This is our 10th bike trip in Europe!
Our granddaughter is with us again.
Parts of the trip will be repeats of other trips.
Here is the proposed itinerary:
The link in the Route column will take you to a map of the route for that day in Ridewithgps.
|Sept 4||Mon||Midjrecht||20||20||Day 1|
|Sept 5||Tues||Utrecht||30||50||Day 2|
|Sept 7||Thur||Amersfoort||30||95||Day 4|
|Sept 8||Fri||Apledoorn||50||145||Day 5|
|Sept 10||Sun||Arhhem||40||205||Day 7|
|Sept 11||Mon||Nijmegen||25||230||Day 8|
|Sept 12||Tues||Kalkar||37||267||Day 9|
|Sept 13||Wed||Wesel||42||309||Day 10|
|Sept 14||Thur||Duisberg||45||354||Day 11|
|Sept 17||Sun||Dillingen||57||421||Day 14|
|Sept 18||Mon||Donauworth||35||466||Day 15|
|Sept 19||Tues||Neuburg||39||505||Day 16|
|Sept 20||Wed||Vohburg||42||547||Day 17|
|Sept 21||Thur||Regensburg||72||619||Day 18|
|Sept 23||Sat||Worgl||20||639||Day 20|
|Sept 24||Sun||Schwaz||38||677||Day 21|
|Sept 25||Mon||Innsbruck||34||711||Day 22|
|Sept 27||Wed||Nauders||5||736||Day 24|
|Sept 28||Thur||Colandro||62||798||Day 25|
|Sept 29||Fri||Merano||38||838||Day 26|
|Sept 30||Sat||Bolzano||36||874||Day 27|
|Oct 2||Mon||Trento||70||944||Day 29|
|Oct 3||Tues||Ala||46||990||Day 30|
|Oct 4||Wed||Verona||64||1054||Day 31|
|Oct 8||Sun||Fly home||20||1079||Day 35|
Sunday September 3 – Toronto to Amsterdam
Son in law Johnny took us to the airport. No problem for him to load and unload the bikes. I checked my panniers with the Allen key for the handle bars before turning them! Judy’s and Faye’s turned ok, but mine would not. I found a big salesman in a baggage store who was able to turn them. We met a couple who were off to Germany to do a triathlon. Their bikes were in sturdy boxes. We left on time.
Monday September 4 – Schiphol to Midjrecht – 18.5km
Flight on time about 1 pm. After immigration our bikes arrive around 2. Took about an hour to get them sorted out. After coffee and phone charging and a stop at a supermarket in the airport, we were going by 5. Overcast and about 20C, we bike out of the airport on well marked bike paths. We head south into the wind – strong enough to feel. Lots of bike traffic as we have bike paths all the way. Quite a few scooters go zipping by.
Saw our first windmill of the trip!
Faye is navigating and we find our b&b no problem just before 6. Our hostess has a three storey townhouse. Faye has a room on the second floor. Judy and I get another flight of stairs to ours on the third floor! We have coffee with Mrs de Jong. We walk about 500 m to town and have a good meal.
Tuesday September 5 – Midjrecht to Utrecht – 29km
Overcast and 20c. Great breakfast at our B&B. Away about 10am. Bike into Midjrecht center. Small Town, not very busy.
Out of town there are open Fields. Windy again from the south. As we are going SW we feel the pain! We find a shorter route to Utrecht that goes along a canal.
Once in Utrecht we stop for lunch. Great tosti sandwiches. Lots of cyclists. In the center we buy a SIM card for Faye’s phone at T-Mobile. In nearby square we stop for a drink. Faye has her first legal drink!
It starts to rain hard, so we get further under the umbrella. The rain stops so we head to our Vrienden op te fiets home.
