Food in Germany and the Netherlands

written by bryan on January 31st, 2007 @ 10:42 AM

Yesterday I talked about Danish food. It was supposed to be an article on the food of Europe, but I ended up writing such a long article that I figured I should split it up.

On the Denmark/German border we ate at another Turkish restaurant. Typically shawarma, but we also ordered a “loaded turkish pizza”, which turned out to be very different from what I expected. I’ve had Turkish Pizza (Lahmacun) before, and have very much enjoyed them. The difference here is that they then took this pizza (after it was baked), loaded it up with shawarma topping and then rolled it up to eat like a shawarma sandwich. Delicious!

After Denmark, we crossed the border into Northern Germany. The food was very similar (not very many vegetables!), but the prices sure weren’t. The price of food in Germany may have been half of what it cost in Denmark. In fact, the food in German grocery stores may actually be cheaper than Canadian grocery stores.

One of my favorite meals was enjoyed in Germany. While cycling along the Nord-Ostsee canal, we noticed a baker and a butcher right across the street from each other. We picked up some bread, pastries, meat and cheese and then pedaled on to our campsite. The bread was a hearty 7-grain bread and the meat was some sort of cured sausage. Both were delicious and among the best bread and meat I have ever eaten in my lifetime.

Northern European meals do not contain many vegetables, and the vegetables that are consumed tend to be root vegetables, often pickled. This isn’t surprising since refrigerators and freezers have not been around for very long. In southern Europe fresh vegetables are available year round, but this is a recent phenomenon for Northern Europe.

A meal we had at a festival in Schleswig, the “vegetable” portion of the meal consisted of a stew that was basically mashed potatoes with squash, carrots, turnips and pork thrown in. The “meat” portion of the meal looked like a North American wiener but was infinitely tastier.

That’s right, wieners/sausages are very popular in Germany. No surprises there. That they’re much tastier than what we eat in North America really isn’t much of a surprise either, is it? Of course, pork schnitzel is also quite common.

The food in the Netherlands was also quite similar. Unfortunately, the prices came back up, but not up to Danish prices. Food stayed very traditional until we hit Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is a world city; and as such has food from all over the world. Even though we’d enjoyed Northern European food, we really enjoyed the opportunity to eat ethnic foods again. One particular highlight was an Argentine steak restaurant. It was very expensive; everything cost extra: the potatoes, the vegetables, mushrooms; even the bread cost extra! One of the best steaks I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of good steaks. Only one I had in Japan topped it.

Food in Denmark

written by bryan on January 30th, 2007 @ 10:41 AM

“I like food”. Anybody who knows me well has heard this statement. It’s my standard response when somebody asks me what I would like for dinner. Europe is a good place for people who like food!

We spent pretty much the first half of our trip in Denmark. Unfortunately, food is very expensive in Denmark. Because it is expensive, people do not often go out for food, and restaurants are uncommon. Therefore, we tended to eat at less expensive restaurants and shop at grocery stores. Our most common meal in Denmark probably consisted of bread, meat, cheese, fruit and a pastry, often eaten right in front of the grocery store.

Most of the cheap restaurants in Denmark were run by Turks. This is very similar to Ottawa where most seem to be run by Lebanese people. The food is superficially very similar, Shawarma/Donairs and pizza. The Donairs taste similar, but the pizza does not. I am not a fan of the pizza in Denmark. The crust is very thin, the toppings rarely include vegetables, and the whole pizza is often slightly undercooked. But you’ve heard the expression, “Pizza is like sex. When it’s good, it’s really good. And when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.”

Unfortunately, in Mariager, I ate some pizza that wasn’t. I ordered a fairly loaded pizza; it had all the ingredients I wanted, plus a few I didn’t recognize. I wasn’t worried about the unknown ingredients; there’s nothing people put on pizza that I don’t like, and it’s a good way to learn Danish words for food that I don’t know. And it wasn’t the ingredients that made that pizza horrible, although they were two different types and styles of meat; Bethany’s pizza, which was a much simpler pizza was almost cooked properly, but mine, which had 4 times as many ingredients, was raw and cold in the middle. It was also very runny; probably the water from the cans that the ingredients came in. On the other hand, Bethany’s pizza was very good, and she claims it was one of her favorite meals on the trip. I think she was just super hungry: it wasn’t that good!

My Dad’s cousins, Birgit and Ove Larsen provided one of the best meals on our trip. Bethany was talking with Birgit about traditional Danish foods and some of her favorite foods from favorite trips and home. Birgit then cooked up a meal from that discussion. We had frikadeller (Danish meatballs), potatoes, rødkal (sweet and sour red cabbage) and gravy. Delicious; Bethany says that these are the best frikadeller she’s had, although the Swedish meatballs you can get at Ikea are also pretty tasty.

Bethany’s cousins Paul and Annette also provided a very traditional Danish meal, the kolde bord. You’re probably more familiar with the Swedish word: smorgasbord. Kolde bord consists entirely of cold items laid out to pick and choose from. Paul & Annette’s meal consisted of two types of bread and a couple of different buns; several cold cuts including the yummy rollepulse (rolled ham), Danish white, blue and havarti cheses, pickled herring, fishcakes, pickled beets, rødkal, cucumbers, tomatoes, radish, fried onions, remoulade and mayonnaise.

With such a delicious assortment of foods, many different types of smørrebrød can be assembled. Smørrebrød, also known as “Danish open-faced sandwiches”, translates as “buttered bread”. North Americans are used to eating large quantities of sandwiches, but would be very pleasantly surprised at just how tasty proper smørrebrød is. There are several secrets to tasty smørrebrød:

  • Excellent bread. Rye bread is more common in Denmark that wheat bread, but all their breads are generally very tasty, heavy breads, similar to German breads.
  • Excellent cheese. There are three types of cheese commonly eaten in Denmark: white, blue and havarti. Danish Blue and Havarti cheeses are commonly exported and quite well known. However white cheese is the most common in Denmark. It’s the mozzarella of Denmark: unassuming and widespread, but the good ones are very tasty.
  • Thick spreads of butter. It adds a lot of fat to the sandwich, and a lot of taste!
  • Tasty sauces like remoulade. Remoulade is a traditional French sauce consisting primarily of mustard and mayonnaise. It doesn’t appear to be eaten often in France anymore, but it is quite common in Denmark and New Orleans. The New Orleans version is very different from the Danish version; the Danish version doesn’t contain chili and paprika!
  • Contrasting garnishes. This is probably the biggest surprise to North Americans. Popular garnishes include pickled beets, orange peel, fried onions, cucumber, grapes and caviar.

