This posting will be an attempt to summarize some of our experiences on Part 1 of our walk across Europe. In writing this, I hope to give you a feel for how the trip has progressed up to this point and also cover a few topics not discussed in our daily posts.
First, a few facts and figures. Up to this point, we have walked 988 miles. We began walking from Athens, Greece on 7 January and ended on 12 March in Verona, Italy, just as planned. We spent 18 days in Greece walking 298 miles. We had planned to take one day off while in Greece, but due to weather, we elected to took off a second day. After taking the ferry from Igoumanitsa, Greece to Brindisi, Italy on 25 January, we continued our trek by walking 690 miles in 47 days through the heart of Italy. We took four days off in Italy, one each in Foggia, Cassino, Rome and Florence. In total, we walked 988 miles in 59 days, averaging 16.7 miles per day. Our longest day was 23 miles, and our highest climb was a 2753 foot climb on a 14 mile day just north of Florence, Italy.
Now a few comments about our experiences thus far. First, this trek has been all we had envisioned it would be, and more. The people of Greece and Italy have welcomed us in every way and we have never felt threatened at anytime. Instead, the people of these two nations have been cordial and have always been interested in what we were doing. This has been despite the obvious language barriers we have encountered. While most people we have interacted with have spoken a little English, everyone has gone out of their way to be accommodating. So our experience with our Greek and Italian hosts has been amazing.
Second, it’s only fair to set the record straight with respect to experiencing the culture of Greece and Italy. Yes, we’ve had an amazing time going from one little town to the next, staying in the full spectrum of available accommodations, eating Greek and Italian food three meals per day for over two months, and just having the privilege of seeing these countries literally one step at a time. However, with respect to “seeing the sites” as a tourist might do as we work our way through this walk, that just doesn’t happen. Yes, we took a day off from walking in the larger cities like Rome and Florence, and we took advantage of that time to do some site seeing. However, when you are literally walking 15-20 miles per day for many days on end, going to see the sites at the end of the day, or worse yet, going off route during the day to see something that might be of interest, usually just doesn’t happen. During the walking day, we’re focused on one thing; getting safely from point A to B in the least number of steps as possible. That’s just the nature of what we’re doing. We’ll have to save the major site seeing excursions for later when our wives can accompany us.
Third, I’m sure some of you are wondering about health issues. As was true on my coast-to-coast walk across America, I’ve personally had my share of problems; specifically, foot problems. As you can imagine, averaging almost 17 miles per day on hard pavement will take its toll on your feet. I had blister problems on both feet for the first month, and still continue to have a blister every now and then. On our day off in Rome, I had to go to the doctor with an infected blister on my left heel. With the help of some antibiotics, that got well. However, my main concern has been a constant burning sensation in my left foot; specifically, my toes. For the last month, I have been unable to put any weight on the ball of my foot. To get through the day, I have had to walk on the inside or outside of my foot. Of course, walking unnaturally causes other aches and pains in your feet and knees. So during our pause in the walk, I’ll be nursing my left foot back to health. Interestingly enough, Dave also has a gimpy left foot. His foot takes a while to get moving ever morning and starts to give him problems at the end of the day. With all that said, we don’t think any of these ailments will linger and we should be ready to resume our trek on schedule in early June.
So with all that said, I can assure you Dave and I are ready for a break at home, but are enthusiastic about what lies ahead. We’ll be spending 90 days of quality time with our families in Texas and Florida, doing a little traveling with our spouses, taking care of some honey-do’s, and getting ready for Part 2 of our adventure. We’ll return to Verona, Italy on 11 June and continue from where we left off. Part 2 takes 85 days when we’ll walk through the remainder of northern Italy, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and finish in Oslo, Norway the first week of September. We so much appreciate all of you who have followed along with us over the last two months. Your encouragement motivates us to live out this dream of walking across Europe. So please check back in on 11 June for more of the adventures of John and Dave.