Arrived in Frankfurt Germany early on the morning of the 8th. Got from Auto Europe my
New Ford station wagon with only 5 kms/ 3 miles on the clock.
Driving 750kms into France, Bourg-en-Bresse Stage 10 of the Tour De France.
The town was sold out and I manage to get the last room in a Hotel.
Learning to speak France comes alot easier when in France. Having my Rick Stevens Franch, Italian & German Phrase book has come in handy. I highly recommended the book for those wanting to travel to Europe. The Motorway has tolls which costs are high, but this is the price you pay to drive 160kms/hr.
The fuel cost Euro $1.35 per litre which is approx $7.50 a gallon, so now I'm not complaining anymore when fuel hits $4 per gallon in the USA. Thank God my car gets great mileage per gallon.
I have falling in love with Europe. Everything is so different and I feel like a kid experiencing this country. The first day I met Brad Phillips a Chaplain in the Air Force & wife from Atlanta America at a fuel station in Switzerland. They were on there way to a huge conference Chaplains and pastors of Europe.
WE had lunch together and felt God plan the meeting. A great encouragement
Arriving the next day in Annecy France which is on a huge lake. Sports of all kinds you could imagine is done here from scuba, water skiing, wind surfing, swimming to Kite surfing, rock climbing, para gliding of the tops of the Mountains, parasailing, boating, fishing.
Met up with Christine & Rob Hemphill a family I stayed with in Bondi Sydney who have decided to pick up and move the two boys Jackson 6 & Liam 4 to France for the next couple of yrs.
I stay a few nights with the family and did the picnic on the lake & a nice 4km fresh water swim with Christine in the lake as well, playing jumping off the diving board with the two boys either side which was a blast for us all.
Day 3 the 11th of July, Christine and I roaded with the Annecy triathlon club and push me on the mountains in the Alps. We started this ride around the lake meeting the crew from the local club.
A 160km ride and I really enjoyed it this time with my Specialize M4 road bike.
Not having my Cervelo P4 for the mountains. I learnt the hard way in New Zealand in JANUARY.
The P4 is not for the mountains. So I'm riding a road bike for the World Long Course Championship in Germany August 1st representing Australia.
Again all my preparation is for Ironman Hawaii October 9th. Everything else is building towards this race.
PM was a 3:6 km swim in the local 50 meter pool on the lake downtown with a coffee & bagel afterwards at the market.
Then a walk around window shopping at real estate enjoying Annecy.
Meeting Marty Jenkins wife from the US Postal Team which were doing a bicycle Tour following the Tour as well. Marty was Team mates with Chan MaCre who was the US road Champion before switching to Ironman and becoming my Team mate for the TIMEX Team.
The evening went fast and I had a blast ordering my first meal in French on my own.
12th July was a rest day for the Tour. Rob, Christine and myself decided we would climb day 13th into the Alps, over and back De Col Columbia probably spell it wrong. This was awesome to experience the same course the tour riders ride the day before and the course was filled with energy as Motorhomes were arriving to take the prime spots and off course riders/tours wanted to do the Mountain, who wouldn't.
13th July. Tour De France was coming to town. The entire Town came alive with thousands of people lining the course with there chairs Team colors and bells. Ben Ferris, Phil from Brisbane Australia, (the same place I was born) & myself headed up the mountain, the first mile Ben & I lost Phil, Christine & Rob, it was that crowded. We were on our bikes off course and I was wearing the King of Mountain Jersey. Ben & I managed to find a great location under the ski village lift carriage in a restaurant and met a few other fellow Australians, South Africans & Englishmen. We had a few beers & a packed lunch which put us in the right mood to really let lose, which that is exactly what Benny did in his speedo's (with Australia written across the bum).
Ben decided to run along with the cyclist as they came bye climbing, which made him a favorite with the crowd of tourist wanting photos of themselves with Ben.
It worked out well putting a smile on Cadel Evans face from Australia, which Cadel was in Yellow on this day. AUSSIE,AUSSIE,AUSSIE.......
Once the Tour went bye everyone left. It was amazing to see everyone come out hrs before to leave minutes after.
I decide to drive around and experience the ski resort in the Alps. Following the course to the top of climb 2 of 4 on this day. Had a late lunch up top and made my plans for the departure into Milano, Italy.
14th July, I drove to Milano after having breakfast with Rob, Jackson & Liam.
Jackson was teaching me French a 6yr old who was extremely good.
Merci beaucoup, Au revoir. Bonne chance, Bon voyage. Je ne parle pas Francais un petite peu.
Thank You Very Much, Goodbye. Good Luck, Have a good trip. I don't speak French, just a little.
Italy here I come, Milano was a 190km drive East which only took 1 1/2hrs. The thrill was driving through Mont Blanc 15,000ft. The same Mont Blanc watches which we know are top of the line watches. The view of the snow was incredible on the top of Mont Blanc, driving through a mountain cost me $50 approx at the toll gate for 15kms and then you come out the other side into Italy.
Buon giorno, Benvenuto to Italy.
Good Day, welcome to Italy.
Arriving in Milano the Capital for Fashion. This was the Dream to come here 15 yrs ago to walk the runway as a model. But found Christ and became Born Again in Charleston South Carolina.
Funny how God has a plan for us as this lead me in Professional sports as a Triathlete. Still I travelled all over the world & yet 15 yrs later I'm staying right in the middle of town in Milano, Italy.
I went to the Center mall and started with a visit to the second largest church in the World. What a site & then a lite snack before dinner enjoying the sun going down with this huge church as the setting.
Wine, crackers, cheese. In Europe people don't go out to dinner until normally 10pm.
The next morning off to visit the Museum, a display of famous painters dating back in the 1400's.
90% of the artist paintings were of Christ. I'm talking thousands of paintings which some as big as a wall, Michelangelo size etc.
Its pretty amazing that a man named Jesus 2,000 yrs ago who only had a ministry of 3 yrs left a mark today in every part of the World. That millions of people worship and thousands of artist paint and preach his teachings. Name me another man who has had this effect?
That is over a hundred plus famous painters from the 1400's - 1875 painted pictures Burri e Fontana a Brera. Incredible! Thank God I believe!!!!! I pray for those that don't.
After 2 days in Milano walking the streets, eating true Italian food & taking pictures, it was time to get back to training in the hills of Verona. Staying in the town of Garda, this place is by far the best place yet in Europe.
Staying at the Hotel Poiano, a 50 meter outdoor pool, unlimited hills and a lake which is approx 200 kms
around in length. The owner of the Hotel is the Count and Contessa which I am a guess staying here until the 26th/27th July.
I get to swim in the second best pool ever, the first being the Olympic pool just outside of Auckland New Zealand in JANUARY 2010.
Pictures to come.