For more information on smørrebrød, including a delicious remoulade recipe, see this web site.

The breakfast you get at a Danish hostel or hotel is delicious. A wide spread of breads, meats, fruits and pastry is provided along with cold cereal and yogurt.

Of course, the first thing a North American will think when hearing “Danish breakfast” is “Danishes!” Danishes are called wienerbrød, pronounced “Vienna brood”, literally “Vienna bread”. I wonder what they’re known as in Vienna? Not surprisingly they are a lot more delicious in Denmark than they are here in Canada. There are a wide variety of types, and they’re all good.

Tomorrow: the food of Germany and the Netherlands.

We're not leaving you like this...

written by bryan on November 22nd, 2006 @ 12:52 PM

It would be a shame if the last entry we posted was as negative as that last post of Bethany’s. Don’t worry, we still have a few more articles talking about our overall experiences on the journey. So keep coming back to see more!

Bethany from mid-air, November 15, 2006

written by bryan on November 22nd, 2006 @ 12:36 PM

So Rome tried to beat the life out of me and it did a pretty good job. Well to be more exact Trenitalia (Italy’s train system) and the airport tried.

When we arrived in Rome 3 nights ago at the main train station, Termini, we took a room right across from the station. Especially convenient as there is an express train that goes from Terminini right to the airport every 30 minutes. We did note that on the posted timetable this train wasn’t listed as taking bikes, but I went to the train information booth and asked if bikes could be taken on that train. The answer was “Yes”. If only that was true.

We had a pretty good day yesterday other than wearing my feet out by 10 hours of never sitting and walking on uneven cobblestones in too flexible shoes. But a good day. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I recommended stopping in the station to buy our tickets to the airport the next day and checking exact train times. It was when the ticket machine would only give us a bicycle supplement ticket routed through another station that we started to question whether we really could take bikes on the express train. It made sense that we could – we had checked out the train and there was a bicycle-labelled compartment at the back of the engine and a luggage area at the back of the train more than large enough. But still … So we went back to the information area (it was late and ticket counters were closed) and asked the men working there who sad “No speak English. No bici (bikes). Tiburtina. In the morning.” Not good news. The schedule through Tiburtina left us leaving early to catch the connection and we still needed to access our bikes from where they were locked – not necessarily easy as the holder of the keys was sleeping elsewhere than where we were staying. And it made no sense. There was room for bikes on the express train and there was only a start and end so loading and unloading was not going to delay the train at a station!

So Bryan was up at 5:30 this morning for our 12:30 flight trying to figure out what we must do. He talked to 6 different people, reached the conclusion that bikes really were banned on the expressed train in boxes or not, and arrived back to our room announcing, “You won’t believe this but they tell me we must take the Metro in rush hour to Tiburtina Station and then we can catch the train from there to the airport.” So we frantically called the contact number for where we were staying and the hostess was over within 20 minutes to unlock our bikes. We tried to decide how we were going to quickly move two boxed bikes, two bags (luckily with rollers) weighing almost 30 kg each, and a couple of carry-on bags to the metro and through the metro system. In the end, we decided two trips were probably quicker. At least to the metro station and left the bags behind.

Of course, we reached the gates of the metro and were banned from entering. “Not possible. Must take the train.” I agreed it didn’t seem possible to me either but what were we suppose to do? Train officials told us that we could use the metro and even sold us the meto tickets at the same time as the train ticket and bike supplement. Bryan had tried to buy a train ticket to the other station, but was told that wasn’t possible.

So here we stand, time ticking down to our flight. Can’t take a train from the station we are at. Can’t take the metro to get to the train we need. Can’t cycle our bikes to the airport or other station as they were already partly dismantled and our baggage had outgrown our bikes. Can’t take a taxi because Bryan’s bike would never fit. Basically stuck. So we pushed/carried our bikes out of the metro and I went back to that dreaded train information area because it seemed to me that it was the best hope in an otherwise impossible situation with limited time. And this time, we found the right answer. Strangely from the same woman who a couple of days earlier told me we could take bikes on the express train. We needed to catch a train leaving in 25 minutes to Ostiense Station and from there we could take a train to the airport. Ahh, relief. At least there was a possible route. We just actually needed to be able to make the train times.

So we pushed the bikes in the boxes down to the very far end of the station and Bryan frantically ran back to get our other bags with the agreement if he didn’t make it back, I would go ahead with the bikes and he would take the express train with the bags. I had just heaved our bikes onto the train when he and our hostess arrived a fluster with the bags. He was a minute before departure time. In Ostiense we were able to leave our arriving platform by elevator but needed to navigate a set of stairs to get to our departing platform. Luckily the train was late or we wouldn’t have made the connection. Especially as we were initially given the wrong platform number by train personnel. At least the wrong platform had been accessible by elevator.

By this time I was numb and tired. Confused by the different information we received. And even more disheartened by how unhelpful people have been. I was surprised by the number of people who watched me walk past struggling with the empty boxes a couple or days ago and again today with the loaded boxes without offering help. Well, actually there was one guy who did help me carry box bike a short distance to the metro this morning. He probably thought I was crazy but he did help. But the assortment of Polizi and train personel in the station just laid critical eyes on us. I think it would have been better in Canada. At least when we finally made the check-in line at the airport, the lady behind us nicely moved our bags along for us as we dealt with our bike boxes.

The airport did not go particularly smooth either. We knew our bags were overweight and we were going to be dinged with extra charges. I didn’t expect though that after waiting an hour in the check-in line that I would then have to go spend 1/2 hour in the ticket line to be able to pay the charges and then return to the check-in counter with the receipt to be able to pick up our boarding passes. Bryan had in the interim gone to take our bikes to the oversized baggage check-in and unfortunately had to debox his bike (we had put considerable effort in taping it) in order to get through security. When I took so long he was getting a little anxious because he didn’t know where I was and I he didn’t have his passport or boarding pass or even wallet to go through security without me. He didn’t realize that I didn’t have the boarding passes either yet. But we did eventually meet up to go through security which went smoothly for and change, and passport control which didn’t go as smoothly as I was barked at regarding the shape my passport. My passport had been soaked in a heavy rain in Denmark and as we were camping in the wet for the following several weeks and failed to dry quickly, it kind of grew. Let us just say that my passport pages are quite decorated with pinks, yellows, and blacks.

