2016 Gornja Bistra

Tour 2016 Gornja Bistra
Viaggio “Il Giardino delle Rose Blu”

starting date: 9 agosto 2016
arrival date: 22 agosto 2016
across: nord Italia, Slovenia, Croazia, Serbia, Bosnia
distance covered (km): 3.876 (camper)
cycling time (h): 1.000 (Tiziano by bike)
average speed (km/h): 25
biking time: 40
pedal strokes: 60.000
stops: 15
bycicles: Milena Merita, Tiziano Specialized
flat tires: 2

postcards sent: 200
charity organisation: Fondazione Onlus del “Giardino delle Rose Blu”
amount devolved: 6.250€

Despite the injury, we are leave.
Alternative vacation, I would have never imagined to leave at the very start of 2016 on a camper! Here we are, sitting on four wheels run by an engine, but that doesn’t matter as long as we can accomplish our plan and deliver what we have promised to the organisation.

August the 9th, we load the necessary equipment for a total of 13 nights and our bikes are with us as planned. I have been strongly discouraged by the orthopedic specialist to avoid challenging uphill roads as much as holes in the ground or standing up pedaling . I still swore to myself that I will be riding my bike for a few kms!
Within a couple of days we should be reaching Ljubljana. Not before we get to visit Bassano del Grappa, Udine and Pordenone. Two days in, all we see is rain and thunderstorms.

Once reached the city of Ljubljana and parked our camper, we get on our bycicles for a quick tour up to the “Ljubljana Grad” castle, which offers a great panoramic view. Back to the camper, my bike’s back in place and Tiziano goes for a nice 3h ride with peaks of 14-15% uphill amidst corn fields, sunflowers and stork nests.
My place is at the wheel of the camper. I stop every 5-10km to wait for him to catch up, enjoying travel stories by Obes Grandini, famous adventurer from Ferrara.

Passing through Trebnje, Brežice e Kumrovec we enter Croatia.
The landscape gradually mutates from tidy neighborhoods of houses with gardens and colorful flowerbeds, to brick red buildings and more wild looking  backyards.

August the 11th at 19.30 we reach Gornja Bistra. We are welcomed there by don Ermanno, Alessandra and don Luigi, a retired priest originally from Chiavari. Before our eyes the tent city that serves as home for the volunteers, mostly Italians, some Spanish and e i 120 boys and girls hospitalized at the Gornja Bistra Hospital.

We get acquainted to Megghy, who suffers from something that seems leprosy and costed her the amputation of both hands and feet and Nina, a tiny girl who loves to touch hair. These are only two off of hundreds incredible stories we get to know at the hospital. We share dinner with them and enjoy the musical entertainment of a family band whose members are a father and 5 of his 15 sons playing various instruments such as guitars, drums and flutes and singing in Croatian. After dinner Don Ermanno makes the introductions and everyone gets to speak about their own projects.

The day after it’s time to pay a visit at the hospital where the coordinator of the volunteer shows us around. Strong experience, but worthwhile for the level of understanding we gained of the pain of the less fortunate. In the park we are assigned to take care of two kids, Ivan e Domacop, who we take for a nice walk around.
At around 11.30 the service at the Church takes place with the baptism of three boys in the age range between 10 and 15 years old and the Holy Communion of another boy.
Lunch is served under the main tent and in the early afternoon we join Don Ermanno and Alessandra who show us the building progress of the house that will host the volunteers in the next future.

If I was to summarise our trip, I would probably put it like this.

We covered 3876km by camper, a bunch of km on bycicle, met new friends and tried to bring relief to those suffering. The hospital “Il Giardino delle Rose Blu“, was once known as the Castle of Horrors… luckily today thanks to the tireless work of don Ermanno and his volunteers it breaths new air, new colors, smiles and love for those less fortunate kids. Thousands of people give away for absolute free a great deal of their time there every year, all in the name of solidarity.

On our side, we are already planning our next trip. A personal thank you to our generous contributors of this 2016’s project where we attempted to donate a smile just as we want to keep doing. This is all possible also because of you all!

Milena, di mi&ti

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