Biking in Italy: Belvedere Hotel, Riccione

The Belvedere Hotel specializes in biking with its own rental shop, tour guides and mechanics. After a few days in Bologna, I joined a group at the Belvedere for celebrating a friend’s 70th birthday. This was during '“wine week” so on two of the days cyclists from most groups gathered at a vineyard and a winery where the eats, wine and limoncello were outstanding. The food at the Belvedere was also incredible, included in the price along with wine at dinner. Our group tended to gather after the ride and have a few beers or martinis at the bar (not included). Each day offers various levels of cycling, from the leisure group (easy with lots of stops and sightseeing) to the race group (hard!). Most of our group did the panorama tours (about in the middle of difficulty) which offered plenty; climbs and swift descents with lengths varying from 38 to 52 miles, taking in the countryside and transiting many towns and villages including cobblestone streets and castles.

I produced the following video for Jon, the birthday boy, so included photos of members of our party; basically of little interest to the casual viewer. However, this video does capture the party atmosphere and includes one of the downhills, along with snippets of the countryside whilst riding.

Peru: Maras Salt Ponds Transit

Locals at work tending to the Maras Salt Ponds, Peru

Locals at work tending to the Maras Salt Ponds, Peru

The Maras salt ponds were built in AD200-AD900 by the Chanapata culture, pre-dating the Incas. The terraces are known in Quechua as Kachi Raqay and are situated at an elevation of 3,000 meters (9,842’) above sea level. There are approximately 5,000 ponds, each belonging to a local family. The ponds were used to supply the entire Inca Empire as well as the Viceroyalty of Peru. The usual tourist visit at the entrance allows one to peruse just a small section fo the salt ponds. My daughter and I booked a private tour through which enabled us to hike from a small village below the salt ponds into the lower section of the area, transiting the entire breadth of the ponds whilst witnessing the locals in action, prepping the individual ponds for the eventual harvesting of the salt. The entire complex is fed by a singular creek rife in minerals, and the salt can be harvested in essentially 3 levels: the top layer a pure white salt, the middle layer provides the pink salt, with the bottom layer naturally heavy in minerals providing the brown salt. This is truly a unique transit and well worth the hiking to experience the ponds without crowds of tourists. Highly recommended. Photos Here.