May 29: Venezia
Kurt was still not feeling well in the morning, but it was our duty to ride, so ride we must.
We got our stuff into the van early. I had to repack the van a couple of different times so things were stacked orderly enough so that everything would fit. Because we are getting close to the end of the trip, many people took the liberty of buying something, filling their suitcases a little bit more. Ours are stuffed to the gills at this point. But we were able to get everyone's luggage into the van.
Our bikes were parked in two garages. By the time Kurt and I were ready to leave, no one could find the keys. The hotelier didn't have them. None of the group standing around had them. We were getting quite worried because our bikes were locked in! The worst case would be that someone from the group who had already left had accidentally taken off with the keys (which is what in fact had happened).
So after panicking a little bit, because without our bikes, we were all stuck there, I decided to try to pick the lock on the garage. Fortunately, it was a flimsy lock and was easily picked (I knew college would pay off some day!). Once one of the garages was opened, I was able to climb over the divider between the two garages and open the second garage from the inside. Our bikes were free!
We took off together with John and Birdie. We needed to go by Bassan Cyclery to get a pair of jerseys for Sid and Caryl, our ride leaders, as a token of the group's thanks for a wonderful ride. Paolo was there, affable as usual, and we got the two jerseys, in addition to one for Birdie. We had another wonderful conversation with Paolo, and he nicely printed out a route sheet for us from a map program he had on his computer.
We took a few photos and said our goodbyes and headed off towards Venezia!
The route today paralleled our friend, the Adige. Most of the route was bike path, so we had little to do with cars. But the route was unshaded and it was fairly hot again.
Although the four of us left even later than usual, after some time, we caught up with many of the folks in our group. We tried to keep up a good pace for most of the ride, because we wanted to get into Venezia as soon as possible. With two ferries to catch, it was unclear how much time we'd spend waiting.
We rolled into Chioggia, the point at which we were to catch the ferry, only to find many of our group already there. The ferry was coming soon, so we bought a quick snack and went to wait.
We read that there was a 10-bike limit on the ferry. We counted bikes, and there were many more than that waiting. The ferry arrived, and I told the ticket taker that we were all together and was there any way we could all get on the boat? As the ferry wasn't really crowded, he consented, and we were able to get 23 of us on the boat!
A short ferry ride later, and we were on the long thin island of Pellestrina. Another ferry would take off from the other end of the island as soon as the buses that would ferry the non-riding passengers from our ferry arrived. Sid had told us that if we rode at 22 MPH we could beat the buses and catch the ferry that was waiting.
My bike, being the first one on the ferry, was of course, the last one off. By the time I was on my bike, most of the others had taken off. Kurt and I rode very hard to try and catch a draft from Ken and Liz on their tandem. We caught them, and had to take a rest, drafting behind them for a while. We then started trading pulls, picking up some others as we passed them. The four of us got on to the ferry, just after Bryan and Patti. Steve, Judy, Howard, Birdie and John were also there. I think there were 11 of us in all.
No sooner than the last bus drove onto the ferry than the ferry took off, stranding the others on this barren island. The next ferry wouldn't come for another hour. I was very glad we had made it.
This ferry ride was shorter than the last, and in no time we were on one end of the Lido. The Lido is a long strip of an island, and the city of Lido is at the opposite end from the ferry drop-off point. We rode for several miles, took a right turn, and we were at our hotel!
We parked our bikes, checked into our room, changed into clean clothes and went to get a bite to eat with Ken and Liz, joined by others after a while. We lounged around at a nice outdoor cafe near the hotel and had some panini and caffe. Where we were sitting was on the way we had come to the hotel, so it gave us a chance to cheer on those people who had yet to arrive. It was a relaxing end to the riding part of our trip!
Our bike boxes were patiently waiting for us at the hotel, but we really didn't feel like packing yet.
We were on our own for dinner tonight, so Ken, Liz, Kurt and I went over to Venezia to find a place to eat. We got off at San Marco Square, where an Amex office was.
Ken and Liz were out of money, and were waiting for credit cards to arrive. But they did have travelers cheques, so if we could just find an Amex office, we were fine. Before leaving for this trip, Liz had smartly printed out where all the Amex offices were and their opening times, information pulled from the internet. According to that information, the office closed at 5. But, according to Rick Steves' travel book on italy, the Venezia office closed at 8. We were looking around for the Amex office, getting ready to ask directions, when we noticed a tiled spot on the pavement pointing to the Amex office just a few doors down (see photograph when it's posted). The Amex office was open, and they got money. Score another one for Rick Steves!
Now we had to go to the train station, so Kurt and I could try to procure our return tickets from Bologna to Munich on the 10th. We have been trying to buy these for months, but as the train schedule changes on the 9th, and the new schedules are not yet in the computer, no one can sell us the tickets! It's important that we get them as early as possible so we can ensure that we have a sleeper car to ourselves.
We went to the train station, where I was delighted to find out that they would sell us the tickets! The agent sold us two tickets on the June 10th, 10:20 PM train to Munich. For some reason though, our sleeper car reservation starts in Verona. According to the agent, that's when the sleeper car gets added to the train. I don't believe it, but we'll just have to wait until we get into Bologna to find out. In any event, we got the tickets!
Our next stop was a cartoleria to find a really nice card for Sid and Caryl. As it was getting late, we made many many wrong turns, lots of asking for directions, but finally stumbled upon a really nice cartoleria where we got a card and wrapping paper.
Without reservations, we were unable to get a spot at an outdoor restaurant. But we did find a nice little ristorante where we ate indoors with the window open. Although the service was spotty, the food was good, and we had a very nice meal before hopping on the ferry to return home.