Now we are in the air, probably somewhere over the Atlantic by now. Hopefully the rest of the airport stuff and getting back home goes smoothly. I am definitely going to be sore tomorrow and I’m bruised up a little on my arms from the bike boxes. Bryan is also a little anxious about his bike as he wasn’t able to retape it in the airport – we had already checked our rolls of tape and security just reused the tape that had to be pulled off. So much for our careful tape job.

Now, today would not have been the excessively draining event it has been if we had had proper information about the trains from the beginning. That is what frustrates me so much. We tried to pre-empt today. I may not have been ready to come home, but after this morning I was ready to leave Rome. Maybe I’ll feel a little bit more favorable about the city in a day or two.

Rome, November 14

written by bryan on November 21st, 2006 @ 12:47 PM

Today’s pictures on flickr

Today was our last full day in Europe, our last day to see any of the sights. So we went to see the top sights in Rome: the Vatican, the Forum, the Coloseum and the Pantheon.

Our first visit was to the Vatican, since the museum there closed at 13h30. We didn’t really expect any troubles. We knew that it often experienced long lines, but at 9h30 on a Tuesday morning in November the number of visitors should be a small fraction of that in peak tourist seasons, right?

Perhaps, but when we arrived there was a massive line snaking out of sight; even worse, the line was not moving. The prospect of spending hours in line during our last day in Europe held little appeal as we looked on in dismay. We were quickly approached by a young lady with a British accent who informed us that she could get us in within 5 minutes for 25 Euros. She was selling tours of the museum. We very quickly decided to take her up on the offer and joined the group near the beginning of the line. Very quickly after the line joined the line started moving again, and moving quickly. I’m not sure what stopped the line, but it would have been a long wait none-the-less.

Even without the advantage of getting into the museum early, it was very nice to have a tour guide. You do get a much better feeling for things following around an experienced tour guide rather than wandering randomly and reading the placards.

I expected a large amount of Rennaisance artwork, and got it, but I did not expect so many Roman treasures. After all, these are pagan works, why are they being collected by a religious authority? Of course, that’s the reaction of a 20th century Lutheran upbringing, not that of luminaries in the Roman Catholic church of the 16th century. I expected decadence; other stops in our journey aptly illustrated this; the centre of the Roman Catholic empire would be the worst.

Travelling across Europe, looking at various Cathedrals, monuments and palaces, I was astounded by the amount of effort that would have been put into them. If built today using relatively accurate ancient techniques, these would cost tens of billions of dollars. To me, a modern equivalent would be the new war museum a few blocks away from my place. It’s one of our greatest national monuments to honour people and events important to us. It cost about $135 million dollars, a cost considered very large and contraversial. This is approximately equal to .01% of the GDP of Canada for a single year. If I remember correctly, Louis XIV spent about 50% of France’s GDP for several years building Versailles. The popes spent the GDP’s of many countries in Rome and Amiens, smaller regions spent large portions of their GDP building massive cathedrals, and the pyramids were estimated to consume 80% of the GDP of Egypt (again, figure pulled from my perhaps faulty memory), and the Roman emporers spent large amounts as well. These amounts are staggering.

For, by our standards, these massive empires were all impovershed third world countries. The vast majority of the economy was made of agriculture barely above the subsistence level. Life expectancies ranged between 25 and 40 years. Food consumed the large majority of the budget of most of the population. In Canada today, food consists of well under 10% of the spending of average Canadians.

The picture above is a good symbol of the decadence of the Roman emporer. It is one of Nero’s bathtubs that he installed in his pleasure palace. This was not his main home, but a vacation home. It was carved from a single piece of expensive marble, and could hold 23 people. That’s not so bad, you think, until you hear that Nero installed over 80 of these throughout the palace. That’s decadence.

(picture by Juan Ma from Wikipedia)

This is more a symbol of papal excess. If I remember correctly, the pope spent a year’s worth of his massive income in 1506 to acquire this Greek/Trojan masterpiece, considered by many to be the greatest statue ever carved. This is Laocoon, who was punished by Athena for throwing a spear at the Trojan horse, which was after all an offering by the Athenians to the goddess, besides its more well-known attributes. At least the pope established the Vatican museum around this piece to try and recover some of its purchase price. Of course, this massive amount pales into insignificance when compared to the price paid to build St. Peter’s.

After travelling through many rooms of Roman statuary (and greek statuary plundered by the Romans), we were treated to great collections of Rennaissance art. Of course, the pinnacle of this is the Sistine Chapel, the massive roof of which was painted by Michelangelo, who previously left us dumbfounded with his David in Florence.

(picture from via wikipedia)

Acknowledged by many to be one of the greatest works of art ever, do you realize that this was the first painting ever done by Michelangelo? He was a sculptor and architect, not a painter. And painting via plaster on a massive ceiling is a much more demanding work than oil on canvas! According to the story, it was a jealous Rapheal who convinced the pope to force Michelangelo to paint the ceiling, in an attempt to keep Michelangelo occupied for many years on a work that was guaranteed to fail. Of course, the joke was on Raphael.

And Michelangelo did play several jokes in the Sistine chapel. For example, they only recently discovered that a pair of small cherubs dancing around a figure considered symbolic of the pope were in a compromising position and giving the 16th century equivalent of the finger to him. In a later alterpiece in the chapel, Michelangelo paints a carekeeper burning in the pits of hell because he was the spy sent by the pope to report on the progress of painting, and who reported to the pope that the painting was scandalous for its large amount of nudity.

After the Sistine Chapel, the tour was over and we headed in to St. Peter’s Basicilica. We’ve previously reported on several other massive cathedrals elsewhere in Europe, but St. Peter’s puts them all to shame. Of course, as the central cathedral of the entire Roman Catholic empire, it’s supposed to. I’m not going to say very much about it, I won’t do it justice. Other’s probably do.

After St. Peter’s, it was lunch time, so we grabbed a piece of lukewarm pizza from a roadside vendor and set out on an important quest. We needed to find a 15mm wrench. Last night we had spent over an hour trying to get the pedals off of Bethany’s bike. We had tightened them down with a small hand wrench in Copenhagen, but they then started squeaking, so a bike mechanic tightened them down hard with a very long wrench. We tried to improvise levers, but we could not get them off, so we needed to buy a wrench of similar size as the one used to tighten them down. We located a bicycle store, but they were closed for siesta. We decided to go off and see the Forum and the Coloseum and then come back.

