March 21, 2012 (Day 15)
Bike Odometer: 74km (46 miles)
From Mazara Del Vallo to Selinunte and back
Bike time: 11am – 5:40pm (including about 2 hours at Selinunte)
Weather: Mostly sunny – partly cloudy, 70 degrees (and cooler in the late afternoon), windy!
Breakfast at the Hotel Mahara in Mazara Del Vallo was very good this morning. They had some homemade cakes that were just wonderful! They also had everything else we’ve come to know as part of the Italian hotel breakfast.
Mark’s bike wheel was not available until about 10am this morning, so we went for a walk along the coast looking for a grocery store that might have some lunch items for us. Unfortunately, the Coop that we saw yesterday was totally closed down with nothing on the shelves. We didn’t see anything else, but we did see a small circus tent on the beach. We could hear the Pirates theme playing on the inside, and just as we walked up a man with juggling fire sticks came out from the tent. So, I guess they were putting on a show.
Without much luck this morning finding food, we came back to find Mark’s bike wheel had arrived and was installed back on the bike. Perfect! The spoke had been replaced and everything looked good to go.
We got out on the road around 11am and went straight into the coastal headwind! Yikes. We were starting to think of turning around after 10km of crazy headwinds, but luckily we arrived in a small town where we could eat some ice cream and grab some chips and M&Ms for later. Then, our route turned inland. The wind was not quite as terrible, though we still had some headwinds and crosswinds. Our next stop was at an archaeological site by the name of Cave de Cusa, but the walk looked long for a small reward. We did get to ride about 1km over bumpy cobblestones to get there. I can say we’ve now been there, biked that, and don’t need to do it again. Biking on cobblestones is soooo bumpy. I don’t know how they do it on the Tour de France.
The rest of our ride was fairly uneventful. We fought through the wind for about 36km to the site of Selinunte. We passed by many olive and fruit tree farms. The farmers were out today trimming their olive trees and driving their tractors down the road. I saw some sheep grazing under some of the olive trees, even.
Oh, we were most surprised to come across, not one, not two, but 4 different grocery stores on our bike ride today. This is unheard of since we seem to only bike through ghost towns. We were able to pick up our typical bread, cheese, and fruit to eat for lunch when we got to Selinunte.
Finally, we arrived at the ancient site originally built by the Greeks around 600 BC. The site is very large and there are even motorized carts that you can rent to take you around the place. Our tour book recommended 3 hours here, but we only had 2 to spend. There seem to be 2 major temples that are still mostly standing, and the rest are really in ruins. We had lunch near one of the temples. The spring flowers are really making these ancient sites beautiful. The wispy clouds of this morning started rolling in a bit more, so the sun would duck behind the clouds every now and then. We were chilled enough to put on our jackets for the afternoon. I was really afraid someone would tell us we couldn’t have a picnic lunch here, but we were un-bothered as we ate. There was about a 20-30 minute walk between the major temple sites, and we found out later that there was a main road we could have biked down to get to the second site. Oh well. It was really a pretty walk through paths lined with flowers. We even saw new flowers we hadn’t seen before.
When our visit was complete, around 4pm, we started biking back to the hotel. I joked with Mark that there better be a tailwind all the way back since we had so much headwind on the way here. I honestly didn’t believe we’d have a tailwind all the way back. However, we did! Amazing! We pretty much flew back to the hotel only stopping to get some sunset photos as the sun set behind the clouds over the ocean. I do love biking into the sunset and I was reminded of our sunset ride in the Trapani salt flats. I guess I really just love sunsets.
Once our bikes were locked up in the hotel garage, we headed to a nearby gelato shop to reward our efforts with some yummy gelato. Not such a bad way to end the day… =)
Back in the room, we had enough time to clean up and find a restaurant before it was time to head out at 8pm. There were plenty of people out and about in the pedestrian area we found and our restaurant was wonderful. We shared a gnocchi first course and then each had a pizza. Mark tried their “Texas Mexicano” pizza just to see what it was, but it really just turned out to be an italian sausage pizza which we found amusing. It was good, though.
We are learning the secrets to ordering cannolis. At the dessert place we stopped after dinner, we asked if they had any, and they guy went to the back to make one for us. The freshly made ones are the best. Mmmmmm, the Italians sure know how to do dessert.
Tomorrow is our last day of cycling. =( It’s been a great week on the bike. Maybe next time we’ll do the cycling for more than just a week. It would have been hard to ask for better weather for our cycling week, too. It has been wonderful. I sure did pick a good week to cycle Sicily.