Here we have all of the third floor. Our hosts welcome us with coffee and Cake. It is about 1.3km to walk into the city. We get on the Oudegracht canal which has lots of restaurants. It starts to rain so to eat outside, we have to find one that is covered. We decide on Italian and have pizza. We split a large piece of tiramisu – very good! We still need ice cream but the one we found had just closed.
Wednesday September 6 – In Utrecht
We have a later breakfast as we have a full day here. Our hosts have 8 small chickens. Four of them perched outside the window and watched us eat! We walk into the city and head to the Dom Tower. 456 steps later and we are at the top! Windy but great views. The tower used to be part of the large Cathedral. A tornado knocked out part of it in 1674, leaving the tower separate from the rest of the cathedral.
After lunch, we walk around the canals, then Judy and I do the Dom under tour. Faye does her own thing. In the 1930s the square between the Dom and the Cathedral was dug up. They found Roman and middle age ruins. The area under the square has been made into a museum. Lots of Roman stuff on display.
Dinner is along the Oudegracht canal. It is too cool to sit outside. But we eat German style with me getting the wurst of it. Unfortunately, the ice cream shop had just closed.
Thursday September 7 – Utrecht to Amersfoort – 24km
We get away in good time. Overcast but no rain. We have a short ride today heading east. We get some help from the SW wind. Again great bike paths take us into Amersfoort.
Separate signals for bicycles with a count down display telling you to wait (Wache).
The last stretch into the center was downhill! Amersfoort is quite large with a number of canals. After lunch we bike around. We decide not to climb the church tower which is just about as tall as Utrechts. Our next B&B is near an old gate. We have the third floor to ourselves. There is a fridge with things for breakfast in the morning. It is a short walk into the center. It is cool out but we still have gelato after dinner.
Friday September 8 – Amersfoort to Apeldoorn
It rains hard over night and is still raining in the morning. The forecast is for rain all day. So we sleep in and decide to take the train. Slight drizzle as we bike 1.5km to the station. We buy tickets from a machine without any problem. Separate tickets for the bikes. The 1pm train is busy but there is room for our bikes. 24 minutes to Apeldoorn. Rain again as we head into town. Lunch under a canopy. We phoned our host who said we could come early. Short wet distance to get there. We have two rooms on the second floor. Have coffee and a chat. The rain keeps coming. We walk in the rain 200m to a hotel with a restaurant. Good meal.
Saturday September 9 – In Apledoorn – 8km
Overcast and Cool again. We Bike the short distance to the Palais het Loo. This is the former home of the Dutch Royal family. The grounds are large. We visit the former stable buildings where a variety of old coaches and cars are displayed. We get the audio headphones to lead us around. Amazing how much the monarchies of the UK and Europe are intertwined. The palace is huge with different rooms for each of the following rulers.
A little rain cuts our trip short. Later the rain stops and we Bike into the city for dinner. This works out well as we return with me leading with a front light and Faye at the back with a rear light.
Sunday September 10 – Apeldoorn to Arnhem – 44km
Overcast and cool again! Not long after leaving our B&B Judy hits a 2in high curb and falls down. The curb was hard to see as the bike path, curb and sidewalks were all grey. Fortunately she was not badly hurt.
We head to the national park to visit a Van Gogh museum. We found that it would cost about 60 euros to get into the park and visit the museum. So we passed. We have a hill to climb which gets us puffing. The route has a lot of minor roads which are shared with courteous drivers. We find a busy restaurant for lunch. Lots of bikers out on Sunday. We missed the turn to the Commonwealth war memorial, but did get to the Airborne museum in Osterbeek. We meet a Canadian woman who noticed our flags. Interesting chat. We stop for a drink at a Turkish restaurant along the Rhine. We find our B&B where we have a sitting room and private bathroom. Although Faye’s room is 2 floors up. We have an excellent meal at the Turkish restaurant we had a drink at.
Monday September 11 – Arnhem to Nijmegen – 23km
Our hostess is quite a cyclist as well as a walker. She recommended going to the northern Dutch islands. Today the wind is blowing in In our faces. Fortunately we are not going far. Still it is a tough day. We have two large bridges to cross where we are really exposed to the wind.