The Forum was the centre of Rome. This is where everything happened. Unfortunately, it had been covered by many metres of mud over the centuries, so it has been mainly destroyed and plundered. Hints of past grandeur can be seen, but mostly imagination is required. Two things stood out for me: the Curia and Julias Caesar’s ashes.

The Curia was impressive for it’s unimpressiveness. This was where the Senate met. A brick building about the size of a basketball court, I would have expected the centre of Republican Rome to be much grander and impressive. I suppose they had other priorities in the time before Caesar. it was converted into a church in the 7th century, so may have lost something then, but that also meant that efforts would have been made to preserve it.

Julius Caesar’s ashes had flowers placed on them, and still appeared to be a place of pilgrimage. Interesting, given that it’s been a while since he was worshipped as a god.

Right beside the Forum was the Coloseum. Impressive in it’s size and history, it is not nearly in as good a shape as the one in Nimes. In many ways, this was a let down, since we’d already been blown away by the arena in Nimes. Still one of the highlights of Rome, though.

We then walked back to the bicycle store and purchased a wrench, which did work well on Bethany’s pedals. We then headed to the Pantheon, passing through the Piazza Navona. The Piazza Navona features two fountains and sculptures by Bernini. I find that I am really coming to appreciate statuary. We have viewed some of the best statues in the world, such as the Venus de Milo, David and Laocoon. Bernini is also a master.

We arrived at the Pantheon as dusk was falling. This very famous dome was designed by Emperor Hadrian. It’s donation by the Roman Emperor to the pope in 608 ensured that it would be preserved over the centuries as a church. Recently restored, I wish it would have been restored as a Roman temple, but alas, it is still a functioning church and contains its trappings.

We saw homages to this famous dome throughout our tour of the Vatican. If you check out Bethany’s pictures, you will see pictures of domes that look very similar. St. Peter’s dome was designed by Michelangelo as slightly smaller. When you visit, you will understand why. It has been described as perfection, and that doesn’t seem to be inaccurate. A perfect hemisphere with a diameter of 43.3m, the simple design with the occulus in the middle is very pleasing to the eye.

After visiting the Pantheon, we headed out for supper. Given that this was probably going to be our last chance to have a real meal in Europe, we wanted it to be special. We ended up choosing something rather inexpensive, the restaurant that our guide book described as the “best pizza in Rome”. While I agree that it was very good pizza, I have many times experienced pizza that I consider much better. The crust was the thinnest that I have ever seen anywhere. It was approximately the thickness of a tortilla. The sauce and toppings were good, but if that’s the best pizza in Rome, I’d be surprised. The best part was an egg on one of the pizzas. It was like somebody perfectly fried an egg in the middle of the pizza.

Our next stop was Trevi fountain to throw coins over our shoulders, as immortalized by the movie, Three Coins in the Fountain. It was on a list of “top ten romantic spots” in our guidebook, so we decided to also hit number 10, a tartufo at Tre Scalini, which was rather fabulous. The romantic thing to do is to share one, but they looked so good they we each got one!

We had been handed a flyer advertising a chamber orchestra playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and a few other pieces, so we decided to take that in to complete our time in Rome. Unfortunately, we had a large amount of trouble finding the church the orchestra was playing in, since the map on the flyer was wrong. We did find it, though, and arrived only a few minutes into the concert. It was interesting visiting an Anglican church after visiting so many Catholic churches in Belgium, France and Italy!

Tomorrow we journey home. We stopped at the train station to double check things. It appears that it won’t be as straightforward as our test journey on Monday indicated; I’m going to wake up in about 4 hours or so to ensure we get the right tickets. Cross your fingers…

Bethany from Rome, November 13, 2006

written by bryan on November 20th, 2006 @ 12:33 PM

This day was sacrificed in the name of our bikes with a reconnaisance trip to the airport and getting bike boxes from a bike shop.

Bryan was not feeling well this afternoon when I set out to try to find bicycle boxes and decided to have a nap. I had a listing of three stores that were recommended in Rome. The first one was closeby but apparenly no longer in business. Or at least I couldn’t find it after wandering the street and checking the phone book. The second one was about an half-hour walk further but they did have boxes including one that looks large enough to fit Bryan’s bike. However, I was by myself and over a half-hour walk from the hotel with two large boxes to carry back. The buses did not look like an option being crowded, so I just put on box upright in the other and started walking. They weren’t particularly heavy but very cumbersome especially as carrying to my side always blocked the view of traffic from one side, so I was constantly shifting and needed to take frequent breaks. Rome traffic is crazy so I didn’t feel very comfortable with this and it was difficult to maneuvre through the tiny spaces left between parked cars. Eventually I just hoisted the boxe on top of my head but given my 150 by 175 cm width now, I couldn’t fit on he sidewalk with all the posts and building. So walked down the bus lane instead. Luckily only one bus passed me. I did get several horrified and or humourous looks from passerbys but no offers of help. A busload of soldiers did all turn and wave at me though.

Rome, November 12

written by bryan on November 19th, 2006 @ 05:18 PM

Today’s pictures on flickr

Today was primarily occupied with taking the train from Florence to Rome. The Eurostar can do it in 1.5 hours, but our slow little local train with a bicycle compartment took almost 4 hours.

Once we got to the terminus in Rome, we had a little bit of an adventure finding a place to stay. Both the public and the private tourist information bureaus were closed, it being a Sunday evening. However, there were quite a few people wandering around with official looking “tourist information” badges that were quite happy to sell you tours or hotel rooms.

One advantage of travelling by bicycle: it must make you look poorer. A couple near to me who asked for an 80 Euro hotel room was told that was “difficult”, but the first thing we were offered before we said anything at all was a 65 Euro bed and breakfast with bike storage. That sounded as good or better than anything we could find ourselves in a reasonable time frame, so we took them up on their offer to walk us over and show us the room.

When we got there, we found out that we couldn’t store the bicycles inside, but that we’d be able to store them in bicycle parking facilities beside the train station. Bethany sounded very hesitant, so that got our price down to 50 Euros. We accepted, but we should have waited to see these bicycle parking facilities first!

