After a good night of sleep on my stunningly beautiful campsite, i gathered my stuff once again and biked my way through the green green valley.
Down to lago maggiore.
I passed fantastic pastel coulored churches before i made it to the lake, which was surrounded by crazy expensive luxurious hotels, mansions with huge gardens and even bigger gates. While the lake is beautiful, the ambiance was not very welcoming. People were not so nice and most did not respond to my happy ciao at all. I passed a lot of racebikes though, and they all said hello. Somehow you’re part of the community once you get on your bike 😉 (i know this from riding my motorcycle where every other drive is suddenly your best friend :))
When one of the cyclists shouts ‘CIAO BELLA’ while racing by, he just made my day 😀
I biked all the way south, unable to find a good campingspot and exhausted from the climb the day before i finally gave up and decided to treat myself to a real camping at the lake, with a warm shower :). I found a small camping where there was almost no-one and i could pitch my tent right at the water, cool!! I spent all night sitting there, reading my book and watching the lights on the opposite shore 🙂
The owner offered me to pay half prize and when he saw my stove didn’t work when i tried to make risotto he offered me a pizza from the restaurant. Wonderful 🙂
Unfortunately the night had eaten the green valley.. And once i left the lake behind me i found myself on heavy traffic roads through lots of industry, bleh so i took my map, entered all the smallest roads i could find, hit many dead ends and did some offroading, cycled at least twice the distance than necessary, but I enjoyed my days! I saw ‘the real life’ and got in touch with the smell of fresh cut grass and forest again. Usually when people tell me they smell colours, im starting to think their getting psychotic.. And maybe i am as well, (manic for sure!), but I smell the colour green all around me! And there is even so many different flavours! In this northern part of Italy it is a bit more a challenge to find a nice route, but im enjoying 🙂
I didn’t know i was ever gonna say this, but I am already a bit disappointent that i found myself in flatland (great book, by the way!). Everytime there is some climbing to do i get excited! I feel my body has grown a lot stronger the last weeks and i enjoy the exercise. 60 km is now considered a nice warm-up, i cannot believe it!
I slept in Legnano, with Davide and Eliza, they are great!
I cooked a big big salad *yummie😋*, some flambeed pineapple and strawberries for dessert (yeay for normal prices again, after Switzerland), and we went to Elizas parents, where her dad actually fixed my stove, so cool!
Her parents are very very nice and friendly people and do a lot of charity work in Burundi. Quite impressive, such a family that has always opened their home to strangers, long before networks like couchsurfing existed.
I found my way into the big chaotic city of milan. After all this smell of green i needed a little adjustment in my mind for the busy people, heavy traffic and fumes. I passed by some bikeshops to find a new fork and rack. Some people didn’t speak any english, but most did their absolute best to help me out, offered me a beer, took me to lunch at this great authentic little restaurant (thanks Colin!)
and this shop, la bicicletteria, was finally able to find the things i needed, yeay! It took a couple of days which i spent in Milan with Fabio and the weekend in Como with Nicola and Madossain, all couchsurfing hosts.
Fabio is amazing, we spent some wonderful time together wandering around the city at night, wandering through the parks by day, cooking fantastic italian dinners with food from ‘the box’ (which apparently every italian from the south gets sent by their parents, a box full of delicious food, damn yummie :D), having great talks about his ‘lets-built-a-raft-and-go-down-river-po’-adventure, on this!!
We talked about what is life about and how can we follow our hearts, what is the right thing to do? We kindly asked the busdriver to bring us to paris and we visited the dome, the park (doing some acrobatics with a crazy Pakistani guy who came walking to italy..), the castle, the beautiful library, the botanical garden.
We put our feet in the castle fountain
We looked up Napoleon’s very sexy butt at the art school
We appreciated the street artists
We got some breakfast from this man because the smell coming from his shop was just overwhelming :).
And we even got to experience snow for a couple of days!!
And last but not least….., he treated me to the best gellato ever!!
Wow, i promised myself i would never eat another icecream again! Ever!
It was midnight but the shop was very crowded. For a reason 😀
Liquid chocolate in the cone and chocolate and marroni (special kind of chestnut) icecream on top. Wow. Fantastico!!
That word, ‘fantastico’, will be forever linked to my new good friend Nicola in Como. I biked there, passing Monza racetrack,
prostitutes in the streets (no pictures), men making kissingssounds directed at me when passing-by (such Romeo’s :/), before reaching Como.
