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  1. #1
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Touring Italy or Netherlands?

    After doing some research, I am beginning to rethink my plans for Ireland as my first tour. It is still on the "todo" list but with the soso roads and amount of rain, I am looking to elsewhere.

    One thought was the Netherlands. Yes it still has rain but it's nice and flat and geared(no pun intended) toward the bicycle. Plus I have a email friend there that I have never meet and it would be nice to meet.
    I was thinking of taking a ride to Brussels and if I feel real energetic, Paris or down to the Chunnel for a ride over to England. But this is probably a bit much for two weeks. Should I just tour the Netherlands and forget Brussels?


    Another thought was Italy. I have seen pictures and it is probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Large citys don't impress me that much. I like the small little villages. I don't mind some rolling hills but would probably want to limit the mountains. What areas of Italy should I consider?


    How do prices compare to these to areas for the US dollar?

    Because of my riding partners schedule we are pretty limited to September in 2006.

  2. #2
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    The Euro is higher than the dollar. Expect to pay a third more than what you'd pay for in the USA (1 euro= about 1.33 USD).

    I haven't been to the Netherlands, but that area of Europe is great. The people are great too in that area of the country. They party hard. I've done some of my hardest, heaviest drinking and partying in that area of Europe.

    If you want to go to Italy, you can always stick to the west coast and ride down the coast. It's mostly flat, and a few gentle rolling hills. You'll run into some bigger towns and plenty of smaller towns. If you've got lots of time (10- 15+ days), consider heading down the coast to Livornio and hopping a ferry to one of the islands. You can continue your riding there and get some good riding time in.

    Koffee

  3. #3
    Senior Member marmotte's Avatar
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    ...or the Italian PO-plain along the western Alps. You can ride 100% flat (sometimes a bit windy) - or you can take some trials to the little villages which is not hard to do. Climbing starts behind them.
    You could reach Genova (instead of Livorno) and take a ferry to Corsica, my favorite island and from there a ferry to Piombino, which leads you to Rome.
    marmotte

  4. #4
    Velocipedic Practitioner
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    Never been to Italy, but I don't think the terrain there is any better than Ireland for the most part.
    I have been to The Netherlands several times. Beautiful country with remarkable bicycle infrastructure. It is very flat, though the wind can take away that advantage. You can also expect a fair amount of rain there, but from my experience, it wasn't as much as in Ireland.
    Meeting your email friend is in itself a good reason to choose The Netherlands. I have met a few internet friends during bike tours also.
    Depending on your daily mileage, two weeks should give you ample time to see most of The Netherlands. If there is one downside to touring there, it's that over time it begins to all look alike. Amsterdam leads the world in bike theft, so have a good lock.
    Every country you are considering uses the Euro, so don't expect anything to be a bargain.
    It seems like nearly everyone in The Netherlands speaks english. Quite frankly, I had an easier time understanding the Dutch than the Irish. The Irish accent takes getting used to. Both the Dutch and the Irish are genuine, friendly people.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

  5. #5
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    A relatively undiscovered great riding area I found was the Val D'Osta NW italy where the Italian, French and Swiss Alps converge. I rode from Milan, messy traffic, to Turin then up in the Val. spent the best week of my 3 1/2 months in '04, went hiking 3 days myself and then asked my BnB landlady about climbing a bit higher. She called her nephew, and we arranged to spend 4 days and nites climbing higher stayin in huts.One morning we were having coffee when the overcast cleared and both the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc were visible. When we returned we had lunch and I wanted to pay him what I owed for his fee, would not allow me to pay him ,said I was his friend and he doesn't charge friends when they climb, and that someday I would return and we would go higher

    Nice folks abound all thru Europe where I rode, and recently in East Africa met more

  6. #6
    cyclotourist
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    Well I think either Italy or the Netherlands would be fun.

    I've toured the Netherlands and loved it.The people are friendly, there is lots of culture to see, fantastic museums, great posted bike routes, interesting bike culture.