We unloaded our bicyles and then followed the agent down to the storage facility place. It looked suspiciously like a car storage facility, not bicycle storage, and we were told that it was “full”. He tried several others, but they all only accepted cars, not bicycles.

But he wasn’t ready to give up. He tracked down the key to the courtyard, and we locked our bicycles in there. I’m not sure why we couldn’t do that in the first place. Now hopefully we won’t have trouble tracking them down Wednesday morning when we need our bikes before flying home.

Hopefully we can see Rome tomorrow, but our first priority is tracking down boxes for our bikes and our luggage.

Bethany from Florence, November 11, 2006

written by bryan on November 18th, 2006 @ 11:02 AM

Today’s pictures on flickr

Remembrance Day. How a part of me yearned to be at the War Memorial in Ottawa today or in the north of France. This day passed without any indication in Italy. I wonder if they do hold any sort of memorials. In France it is a stat holiday – as was November 1st which was All Saints Day.

Today we spent within Florence. Our initial plans were to head off doing some unloaded cycling in the countryside but I didn’t have any ambition to choose a direction and Bryan declined the leadership when I offered it to him. So we decided on today Florence the city and maybe tomorrow Florence the surrounding countryside. Ideally it would be nice to do a circular route starting outside of the city limits.

It is just as well that our lack of ambition prevented us from cycling afar. Since my last visit to Florence I had dreamed of one day returning and climbing to the top of the cupola of the Duomo or main cathedral of Florence. This is the multi-coloured building Bryan alluded to yesterday whose facade is composed of marbles of white, green, pink, and black. It really is quite striking. I just can’t decided if I like the overall effect or if it is too much of an assault on the visual senses with the coloured patterns overwhelming the structural lines of the building. Still the Duoma is a wonderful centerpoint in this city of red-tiled roofs and stucco walls. And the Duomo has a very impressive red-tiled dome. Brunulleschi was the architect of this masterpiece and was chosen from a design competition in the15th century. His plan consisted of a “double dome”. The climb to the top took us along staircases sandwiched between the two layers. There were places where Bryan could not stand fully upright. Four hundred and sixty-eight steps to the viewpoint. About the same number of steps that we climbed to get the the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower. Before we left the campground this morning, I had noted that while we were situated on a steep hill, it seemed that the dome of the Duomo was still higher. But climbing the Duomo was significantly easier than pushing my bike up to the campground. Makes me dread heading back this evening as we brought our bikes into the center of town today. Luckily there looks like a route up consisting of switchbacks.

The view from the Duomo is spectacular with red roofs everywhere and hills surrounding the city. Florence truly is a beautiful city and just seems to have this inexplicable glow. In the daylight. At night it is surprisingly lacking in lights unlike most major North American cities.

And our campsite. Yes, as per Bryan’s statement it is not level. I definitely did notice that we had a tendency to slide down the hill in our beds. However, it wasn’t the hill that was the problem last night. It was the cold. Our sleeping bags are rated to +5 (which I doubt it was below) but due to a long period of compression and a gradual loss of some down, I believe it has lost some of its R-value. Tonight I will wear more clothes!!!

Florence this time of the year is still full of tourists but nothing like Paris. However, English definitely seems to be the predominant language I hear as we walk the streets. So far we haven’t encountered any language difficulties as people has spoken either English or French.

We finally also sat down to a meal in Italy and yes the pasta IS better here. Well our perception of it anyway. We crossed the Ponte Vecchio which is a glitter with gold and jewels. The bridge was the previous home of butchers until one of the Medicis (the ruling family of Florence during the Rennaisance) evicted them as they had been casting their discards over the edge into the Arno River.

And David is one fine-looking guy. When we initially passed by the Academy, the museum which houses David, there was a line up. We decided not to wait but luckily came back later in the day to no lines. That 7 Euros was worth it just to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece in person. Because it really is. I’ve seen lifesize copies before. One stands outside of the Medici palace where the original originally was placed and then there is a bronzed version to which Bryan mentioned that is near our campground. The version which developed under Michelangelo’s hands is awesome where it stands towering over its viewers. He’s gorgeous with his visible muscles and tendons and veins. Wow the detail. The only thing that mystified Bryan and I that he is so perfect except his hands seem to be disproportionately large. I wonder if this has been commented on elsewhere. Definitely, David is a must-see. As well as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Rome. Both spectacularly showing their creator’s genious.

(Note: the picture is of a copy of David as you cannot take pictures inside the museum)

We are now in a church waiting to hear an organ/flute/soprano concerto. I am, of course, getting rather nostalgic about our trip now that it is almost over. Hard to believe that we have been on the road for two months.

Florence, November 10

written by bryan on November 17th, 2006 @ 06:01 PM

Today’s pictures on flickr

We spent most of the day on the train, but don’t worry, there’s still lots of interesting stuff to tell.

After waiting for two railway personnel to finish an argument on where we should put our bicycles (each favoured different ends of a very long train), we battled our bikes aboard the train and headed off on the 3 hour trip to Genova. We had an hour wait, but that did allow us to grab lunch. In one very nice streak of luck, our departing train left from the same platform as our arriving train, out of 21 platforms. Otherwise we would have had to carry our bikes and luggage up and down a flight of stairs, which is never fun.

We then had a 3.5 hour trip to Pisa. We couldn’t go to Pisa without seeing the famous tower, so we biked down to it and took some photographs in the dark.

After a very quick McDonald’s supper on the platform, we headed off on the one hour trip to Florence.

All told, the trip only cost us 40 Euros, 7 of which were tickets for the two bicycles. Say what you like about Italian trains, but they certainly are economical. It was a lucky day too; we never once had to lug our loaded bikes up and down a flight of stairs to get to the platform. In Ventimiglia we left from platform 1 on the outside, in Genova the trains used the same platform, in Pisa we had an elevator, and in Florence it was a terminus, so there weren’t any level changes required. Awesome luck.

In Florence I talked Bethany into camping once again rather than spending the money on a hotel room. She was dubious because the campground is on top of a very large hill. However, it was not near as bad as our hostel in Sète, so she doesn’t appear to be too annoyed at me. Our tent isn’t quite level, though.

The little of Florence that I’ve seen on the ride to the campground has been incredible so far. We past a very colourful cathedral, the Medici palace and another impressive church before starting the climb up the hill. On top of the hill stands David in his full nude glory, overlooking an incredible view of the city. The campgrond is right beside David. So although the tent site is not quite level, the view is incredible.

