All Roads Lead to Rome

Six miles outside the Aurelian walls of Rome.

This is such a well known expression. While “all roads lead to Rome” is an idiom, I don’t think it gets used that way as much these days. People seem to take it literally. Everyone wants to visit Rome. As an idiom, it actually means the opposite, that there are many ways to approach the same subject. No one seems to know if the Romans ever said this. The earliest example of its use in English is from Chaucer. If you want to geek out about this, read this article.

Great place for a bike ride.

On a beautiful sunny day, it is hard to imagine the atrocities carried out along this road 2,000 years ago. The Romans crucifed people, famously Christians, along this road. But, this road was also used as a graveyard and many of the most famous sites today are the remains of mausoleums. This road was built more than 2,300 years ago. In 71 BCE, the famous Sparticus fought along here. Over 6,000 slaves were crucified as a result of that slave revolt. At that time in the Roman Empire, one in three people were slaves.

The large paving stone are original and have the groove marks from chariots.

The Appian Way goes all the way to Brindisi in Apulia. I would like to see it down there too. But, closer to Rome, one Sunday, I decided to go walk on the most well preserved part of Roman road, near Rome. Today, this road is a park and tourist attraction. There seems no trace of the sorrow of the past. And the only armies one sees are joggers, walkers, and bikers.

One can get to the archeological park and join a bike or walking tour, or just choose a spot and go there. I took a 20 minute car ride out to a spot where a modern road intersects with the Appian Way. It seemed so far out. Cars are allowed on the Appian way but there are parts where most drivers choose the highway. The taxi service had no problem finding me when I wanted to return. One can walk from the center of Rome and walk out but the road is busy for the first five or six miles (8-10 kilometers). One can take the bus or metro as well. My taxi ride cost 29 euro each way. It was so far removed from central Rome that I saw bales of hay and chatted with farm hands.

Even the air is fresher out here.

Whatsapp – Graffiti Painted Bike

Sometimes communication requires a different form of “technology” language… when I was getting a custom paint job on my bicycle in Bogota, it wasn’t just that I had to learn more Spanish, but I found that it was easiest to communicate with the store manager via Whatsapp. Acquiring a product like a painted bike requires ceaseless vigilance and dogged constant contact… hence Whatsapp messages, and then magically, two months later, a reality in my possession.

An example of some of the graffiti one can see in Bogota

Yup, I did find it sort of strange but eventually, I gave in… what’s that? Yes, I got my bike painted in a graffiti style as a homage to Bogota. Not in time to use it on Ciclovia, and just in time to pack with my belongings when I moved from Colombia. So, my advice is that if you plan to get anything custom made in Bogota, work on 12 months before you depart.

My Bike Shop in Bogota

My bike shop in Bogota is Rolling Bicicletas con Estilo. The address is Carrera 7 # 47-91. Telephone: 285 2151. Biking is a big deal here in Bogota. Both during ciclovia and because Mike’s Bogota Bike Tours is one of the most popular tourist activities here. 

image001I don’t get a discount for referring people to this shop, despite the number of folks I’ve sent their way. It’s not fancy but it’s less expensive than some of the other shops I’ve been to. They do not speak English so bring someone who speaks Spanish when you go shopping. I’m not sure what their opening hours are but they are open on some Sundays. Apparently, they are quite responsive via Whatsapp.

People told me to buy my bike before coming to Bogota. I’m glad that I waited. My bike with helmet, lights, custom paint job and so on cost around $300. Not bad, eh?

120 Kilometers of Ciclovia

I did it! 120 kilometers of Bogota’s Ciclovia. Okay, almost all of it. The city continues to change the map. So I did what I could on the 2015 map.

The end, the end, the end, the end.
The end, the end, the end, the end.

Sometimes, I’d get to a part that seemed like a simple “stay straight” and follow the signs. Not so. I would get to a part of the marked route, and then nothing. The route would simply end like an appendix (in the body; not in a book). No real purpose (why do we have one?) and no reason for it to end. I’d go down and suddenly it would end. Then I’d have to turn around and go back on the same route I’d just biked down.


Having now spent many days on Ciclovia, I have three wishes:

  1. Provide toilets
  2. Provide opportunities for massages (along with the food stalls, bike repair stalls, brain exercise stalls, and entertainment pit stops)
  3. Make the Ciclovia employees have maps or at least know where they are…
  4. (okay, four) Make the roads connect!

My favorite parts have been down south. Much more to explore. Better prices.

Ciclovia, Every Sunday and Holiday From 7 – 2

Ciclovia blocking access to Septima, the main road of Bogota.
Ciclovia on Septima, the main road of Bogota.

Every Sunday and holiday, in Bogota, 120 kilometers (74 miles) of streets are closed to motor vehicles. It’s called Ciclovia and although there are now Ciclovias all over the world, it was invented here in Colombia in 1974.

There are lots of signs with advice.
There are lots of signs with advice.

Bogotanos love to exercise.  Every day, the weather is always 65 F here, so every Sunday is a great day to get outside and exercise. Ciclovia starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. There are bikes for rent, food stands, bike repair stands, and a vast array of non-motorized conveyances. Hundreds of staff work as crossing guards, counters (I don’t know exactly if that’s what they are doign but that’s my guess), and sign-movers.

All forms of non-motorized transport are welcome - like these bouncy things.
All forms of non-motorized transport are welcome – like these bouncy things.

I’ve seen more kinds of wheeled vehicles here than I knew existed. Tricycles, scooters, duo-scooters, skateboards, inline skateboards, bikes, trikes, unicycles, tandem bikes, quatro-bikes, strollers, and a reclining wheeled things (I don’t know what it’s called). Some people even transport their own stereos in their bike basket.

Is it a street luge?
Is it a street luge?

Not everyone uses wheels. There are joggers, walkers, dog walkers, and bouncers (shoes with bouncy springs). There are people of all ages and all shapes. Even some with parasols.

A worker at an intersection and various types bikes behind her. The green one is a four person bike.
A worker at an intersection and various types bikes behind her. The green one is a four person bike.

And lots of dogs.

A duo-scooter? This is the first I've ever seen. Where can I buy one?
A duo-scooter? This is the first I’ve ever seen. Where can I buy one?