Day 5 - The First Real Ride

Tuesday, October 22

The breakfast was excellent, lots of delicious pastry. The hotel has a room separate from the restaurant for breakfast.

After breakfast, we met in the area outside the hotel bar for the bike ride briefing. There were changes to the schedule from what the VBT book said. This is a new tour, so they are fine-tuning the routes. Today's route is a ride mostly downhill to the Mediterranean, with time to swim at the beach, so after the briefing, we went back to our room to get our swimsuits and towels. One of the nice things about VBT is the van support, so we just put our stuff in a backpack and put the backpack in the van so we didn't have to haul it on our bikes.

This is from the 2014 VBT itinerary, which is what we actually did:

"After breakfast, we cycle the rolling southern skirts of the Province of Ragusa toward the sea. You will be immediately immersed in the quiet countryside, where miles of dry stone walls trace our progress. Here and there we see cattle lazily grazing in the shade of large carob and olive trees, and we pass masserie and elegant 18th-century villas that still belong to landowners.

"Before lunch we arrive in the little main square of Marina di Ragusa, a typical Italian piazza where at sunset children, mothers and men gather to play, chat and gossip. Marina is a summer resort and its beaches in the summer are perfect for swimming after our ride. You can explore, have lunch and reward yourself with a delicious gelato. From here, you can opt to cycle or shuttle to our hotel and refresh at our hotel swimming pool and spa."

This was a 38 km ride with a really nice 8 km downhill section in the middle. Somehow, Lisa and I were leading the pack. We met Angelo with the van and snacks about 10:30 am, he said were "centuries ahead" of everyone else. I'm not sure how that happened. We stayed out front, with Mike and Lisa catching up to us just as we arrived in Marina di Ragusa at about noon. 

Endless stone walls

Mediterranean in the distance

My favorite bike riding partner

At the sea

Since we were early and waiting on everyone else, we walked around the small town in search of a replacement hair dryer for Lisa. Google Translate helped, and with the help of several friendly Sicilians, we were able to find a 220V curling iron.

Most of the rest of the group had arrived by now, and Angelo pointed out a GOD shop where we could change into our swim suits. The tourist season was just ending, so a lot of the places were closed or in the process of closing. We got changed, but then had a couple of beers while waiting for some of the others to change.

One of the two Barbaras

The beach was nice, but the weather was a little cool for swimming, mid-70s but sunny. The water was cold, so we just waded around some, then back to the GOD shop. We had scoops of marscarpone, chocolate, pistacchio, and mixed berry. Delicious!

Cynda sent us this photo of lounging in the sun after a cool dip in the Mediterranean

At 3 pm, we loaded up in taxis and headed back to the hotel. It was nice to only have to do the downhill, the ride back would have been killer. There was the option to ride back, but no one in the group did it. We all just got in the taxis and headed back to the hotel. We had a nice nap (and other stuff), then met a bus outside the hotel to go to Ragusa Ibla.

VBT says, "At sunset, we shuttle to Ragusa Ibla, listed among UNESCO World Sites for its Baroque palaces and churches. Stroll along the pedestrian streets to discover the incredible architectural beauty here and pick a trattoria for dinner on your own."

We had a tour guide, Melanie, who met us at Ragusa Ibla and led us on a walking tour of the old town. She pointed out a number of interesting and historical sites.

We walked around for a bit trying to decide where to have dinner, and ran into Melanie, who suggested we go into a chocolate shop for samples. The chocolate was awesome, so we bought two bars to take with us. They are just cocoa and sugar, no fats at all, so they keep forever at room temperature. We went to dinner at Il Barrocco, as did most of the rest of our group. We split an antipasto plate, then ordered ravioli and quattro formaggi pizza, along with a carafe of local red wine. We watched them fill the carafe from a big jug, so not top-shelf wine, but very good none the less.

Cynda sent us this photo, she was sitting with both Barbaras at the next table. They were eating lots of mussels.



4 cheese pizza

After a nice walk back to meet the bus, we went to the hotel where the bed didn't seem quite so hard.

A restaurant that we didn't go to.

This is all that is left of this church after the big earthquake in 1693.

Day 6