Here is the long one over the Rhine.
We had a look at some old ruins, had a most appreciated drink, then found our B&B. We eat at a restaurant nearby run by people who are out of work and trying to get a start at a career. Quite good. They also have ice cream in cones.
Tuesday September 12 – Nijmegen to Kalkar 44km
The sun came out for the start of the day. We are going east with the wind from the SW. Finally we are getting some help from the wind! We have a hill to climb as we leave Nijmegen. We cross into Germany without seeing a border sign. Kaffee in Kranenburg. The route has a mix of on road and off road biking. The helping wind is appreciated. We stop in Kleve for lunch. After lunch we were about to leave when a thunderstorm hit. We were able to shelter under an awning until it stopped. The bike path is separate from the road. On most of the cross roads we have the right of way.
We stop at Moyland Castle expecting to see some restored rooms. Unfortunately it had been refurbished and turned into a museum/art gallery. Didn’t stay long!
In Kalkar we find a cafe for a drink. Our B&B is over a km from town. It is a newer home owned by a Dutch couple. We have two rooms plus a seating area and our own bathroom. Very nice.
We bike into town and have an excellent meal at the Ratskeller restaurant. Great schnitzel. Lights on for the ride home – no problem.
Wednesday September 13 – Kalkar to Wesel – 36 km
Heavy rain early in the morning and then drizzle as we ate breakfast. Windy as well. We have an interesting chat with our host. A lot of tax implications for a Dutch person living in Germany.
The rain has stopped and we bike with the wind on our rear quarter. The bike path is once again separate from the road. The wind is blowing 30 gusting to 50km. It changes directions occasionally. When it gusts from the side we are blown sideways. Must be like what the Tour de France riders feel with the cross winds.
We blow into Xanten for lunch. A pretty city with some of the old Wall and gates standing. Past Xanten we are going along the Rhine. Lots of farm land. As we get closer to the large bridge over the Rhine, we need advice on how how to get up on it. A man points to the tunnel which we have to go through to get the ramp up to the bridge. A long climb up the long bridge with the wind mostly behind us. We are exposed to the wind as we bike along. A little scary when we get the cross winds. We bike across the city and try to find our B&B. The street takes a few turns around and it takes a while and the help of a neighbor. It is an old house with an addition on on it. The husband is a theologian who’s visiting Palestine. Our hostess is an artist. A lot of her art on display.
Thursday September 14 – Wesel to Duisburg 4km
It is cold, raining and windy. The route today swings south. The wind continues from the SW. We decide to take the train. There are trains every half hour directly to Duisburg. We are glad we are going by train as we bike to the train station, getting cold and wet. A 40 minute train ride and we are in Duisburg. After lunch we find our hotel. An Ibis budget hotel. Reception is closed so I use the check in terminal to pay and get our room information. You get a 6 digit code which opens the front door and the room door. We have 2 rooms which are basic but functional. We decide to go out to the newly renovated dock area for a coffee. We get about 20 meters on our bikes then decide it was too wet and cold and go back to the hotel. We are able to get coffee in the supermarket next door.
By dinner time it is pouring rain. We get umbrellas from the hotel and walk 300 my to a Greek restaurant. Good meal.
Friday September 15 – Duisburg to Ulm. Train
Cool and windy but no rain! Today we have a planned train ride to Ulm. Breakfast at the the hotel is good. We get to the station no problem. Buy lunch stuff. Find the elevator to the platform and get on the train. We have bike spots booked as well as seats. Panniers come off.
Train quite full. A couple of groups off for the weekend. Some drinking and singing. Happy crowd. A couple of stations are closed so we end up arriving early in Ulm. Some juggling of bike loading required as the bike area is limited. During the trip we have a mix of rain and sun. It is cool and cloudy in Ulm. We ride into the center to see the Munster – the tallest church spire in the world!
