CYCLING PUGLIA

What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

It was a fantastic group of people and I enjoyed their company throughout the tour, and the weather was mainly sunny with the occasional shower of rain. Unfortunately I didn't find the scenery inspiring nor the cycling, however the sea at the coast was picturesque the turquoise water shimmering in the sunlight. Matera was extremely unusual with it's caves and layers of houses. Lecce the last town we visited was very pretty with lots of churches, a cathedral and an old roman ampitheater, but neither I would call inspirational.

What did you think of your group leader?

Sara was a very pleasant young woman who came from the North of Italy and did her best to try to please the group and give us assistance with translation where necessary. Unfortunately I feel that she was rather nervous at the beginning of the tour of being with a group of more mature people however, as the week progressed she became more relaxed and we laughed and joked more with her. Sara was unprepared for the unexpected when I had a bad fall from the bike and badly grazed my hand and elbow, she had no first aid kit it was in the van with the driver who was in Ostuni a few miles away. I was badly shocked and in a lot of pain after the accident, however, it was the people in the group who were of assistance to me washing my grazes with water and making sure I was ok - Sara was on the phone and was unsure as to whether the driver would find us as he had no map. So she had no first aid experience and when the first aid kit did appear it was useless having a few plasters and some gel - no dressings and no antiseptic. I can't blame Sara for the first aid kit but the tour organiser should ensure that his group leader is well prepared for accidents which do happen. The driver eventually took me to the local hospital in Ostuni where my grazes were cleaned up and my elbow stitched. He kept getting lost and asking for directions, no sign of a map. I also thought that her knowledge of the area was limited and she was rather unprepared with regards to relaying the history of each area we visited reading from a printed sheet and at times was difficult to understand as her English could have been better. Most days she had difficulty finding the hotels although she did have her Garmin Sat Nav. Sara also had limited knowledge of most of the towns and at times we walked and walked till we found a good restaurant and the food and wine in these were very good so we landed lucky. Sara should have perhaps had the foresight to google the area and find out where the decent restaurants were to be found. On the last night Sara asked us how the trip could be improved so a few of us relayed many of the above points to her which she will feed back to the tour operator. Although Sara wasn't the most experienced tour guide she remained professional at all times and did her best to help individuals with any problems that occurred.

Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Ensure you take your own first aid kit and tool kit if you wish to have a more enjoyable trip than I had A road map of the area will be beneficial so you can direct the driver and the guide in the right direction. Try not to get sick in Southern Italy as the hospital was filthy and the treatment was rough and basic, however, that is perhaps a sign of the economic situation in Italy and is out with the control of any tour operator. If you want decent cycling and scenery don't go.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The tour operator should ensure that his tour guides are more prepared for the unexpected. On a cycling trip the injuries which will be sustained in any cycling accident usually involve bad cuts and grazes, fractured arms and shoulders and in the worst case scenario head and neck injuries. Every adventure activity holiday has an element of risk, however, to be unprepared for such events is unacceptable as it puts the health and safety of Exodus customers at risk.