunshine in Italy was a great way to start it. We headed down on Friday and by the time we arrived in Bellagio it was dark. We drove up the steep climb from the lake towards our hotel, having no idea what our surroundings were like so it was a great surprise the next morning to see the incredible views down across the lake and to the countryside around. Friday night we had the chance to meet Mark (the groom) for the first time, and what a lovely guy he is. We also had the chance to dig in to some great sea food and Italian pasta...I don't think I could ever get tired of good Italian food.

Saturday morning I joined Gail (the bride) at the hairdresser for the final hair do...a few hours later after a flurry of make-up, dressing, finding the brides' parents who we thought were missing in action we were off to the Town Hall where the wedding was taking place. It was an Italian civil service, and after the Italian wedding of Barbie and Massimo last year I was a little familiar with how it all went. There was a lady translating into English the words spoken and she spoke with such gusto, she could of been addressing a crowd of thousands rather than the seven of us. It was a beautiful ceremony and the most important thing was achieved, Gail Chasley Robinson became a Faulkener and a wife and Mark found himself as a husband :) We all had some lovely photos taken down by the lake and throughout parts of the old town of Bellagio....such a spectacular setting!

Lunch followed...again, fantastic Italian food with an emphasis on the local seafood and wine. It was lovely to have such an intimate reception and we drank and ate until the sun came down.

The next morning we headed up the climb from where we were staying to Madonna dell'Ghissallo...the church and cycling museum that has quite a reputation, not just in Lombardia but in many parts of Europe and the world. Mass was taking place as it was Sunday morning and it was really good to be up there in the sunshine with the view down across the lake and across to the mountains, taking in the whole scene. I have raced up this climb twice, in 2003 and 2006 in the womens Giro di it was nice to be there again under much more relaxing (and decidedly less sweaty) circumstances! We finished our day in Bellagio with a delicious pizza and then it was time for the drive back. We had decided to make the trip shorter by catching the ferry across the lake with the car and cutting across straight to Lugano. Things didn't quite go to plan and somehow (how do these things ever happen??) we ended up on top of the 2117 m Passo di Spluga. It was a winter wonderland up there, so beautiful and everyone was in high spirits as we headed to the very top of the pass and the border between Italy and Switzerland. Unfortunately we were not able to get over the pass as there was so much snow and no cars had been coming up the Swiss side to clear the road....mmmm...bugger. So we turned around and made our way back to Lake Como and started again. A bit of added adventure and some nice photos of the top...nothing lost luckily (except some hours)! We found out the next day that there had been a record amount of snow dumped in Switzerland within the day, so no real surprise that we couldn't cross the pass!

Sitting here now in 31 degrees and Sydney sunshine it is hard to imagine that that was less than a week ago. I am struggling riding the heat now compared to not being able to ride on the snowy strange. It has been great to get back, I haven't suffered from jet-lag too badly and I have had a few days to sort myself out with things and I am starting to feel as though I am back in the groove. After a good ride with little sis today I am enjoying a day hanging out at home, followed by a bbq this is good :) Gunnar comes over in 3 weeks which I am very excited about, and I know he is keen to hit the Sydney beaches again.

Monday, November 05, 2007


My last weeks in Germany are passing quickly. I spent most of last week getting back into training and trying to finish my last uni assignment. The weather was more conducive to studying than exercising outdoors but it is scary how quickly you get used to it. This morning I woke up to sunny blue skies which was exciting and exclaimed to Gunnar, "its 5 degrees - that's warm!"...and I wasn't being sarcastic! Oh my....

Yesterday I had a lovely catch up with some of the girls from my team from this year. We met in the east of Germany near Dresden for some hiking in the 'Elbstandsteingebirge' which is part of the Saechsische Schweitz. It was dry for most of the day, and we warmed up quickly with some hiking and chatting. Autumn really is a magical time of year in the forest...the colours are so pretty. We came across a really nice little cafe with a great view across the valley and were reinvigorated after some pancakes and gluhwein (actually inside was so nice and warm that I felt like curling up for a nap). I was glad to be able to see a bit more of Germany in my last weekend here for the year. At the end of the week we head to Italy for the big wedding....(not mine!) will follow...
This week will be filled with training, packing up all my things and getting organised & excited about coming home!