Ventimiglia, Italy. November 9

written by bryan on November 17th, 2006 @ 07:08 AM

Today’s pictures on flickr

It was an early night last night, so I woke up quite early as well. It wasn’t quite a full moon, but it was bright enough to create distinct shadows. I started cooking breakfast in the dark as it slowly lightened. Breakfast consisted of some leftovers from our supper supplies last night as well as part of our “emergency” supplies that we may as well start to use up since there isn’t too much time left on our trip. So we had goat cheese on toast along with mushroom soup for breakfast. Different, but it was tasty.

We packed up and headed on our way out to the Pont Du Gard, which was just a few kilometres away from where we were camping.

The Pont du Gard was perhaps Bethany’s most anticipated single desitination on our trip. She has been to Europe before and has seen the famous sights in Paris and Rome, but not the Pont du Gard. She also has a thing for bridges, so this very well preserved old Roman aqueduct bridge was on her list of things she has to see in her lifetime.

The Roman colony of Nîmes was built around a spring, but this was not sufficient as the colony expanded. They located another source of clean, fresh water, but this was about 50 kilometres away over hilly terrain. This didn’t faze the Romans, since Nîmes was a colony favoured by and dedicated to Augustus. So they built an aqueduct through the hills and over the valleys to reach Nîmes. The bridge at Pont du Gard was the highest aqueduct bridge built by the Romans at 147 metres, and is one of only two that is well-preserved. The aqueduct stopped being maintained in the 4th century, yet continued to carry water for 5 centuries more. Many of the well-dressed stones were then stolen for building elsewhere, but the massive stones constructing the bridge were mainly left alone. No maintenance was done until the time of Napoleon III, attesting to the skill of the Roman architects and builders.

No mortar, only iron clamps, was used between the stones, and the arches are independent of each other to allow for subsidence in the ground and fluctuations in the river flow. The scaffolding supports were deliberately left on the bridge to allow for maintenance as well as for aesthetics. The bridge is really something that has to be seen.

After taking lots of pictures of the Pont du Gard, we cycled down to Avignon to catch a train to Italy. We got some good news at the station: we could catch a French train to Ventimiglia, Italy rather than having to bicycle from Nice to San Remo. The French agents were unable to sell us tickets on the regional Italian trains. These are the only ones that will take a fully assembled bicycle; the international trains do not. Taking the train will allow us to spend an extra day in and around Florence, which Bethany claims is the most beautiful in Italy (that she has seen).

We had a couple of hours before our train left, so we were able to head into Avignon to see the Papal palace as well as the Pont St. Benezet (a.k.a the Pont D’Avignon).

As many of you are probably aware, the Pope lived in Avignon during most of the troubled 14th century, both before the schism, and then the French popes lived there after the schism. Avignon must have been quite the place during this time; many criminals and other unsavoury sorts came to Avignon to enjoy the amnesty of the popes. The papacy was quite the money maker during the 14th century, and the popes spent much of this in Avignon, each building a larger and larger palace.

But Avignon was rich before the popes arrived. “Sur le pont d’Avignon, l’on y danse tous en rond”, as the song goes. Built in the 12th century, the bridge was the only place to cross the mighty Rhône river, and collected a large amount of money in tolls. However it cost a lot of money to maintain, so it stopped being maintained in the 17th century and most of the bridge fell in a flood. However, 4 arches do remain.

After this day of bridges, we boarded the train to Italy. Italy is our 6th country this trip and once again we are experiencing a language where pretty much our only exposure is the movies. Ciao.

Bethany from near the Pont du Gard, (27 km), November 8

written by bryan on November 15th, 2006 @ 08:48 PM

Today’s pictures on flickr

Today we marvelled at ancient structures and were frustrated by modern rail. Our goal today was to see the Roman sites in Nîmes and then cycle towards the Pont du Gard and onward to Avignon if light permitted. However our plans were slightly thrown askew when one of the sites was closed in the morning and wouldn’t open until 2pm. We decided it was worthwhile waiting.

In the morning we visited the best-preserved Roman arena in the world. It is 20th in size of the arenas built by the Romans and has maintained it’s structural integrity as being in constant use since its erection around 100 AD. Today is it still used as a public arena including hosting 2 bullfighting festivals a year, I believe the only site in France where the killing of bulls in sport still takes place. Its original purpose was to house the gladiator games. There was very good audioguide that went through the history of the arena, the gladiator sport including the different types of gladiators, and bullfighting. Contrary to popular belief, gladiators at he height of the Roman Empire where free men who had choosen to be trained in the art of fighting. Definitely prisoners and slaves at times in history also were forced to play the role. It was also rare that the losing gladiator was killed during the games as the host had to pay a settlement to the owner of the school under which the gladiator had been trained. Still the death of the gladiator was often demaded from the crowd if it was felt he had not fought well or shown adequate bravery.

After gladiator fights were banned in around 400 AD, the arena was retrofitted first as a fortress for the Visigoths and then in later years it functioned as a castle and then housed a village.

I have to marvel at the Roman’s mastery of engineering and building. The arena was built from massive blocks of stone and pieced together without mortar. Very fine precision work on a massive scale. The Romans are credited with the development of the arch and they used this structural element liberally.

The Maison Carré is the best preserved Roman temple. It’s portico is composed of Coronithian columns rather suggestive of Ancient Greece. It is suggested that while the overall design is Roman, the architect might have originated from the Nîmes area as there were a number of local motifs incorporated into the design.

We also spent part of the day trying to figure out train schedules. We feel like we are out of time. We leave in a week but factoring how much time we may have to spend on trains, this isn’t a lot. Also the information we get from the ticket office is confusing. Something in writing will say we can wheel our bikes onto certain trains to take us into Italy but the ticket agent then say only to Nice and no bikes allowed on the Italian trains. Bryan seemed to think it was wrong about the Italian trains so we doubled checked on the internet. It seems as long as we can get into Italy, we can get to Florence and Rome – even if just taking local trains and a circuitous route. But still it is sounding like we can only get as far as Nice in France which will mean a day of cycling to cross the border. Should be a beautiful cycle but I remember the roads being very curvy and there are hills. My dreaded enemy with a loaded bike. Next time I’m equiping my bike with the granniest of granny gears.

