So yesterday we cycled to Venice. Well sort of, we kind of cycled, then boated, then ferried, then cycled etc…..
In terms of cycling, there wasn’t much. We rode from the campsite (mosquito infested hell hole – more later) in Rosalina Mare to Chioggia. An easy ride, on a massively main road. Chioggia looked nice – looked like Venice to me.
From there we ‘Island hopped’ to Venice Lido – our final destination.
There won’t be many pictures from here on (save for some of Venice itself) so tune out now…
The rest of this is a synopsis of what it is to travel, largely by bike, across continents, countries, communities.
Firstly, a journey like this, especially the camping, isn’t easy. Sometimes, as in Belgium, it;s appalling. Even on and off trains, a first for us, is not without real stress. So I may be begging the question… Why do it all?
The fact is so called ‘slow travel’ is important. It’s massively important to see, smell, hear, feel, all of the towns, villages in all of the countries you travel through. What do I mean by that… well… there are amazing villages in France, in Belgium (possibly), Luxembourg, Germany. Austria and Italy, and nobody ever sees them. The act of stopping in these places not only serves to really highlight our differences, but also to highlight our similarities. My favourite places on these journey’s are always the unheard of places. The places where no one speaks my language, but it doesn’t matter. It is never the destination on these trips – it is the journey – cliched as that sounds. Already Matt and I are questioning how good Sarreguemines was…. It was good.
So to the trip…. A challenge, as it always is… but for me particularly I think this time. Travelling like this makes you question everything, including yourself, and I’ve spent 2 weeks doing that. Sometime painful, but the zen of turning the pedals always promotes self inspection, and a drowning in some way in ‘others’ worlds.
Roads I am most familiar with, albeit not with 40kg on my bike. Good times were had, especially meeting Craig and Toby
Dover was good too….always good to get out the UK. We’re really not that insular – though some may want us to be.
Belgium, famously, wasn’t good to us… We got soaked every day – and resorted to trains. It was fun, great fun, as ‘train beers’ are definitely a thing. But I have to say Belgium left me flat…and wet…
We moved on to Luxembourg – a first – so would always be good – it was – it was dry.
Though, have to say in reality, not sure I’d go back there. Somehow fake. Can’t put my finger on it, but it feels constructed in some way. Contrived you might say. It doesn’t feel like a country. Apart say, from Germany.
Things got better after Luxembourg – we rode, in the dry (mainly) into France. I love France, perhaps as a result of my familiarity with it, but perhaps because I just Love it. Anyway – France was good to us.
2 days in France were good and I’ll be sure to be cycling there again – goes – always does, without saying.
Germany… My friend. I love France. But Germany, is easily the most together, organised, non stressful place to ride a bike, or get a train for that matter. I’m torn between my love of them both. I guess it’s my Celticness that wins out perhaps…
Germany was great to us and as we rode the Saar – I saw a new side of the industrial heartland of Europe. A lot of it not pretty… but rivers attract industry, and as a result are victims of their own lifeblood.
They do signs better in Germany than anywhere…
I love Germany….
Into Austria – the only country we didn’t actually catch a train in. And into the Alps. I prefer hills…
Maybe a touch like Luxembourg, I’m not sure Austria knows what it is…but it’s great. Innsbruck was fantastic, maybe not as much as I’d hoped for, but was picture perfect.
We had a good time in Austria – albeit wet again…. And the onto the Brenner, and into Italia.
And so to Italy. We’ve spent over 50% of the entire trip here. Not where we had planned. But the weather was fowl and we changed it up, and moved South. South Verona, the city of love.
There’s a lot of love between me and Lamby (Matt), but I’m not sure Verona amplified that. His, now legendary, espresso amaretto incident was more classic Matt, than love affirming.
Dolomites aside, I’ve never really experienced the ‘real’ Italy, and this trip has perhaps gone some way to rectify that.
We spent a couple of days in Verona (I will go back there, if only for the Opera, which someone I know really wants to see. Oh!! Also in the venue for the Giro d’Italia closing ceremony). Verona was good, really good, enjoyed it…
Back to ‘Slow travelling’. I enjoyed sitting in the cafe bar near our apartment more than I did the city. I always do… Why is that?? Simply tourists… hurriedly checking off their so called list of things to see – completely oblivious to life in a city, town, village. I prefer the observation- “what is their ways” – I still don’t know, but I’d like to find out.
In the same notion, back to slow travelling, and back to life. This trip has affected me more than I ever predicted. My job? My life? What is it all about, what drives me – what is important? Will we ever know that?? I don’t have kids and so don’t have the easy way out there – so I question, think, over think, everything. I guess I think it’s important to ask myself, “could I be a bar man in Verona”, “could I be a gondola man in Venice”, “Could I be a sheep farmer in the Tirol”? Could I?
Anyway…Italy. Has been an Eye opener.
A lot of what is to be expected – but a lot really not. The country is desolate in some ways. I have no idea how they make money. But they do do coffee extremely well. I applaud that.
So…why do I do this?? I do it to challenge myself to be in places I don’t know, with people I don’t know, doing things I scarcely you understand… I love that. It’s not just about the bike – though I love my bicycles (Hello Donatella, Tommy zoom, Nellie, Dee – from Crispin and I – I know they read this shit).
I do this because even although it is the Yongs (Lamby and I (Veals)). It is largely a solitude experience. Every road, every town and village, every puddle, pothole, large truck nearly killing you, is a personal experience. And it can only ever make you a better person.
Here is Venice: