Daily Archives: August 24, 2012

Day 42: San Stino to Venice!!!! – 58k

3,392km down: 2,833km to go

Sadly the talent show did not get up and running as after dinner we walked down the road for ice-cream and then sat around talking.

So this morning we had a 58k bike ride before we met in Punta Sabbioni at 12pm at the dock to take a boat into Venice. I set off about 7:20am as I wanted to get to Punta Sabbioni and hopefully Skype my children. There was quite a lot of traffic and lots of turns, I was worried at one point I had made a wrong turn but thankfully I had not. Jan and Dayna had their first turn at getting lost, but still turned up in plenty of time.

Unfortunately there was no Wifi connection at the dock, so it had to be a phone call instead. I shopped at a cafe where the owner was quite interested in the bike ride (but he did not speak a lot of English so it was not a long conversation). I was the first there and then in twos and threes the other riders arrived and joined me. The owner got more and more enthusiastic as we ordered food and drink, and started bringing out food for us to try. He then started bringing out sparkling wine – at 11am – and was very insistent that we should try it. We ended up being there a couple of hours waiting for our boats to Venice.

Waiting for the boat at Punta Sabbioni

The tour guys had organized for us to do an hour water tour on the way to our hotel. We set off in two boats, and our bikes in another. What an amazing and beautiful city, it is everything I have imagined and more. So many intricately decorated and detailed buildings, the water is only about half a metre from the front doors. The buildings open out into the canal and there are boats and people everywhere. And it is really, really hot – not sure if you have heard that Italy is having a heat wave.

Approaching Venice by water

Sadly about 15 minutes before the end of the trip I decided to look in my bag to get my iPad out to take a photo, and just that one act of looking down was enough to set off my sea sickness. By the time we got to land I felt dreadful. I got to the hotel and slept for a couple of hours, and luckily woke up feeling better.

We are staying at Hotel Atlanta Augustus. Amazing – in my room I have a four poster bed, complete with tapestries.

We had the farewell dinner at a restaurant just down the street. Or I should say the farewell feast. We had Prosecco Frizzante (a white sparkling wine) provided by Tour De Afrique, and Daphne and Shirley. We had numerous courses – sea food pasta and risotto, salad, baked fish and squid rings and shrimps. Then we had limoncello to drink, and sgroppino, which is made from lemon sorbet, presecco, vodka and menthe.

After dinner, Gen, Rob, Walli, Brett and I went down the road to a local bar and sat outside by the canal. We should have only had one more drink (well I should have) but we ended up drinking two really large glasses of beer, I woke up the next morning feeling a bit seedy – with another boat trip in the very near future! Not such good planning.

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Day 41: Ozeljan to San Stino – 112k

3,334km down: 2,891km to go

Today started off reasonably cool but was blazing hot by the end of the ride – 38 degrees. We had a small hill at the start and then it was downhill to the border of Italy – only 7.5k from our camp. It was very exciting, as I have always wanted to come to Italy, and now I am here 🙂

Once again it was an open border, but least it was clear where the border was, and there was a sign so we could take photos.

Italia – I’m here!

There was an interesting town called Palmanova that you have to go through an arch to get in and out of, and the town is set out in the shape of a star. We stopped there for coffee and to have a look around.

The ride today had villages interspersed with long stretches of farm land and a bit of forest. The villages are still really pretty, but not nearly as many window boxes.

One of our instructions today was missing but luckily the first truck spotted this on its way to the next stop before any of us got to it, and they covered the turn with flags so it could not be missed.

After lunch there was a really long hot stretch of highway about 20k long, with a very slight up gradient, plus favorable wind (behind us). I should have been flying along it but my legs must have been tired from yesterday, even though they weren’t sore, and it was hard work.  I stopped for a cold drink thinking we had about 8k to go, but then 1k up the road we saw the flag to the place we are staying – Casa Mia. Yay, with the heat and tired legs today was certainly the day to have the kilometres wrong in our favour.

I have to say the tour guys come up with a range of places, last night was more the traditional sort of camp with a reception, ablution and cooking block, tenting area, cabins (well, bed boxes is what they were really called, and it was a good description). Today there is a house, no reception, two showers like in a guest house, and the campsite looks like a back yard, with a small kitchen for campers like a kitchen in a house.

There are rooms available – one with 1 bed, and one with 4 beds. I grabbed the one bedroom. The lady who owns the house sleeps every day from 1pm to 4pm. So she put me in charge of rooms for any of the riders who came later and wanted one.

Tonight is the last night camping for a number of the riders. Tomorrow we bike 60k then we catch a water taxi to Venice to our hotel. We are having a farewell dinner and then for them it’s all over. We move hotels the next morning to be closer to where we ride from Venice.

I am looking forward to the chance to get into Venice and look around. We have two rest days so I should see a bit of it.

Leaving the tour in Venice:
Gen – is meeting her boyfriend and looking around for a week
Rob – going to Florence for two nights then home
Daphne – meeting her husband who is Italian and staying here to visit with family for  a couple of weeks
Shirley – staying with Daphne in Italy for a week
Walli – staying one night then home
Brian – going home, he is stopping in London to see his granddaughter on the way
Louise and Gareth – going home
Plus Ciran one of the tour guys is leaving. He has done a fantastic job fixing all sorts of problems with the bikes.

We are getting a new rider on the 29th of August. Danya’s dad is going to join the tour for a couple of weeks. If he is anywhere as nice as his daughter he will be great addition to our group.

The place we are staying tonight has a small hall with a stage. Dayna, Jan and I think that as it is the last night this could be the night for Tour de Africa (TDA) Idol Contest, so we are trying to enlist other riders to participate! So far we have had a mixed reception and have plenty of slots left. We will do another recruitment drive after they have had a beer and/or a wine or two!

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