The Queen's friend Jean from junior high school, high school, college and then NIH and her husband Don ride a tandem bicycle - specifically a Santana brand. Santana started in 1976 manufacturing tandems and in 1986 started organizing tours for tandem bike riders. They have done 75 of these tours and Don and Jean have been on 39 of them. They have always talked about these tours and tried to convince us to take one. We always insisted that we were not tandem riders and the photo books they showed us of the past tours only had tandem bikes.
Then last year they told us that of the 100 bikes on the last tour there were at least 5 single bikes so we would feet welcome. The only problem was that the trip they wanted us to do was on a boat - stopping at different islands where the boat would drop you off and you would bike to another port to meet it. The trip was going to be to Sardinia, Corsica, Elba and ending in Nice. Most of you know the King does not do boats well but the timing of the trip was perfect since we would be in Rome in October with our old bikes and a brand new Israeli invention, Motioncure based upon NASA research seemed to have very promising results for sea sickness. The King displays the new Motioncure device.
Problem Number 1: How to get from Rome to the port city of Civitevechia where the boat will leave from. Santana was going to bus people, their luggage and bikes from a downtown hotel to the port. We asked if we could go with the bus and they said for $65 we could. Then they realized that our bikes were not in boxes but were ready to ride. They said they could only take bikes in boxes. Since most people were coming from home (US and Canada) they were traveling with bikes in boxes. The Queen and I had been to this port to go to Sardinia with our bikes a few years ago so we knew how to do it. It was an hour train ride in a train with a bike car. The only problem we would have is if there was a strike. Guess what happened on the day we were to leave - a major strike was called. This was not going to be just a one hour strike at lunch time which often happens. It was probably also not going to called off which also happens frequently. We had planned to take a noon train since we did not have to be on the boat until 3 PM and it was only an hour train ride. We learned that the strike was going to start at 9 AM. This meant we had to change our plans and get an 8AM train to make sure we got to our destination before 9 AM. The Queen is on the train in the space reserved for bikes.
This train had a very updated and clean toilet - not common in Italy.
Everything worked out and we just spent the day biking around the port city until we could get on the boat. Photo is of the Queen in the area of the city that used to be the Jewish ghetto. Not much left there that is Jewish except things like the Pizzeria del Ghetto.
This is the port area. Those large white structures in the distance are cruise boats ready to leave. This is a popular port for boats leaving for the Mediterranean and Adriatic cruises.
The Queen is reading her book at the port before boarding the boat. Notice how little we are carrying. This was quite a contrast to the hue suitcases everyone else had.
Catch of the day for this guy was attached to his belt.
The boat was called the La Belle d'Adriatique and held 200 people and 100 bikes. It was registered in France but the crew was mostly Croatian. It was 360 feet long and is dwarfed by the larger cruise boats that patrol the Mediterranean at this time of the year. We signed up and I bought the Motioncure and 10 pounds of crystallized ginger - the other remedy for motion sickness. That is the boat behind the King on the left. It is four stories compared to the other boat which is at least ten and much longer.
The boat has four decks of cabins and top sun deck. The sun deck was taken over by bikers putting their bikes together. It was quite a site as everyone had a way of packing their bikes and assembling them. It took Don about 1 ½ hours to put his bike together. Jean has no role in the assembly.
There was the standard first day life jacket drill. This one seemed important since on the prior week where the boat did the Italian coast there was some bad weather and the boat had to race to port and spend two days there with no biking. The people told us that water was splashing over the fourth deck. This is not what I wanted to hear.
After the lifeboat drill the crew introduced themselves. They were wearing their dress blues. Later we were to see them in their dress whites.