In the Maison Carré, they showed a 3-D feature focusing on some of the greatest moments in Nîmes. One of the clips showed a Matador from the local area battling a bull by enticing him with a colorful cape. The movements were beautiful and graceful but the thought of that bull later meeting his death at the hands of his teaser was prominent in my mind. The corridas are often called a display of skill and strength by the matador. I can’t keep feeling that it isn’t exactly a fair fight. The matador is highly trained in the instincts of the bull whereas the bull is simply acting on insincts – which leads him into the trap. Now if the bull could be trained on how to fight a matador, or was a little loco and did not follow instincts, now that would be a match up. But what can I really say? I’ve never seen a bullfight and probably never will.

At 4 pm we decided to still head towards the Pont du Gard realizing we would have to stop shortly before the site with the impending darkness. We had a long climb out of Nîmes rewarded by a 7 km downhill stretched that snaked through a canyon. Spectacular views which I would have like to catch on film but there was no truly safe place to pull the side. Afterwards we cycled through the stereotypical Provence landscape with the warm-toned earth, grapevines, and rolling hills. Around dusk I noticed a sign for camping at an equestrian farm. I figured it was possibly still open and we headed up the hill. The camping was closed but we spoke to the owner who said we could put up a tent. So Bryan cooked us up a supper and we are spending possibly our last night in France camping. It has been a while since we’ve used the tent and the smell is quite musty.

Nîmes, November 7, 76km

written by bryan on November 14th, 2006 @ 12:37 PM

Today’s pictures on flickr, which haven’t been uploaded yet.

Our original plan yesterday was to get ourselves close enough to Nîmes to be able to tour its attractions today. However, we jeopardized that plan out the window when we spent an hour photographing fishermen and flamingoes, and then through it out the window when we decided to go swimming in the very cold Mediterranean.

Our journey first took us to La Grand Motte. This city was built in the 60s and looks like it should be inhabited by the Jetsons. Strange buildings.

After La Grande Motte, we started heading inland again, although it took a while before we were truly inland. The land close to the ocean is quite marshy, and must have been fairly impassible, because we passed some fortifications that gated the road we took north.

We passed the Perrier bottling plant as well. You’d think that it would be pictureque, nestled in some mountains or something, but no, it looked very industrial. We photographed it in front of a pond just to make it a little bit more photogenic, but I gather the aquifier containing the water is underground. One unique thing about Perrier is that their water is naturally carbonated: it’s in a pressurized chamber underground. The gas is lost when the water is pumped out, but they capture it and replace it while bottling.

We got to Nîmes in the daylight. Two nights in a row stopping for dark, perhaps that’s a new record! So far the only thing we’ve seen has been the Roman arena. It’s the 20th largest of 70 that they built, but it is the best preserved because it has been in continuous use since it was built. The Visigoth’s used it for fortification (after bricking up many of the windows and entrances), and a shantytown was built inside during the 18th century. We’ll probably get some better pictures of it tomorrow; we’re planning on doing the Michelin Guide Vert walking tour before getting on the bicycles and heading for the Pont du Gard. Nîmes also possesses the best preserved Roman temple, the Maison Carré, which I’m looking forward to visiting.

Now I’m off to supper to check out the restaurant that our hotel proprietor recommended. We had a light lunch and originally headed out around 6, but this is France, and the restaurant may not even be open yet! Thus this blog is being written before supper instead of after.

Bethany from Palavas-les-Flots, November 6, 2006 (35 km)

written by bethany on November 13th, 2006 @ 12:25 PM

Today’s pictures on flickr

So after my bitter diatribe yesterday, I thought I should write today’s blog which is along a much happier tone. You have heard about my hill. Well it really was a great hill with over a 33% grade and it really was hard push my bike up it. But two good things about that hill. The view from the hostel in full daylight was pretty impressive and walking the bike down the hill with some brake pressure applied really wasn’t that hard. Some may ask why didn’t I just cycle down. Well, I am not insane and Bryan who does take a few more physical risks than I wasn’t either. So our day had a good start except for another dreaded Continental-style breakfast. Bryan is getting a little testy about this and I am sure will enjoy being back in North American with a wider selection of breakfast foods. Me, breakfast never was my favorite meal so it is hard to ruin it.

We are roughly following a path outlined in the book “Europe by Bike: 18 tours” that goes from Carcassonne to Genoa. Alas we do not have time to complete the entire path but will go as far as we can before we feel anxious about getting into Italy to catch our plane in 9 days. Today we decided to vary from the published path which was a good decision. The original path was to go down a fairly, busy regional highway for a distance. Unknown to us, our chosen path actually consisted of cycle paths and took us past a few great sites. First the Canal du Rhône as it goes past Fortignon and Sète is an embanked area in the middle of water. It is strange seeing a water path with walls in the middle of water. This same body of water also had flamingoes. Real flamingoes. Not stuck in the lawn or kept as pets. And yes they are pink and stand on one leg.

It was a nice sunny day again but a cool wind. We didn’t have a set destination when we started and we were in no hurry. To the point that we stopped for a three-course meal at noon in a small town to the south of Montpellier. Very good food served in a wine cellar-type atmosphere. Then we got on the bike and headed back to the Mediterranean.

I rather half-jokingly asked Bryan if he wanted to go for a swim when I saw a man and woman wading out from the water onto the beach. I didn’t actually expect him to say yes but he did. So we decided to get a hotel room on the beach and go for a dip in the Med. Now this is the South of France and the weather is definitely warmer than it is at home, but it is still November. The water looked attractive but it was COLD. I, being female, did find Bryan’s reaction rather humourous as he kept saying “my balls, my balls” as he hopped about clutching his mentioned body parts. It did take some adjusting but I rather enjoyed the gradually-sloping sandy bottom and the interesting perspective that being in the water gave to both land and sea. But after a little floating, splashing, wading, and swimming we decided that our fingers and toes were going numb, although Bryan was no longer hopping about in utter discomfort by that time. He did say it took a long time for his mottled feet to regain full sensation.

For supper we had a surprisingly good three-course meal for only 12 Euros each. We had taken books along as meals tend to take a couple of hours and we sometime just like to enjoy each other’s company without talking. But today, our books layed closed as we mused about the end of our trip and plans we have for the next couple of months. Ahh, real life is coming our way.