Our hotel is across the Danube river, about a km from the center. We have 2 rooms. Ours has a separate sitting room. We figure out how the heating works – good old fashioned water heaters! They work well. Good thing as we are going to need heat. We walk in and find an Italian restaurant on the Danube. We sit outside for a few minutes before getting too cold. Unfortunately the ice cream shop closes just as we get there.
Saturday September 16 – In Ulm
At 9C it is cold. We have a very good breakfast at the hotel. Large breakfast room with an extensive buffet. We head into town late morning with the forecast being 40% chance of rain all day. We find a small orchestra playing in front of the Neu Ulm city hall, a block from our hotel.
Sunday September 17 – Ulm to Dillingen – 55km
We are pleased with the heating in the room as we needed it overnight. It is cold again with some fog. The forecast is for 60% chance of rain in the afternoon. I have memorized the train schedule just in case! Turns out we did not have to worry. It was cold to start but little wind. There was a marathon passing in front of our hotel. Hundreds were competing.
Once out of the city we bike along the paved path quickly (at least for us it was quick). The Danube is quiet here. The sun comes out. It is quite pleasant.
There are a few stretches of gravel paths. Coffee in Leipheim, where Faye has a sundae. Lunch is in a very nice German restaurant. We have 29km left. We make good time with the wind at our backs. A few drops of rain was all we got from a 60% chance of rain forecast. We ride through a few small towns. Some is through woods away from the river. Our hotel is away from the center. One room with 3 beds. Modern. Dinner is at another typically German restaurant.
Monday September 18 – Dillingen to Donauworth – 28km
Cold again -. 6C when we got up. Another 60% chance of rain day. We shall see! There are 2 routes to take to Donauworth. The bike path route is 33 km. The follow the road route is 27 km.
Given the clouds and cold we choose the shorter route. The bike path is once again separate from the road. With a little wind from behind we make good time. A brief shower causes us to put rain gear on.
We stop in Schwenningen at a large gasthof for coffee. We make it to Donauworth for lunch. We share an excellent plum tart for dessert. Our hotel is near the center. Very modern, except the elevator does not work! We can always use some more exercise!
Tuesday September 19 – Donauworth to Neuburg – 41km
Cold again – 6C. 80% chance of rain. At least the wind is blowing from behind. We have a sleep in. Great breakfast buffet. We decide to bike. It is cloudy. The first part of the ride is along highway. Unfortunately there are hills! We walk up a couple. Stop in Marxheim for coffee. More hills follow! We can’t find a place for lunch, so have apple and nibbles.
We come to a junction where the bikeline book shows one way and the bike sign says another. The bike sign direction is up a hill. The bikeline book route is marked with a “no bikes allowed sign”. We take the bikeline one and after a km and some mud we find the path closed by construction equipment.
More walking and some swearing. We are only 7km from Neuburg but end up having a couple more hills to go up. It was a tough ride. Finally we get to Neuburg. It is 4:15 and we are way overdue for lunch. We find a place and have a platter of fried stuff. As we bike to our hotel it starts to rain – can’t really complain given we only had a few sprinkles all day. The hotel is near the center so we don’t get too wet. Our room is supposed to have 3 single beds. One is sofa bed and not that comfortable. We complain and they bring a single mattress to cover the bed, which makes it better. The manager gave us a reduction after I complained.
Wednesday September 20 – Neuburg to Vohburg – 42km
Cold again! But forecast is 60% rain In the morning and 40% In the afternoon. The first part is along a highway then we head into fields. Schloss Grauner is a hunting lodge!
We stop for coffee and a bite to eat in Weichering at Gasthof Vogelsang. Traditional German restaurant. Soup for me and salad for Faye. Through field and forest we make it to Ingolstadt. It starts to rain so we find a place to stop under an umbrella. Interesting Rathaus in the center. We continue along the river, sometimes up on the dike, sometimes below. The dirt path was wet from earlier rain. We got a little muddy. Then sun came out!
