My new best friend is my bicycle. I take her everywhere. As of now, we still do not have our car so my only mode of transportation is my bicycle. We live in the center of the town in Vicenza about 20 min bike ride to post. Many of the streets around our house are for walking/bike riding only, so they are really nice to ride on especially when the weather is nice.
Everyone here bikes. Women ride their bikes in skirts/dresses and stilleto heels. (while smoking and talking on a cell phone). At first it is kind of funny to see, but I am getting used to it now. Typically I ride my bike to post everyday. I go to the gym, check the mail, go to the commisary and get the necessities. I usually enjoy the ride, but at times it is pretty scary.
Why is a bike ride scary you ask??? ITALIAN DRIVERS ARE INSANE!!! In a country where the culture calls for pleasant and lengthy social interactions and laidback ways, these people turn into devils on the road. They zoom and zigzag as fast as their sport cars and smart cars will go. Using no hesitation in passing someone even if they come seconds from having a head on collision. Mass transit is everywhere with huge city buses that drive the same way the small cars drive. Because of the age of the town, the buildings are very close together which means that the roads are pretty small. These roads must accomadate drivers, walkers, busses, and of course-bikes! Also, instead of 4 way stops, here they have traffic circles which is kind of scary if you are riding a bike.
Of course, Reamer has no problem jumping on his bike and entering the world of crazy drivers. He has No Fear! I, on the otherhand, feel differently and get nervous when I begin my journey to the post everyday. For the most part I enjoy feeling the nice weather and seeing people, shops and buildings as I ride around---UNTIL I AM ABOUT 1 INCH FROM GETTING HIT BY A HUGE BUS! (I'm exaggerating mom, don't worry, I'm safe)
Just as I feel nervous and want to get off my bike and enter the tiny sidewalk I see the 85 year old woman in front of me speeding along with her groceries and a nun in full nunswear passing me. (ok, I might be exaggerating again, but maybe not) Seeing all of these Italians gives me the courage to venture on. Everytime I make it to my destination, I'm proud of myself and realize how much I enjoy the journey.
However, there are times when I DO NOT enjoy my trip. Last week after leaving the commisary and realizing that I bought too much, I had to return home on my bike with a 50 pound-stuffed backpack and groceries hanging off both sides of my handlebars. (the extra weight on handlebars make it so difficult to control the bike) I spent the entire walk/ride cursing myself for not realizing how much I was buying. I'm sure that I was a sight to see on my bike with my helmet on (you are required to wear a helmet on post but no Italians wear helmets and usually I put it in my bookbag when I ride through town to fit in, BUT MY BOOKBAG WAS FULL!). My huge overstuffed bookbag which made me hunch over because it was so heavy and plastic bags hanging from my handle bars which made me wobbly. I'm sure all of the Italians laughed at the crazy American trying to accomplish this task. All I need is a basket on my bike which I have yet to find. But believe me, I'm looking!!!!
Finally I returned home and felt pretty proud of myself. After cooking dinner I realized how difficult it was to go from the start of the meal to the end of the meal. Not only am I attempting to cook full menu's (something I used to never do) I have a much more difficult path to take in order to prepare it. It has made my meals that much more satisfying. But seriously, I'm looking forward to getting our car. I still want to ride my bike as much as possible, but grocery shopping will be reserved for the car, not the bike.