Bethany from Sète, November 5, 2006 (82 km)

written by bethany on November 12th, 2006 @ 12:24 PM

Today’s pictures on flickr

So I am blogging as Bryan reads at a table in a restaurant in Sète, a port city on the Mediterranean coast. I had spaghetti and Bryan had Boulabaisse – the famous fish/seafood soup. He thoroughly enjoyed it. I tried a bit and it was okay but while I like seafood I tend to not like fish. The spaghetti was good comfort food and hopefully the feel good feeling will stay with me as I climb the tremendous hill to the hostel we are staying tonight. When we were pushing our bikes up the beginning of the hill towards the hostel we said “Hope it is worth it”. When we turned the last corner onto the street leading to the hostel that feeling was reiterated as our previously steep slope just doubled in intensity. It took a lot of effort to push a fully loaded bike up the hill. And then we reached the gate and there were these long flights of vertical stairs that kept on going. We ditched our bikes just inside the gate. Guess they will stay there for the night. Was it worth it? Well, the view is great but the room is cold and sterile. Perhaps I’m feeling just a little bitter about the experience and it shows. The rest of the day was otherwise perfect.

Today we woke to a fabulous day for cycling in the South of France. Clear skies, a little bit too much of a wind, but relatively warm. We passed a sign around noon that had the temperature at 14 degree Celsius but by then Bryan and I were already in shorts and short-sleeves. It did get a bit warmer too as we approached the sea.

In Narbonne we started the day with touristy stuff and were surprised to see some stores and a large canal-side open market in full swing at 9:30 in the morning on a Sunday. Strange. Very strange. We stopped to view an old piece of Roman road. Bryan hoped that it was a little bit smoother during the days of its use. Nearby was the Cathedral which in one book was described as “a freak but a magnificent one”. It simply consisted of the choir section of a huge gothic cathedral – the nave and remainder of the church having been left unfinished after a dispute arose between the church and town. In order to complete the structure, the town walls needed to be moved which was never agreed upon. So the cathedral is basically a third finished but what stands there rivals Amien’s and Paris’ Notre Dame in scale. The height is even more emphasized by the truncated length. So yes, a freak. But pretty impressive.

After our tourist duties done, we hit the road. Our path today took us through mostly flat farmland (grapevines of course) and ended with a 20 km long ride with the Mediterranean on one side and marsh on the other. The traffic was busy as obviously people were out enjoying the weather along the beachfront. We stopped to dip our hands in the sea and watched a British family dressed in wetsuits play cricket on the beach.

While cycling through the city of Sète we passed another cyclist well ladened who had flagged down a car to ask directions. He was going the direction we just came from so we asked him if we could help. Bryan had correctly deduced that he was German. Oliver was making his way possibly to Gibralter and had just traversed the Med. We exchanged some pointers on the journeys, snapped a few pictures and we went on our separate directions. Now I feel like I’m travelling light. Even if it was almost impossible to push my bike up that hill. And speaking of hill, now I have to haul my tired ass back up that hill so that I can go and make my bed. Au revoir et bonne nuit. J’éspère.

Narbonne, November 4, 79km

written by bryan on November 11th, 2006 @ 12:20 PM

Today’s pictures on flickr

One of the first things I’m going to do when I get home is fry myself an egg. Many of the best breakfasts that I’ve had have been in Quebec, but here in France, it’s a completely different story. Yesterday, our “petit dejeuner complet” cost us 6 Euros (9 dollars), which consisted of a croissant, a “petit pain”, coffee, orange juice, honey and jam. Today we got pretty much the same thing at the hostel. Breakfast in Denmark and Germany was much better, usually with a wide variety of meats, cheeses, breads, jams and fruits, and possibly a cold hard-boiled egg. Fabulous, but breakfast is supposed to be warm!

Sorry for the rant. It’s the little things you miss, isn’t it?

The forecast today was for a continuaion of the cold weather. It was supposed to hit 1 degree last night, with a high of 12 today. I thought the south of France was supposed to be warm! So we bundled ourselves up good today before leaving Carcassone and heading for the Mediterranean.

It was cold, but properly dressed it wasn’t too bad. Fairly hilly, though. Our guidebook complained that there are often strong westerly winds making the trip to Carcassonne quite difficult. We were looking forward to this, since our trip was in the opposite direction. Unfortunately, we were dealt a strong easterly wind. So we facd hills and a headwind today. Ugg.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much about the hills though. We did have some bad ones, but we had more downs than ups, so that was cool. One in particular stood out. We were following a spectacular narrow valley on the way in to Lagrasse. There was a long steep downhill to get into the valley, and then the slope moderated, but stayed downhill. And stayed downhill. And stayed downhill. We kept expecting to have to pay for our downhill around each corner, but we never did. Not until Lagrasse, 10 to 15 kilometres later, did we hit an uphill slope again.

It’s too bad it was a fairly drab, overcast day because that valley was spectacular. Hopefully the pictures show it, but they never properly do.

For additional entertainment a dog joined us for a good part of the trip through the valley. We had stopped to take some pictures when we heard this clanging bell coming around the bend. We were baffled until the mutt came around the corner. He came trucking past us, with a steady purpose, only occasionally putting his nose down to smell the pavement. We passed him a couple of times, but he caught up to us each time we stopped to take pictures. Eventually though he did reverse directions. Going home, I supppse.

Lagrasse and St. Laurent were two very beautiful little towns that we passed through on our journey. They certainly seemed older than anything we saw in Northern Europe. More of a Mediterranean feel.

We passed a few castles up on the mountain tops just before we hit Narbonne. Unfortunately, it was starting to get dark, so we don’t have good pictures. Sunset at 5:30 is really a bummer.

In Narbonne, we went to find the cheapest hotel listed in our guidebooks. It was described as “very nice for the price”. It said “cheap”, but I certainly didn’t expect this cheap. Rooms with shower and toilet were 22 Euros. There weren’t any of those available, so we took a room with two double beds for 29 Euros. The hotel is old and somewhat run-down, and so are the beds, but this is certainly the largest room we’ve rented in Europe! That’s 3 Euros less than what we paid for the hostel last night, and not much more than we paid in Denmark just to put up our tent in a campground!

To cap off our cheap hotel room, we had a cheap meal at the restaurant right next door. For 37 Euros total, we had a 4 course meal with wine. And not a cheap meal: fish soup, escargots, steak and creme brulle. Very nice.

We’re still a kilometre or two from the Mediterranean, but tomorrow we follow it for most of the day. I’m looking forward to tomorrow…