Friday, June 22, 2007

Assisi Endurance Lifestyle

Thursday June 21 2007

Downstairs in the charming Hotel Pallotta, I again met sisters Sally and Jill, and Jill's daughter Ginny, from Alaska and travelling around Europe. We lingered over cappuchinos and told travel stories again. I introduced them yesterday to the sport of Endurance Riding – they hadn't heard of it, but they had seen “that movie Viggo Mortensen was in – Hidalgo! He was reason enough to watch it!” I gave them an earful of my sport and my job – homeless, stuck travelling around Europe (with a riding helmet, and The Raven) for :)

It was time to switch hotels – Stystema Eventi and Assisi Lifestyle Endurance are putting up Alice Proust (who reports for from Europe) and I at the Fontebella Hotel for the weekend. I figured it was MUCH easier for me to get myself the half-mile or so to my hotel, even loaded down with too many heavy bags, than it was to try to track down someone from the event and then wait for a driver or taxi to first find me, then get me through the narrow one-way streets of the town to my next hotel. I don't have a working phone, as I don't have a SIM card for it, which wouldn't do me any good anyway, since my New Zealand phone power cord does not work with any of my 'universal' power adaptors.

And the biggest reason that I decided to move myself was, of course, was that it was all downhill, and I had a rolling suitcase. The only catch to that was, my bags were heavy, and though I could put one heavy bag on top of the rolling suitcase, since it was all downhill, should the suitcase get away from me, it would become a rolling lethal weapon that could easily mow down some nun or tourist, or smash into a parked car, or through a shop window, or over a retaining wall to a city street below.

It was all downhill, but it was a strenuous effort, holding with a death grip onto that rolling suitcase, sometimes having to carry 3 of my 4 bags for safety's (others' safety) sake, and I was worn out and a bit disheveled by the time I got to the 3-star Fontebella. The staff first looked at me askance, as perhaps I didn't look like their normal clientele delivered by a driver, instead looking more like a worn-out backpacker (like I usually am) having taken a wrong turn. Once they understood I had a room there, they cheerfully gave me my key, and a nice man ported my bags up via a lift, and I partook of the shower, my first of, I'm sure, several for the day.

Alice wasn't arriving till the afternoon, so I chose to walk down to the Misura Village - those white tents going up down in the valley below, the basecamp for the endurance ride. It was one HOT day again, and people were scurrying all over getting things ready for the weekend event – setting up tents, a stage, bars, equipment.

As I wandered around, who says hi to me but Meg Wade and her “groom, assistant, secretary,” Linda Tanian, who I met at the Nowhere Creek ride in Australia in April. Meg was wearing a cute pristine all-white tennis-looking outfit – nothing I would have pictured her in – and that was because her luggage did not make it to Italy! Linda's made it, and Meg's saddle made it (she was carrying it around), but all she had to wear was the high heels and a nice warm outfit that she wore on the plane from a cold Australian winter, so they went shopping first thing upon their arrival.

I followed them around to the stables, where Meg left her saddle, and asked about her horse, which wasn't arriving till tomorrow. There were a few horses there, some bedded down in stalls, some out grazing; there were a few Italians there, a South African man Peter Chantler, and I saw a Slovakian man getting on a horse.

I walked with Meg and Linda back to the tent area, where we ran into another rider... I asked his name, Pedro, from Chile. Ah, I said, “I'm from” “Oh! I've been trying to get Steph to come to Chile, but she won't commit.” I said “I'll come!” “OK!” And later in the conversation, he mentioned Wadi Rum, and I shamelessly piped up, “Oh, I've ALWAYS wanted to go to Jordan!” “You want to come? OK, we will invite you, give me your card and I will email you.” Oh, here's hoping!

And now the scoop on Assisi Endurance Lifestyle 2007:

The Bab Al Shams Endurance Cup 2007 in Assisi is not just an endurance race. There are some 100 riders - 80 Italians and 20 international riders - scheduled to ride in the 120 km race in and around Assisi on Saturday, but it is also a weekend of multiple multicultural events, including a socio-economic “Voices of Arabic Women” convention, an economic international forum, “Italy – United Arab Emirates: Guiding lines for development of a common increase,” a Gala dinner, a dog show, “Momenti Gourmet - gourmet and tasting sessions: the sampling of wine and food based on a concept of fusion cuisine which represents the idea of integrating and respecting international traditions, products and cultures” (oh boy I'm looking forward to that!), live concerts, and a closing ceremony.

The main sponsors of the ride are Bab Al Shams, Misura, Vodaphone; Mercedes-Benz Rossi is the Official Car of the event. There are numerous other sponsors, companies with everything from outdoor furniture to engineering firms to Inrizzardi (who makes yachts, and the electric motorcycles that Meg lusted after and wanted to take for a spin), to cars and hotels.

And then there's the Gala Dinner tonight. I cannot describe this better than the description in “A truly magical evening, worthy of being described as an event of a 'Thousand and One Nights.' Now one of the most sought-after events on the social calendar, every year the Gran GalĂ  dell'Endurance captivates and surprises the lucky guests who are able to experience and attend such a sophisticated, elegant show.

For this special edition of Assisi Endurance Lifestyle 2007, a unique backdrop will create a magical atmosphere and an exceptional experience - Assisi by night: a magnificent natural 'fresco' for an evening that will be organised inside a 'Misura Village' resplendent with lights, perfumes, music and enchanting surprises.

The tables will be decked with an array of flavours, aromas, tastes and colours that will delight the senses and offer a perfect opportunity for conversation and socialising. The evening is intended to be the most exclusive opportunity for Public Relations between the members of the local and international 'jet set' from the world of culture, high society, politics and the economy. Invitation only.”

It was the “Invitation Only” that worried me, which usually indicates something I don't particularly fit in well with,
and when I found Alice and I had an invitation, it was the “dress code” that might have disqualified me. However, I always say, It's not what you wear, but how you wear it. I think I can throw something together.

It goes without saying, The Raven II would be attending also - if he can attend ceremonies with Kings and Princes and Shaikhs, he can certainly attend Gala Dinners!

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