    But its flat. Too flat

  7. #7
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    Go down to the southern tip of Holland.
    From there in two weeks you can visit Germany, Luxemburg, France and Belgium. With enough time left for sightseeing.
    There is also a great trein sevice if you fall behind schedual while visiting a place longer than planed.
    As an example you can start at Maastricht, The Netherlands, go east to Achen, Germany, from there go south through the Ardennes (a very hilly and wooded area), from there head west to Luxemburg, continue on to France, finaly heading north to Belgium and back east to Holland.
    Cheers.

  8. #8
    Velocipedic Practitioner
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    Man, I like this one. May have to give it a go myself.


    Quote Originally Posted by xilios
    Go down to the southern tip of Holland.
    From there in two weeks you can visit Germany, Luxemburg, France and Belgium. With enough time left for sightseeing.
    There is also a great trein sevice if you fall behind schedual while visiting a place longer than planed.
    As an example you can start at Maastricht, The Netherlands, go east to Achen, Germany, from there go south through the Ardennes (a very hilly and wooded area), from there head west to Luxemburg, continue on to France, finaly heading north to Belgium and back east to Holland.
    Cheers.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

  9. #9
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    I haven't been to Italy, Ireland nor the Netherlands (yet). If cycle friendly infrastructure and variable terrain is keen on your list of riding areas, do check out Austria/Germany(Bavaria) as well.

    Xilios' idea sounds loads of fun as well.
    mmmm coffeee!

    email: jfoneg (_"a t symbol thing"_) yahoo (_"period or dot"_) com

  10. #10
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camel
    I haven't been to Italy, Ireland nor the Netherlands (yet). If cycle friendly infrastructure and variable terrain is keen on your list of riding areas, do check out Austria/Germany(Bavaria) as well.

    Xilios' idea sounds loads of fun as well.
    What cites in Germany should I consider? I am looking for varied terrian as you said but not too mountainous. Also looking for castles. Decent weather.

  11. #11
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker
    What cites in Germany should I consider? I am looking for varied terrian as you said but not too mountainous. Also looking for castles. Decent weather.
    I'd say Munich to Salzburg then up to Passau would be nice. I cycled Salzburg to Passau along the river, very nice. Munich to Salzburg I took the train, but one could also cycle (I believe) some very nice hills (to castles) along the way, perhaps connecting to the National park ?West/South of Salzburg.
    mmmm coffeee!

    email: jfoneg (_"a t symbol thing"_) yahoo (_"period or dot"_) com

  12. #12
    Senior Member marmotte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker
    What cites in Germany should I consider? I am looking for varied terrian as you said but not too mountainous. Also looking for castles. Decent weather.
    You can cycle along the river Mosel, then Rhine and in Mannheim turn eastward along the Neckar river (Heidelberg - Heilbronn - Stuttgart), eventually some miles in the black forest.

    If you don't leave the valleys it's nearly flat with a lot of castles. There is also a nice landscape in the hills on both sides of the valleys (climbing of ~300 m) and hardly no traffic.
    marmotte

  13. #13
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    You *sure* you don't want to come to Ireland? September is a lovely time. Usually not too much rain either.

  14. #14
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lolly Pop
    You *sure* you don't want to come to Ireland? September is a lovely time. Usually not too much rain either.
    I'm beginning to change my mind back again.

    I keep thinking about the language barrier in my other choices. Not that it would present a problem, but I am really looking forward to rolling into a small town, going to one of the bars and having a real chat with some of the local people. I guess that is still possible in a place like Italy but it would not be as common considering my limited knowledge of the Italian language. None of which would make for polite conversation.

    Of course there is the wonderful food of Italy. Decsions, decisons.

  15. #15
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    Well, it's not like you're leaving in the morning.

    A basic class in the language of the country you're going through should be enough. And it's not like NO ONE speaks english. You will find them. I never lacked for conversation when I was in Italy. Besides, with all the hand gesticulating, it's almost like you know what they're saying anyway!

