Mini-Journey: Cycling into Venice

sarasphotossarasphotos Major grinsAugsburg, GermanyPosts: 1,622Registered Users Major grins
edited August 20, 2016 in Journeys
This series is just a small part of our 2014 summer bike vacation. We started in Salzburg, Austria and rode our bikes over the Alps (sounds more difficult than it was...) into Italy and then spent a week riding around the Veneto region of Italy.

The final day of our 16-day trip entailed a ride along the Brenta Canal from Padua to Venice, where we had reservations on the night train back to Munich. On paper it sounded simple: I had read that there was a bike garage at the train station in Mestre, the mainland part of Venice. I thought we could lock our bikes there and stick our luggage in lockers and have a merry afternoon in la Serenissima. Well, it didn't quite work out that way...

1) Our route for the day
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The route along the canal was lovely and then the lovely bike route ended and we had to ride on potholed surface streets through the fairly ugly industrial port city of Marghera in order to get to Mestre.

Upon arrival at the train station in Mestre we were dismayed to find out that a) the bike garage is closed on Sundays and b) there was no public transportation towards Venice that allowed bike transport and c) there's no friendly bike trail between Venice and the mainland.

The thought of spending the last six hours of our lovely vacation in the dismal Mestre train station made us both a bit ill, so we decided to just bite the bullet and find our way over surface streets to the island. We thought "hey, it's only about 7 kilometers, how bad can it be???" We spent about 15 minutes riding as fast as we could along the edge of the four lane divided highway. The Italian drivers showed no mercy and zipped by us as closely as possible, or so it seemed. It seemed like an eternity until we finally got to the causeway that leads to Venice.

We pulled to the side and I spotted the abandoned walkway which was blocked off. Having no desire to ride the next 4km on the road, we lifted our bikes over the guardrail and were joyous at our "illegal route".

2) The traffic zipped by and showed no mercy on the not-terribly-wide road
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3) joyous at our discovery of the somewhat protected route
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4) as we rode along the walkway got narrower and narrower. In the last stretch it was just wide enough for the bikes and panniers - you had to keep in a straight line to avoid brushing against the sides. In addition the ground cover got rougher and rougher - lots of potholes covered by boards!

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5) When we reached the other side, we were overjoyed!

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6) Never so happy to see the city limits sign in my life!

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7) It turns out that wasn't quite the end of our adventure... We had to push/carry the bikes over a couple of bridges (with stairs) in order to get to the train station (just up ahead on the left).

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8) Of course, bicycles are not allowed in Venice and at the train station there is no official bike parking lot, so we changed to "civvies", paid oodles to leave our bike bags at the luggage service and found a somewhat out of the way place to stash the bikes. I took a picture thinking it may be the last time we ever see them...
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9) From then on it was pure touristic bliss. We took the vaporetto to Piazza San Marco and I hung out the side taking pictures and short films along the way.

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10)
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11)
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12) bicycle art
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13) fabulous facades

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14) doesn't everyone have this shot?
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15)
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16) we spent an hour nursing our drinks

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17) ...and enjoying the scenery
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18) many Venetian lions...

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19)
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20) as we were leaving the light was changing
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21)
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22)
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As we got back to the train station night was beginning to fall. Thankfully our bikes were unscathed and after we paid the ransom for our bike bags we boarded our train and had a peaceful trip home, happy to have had such a fabulous last afternoon of our journey.

Thanks for taking the time to read through. Hope there weren't too many pictures or too many words. For anyone that's interested, here's a link to the entire trip gallery.

-- Sara

Comments

  • denisegoldbergdenisegoldberg Major grins North Andover, MAPosts: 10,852Super Moderators moderator
    edited May 4, 2016
    closing the bicycle garage on Sundays and providing no cycle-friendly options to get into Venice just feels wrong (as I'm sure you'll agree!). It sounds like in spite of that you had a good last day to your adventure.

    Thanks for sharing this - both the story and the photos.

    --- Denise
  • sarasphotossarasphotos Major grins Augsburg, GermanyPosts: 1,622Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 5, 2016
    closing the bicycle garage on Sundays and providing no cycle-friendly options to get into Venice just feels wrong (as I'm sure you'll agree!).

    Supposedly there was to be a bike lane opened on each side of the causeway in the Fall of 2014. At the time didn't look as though anything was even remotely being done. As we experienced all during that tour, bicycle tourism is just not a huge priority in Italy. We have been exceptionally spoiled by our travels through Germany, Austria and France. (And I understand that Holland and Belgium also have excellent bike route systems.)

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    -- Sara
  • TravelTravel Major grins Posts: 276Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 8, 2016
    Venice and bikes don't mix. And riding a bike on that causeway NO way.
  • sarasphotossarasphotos Major grins Augsburg, GermanyPosts: 1,622Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 9, 2016
    And riding a bike on that causeway NO way.
    ...we actually saw a young couple ride by us to the left on the causeway! :uhoh I am actually a pretty hardened cyclist but I wasn't about to ride in the traffic on that causeway.
  • Awais YaqubAwais Yaqub One Inspired soul Posts: 10,478Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 14, 2016
    lovely photographs of beautiful place, makes me want to visit it someday
    Thine is the beauty of light; mine is the song of fire. Thy beauty exalts the heart; my song inspires the soul. Allama Iqbal

    Gallery
  • sarasphotossarasphotos Major grins Augsburg, GermanyPosts: 1,622Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 18, 2016
    Awais, thanks so much for commenting! Venice is truly a beautiful (and very photogenic) city, in spite of the masses of tourists. I hope you get the chance to visit someday.
  • sapphire73sapphire73 Major grins PennsylvaniaPosts: 1,625Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 15, 2016
    Lovely photos of an adventurous trip! Thank you for sharing these.
  • sarasphotossarasphotos Major grins Augsburg, GermanyPosts: 1,622Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 20, 2016
    Gretchen, thanks for stopping by and commenting!
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