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  1. #1
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    Spain, Portugal, Ireland

    I'm planning my next years ride any general ideas or info greatly appreciated

    Starting in April and will have 4 months. Spain. Portugal, Italy, Ireland

    One week will be in N.W. Italy, Val D'Osta doing hiking and climbing.No Rome;Florence, Sienna, Assisi, most definitely

    Will be doing camping or hostels to stretch the money

  2. #2
    Senior Member denisegoldberg's Avatar
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    I took a short (two-week) tour in Ireland and Northern Ireland in September of 2003. I loved the place, and I plan to go back - both to see more of both countries, and to return to some of the areas that I really liked. You can read my journal from that trip at denise2003ireland.crazyguyonabike.com. Although I stayed at B&Bs, there were hostels in many of the towns I passed through.

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    Thanks, good info

    The friend I'm traveling with can go for May and June, so to fit in Italy, Spain, Portugal AND Ireland into 8-9 weeks, Ireland gets about 7-10 days, Enuf time??
    I'm planning an additional couple o months, thru August, to do the Danube Bike Path to Budapest and return to Prague and much more time in Germany

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    bike/raft DrGonzo's Avatar
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    sounds like fun, will be interesting to hear replies, I want to do a similar bike trip (ie through europe, lots of miles over a few months). I'm not big on ireland though.
    practice, practice, practice...
    Last trail to kick my ass: Eagle's tail

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travelinguyrt
    so to fit in Italy, Spain, Portugal AND Ireland into 8-9 weeks, Ireland gets about 7-10 days, Enuf time??
    Four countries in 9 weeks?! That seems a little ambitious. That gives you only 2 weeks per country.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travelinguyrt
    I'm planning my next years ride any general ideas or info greatly appreciated

    Starting in April and will have 4 months. Spain. Portugal, Italy, Ireland

    One week will be in N.W. Italy, Val D'Osta doing hiking and climbing.No Rome;Florence, Sienna, Assisi, most definitely

    Will be doing camping or hostels to stretch the money

    It won't happen.

    Seriously, what you'll find when you get there is that 1) it's so great, you can't rush it; 2) the countryside is so wonderful you have to see everything; and 3) everyone takes their time, so you'll definitely be derailed by that. I really thought I could rip through Italy in three and a half weeks the first time I traveled there. I think I ended up doing Rome, Florence, Sienna, Assisi, and Cinque Terre. I ran out of time, thinking I could do more, and I got overwhelmed by the beauty of it all, and I slowed everything down to about quarter speed, and as a result, I really enjoyed myself.

    My thought is not to rush it. If you had four months, you want to travel slowly to save money, and you'll want to find a place where you can base yourself out of and do your day trips. For instance, I went to a hostel in Sardinia. I was meant to go for a day. I ended up being there a week.

    Do you want to travel for the sake of saying you were in a certain country, or do you really want to explore a country and see what it has to offer, interact with the people, and get something meaningful from it?

    If you want to rush it, I say Italy, Portugal and Spain. If you decide to change your mind and spend the time doing exploration, do either Portugal and Spain or Italy and Spain, or Italy and Portugal. That will give you the time to really get to explore and appreciate what each country has to offer.

    Just a thought.

    Koffee

  7. #7
    Senior Member onbike 1939's Avatar
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    I agree with Koffee, do too much and your tour turns into a grind and you lose the whole point of the experience. Confine yourself to an area that you can spend the time to explore and savour.Only that way can you expect to know something of the place and people.On a short tour (2 weeks) a region is sufficient.If, like me you are retired and can spare a couple of months, then wander over all of France (2000-3000 miles).There is nothing better for cyclists--even including Italy. Good cycling!

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    Senior Member Netcelt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by denisegoldberg
    I took a short (two-week) tour in Ireland and Northern Ireland in September of 2003. I loved the place, and I plan to go back - both to see more of both countries, and to return to some of the areas that I really liked. You can read my journal from that trip at denise2003ireland.crazyguyonabike.com. Although I stayed at B&Bs, there were hostels in many of the towns I passed through.
    Denise I really enjoyed reading your trip report to Ireland. You will be delighted to know that Ireland now has a smoking ban anywhere in the Republic where people are employed. This includes all pubs and restaruants. I was home in Cork this past August and what a difference it made. You can go to a pub, have some pub grub, a drink and not have to breath the smoky air. It has made a wonderful difference. Next time you go I hope you will travel down south in the Cork and Kerry region. Some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Travelinguyrt
    I'm planning my next years ride any general ideas or info greatly appreciated
    Starting in April and will have 4 months. Spain. Portugal, Italy, Ireland
    I don't see what's wrong with 4 countries in 4 months.

