After my interrogation by the Monaco gestapo, I shifted the bike and myself up to a bar on level 5 of the town, sorry principality. God knows what Gracie Fields ever saw in this place apart from a handsome rich prince.
I was greeted by an ex-pat who spotted my plates.
I make a habit of paying for my beers as I order them as I have forgotten to pay on a couple of occasions in the past. The first was to a barman who's shift finished just after I ordered.
As I went for my second of the night I put my money on the bar counter and noticed the new staff had ignored it. I pushged it towards him and while in full conversation with the ex-pat he slid it into the till.
Later I went the bar and gave him a five euro note for my next beer for which he only gave me one euro change. He had taken for two, so I returned and without attempting to speak any French queeried how much he had taken. I presumed he was saying that was for the two beers I had drank.
I tried to explain I had paid up front but he wasn't having it, but hey I had had enough shit for one night and stood my ground. It was ten minutes before he eventually gave in. After I sat down I realised he had been so immersed in conversation he was totally unconcious of the transaction between us earlier. I had another beer and went through the same actions of passing him a two euro piece hoping it would jog his memory, but I think I failed. I've never needed an excuse to order another beer, but I was really tired that night and could easily have missed one.
I left the bar and was pushing the bike down to the sea front and was near the police station when a guy shouted at me for pushing the bike on the pavement. For fucks sake I had had enough and was having difficulty spotting a hide hole for a nights sleep.
I reached the front and noticed there were guys fishing from inside one of the tunnels thatgoes under the headlands. between the pavement and the road is a concrete barrier that left the paved area totally concealed to passing motorists and more importantly the police. Hey presto I was asleep and with it being well lit and a warm evening, was one of the best nights sleep I'd had for a while.
Up early and waiting for the garage to open at 8 and then off to Genova, where i was hoping to leave the bike while I returned home for a break.
The first part of the journey was tedious with lots of small towns and not much of interest.
Eventually the toad started to lead onto more hilly headlands with a few interesting bends to negotiate. The problem was the format of the road between each small resort was identical even to the last bend entering there would be a left hander followed by a right hander then a left and straight along the front. Exiting was a bend to the right. All the centres looked similar except for the church tower so I recommend you stare at the church tower until it's emblazoned on the memory so you'll spot your holiday town.
I arrived in Genova and decided to head to the airpprt to see if I could park the bike. I could leave the bike in front of the terminal free, but I have a cycle pannier bag with all my tools and I couldn't find anywhere I could leave them.
I made the decision to ride to Milan. The road out of Genova takes you up into the hills and it was a beautiful evening when I left Genova. I stopped in a small town by a railway and thought I'd try and leave the bike there, but Neil in Madrid came to the rescue with a friend who lived in Milan and who would take my bag in.
Off I went again and rode till the darkness had set in.
I had reached a small village about 60 kilometres from Milan but as road signs were harder to see on the back roads decided to stop there. The first thing I needed to do was check my flight times for the following day so I would know the latest arrival time in Milan. I asked Mary back home to check for me and she told me that I didn't have a flight for that day. I tolfd her to go to my e-mail address and check the confirmation.
The reply was shattering, as the flight was that same day and I had missed it.
As I said I need no excuse for a beer and decided to throw what was left in my pocket at the bar there.
I looked around for a sleeping place after and there wasn't anything suitable so rode on a little further until I came to the edge of the next town.
There was a supermarket with a covered area in front so pulled in. What was more important was the laundrette behind the bar and it opened at 6 in the morning.
I awoke just as the bar was opening so In I went and straight to the wash machines. It was like that advert years ago when the young guy goes in and stips to his jocks to wash his jeans. That was me as I changed into other dirty clothes, in order to have the set I wanted for the return flight whenever it may be.
I set the wash and went to get a coffee and enquire to a cash machine. I set off across the road in the direction of the machine only to find I had left my wallet in my jacket. I had run out of tobacco and needed a coffee refill but had to wait till the was ended to get my cash.
They were finding me amusing and after three coffees the supermarket opened so off I went for my breakfast of bread and chopped pork then off to Milan to find Ed's gaff.
On finding Ed and his flat I left all my gear there locked the bike and with Ed's help checked out flights. I opted to try and hitchhike instead and set off on the train courtesy of Ed which would take me to within three or four miles from the services on the motorway.
It was 5 pm when I arrived and I had my card written out and thought I would have a chance of reaching Switzerland that night at least.
Wrong. I spent the whole evening standing there with serious back pain until in the end I withdrew to the toilets locked myself in a cubicle and tried to get some heat back into the body. The days are hot at this time of the year in the Dolomites but bloody cold at night. I was frozen but managed to get an hours sleep sitting on the loo.
I emerged at five ready for the morning traffic and although I took a spot by the cafe not one lift was offered.
At ten I conceded defeat and struggled back to the train and back to Milan. Mary booked me on the flight which had gone up a further twenty pound and it was just a matter of depositing my motor bike jacket with my tools and then heading out to the airport to wait a dfay for my flight.
I decided to have a couple of beers before getting the bus out to the airport which turned out to be a bad move as I fell asleep in the bar and missed the last bus there.
It was even colder than the night before and now I had no motor bike jacket or leggings to keep a little bit of heat in.
I crawled up outside the station by the bus stop and slept the odd minutes waiting for the fiorst bus at 4.30.
I eventually made it, got the flight and arrived home to temparatures worse than the early hours of Milan