I could not believe it was real!! I was really there?! So beautiful, the mountains so green, the water so blue.
I stayed with nick and we spent great days just hanging around, biking back and forth, enjoying the great views and we were both so very happy! I was very happy to see Nick so happy and the other way around, fantastico! Another couchsurfer i contacted, Madossain, invited us to climb mount Boletto with fantastic views,
I said my prayers at the bicycle church
and we went up to the observatory by night to see Jupiter 😀
And overlook the lights of the valley.
Magical! Many more great views by night would follow, like this one on top of the abandonded building where Fabio and his friend took me:
(this is the building..)
Since Como is the city of Alessandro Volta, i spent some time thanking him.
Thanks to his invention we get to appreciate the many colourfull lights on earth and without Volta there would have never been such an incredible project like CERN 🙂
After these wonderful inspiring days in Como i had to go back to Milan for the bikeparts (bringing the guys beer).
Happy with the new improvements on my bike i was happy to leave the city where i didn’t really felt at home. A city for the rich, about fashion and luxury, people taking pictures of the Versace store and posters with very angry looking models, with texts like: ‘fashion feeds the world’.
Wow, that’s just hard to grasb .. Are you kidding me?! Fashion is something that really really has nothing to do with a better world. Absolutely not. Gladly im not the only one that has a problem with bullshit like this. The Expo that runs now in Milan (even though is supposed to be about a great subject: how do we feed a future population of 9 billion people without destroying the planet?) being sponsored by money-driven companies like McDonald’s and Coca Cola was welcomed by a lot of angry people and riots. It is just unreal that so many people still suffer from hunger while we bath in luxury.
Even though i disagree, it cannot really bother me. I just choose a different path. My mind keeps strong and the voice of my heart is getting louder and louder. These days i am more and more just spontaneously starting to laugh, about to cry and everything at the same time. So many emotions start to rise up from my body. I didn’t know they were there..! So far i had even two experiences on the bike where i’d just started crying out of nowhere. Of happiness!! Insane… I just can’t believe all these wonderful places, wonderful people, wonderful experiences. I feel like i’ve been living a zombie before. I feel so much alive!
Many times it feels unreal. Was i really there? Did i really bike all the way there from home? Is this view real, are these people really all so beautiful? I get overwhelmed with my own hapinnes .. I really cannot believe it. And I have a great desire to share this happiness and my utter best to show it to the world. Everybody, share! Share your smiles 😀
Nick, Madossain and I had great deep talks up on Mount Boletto, discussing for example how it is important to think about what kind of person you want to be, in stead of figuring out who you are. Im not searching for who I am, im learning from other people and my own thoughts what sort of personality i want to strive for. Finding out who you are is a relatively passive exploration while the other makes you think much deeper and makes you put your thoughts in action, always, to try to become a better person. On this trip i do this a lot, a lot. Some people are capable of doing this back home on the couch, i needed this trip.. Now i have the time, the liberation of daily worries, and sooooo much inspiration! I enjoy every person, analyzing what it is i like exactly and with that material try to create a better improved version of me. A more easy, patient, accepting, forgiving, giving, kind, friendly, smiling person. Trying to add value to every life i encounter on my trip. Always starting with a big big smile, trying to let everybody feel loved and appreciated, giving them attention (which might be the greatest gift), taking my time for doing that , and enjoying so incredibly much if someone smiles back at me!
Not like a stoned hippie, but like an understanding, warm person that beleives that people are neither good nor bad, they are the product of so many variables we hardly understand, and every person, in the end, wants to be loved. Give em that feeling and they might be able to spread it to another person. Happiness is contatious 😉
I feel like im getting closer to the meaning of life (monty python, gotta love them!) and if there is a God, Im getting closer to God. Sometimes im so content and a part of nature that i feel like Im dissolving in everything around me and it feels so very good! I have absolutely nothing to worry about (even though biking, finding food, water and shelter is a busy job), i feel so capable of just enjoying every single moment. Not thinking about the past, not thinking about the future, just enjoying and ‘being’. It’s hard to put this into words and I know the old me would not have understood. But Im here now, going from a very very fast structured lifestyle, very rational thinking, to the manic energy of freedom to a more relaxed state of mind where I find myself cycling for hours without a single thought. Just smiling, always smiling 🙂