    Spain is just wonderful cycling. Try to get to the Picos D'Europa (centre of the North Coast), but don't do the South in either July or August - way too hot.

    Never ridden in Portugal; but I have found Northern Italy to be good news / bad news on a bike. Population density is high in the North so the roads can be crowded. Other minuses are that the smaller roads often aren't very convenient, the signage is dreadful (very easy to get lost) and mealtimes outside tourist areas can be very inflexible so getting a quick meal when you want one can be difficult (in Spain, tortilla, potato omelette, is available evrywhere at all times and is a great cycling lunch)

  10. #10
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    Strange- I've ridden through northern Italy a few times now, and I haven't had a problem getting a meal or navigating the roads. It may be that you need better maps.

    If you get the Touring Club Italiano maps or the Michelin maps, it'll specifiy which roads are the slower traffic roads. Red and yellow colored roads on the Touring Club Italiano maps are the roads where bikes are allowed, and the yellow roads are indicated as the slower traffic roads where you'll find yourself more welcome as a slower moving vehicle. The green roads are indicative for scenic roads and are usually slower traffic roads. Make sure your map is current. I made the mistake of using an older map, and I ended up riding the autostrada for a long time.

    The best thing you can do if you ride Italy is 1) learn some conversational language, 2) get good maps, and 3) make sure your maps are up to date, since the nature of the roads sometimes change. With conversational Italian, you can converse with the locals a bit more, and you'll be able to navigate through the roads better. And I've never had a problem finding a bar, pizzeria, or trattoria where I can stop for a quick meal. In fact, every time I've stopped, I've had help with having my bikes watched or secured so I can eat in peace and without worry. And they'll always fill up my water bottle too before I get on the road!

    Koffee

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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    Strange- I've ridden through northern Italy a few times now, and I haven't had a problem getting a meal or navigating the roads. It may be that you need better maps.
    >> We had every relevant Touring Club of Italy map and each was brand new. Maps weren't the problem. The smaller roads (certainly round the Verona area) just weren't very useful. They meander from village to village but never get you anywhere very fast. And as I said earlier the road signs at a very local level just aren't there! We certainly never went anywhere near riding on autostradas (surely you didn't do that, it would be lethal as well as I guess illegal) We rode sometimes on the more direct State (?) Roads ie the larger non-autostrada roads and they were terrifying. In fact I'd contacted a local non-racing bike club in Vicenza on the internet. One of their main members was a policewoman and she was very helpful to us. We were riding on north from Vicenza into the lower Dolomites (via Bassano del Grappa) and she specifically marked on a map for us which larger (non-autostrada) roads we were to avoid at all costs as being lethal; she was very bossy but also very well informed; one of her regular jobs was attending major traffic accidents. So we stuck to smaller roads and crawled along.

    >> From the map and the road colours on the map it was impossible to tell which were the really dangerous roads (and they were dangerous!)

    [/QUOTE] If you get the Touring Club Italiano maps or the Michelin maps, it'll specifiy which roads are the slower traffic roads. Red and yellow colored roads on the Touring Club Italiano maps are the roads where bikes are allowed, and the yellow roads are indicated as the slower traffic roads where you'll find yourself more welcome as a slower moving vehicle. The green roads are indicative for scenic roads and are usually slower traffic roads. Make sure your map is current. I made the mistake of using an older map, and I ended up riding the autostrada for a long time.[/QUOTE]

    >> The autostrada?? Surely just one of the larger state roads (see above) Don't you have to go through toll gates to get onto the autostrada proper; they'd never let a bike through!

    [/QUOTE] The best thing you can do if you ride Italy is 1) learn some conversational language,[/QUOTE]

    >> Absolutely true! I'd been to classes for a couple of months beforehand to learn some Italian but when I got there it all seemed to desert me. Having no local language (or very little) was a far greater dis-advantage cycling in rural Italy than it had been in Northern Spain the summer before. Outside the cities no-one over 30 seemed to speak English at all.

    [/QUOTE] 2) get good maps, and 3) make sure your maps are up to date, since the nature of the roads sometimes change. With conversational Italian, you can converse with the locals a bit more, and you'll be able to navigate through the roads better.[/QUOTE]

    >> I think our experience was made much more difficult by the fact we were there two summers ago when temperatures were extraodinarily high. Much of the day it was impossible to move about (the high temperatures were the big topic on Italian TV news and newspapers all the time we were there). Even starting early, taking a long break for lunch and finishing later than we might have planned, it was still very hot and there were simply no people around!

