From October 1, 2007:

Ward joins the Slovenia cricket team.

Headline News: American gets off his bike and joins the Slovenia
cricket team to take on the English. American actually scores 2 runs
for the team! Check out the video in Jacky and Ward's photo gallery
and the posting and picture on the Slovenia website

As we were traveling through very beautiful Slovenia, we came across
a cricket game. Ward asked me if I had ever seen the game played
before. I replied, "no". The England and Slovenia teams heard us
and yelled for us to come over. Naturally we did and before we knew
it Ward was swinging the bat. He is the one in blue in the video,
and as you can tell, he doesn't really know what he is doing. When
he was done he was surprised to hear that he had scored 2 runs. We
enjoyed some beer and pizza with the players and had a great time.
One English player asked, "What am I going to see next? I've never
seen an American get off his bike and join in a game of cricket

Yesterday we arrived at the guide house for the Trek Travel workers
in Provence, France. Ward is going to be working for them for 2
weeks or so prepping bikes, etc...whatever needs to be done. Not a
bad place to have to hang out, eh? We have found France to be very
beautiful and, unlike its stereotype, friendly. Everyone has either
talked to us in English or at least tried to even if their language
skills were minimal. We are also trying to learn some french

We are in our 16th country now. Since our last email we have
traveled through Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and now
France. We have noticed alot of differences between these countries
as soon as we crossed the borders.

Austria is rather rich with wide, bike friendly roads. Hungary and
Croatia are poor as they were under Communist rule in the past.
Their roads are narrow and in poor condition. Food and beverage are
still rather inexpensive. Slovenia is surprisingly rich even though
they also were under Communist rule in the past. They are quite
expensive. They doubled alot of their prices when they changed to the
euro and pay 54% in taxes. (We think we have it bad). Their minimum
wage is $520 a month. Italy and France are rich as we know.

Austria and Slovenia are absolutely beautiful with the mountains.
Slovenia is like a hidden secret. We thought mountains with a grade
of 7 and 9% were bad in Sweden. But we have since experienced grades
of 11, 14 and 15% grade. The legs were a burning! Italy was great
for biking. The traffic down the Mediterranean coast was horendous.
They are very aggressive and fast drivers. However, there are so
many cyclists that they are very used to looking our for you. The
terrain in this area is hilly and the Mediterranean is the most
beautiful body of water I've ever seen. You can not describe the
various hues of clear blue that it has. We are in the south of
France and have been through rolling hills and mountains so far.

As we moved south from the Baltic countries the people became
friendlier. Many people would yell "hello" from their lawns, stop
and help us with directions and invite us in. One morning in
Slovenia we asked a woman who was standing at the end of her driveway
how to get to a certain road. Before we knew it we were sitting at
their picnic table, with the family, having drinks and cookies.
Another time we asked a local biker directions to a town down the
road. He not only changed his plans and took us to that town but he
also brought us to his favorite watering hole. While we were there
we met some of the of them being the mailman. After we
left and Ward and I continued on our way, the mailman (Thomasi)
pulled up along side of us on his scooter and asked us if we were
hungry. It was 12:30 and naturally Ward and I said "yes". He
replied, "you will come to my house and have lunch. Follow me." We
did as we were told and had a real homemade Italian lunch with his
family. When we were leaving they invited us to stay the night but
we had to continue on. As a departing gift they gave Ward an Italian
shirt and jersey. The interesting moments are so spontaneos. You
just can't plan for them. Also, it is true that Italians talk with
their hands and like their wine.

We stayed with Oldrich and his family in the Czech Republic. Ward
met him at a Rotary meeting and he invited us to stay the following
evening. He was telling us how we have enriched his life...we
stated, quite the contrary....he was enriching our lives by sharing
his culture and past communist experience.
We also stayed with Klaus and Petra, rotary members in Austria. They
asked us to come a day early so we could have more time to visit with
them. We did and enjoyed great conversation and Petra's excellent

Great Cities:
Vienna - is beautiful (I hear). Biking through it isn't fun and we
only really saw the tires of cars and buses. It took us 2 hours to
make our way through it.
Venice - is very pretty. We took a ferry and then made our way
around the main tourist square. After 30 minutes we were done with
fighting the crowds and found the local area. We bought some wine,
cheese and bread and sat and watched the locals. We loved the tall
buildings and the narrow walkways. Its seriously like a maze. How
would a guy pick up his date or the mailman deliver the mail?

Weather - "Bora" wind storm:
In our last e-group we were having temps in the 40s. Since then we
have headed south. Now the nights are in the 50s and the days are
warming up to 60-88 degrees. We did have 3 rain days since our last
report. We ended up staying at a one star campground from Sunday
night to Wednesday. It smelled like hogs and they actually housed
hogs in the same building they made homemade wine. Needless to say I
didn't buy wine there. It rained both Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday
night it started to get dark and stormy. It was lighting and the
wind picked up. Ward and I thought it was a normal thunderstorm
brewing. NO! It was the "bora" wind (we didn't know what a bora wind
was at that time). The wind and rain got stronger and we quickly
threw everything (including ourselves) into the tent. The wind blew
and swirled so hard that we had to brace our bodies up against the
tent to help it from collapsing. The storm went on for 2 hours!
Neither of us had ever been in such strong winds. Believe me, the
Lord was hearing from me that night. Finally, the harsh winds quit
but would act up every now and then during the night but not so
violently. The next day we found out that the winds were blowing at
80 mph. They said that is not unusual and that sometimes the winds
will blow 100mph for 4 days straight! That would sure create some
bad hair days. They actually have to put big rocks on their shingles
so that the shingles don't blow off! Now we know what a bora wind is.

We are finally in wine country and the vinyards are beautiful. I've
found they do wine tastings quite different here than in the US.
They are much more generous here.
I thought we had alot of good cheese in WI. Oh my gosh! It doesn't
compare to here. There are coolers full the length of the wall.
Cheese has become a staple in our diet.
The hard breads are wonderful and have also become a staple in our
diet. A loaf used to last us about a month back in the states but
now we go through a loaf in a day. Remember, we don't have
refrigeration so we have to eat things that don't spoil if not
refrigerated right away.
Pastas...I didn't know there were so many kinds. Its interesting to
see 5 kinds of cereal on the shelf but a full wall full of various
kinds of pasta. We have enjoyed these with pesto and sicilian sauces.
It is difficult for us to get meat since it has to be cooked right
away and it is very expensive.

Rotary report:
Meetings were attended in Brno, Czech Republic; Baden, Austria; Ptuj,
Slovenia; unable to schedule a meeting in Italy because of lack of
internet access and route traveled.

We appologize that it has taken so long to get this report out. It
has been almost impossible to find internet access in Italy. They
have very few internet cafes and everything closes between 12:00-
5:00. We will try to be more prompt in the future.

Take care everyone,
Jacky and Ward