After surviving the streets of Paris I made my way across to the river Saòne, where I was united with my replacement kindle thanks to my Dad's organisation, then down to the Rhone where I enjoyed sampling some of the local produce (had to buy a corkscrew first though as the French don't seem to believe in screwcap bottles). Once I made it to the rivers, I was rewarded with days of flat roads winding down towards the sea. There were even times when I thought a few hills would be welcome to break up the days a bit. Eventually these hills came and I realised how deluded I'd become and how heavy my bike is again! I followed the coast as best I could through to Nice where I enjoyed cycling along some familiar roads and onwards to Monaco.
Before I entered Monaco, the lap record stood at 1:14.439. After tearing round the circuit, Mr Schumacher can breathe easily again as I got round in a slightly disappointing 29:52.35! Though to be fair he had a clear track, didn't keep stopping to take photos and didn't stop to chat to a doorman at a posh hotel for ten minutes!
After that poor performance I skipped town and headed for Italy. And what was the first thing I did when I crossed the border? Take some photos to mark the occasion? Perhaps find somewhere to enjoy a celebratory pizza and glass of Peroni? No, both of these came later. You see the trouble with cycling along the coast is that opportunities to relieve one's bladder are few and far between and this has been an issue over the last few days. There simply are no hiding places (apart from on the border it appears).
My first impressions of the Italians are mixed. I commend their desire to build tunnels through hills where the French would make you suffer a series of thigh-destroying switchbacks, and I can accept their slightly lax approach to distance markers between towns where one can reduce the distance to a place by 10km in just 3km (and suffer the effect of the reverse of this) but the Italians' greatest downfall are the plagues of 'motos' (or 'otom's as I first thought they were called as they are written upwards in motorbike parking spaces) which constantly suffocate you at traffic lights and cut you up wherever they can. Thankfully I've just replaced my brakepads as they are being well used.
After a day off in Genoa, I'm heading into the hills tomorrow, up to Milan then across towards Slovenia. This will be the furthest east I've ever been, I'll not be this far south again until Mongolia and once I get out of Italy I'll not see the sea again until China. Have cycled over 3,000km so far and have considerably further yet to go but still very much enjoying it.
Things yet to experience on my trip:
A compliment about my attire, beard and tanlines
A campsite that provides toilet roll
A Frenchman with a beret and onions round his neck (now unlikely to be fulfilled)
A clear indication as to what the point of kettles without plugs are in hostels
A person on a bike carrying more kit than me