MISTRAL WINDS of monstrous proportions!

Trip Start Sep 16, 2006
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Trip End Sep 16, 2007


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Flag of France  ,
Saturday, January 20, 2007

The city of Montpellier is huge. The city also has a really bad reputation: thugs, junkies, dog poop all over the place, cheap hotels, and lots of neglected freezing dogs. The winter is brutal here, absolutely freezing.

We found it to be pretty neat though. Huge. A fancy city center square, trolleys, a carousel, a free internet youth center, an olympic stadium where we sat and watched hundreds of French people swimming at lunch. This inspired a promise to begin swimming when we return. There were definitely a large number of homeless people, more than anywhere else in the country. Lots of drinking and dogs. We holed up in the cheapest no-star pension we could possibly find. Lucie nursed a swollen pulled back muscle. The weather was incredibly bitter cold, FREEZING. Itoe impossible and dangerous to camp in this weather. the knees were suffering. We talked and talked, and given our unexpected predicament of 50mph mistral winds and brutal freezing cold along the mediterranean coast, we decided to take some trains to Italy, through Austria and to my parentsīCzech republic village to dorm out the winter before resuming. We figured a one month break is good after 4 months of cycling. Better to nurse the knees back to health than destroy them for good. Also, we havenīt seen our families in 3 years.

Kurt met us in Montpellier. Weīve been riding separately since Barcelona, and he agreed to come visit our family in Czech.

So we boarded some trains, and after about 50 hours of inter-country small trains we made it to the Czech Republic. There were many adventures, hassles, language barriers, surprises, and though NOT for the thin skinned- train travel with bikes IS definitely doable. You just have to be prepared for lots of surprises, like having ther trains top for no apparent reason and having militant faschist Italian cops throw you off it for no apparent reason, no explanation. Orr trying to sneak some warmth and sleep in a otherwise freezing cold and closed off station, only to be awakened at 3 am by confused Austrian police wondering what the human sleeping bag blanket bike pile is all about. We were so thrilled and grateful to reach our folks in their cozy and warm village house. In the cold winter out here, one just canīt drink enough hot tea. My parents received about one hour notice that we were coming so unexpectedly. The roads in their part of the country were covered in sheets of ice, and people were really having fun with the idea that we had come here on a bike vacation.
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