Tour 2012 Verbania – Lourdes – Santiago de Compostela – Fatima – Verbania
Travel “Progetto Giovani”
starting date: 21th July 2012, Trobaso – Verbania
arrival date: 25th August 2012
across: Italy, France, Spain, Portugal
distance covered (km): 5.200
average speed (h): 20km/h
total cycling time: 263 h
pedal strokes: 1.025.700
bycicles: Milena Merida height 213, Tiziano Specialized
flat tires: 17
postcards sent: 200
charity organisation: CRIAQ, Croce Rossa Italiana – L’Aquila, Abruzzo
amount devolved: 1.500€
A quick rundown on our trip:
5200km covered, feeling dazed the whole time due to the strong heath we faced from the get-go .
We slowly but steadily cruised through hills, never ending lowlands and unbelievable views surrounded by scents and colors, wind delicately caressing our skin while being burnt by the sun with water as our only refreshing comfort with improvised showers at random fountains.Left Verbania behind us, the first stop is Novi Ligure where we spend the first night at a camping site. We tap in at the local Museo dei Campionissimi (literally “the Great Champions’ Museum”), where we get the privilege to see first hand a lot of bicycles belonging to some of the greatest athlets who ever competed.Our second stop isin Liguria, at Ospedaletti fter 211km and almost 12 hours straight ride. We camped at the seafront, so we could enjoy the sunset and the sunrise the following morning. Off we got heading towards France, so at Le Muy, Arles we get the first stamp on our Pilgrim Card.Wineyards and white herons.A load of pedlars selling fruits and various groceries, so we can enjoy a good snack and quench our thirst.At Montpellier we reach the first 1000km on our bikes so we rapidly proceed touch base ad Carcassonne, Montreal, Saint-Gaudens and after almost 1300km we finally get to a Lourdes where we spend the night at a cute guest house which we find both cozy and relaxing.
The following morning we had the privilege of experiencing the sanctuary almost by ourselves, feeling the intimacy and spiritual meaning of the vast holy area.It did leave a mark in our hearts.After Lourdes, we ride uphill some more throughout the hills, meeting people during our staying at several Pilgrimage guest-houses.Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, then Estella marks our arrival in Spain, Redecilla del camino, Carrión de los Condes, Burgos, Triacastela right after making it through the Cebreio at 1300m altitude and 16km straight climbing uphill, but once there the view pays back.
It’s not long before we hit the road again, headed for the second main stop of our trip, up and down the North East, meeting fellow pilgrims, which we greet with “buen camino” (literally “good walk”). From Roncisvalle to Santiago de Compostela the scallop shell showed us the way. This is the traditional symbol of the pilgrimg, St James’s shell . The scallop shell used to be sewn on the pilgrim’s hat or cloak and it was the tangible proof that the wayfarer reached the holy sanctuary in Santiago de Compostela, located in Galicia, North West of the Iberian peninsula.
Hundreds of people within the last 200km, exchange of words and smiles.
Every night we spent at a guest-house on Pilgrim’s route was a beautiful surprise, the places we have seen, the people we have met, it all meant the world to us.We reach Santiago the 4th of August after almost 2300km spent on our bikes.
We enter the city in the middle of a thunderstorm, who seems to be chasing us for the last few hours. Santiago è truly wonderful, with its Majestic Cathedral, people gathering in the main square, some on foot, some on bikes. Hours and hours of religious contemplation while sitting on the sacred ground.
There is a dedicated Pilgrim Office that awards us with a certificate of our accomplished pilgrimage.
We take off towards Portogallo determined to quickly reach our third main stop.
We touch base inPorto, beautiful pearl of the country and thenFatima, much calmer and intimate than the big city.
We are on the go again aiming to get to Lisbon. So far we stayed at mostly guest-houses and camping sites, so a night at actual hotel sounds like a treat. At this point in time we are about to reach an important turning point, since we covered almost 3000km. This means we are about to reach Madrid first and then Barcelona.
Spain’s inland is most definitely amazing, hills and sunflowers, oddly shaped mountains and a warm palette of earthly colors, ochre, red and pink.
August the14th we finally enter Madrid, a mesmerising city with fascinating architecture, never ending avenues, squares and wonderful fountains. Our journey continues through the mountains, orchards, wineyards and sunflower fields, a true natural rainbow.
August the 18th we see the Mediterranean sea again since we hit Tarragona, so within 90km we get to Barcelona.
We had the pleasure of encountering and travelling through countless amazing cities during this trip, Montpellier, Arles, Leon, Burgos. Each had its own perks.
After riding for 4800km we close the circle passing by dMontpellier, where we decide to catch a train to Nice since we are running late, one and half day late, due to a sequence of damaged tires. We need to speed up and the train is the solution. We are happy to be back on track and aiming to arrive home Saturday as scheduled.
From Nice we reach Ventimiglia again by bike, then a train again to Cuneo, where the journey comes to an end. We spend the last night in Chivasso so within 130km we finally get home.
This trip was particularly meaningful to me since it was dedicated to my mother, who sadly passed away. Not sure if I found some form of relief in completing this pilgrimage but it definitely touched me on a deep level.
Yet anothe trip is finished, but truly it is not. The experience lives with us through the precious memories we make, looks, words, pictures, the wheel spinning in front of you, all the riding hours, sweat, the effort and happiness of making it through each step of the way.
Emotions of places and moments that never really cease to exist.
Milena, for mi&ti