Friday, May 16, 2014

May 16 Pavia to Spessa


                                       Current Day                            Cumulative

Total Miles                              15.5                                         15.5

Total Climb.                             180                                          180            

Net climb.                                 26                                             26

Song of the Day:  Flatlands by Mark Lanegan

"I want open plains and scattered trees

I want flower fields

I want salty seas

I want flatlands and steady breeze

Bringing scents of lined up orchard trees

Dripping heavy pears and dancing leaves

I want flatlands will you go there with me"

We arrived at the Milan airport last night around 5:30.  After some initial confusion, we took a bus to the train station in central Milan, where we caught a train to Pavia.  We were able to easily find our hotel in Pavia, as it was a few blocks from the train station.

While we were at the train station in Milan, we went into a phone store to activate the old iPhone we brought with us.  Damien had kindly helped us to get the iPhone "jail broke" from some guy in Chinatown in San Francisco so it could be used in Europe.  Unfortunately, after buying a SIM card for $50 for Italian phone and data service, we were not able to get the phone working.  It still will work on wifi, but not as a phone.  A problem to figure out another day.  Or not.  We are able to use Skype (when we have wifi access) to make phone calls and in fact called Charles schwab today for something concerning Linda's Visa card).

Pavia is a beautiful university town of approximately 70,000 people, including 30,000 students.  This morning before we left on our hike, we were able to explore the town, and saw the Duomo and several other interesting buildings.

Last night we had a great meal in the restaurant next to our hotel.  Of course, the menus are all in Italian, so buyer beware!  We started out with a terrific dish of caprese salad- just like we know it. Then, an outstanding dish of ravioli, in a brown butter sauce.  Wow!  Probably the best ravioli we have ever had.  Then for the main course, I had grilled Branzino (Mediterreanean sea bass).  Outstanding.  Linda ordered Vitello tonanto Piemontese.  Well, we weren't sure what it was, but knew that Vittello was veal.  Uh, cold veal that is!  Sliced veal, with a caper sauce.  Very good, but very cold.  

Reminded me of when I was interviewing for my first job out of graduate school.  Arthur Andersen had flown me to San Francisco from Iowa for an interview.  I wore my very best polyester suit and was ready to show the world that I was no rube from Iowa!  They took me out for lunch at a fancy French restaurant in downtown San Francisco.  I had never been in a French restaurant in my life and had no idea what to expect.  The waiter handed me a menu that was all in French.  I scanned the menu high and low, searching for something I could recognize.  The only thing I saw that remotely made sense to me was "steak tartar".  I thought this is weird, I only use tartar sauce on my fish fillet sandwich as McDondalds, but hey, those crazy French, who knows?  Of course then I was served my raw hamburger (erh, "steak").  Now what to do?  I gamely took a few bites, and decided it was better to starve than make a fool of myself.  They still offered me the job in spite of my lack of food knowledge.  40 years later, still making the same mistakes....

This morning,  we were having a cappuccino (outstanding by the way) and brioche in a cafe near the Duomo.  Recognizing that we were clearly tourists (what gave it away?  We were trying to fit in with the locals.  Don't they all have backpacks, wear Columbia sportswear, San Francisco giants baseball hats,  etc.?!), a very nice man came up and introduced himself and said that he ran the Pavia tourism agency and would be glad to help us out with anything we needed.  He asked where we were from and we said California.  To which he replied, "ah yes, Arnold Schwartenegger"!  He took us down to the tourism agency and gave us every know map for the area, and several books as well.  I have worked very hard to bring no printed material on this trip.  All my guide books, maps, etc are on my iPad. But, I accepted the guy's generous offers and stuffed the backpack full.  Made for a very heavy pack any case, this man was the first of many kind people we ran into today.

We then set out for our 15 mile trek.  This was a very flat hike with a total climb of only 180 feet.  But, beautiful none the less, passing through several charming villages and along side many canals. This is farm country,  with the primary crops of wheat, corn and rice.  My family from Iowa would recognize this land (other than the mountains off in the distance)!

In one of the villages, a man delivering  grocery items to a store asked us where we are from and where we are going.  We explained they we were from California and walking to Rome.  He wished us well.  About 25 minutes later, we were walking on a country road, and the grocery man passed us.  He stopped his truck and handed us a piece of paper with his name, address and email address.  He asked if we would send him a postcard from Rome!  At first we didn't understand him, and asked hima question (which he may not have  understood).  To which he replied, "I will pay you for the postcard."  We said, no, we didn't want his money, jus trying to understand the request.  We told him we would definitely send him a postcard.  He promptly went to the back of his truck and handed us two bottles of local yogurt!!

Later, we stopped at a restaurant in a small town and had a fantastic 3 course meal, with wine and bottles of water for 10 euros each.  Excellent food and another really nice guy.  We will definitely eat well on this trip....

Finally, we arrived at our hotel around 3:30 after walking almost 16 miles.  It's a great hotel in a small village, and the guy told us the building is almost 1000 years old!  They recently completed a major overhaul of the place.  Beautiful room with exposed beams.  Incredibly we are only paying about $60 for this room.  Last night, the room was half the size and cost almost $150 for the night.  After another excellent meal of pasta, pizza and salad, it's time to call it a day.

Tomorrow is another flat walk, about 15 miles total.

Ps. My San Francisco giants won again last night, and remain in first place. They are 2-0 since we left for this trip!


  1. Oh I love it! Wish we were there. How are the trail markers? Can you get by without a map? Sounds like there won't be any weight loss on this trip.
    Hugs, MJ

    1. LOL, MJ! Especially when they're in the Swiss Alps passing all the wonderful little cheese-making shacks.

      Ya look great, Mike and Linda! The Italians are fabulous. I'm glad they're treating you so well.


  2. Mike and Linda.. sounds like a great start to the trip. And love the song of the day..