May 24: Sirmione
After a somewhat mediocre breakfast, we retrieved our bikes from the gas station across the street, where they happily spent the night, and set off for Sirmione with Faye, Mary, the Hays, Howard, Bryan and Patty.
The route today was supposed to take us north, back to the ferry, and then have us cross the lake on the ferry and go clockwise around the east side of the bottom of the lake and then to Sirmione. The riding part was some of what we did yesterday, so we decided we would go directly to Sirmione from Gardone around the west side of the lake. This would give us more time to explore some of the towns we had rushed through yesterday.
Before leaving Gardone, we visited the Botanical Gardens, just a few metres from our hotel. Walking through them in cleats was interesting... It was a nice garden, with lots of greenery, a few topiaries, and some wildflowers. It took us about half an hour to explore, and then we were on our way.
Our next stop, less than 10 minutes away, was Salo' for a coffee. We stopped at a cafe in a nice piazza overlooking the lake, and sipped on our coffees and tasted some of the local baked specialties.
Patty espied a nice gold bracelet in a shop window nearby, and after the urgings of Faye, Mary and myself, bought it at un buon prezzo. I'm sure she'll be sporting it in Venezia!
We climbed back on the bikes, and rode a different way around the lake, hugging the lake on the peninsula south and east of Salo'. We passed through a number of cute little towns, on the way to Deseganzano. We were getting a little hungry, and we stopped at a small cafe at the beginning of the town.
Keep in mind that the best view, doesn't always produce the best food, and this was certainly the case at lunch today! Several people had pastas that were served directly in their microwavable containers!
A few more meters, and we stopped for a gelato, before finally heading off for Sirmione.
We separated before Sirmione, but all arrived in town about the same time. A long time to be on the road for such a short ride, but it was quite relaxing nevertheless.
Our hotel, the Flaminia, was in the storico centro of Sirmione. We had to pass over a bridge through the gates of a castle to get to it. It was very difficult to manuever through Sirmione because of the number of tourists. This was possibly more crowded than Venezia!
We finally stumbled across a room with bikes, and put our bikes there. Our hotel was ride across the alley, and we checked in.
Because most of the old part of the city was difficult to access by car, everyone's luggage had been unloaded and placed in or in front of their rooms. Ours had only one piece of our luggage, unfortunately, the one with our bike clothing!
Ellie and I went to look for the van, because she had something in the van that she needed, and I needed our clothing. A long stroll out of the storico centro, back to the penisula and back yielded nothing. The van was out.
We returned and I changed into clean shorts. My bag was then found in Ralph and Carol's room next door. Phew! I was able to get some decent clothing and some different shoes after retrieving it.
It turned out that Bud and Howard had taken out the van. Bud had discovered that his rim was cracked, and had spent the entire day with the van drivers looking for a bike shop that could sell him a new wheel or a new rim. The first rim he got was too small, so he was looking for another shop that had a good rim.
Howard and Bud missed the evening description of the next day because they were still searching for a rim. Howard, a dentist and cyclist, is also a master wheel builder. After finally finding the right size rim, Howard worked all night building Bud a new rear wheel, with Jerry acting as nipple holder.
Ellie, Bill, Natalie, Tom, Karen, Steve, Kurt, Carol and Ralph all went to dine at a nice restaurant on the water. After dinner, some of us decided to take a hike out to the Roman ruins at the end of Sirmione. Unfortunately, they were closed, but it was a nice peaceful walk there and back.
On the way back, we ran into the Morrisons, and several of us went for yet another gelato. A perfect end to the day!
Sirmione is a very nice city, with lots to see packed into a small area. It is rather overrun with tourists, but after dinner it gets much less crowded when those who are not staying on the island leave. It would be fun to return some day to really see everything.