    Koffee

  16. #16
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    Well, it's not like you're leaving in the morning.

    A basic class in the language of the country you're going through should be enough. And it's not like NO ONE speaks english. You will find them. I never lacked for conversation when I was in Italy. Besides, with all the hand gesticulating, it's almost like you know what they're saying anyway!

    Koffee
    Yes it was on my list to either take a class or buy a tape. The problems that come with conversation can kind of add to the attractions of the location.

  17. #17
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    Take a class and get the tapes. If you live or work by any Italian Consulate, they offer classes there, and those are the best.

    Koffee

  18. #18
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    The Euro is higher than the dollar. Expect to pay a third more than what you'd pay for in the USA (1 euro= about 1.33 USD).

    I haven't been to the Netherlands, but that area of Europe is great. The people are great too in that area of the country. They party hard. I've done some of my hardest, heaviest drinking and partying in that area of Europe.

    If you want to go to Italy, you can always stick to the west coast and ride down the coast. It's mostly flat, and a few gentle rolling hills. You'll run into some bigger towns and plenty of smaller towns. If you've got lots of time (10- 15+ days), consider heading down the coast to Livornio and hopping a ferry to one of the islands. You can continue your riding there and get some good riding time in.

    Koffee
    If I choose the West coast (which I think I will) where should I fly into? I was thinking of Napels (further South = warmer? Less busy than Rome?)

    Shuld I consider a trek East?

    We have 13-14 days and will be traveling in September.

  19. #19
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    I'm not sure of the climate. PM Powerful Pete- he's Italian and he would know his country better.

    I'd suggest flying into Milan if you want to stay in the north and Rome if you want to stay in the south.

    Koffee

  20. #20
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    I'm not sure of the climate. PM Powerful Pete- he's Italian and he would know his country better.

    I'd suggest flying into Milan if you want to stay in the north and Rome if you want to stay in the south.

    Koffee
    My guess is that Milan has pretty much the same climate as here in Pittsburgh. There low temps can hit 55F in September. Historical lows are to 33F, burrr.

    Here is a useful link for checking average temperatures though out the world.

  21. #21
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    If you really wanted warm temps, you could fly into Rome and make your way to Bari in the southernmost tip, then catch an overnight ferry (like Moby) and head to Greece. Go to Patras, then catch a train to Athens. Stay a couple of days in Athens and ride around there, then ride back around the coast to Patras (in the direction of Corinth). That will take about 3 days, I think, and there are A LOT of campgrounds along the way too. It's not really hilly- they're more gentle rolling hills. The people are great! You can take breaks anytime when you're riding along the coast and take a dip into the ocean to cool off. I don't recall having lots of language problems either.

    When you get back to Patras, just time it so you get in town by noon, then catch a ferry back to Bari. From there, you can ride back up the east coast, and if you're hurting for time, you can hop local trains back to Rome.

    Koffee

  22. #22
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Yikes! I am checking airfares to Rome. I am finding $1200+ !

  23. #23
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    Maybe a club tour of Italy instead of self-guided?

    Italy, Campania & Basilicata
    Sunday 3rd September 2006 to Sunday 17th September 2006 : 15 days
    Rating: 2
    Leisurely tour through remote unspoilt areas of Campania and Basilicata south of Naples. Alpine scenery and historic hill towns. Eat well on local produce. Easy pace in very mountainous terrain very suitable for experienced potterers. Ave. 65 kmpd. Fly Gatwick-Naples with coach transfer between airport and hotel.


    Cyclists' Touring Club tour in September in Italy.CTC Tour list

  24. #24
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    That's not to say you shouldn't still consider Ireland. I think it would be a good introduction to touring in Europe.

  25. #25
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    $1200+ from PIT on Sept 1 that is. Maybe they will come down later in the year?

    Just a little over $800 for mid September. Almost a $400 difference in two weeks.

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