Those Friendly People, Thanks For The Smiles

No rain this morning! Yippedy-yi-yay! Only fog. We were hoping the fog would clear or thin, so we could at least be visible on the road.

A foggy greeting this morning
A foggy greeting this morning

With breakfast provided by the hotel, we wandered downstairs expecting to see the usual buffet options. Instead, we were met and escorted to our table by the friendly waitress, where our breakfast selection was ready and waiting for us. This nice waitress had also served us last night, when we ate at the hotel restaurant (there was a sign at the restaurant saying no food in the rooms, so we thought we’d better do the right thing and avoid our usual supermarket fare in our room). When I scanned the menu last night, I couldn’t see anything vegan. Steve ordered the gnocchi with porcini and I asked if it was “Vegano? Senza latte and formaggio.” She went off to check, but returned to say it had cheese in it but they could do me gnocchi or pasta with a tomato sauce, which I said would be perfect. This same girl was now presenting us with our prepared breakfast of a plate of cheeses, a basket of different yoghurts, a plate of croissants and a plate of sweet biscuits. Obviously I wasn’t going to eat any of those. She then said, “Would you like something else, tea, cappuccino, milk for him?” and she gestured towards Steve. When she asked if we wanted milk for Steve, I wondered if she had remembered I was the vegano. I also wondered if this was the reason for the final choice of breakfast items on our table – a bowl of sliced cherry tomatoes, a bowl of iceberg lettuce and a bowl of grated carrot. I wondered if this had been included as the vegan breakfast option. Either way, it was something I could eat and while I know some people eat salad for breakfast, I’ve never been one of those people. Travel is all about experiencing the unfamiliar though, so I tucked into my tomato, drizzled balsamic on my lettuce and happily crunched and munched away. It was certainly different to what I would normally have for breakfast, but it was great and another new experience in the book. The nice girl then returned and asked if we would like toast, which she then delivered to our table and it was homemade bread, with that rich, pungent, yeast smell and it was a delicious final course to the varied breakfast we had been offered!

When we checked out, the same friendly girl, who we now knew was Beatrice, came to unlock the room where the bikes were stored and as she spoke such good English, we again took the opportunity to ask her some language questions and she helped us with some words and phrases. We asked about “Buongiorno” which had been confusing us somewhat. We knew it meant “Good morning” but we had also had people greet us with it, in the afternoon, so we weren’t sure why it was used after morning.

“Anytime the sun is out, is OK,” she explained. “Until 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock, even 5 o’clock in the summer, is OK to use buongiorno. Then in the evening it’s buona sera.”

Aaah, now we understood. We’d been using “buona sera” in the afternoon, but now we know buongiorno isn’t just “good morning”, it’s an all day until the sun goes down, sort of greeting! Another lesson in the bag!  Beatrice was delightful and a real star and yet another kind and friendly person we have been lucky enough to meet.

We pedalled out of Rosalina, with the fog still hanging around and unfortunately, once again found ourselves on a highway. It was horrible. “I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be on this road, I don’t feel safe,” was all I could think, as the cars sped past like they were in a Formula 1 Grand Prix, the trucks all but grazed our elbows and the cracks in the road threatened to grab onto a wheel and wobble us into the endless line of traffic. We eventually managed to get off the highway and onto a road that was still a main road, but somewhat quieter and we wheeled into Adria. Another market was in full swing, so we walked the bikes through the cobbled street, busy with morning market shoppers. It was a nice little town, with a canal and bridge and once again, we drew some stares of curiosity from the locals.

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On we went, along more busy roads, breathing in as the trucks went past and hoping those super speeding drivers had their eyes on the road and not on a text on their phone.

A small town appeared, so we stopped for elevenses, to calm the nerves and hope the road ahead was going to be kinder. When we pedalled into the town, I actually became aware of my toes and had to consciously flatten them out! I hadn’t realised they had been tightly curled up in my sandals, just from the tension of riding on that road! As we found ourselves in a quieter place, my toes finally relaxed and stretched out again!

Elevenese
Elevenese

On we pedalled, still along a main road, but it remained quieter than the highway. I was glad it wasn’t too busy, because I pulled over to the side of the road to watch something that made me smile. A postman had pulled up at a house, where a lady was in her garden, at the end of the driveway. The postman rode his motorbike down the driveway, to hand the mail to the lady. After taking it, she gestured and must have told him to wait, because she went back into her vegetable garden, picked an armful of lettuces and then went back and presented them to the postman! How wonderful was that! I stood a short distance up the road, watching all this take place and seeing the postman very happy and grateful for the addition to his rear pannier! It was another lovely, friendly exchange, this time between locals. I’m not sure how our local postie at home would react if we presented him with a gift from our garden! I love seeing things like that, it shows what a sense of community and familiarity there must be between people there and it was wonderful to see.

We soon came to an intersection and decided to take the option that would send us down a quieter road. This was terrific because, not only was there less traffic, but we got to ride through some little towns and past houses. There were lots and lots of dogs that were none too pleased about us riding through, but at least they were all behind fences so they could only voice their displeasure rather than take action with their fangs!

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Rovigo, our destination for the day, was approaching and as we rode into the outskirts of the city, I was presented with another smile-worthy moment. A man was driving towards us and I saw him suddenly take his hands off the wheel, give a double thumbs-up and begin waving his thumbs around, like a flare-wearing, disco aficionado at a Bee Gees revival concert, and while he was giving us this animated thumbs-up, he was smiling broadly at us. As he drove past, he turned, so he was looking out of the driver’s window as he became parallel to us, and continued grinning and waving that thumbs-up sign at us. I smiled and waved back and I couldn’t stop grinning. I was a bit worried about the fact that he’d decided that giving us a thumb-wave was more important than keeping his hands on the wheel while driving, but I was nevertheless chuffed by his friendliness. We’ve had some drivers smile and toot their horns at us, but until now, we hadn’t had a front-on, followed by a side-on, double thumbs-up wave. What a delightful and friendly man!

A bench, in a quiet little spot, beside a busy street in Rivago, looked like a good place for lunch. We stopped and had a bite to eat, while watching the locals coming and going. Then, that smile of mine just had to come out again. Our lunch spot was also beside some blocks of flats and as we sat, we heard the most beautiful, operatic voice, floating through the air towards us. It was coming from one of the flats and didn’t sound like a recording, it sounded like a lady was up in one of those rooms, singing an aria and that beautiful voice was floating through the window, out on the breeze and down to us. What a wonderful addition to our lunch time and I smiled as I listened to those words, sung in Italian, by a beautiful voice and thought again, of the moments we get to experience; those things you can’t plan, would not expect and become our moments, because they have happened to us alone. It was special.

We found our hotel and were again given a terrific place to store the bikes, in a room inside. We settled in, took a stroll to get supplies and that was the day. It turned out to be another short one, only 46km, but we are town-hopping a bit to make sure we are able to find options for accommodation and supplies, so we have stopped when we are sure we can find those things, rather than go too far ahead and find ourselves stranded.

The day had its challenges with the horrible roads, but that was definitely outdone by the moments of either experiencing, or witnessing, the delightful friendly people. I started the day with frowns and grimaces, as I pedalled along the scary roads, but those faces soon became smile after smile after smile, because of the wonderful things I saw or the special moments I experienced. It’s the little moments, the unexpected, the unfamiliar or the unplanned, that makes travel such a joy. It’s the people and the magic they bring to a day. Even if the day itself is difficult, or the environment is less than top-notch, the people can turn it into gold in an instant. We had some gold today for sure, pure gold and I got to grin over and over again. Magic.

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