    [/QUOTE] And I've never had a problem finding a bar, pizzeria, or trattoria where I can stop for a quick meal.[/QUOTE]

    >> What can I say? Totally not our experience. Bars never had any food in them except sometimes a few curling panini. Meal times are also very rigid. They eat lunch at 12 noon and if you turn up at 1.15 that's no food for you and so it's off to the supermarket (except of course by then they've shut for the afternoon). Finding snack-type food at lunchtime (if we weren't carrying our own) was a BIG problem often; evenings no problem at all.

    [/QUOTE] In fact, every time I've stopped, I've had help with having my bikes watched or secured so I can eat in peace and without worry. And they'll always fill up my water bottle too before I get on the road! [/QUOTE]

    >> With due respect, you're not female are you? We were six males and never had such treatment! ..... but what do they say about Italians.....


    >> But finally, we had a great time. We also made contact in advance with a bike group in Treviso, where a really nice young student gave up part of her holiday with her family to meet us, give us drinks at her home and then guide us on our way via the sights of Treviso. She showed us a "White road" which are old dirt tracks running from farm to farm (and often not marked on any map) which avoided a long section of the vile main road running south towards the sea (it was an obscure public holiday so the road was very busy indeed and full of overheated Germans in fast cars). The white road was absolutely great to cycle on (in dry weather) and very direct, if slow, but how you find them on a regular basis I don't know!

  12. #12
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    Sorry you didn't have a good experience. I did, except the autostrada incident, which finally did break me around 3pm, and had me in tears by 5pm. That day, I checked into the last room in town that hadn't been rented in Como, then the next day, I walked to the 5 star and checked in there and had a great time wandering/riding/ferrying Como for the next three days.

    Touring Club Italiano has great color maps. Really, when a road is marked in yellow, it is really SLOW.... and the traffic is pretty safe. If you took a red road, just watch out! You never know if it was going to be a terrible, congested type of road or if it was just fast traffic, and you just need to watch your neck. And the green roads were generally slower traffic since they were scenic. Black roads were to be avoided.

    I did try to ensure that my interpretations of the maps were accurate. I would stop and talk with locals at gas stations, bars, and restaurants and pull out the maps I had just so I could get a feel for the route I'd chosen. It was always good to ask the locals what was coming up so you could prepare in advance.

    Seriously, I never had problems finding a place to eat. It's always good to remember that things generally close from 12pm- 2pm, but that's so people could eat, run errands, etc. I was always ok with finding a place to eat. Maybe I just have a homing device that zones in on eateries! One time on my last trip, I did feel hungry at a place where I wasn't sure if I was going to find a place to eat. I did find a restaurant, but it was pricey. It was one of the more expensive restaurants I've eaten at when I've been on the road with my bike.

    When I did stop to eat, I always asked for water for my water bottle. Maybe they all knew I was just riding with a big load of stuff behind me on hot days, but I never had anyone say no. I always made it clear from the time I entered a place to eat that I'm traveling by bike, and I need to stop and eat. Most of the time, people looked amazed when I told them I was traveling by bike, but they always would help me out. Maybe I just got lucky?

    I was there two summers ago when it was REALLY hot. I remember it being so hot I was wanting to pass out sometimes from the heat. I went to Lago di Garda one day and just laid at the beach and didn't move a muscle, it was so bad. I was so "traumatized" by that hot weather that I was sure this year, it would be the same situation. Luckily, it wasn't as bad, but it still was hot. :-/ But hey... I don't care how hot it is. That's a great country to travel through.

    You gotta find another school to take Italian. I'm taking lessons through the Italian consulate, and I'm finding that they are much better at teaching for retention. Those fly by night schools just are terrible!

    Next time I go to Italy, I'm taking you guys with me! Between your contacts and strappy bodies, and my Italian and talking to the locals, I'm sure we could get along really well!

    Koffee
    Next time I do travel, I'll go with you guys!

  13. #13
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    "You guys with your strappy bodies" well, er yes, I weigh in at 230 pounds so "in your dreams baby" is all I can say but the other five........ well maybe lean is the word. And of course we all have THOSE accents, so Hugh Grant I guess!

  14. #14
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    Well, just keep my PM nearby and let me know the next time you all feel like a trip to Italy for cycling. I go in the early summers, so keep that in mind. It would be great! Italy is just the best fun to cycle through.

    Koffee

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