Proposed Route: Montegrotto Terme-Piazza San Marco, Venice
Estimated Mileage: 37.5 miles/60 km
Actual Route: Venezia Fusina-Piazza San Marco, Venice
Mileage Covered: 14.43 miles/23.8 km
Average cycling speed: 9.96 mph
Maximum speed: 21.3 mph
Cycling time: 1 hour 26 minutes.
Terrain: Interesting: stone-paved with lots of ups and downs (over little bridges).
Weather: Just fine, a little overcast but dry.
Degree of Difficulty:
(actually this should be a banana split ride -- no pain,
just pure delicious pleasure)
emperors, doges, generals, presidents and heads of state have all, over the
centuries, arrived triumphantly in Piazza San Marco, but none could have received
a warmer, happier and noisier welcome than we did as we cycled around the Doges'
Palace, San Marco, under the towering campanile, and so glided into the
grandest and loveliest square on earth.
A real welcome party was on hand to meet us, and though there were hundreds, maybe thousands on hand -- no, not quite all of them there for us though it almost seemed like it -- as we entered the piazza a great cheer went up which scattered the pigeons and the camera-toting, befuddled tourists: and we cycled into a marvellous banner-festooned welcome of friends and family -- from Topsham as well as from different parts of Italy: our fantastic support drivers Hugh and Harry, Kim, Guy and Bella, Karen and Pat, Margaret, Jane, John, Catherine and Pam, Elda from Padova, Ralph and Marco, Nello's family Enrico, Anna, daughter and friend, and Uncle from Adria, Chris and Maureen, and David and Bunty.
As far as today's cycle itself, it was brief but marvellous and never to be forgotten. We left Hugh and Harry at about 9:30 am at the ferry landing at Fusina that they would take across the lagoon to Venice. We meanwhile cycled up the Brenta Canal for a few miles, then through Mestre, Venice's down-to-earth, terra firma counterpart. The best bit was cycling across the three-mile causeway that connects but also separates and which facilitates that magical transition from the everyday world of cars and land to that of water and boats and a city where time and reality really are frozen and put on hold.
Indeed, it was unreal and fantastic to arrive in Venice by bicycle. Even that mudane -- and by now to us everyday -- form of transportation in Venice is virtually unknown. Indeed there is probably no where on earth more impractical for cyclists than our chosen destination! Still, we made our way to the Zattere, sometimes walking, sometimes riding (very carefully), then cycled along the Giudecca Canal before stopping for an espresso near the Accademia at Bar Gino, where my mother had once lived.
The streets and alleys between Accademia and San Marco were heaving with tourists, and it was difficult even to walk our cycles through the throngs, but arrive we eventually did, at around 11:15 and so managed our brief but wonderful cycle into the piazza and to our enthusiastic welcome party.
And so: the end of our long journey and the start of a few days of fun and festivities in Venice with our families and friends before the return journey back through Italy and France in Plymouth Motorcaravan's splendid camper which has served us so well, our arrival to Topsham scheduled for sometime Thursday mid-morning. The end of our journey, but not quite the end of our trip diary: there will be a summary to follow in due course on our return, together with all the aggregate statistics: miles covered, bananas eaten, etc.
Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to follow and support us and to all of our sponsors -- individuals and corporate -- who have enabled us to reach our target as well as our destination.
P.S. I must mention the magnificent welcome celebration we enjoyed on Saturday night at Ristorante Al Bacco, a wholly authentic and typical Venetian trattoria in the Cannareggio district near the Ghetto. Some 25 of us sat at a long trestle table and enjoyed a magificent feast of the Lagoon -- the freshest shellfish and fish served as antipasti, risotto, pasta, fried and grilled, a time to relax, reflect, enjoy having arrived, being together.
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