We shed coats and rain pants. It was great with a little wind behind us. We find our hotel in Vohburg and have to phone to get the owner to check us in. It is an older gasthof that’s sort of on holiday. We have a nice room with 3 proper beds!
Vohburg is a small town so there are only a few restaurants. We pick the Italian one across the street. We stayed here in 2004 and found the hotel we stayed in. Talked to the owner who said his uncle owned the hotel back then but had just passed away 3 weeks before.
Thursday September 21 – Vohburg to Regensburg – 21km
. We have sun to start the day. Still cool, but little wind. We bike to Neustadt over a mix of paths.
Our plan is to get the train past a large hill. In the end we take the train all the way to Regensburg. We get buns made at a butcher shop. They were good on the train. Bikes on and off without any problem. Regensburg train station is large. We have train tickets for our trip on Saturday for ourselves, but could not book tickets for the bikes online. So get them here.
Into the city for a drink. Then get instructions on how to get into our apartment, which will be our home for 2 nights. Once we figure out how the sofa bed worked it was fine. With a full kitchen we are all set. We eat out at a Croatian restaurant. Very good. Had a silovice to end the meal.
Friday September 22 – In Regensburg
With a day off, we sleep in. I go across the street and get coffees and bread for breakfast from a bakery. Late morning we head into the city which is not far away. We have a very touristy day. Lunch at the old wurst kitchen by the old bridge. Not wanting a full meal, we have 3 little wursts on a bun. We were not allowed to sit at one of the picnic tables as we had not ordered a full meal! Coffee in front of the Dom, then a visit to the Dom.
Icecream cones followed by beer at the Hofbrau knockoff pub.
We pick up salad at a supermarket and eat in. The apartment has worked out well.
Sunday September 24 – Wörgl to Schwaz – 40km
The forecast is once again not good. It is raining hard when we wake up. It has stopped by 9am. After a good breakfast the sun peaks through.
After thinking that we would have to take the train, we head off on our bikes. It is cold to start but starts to warm up as the sun came out. Lots of clouds around – for a while we stay just ahead of a nasty looking one, then it heads away from us. Beautiful views of the mountains all day.
Weget lost for a while and decide to have lunch. Faye gets online and uses Google maps to plot a route to Schwaz. We get back on track with the sun coming out. I am able to strip down to a T-shirt for a while!
We find our hotel with out any problem.
Monday September 25 – Schwaz to Innsbruck – 35km
The best forecast of the trip – 0% chance of rain in the morning, 20% in the afternoon, with a high of 20C!
Wehave a great day on the bikes. Some fog early and a few clouds to add to the pictures. The valley gets narrower and the mountains higher. One wonders how the folks with homes high up the sides of the mountains get up there in the winter. We pass by the Swarovski factory in Wattens. We had seen it on our previous trips but never gone in. There were many more buildings in the factory complex than before.
We biked in but decided that the $30 entry fee each was too steep.
We passed the 500 km mark for the trip.
Innsbruck is a large city with lots of tourists. Our hotel is on the other side of the river from the center but only a few hundred meters away. Judy’s rear wheel was wobbly so we took it to a bike shop. Had quite a walk before we found it. No problem to get it done. Out for drinks at the bar we had been to on our two previous trips. Light dinner then the obligatory ice cream cone.
Tuesday September 26 – In Innsbruck – 14km
Great breakfast buffet. We laze around for a bit then bike to where we thought we could get the tram up to Igls. From there the plan was to get the cable car up to Patcherhofental mountain. We find that the tram only runs on weekends. We find a bus employee who explains it all to us. He tells us to get on the street car he is in charge of which will take us to a bus which will take us to Igls. Our bikes are a tight fit but passengers are accommodating. We get a tour of the city. I chat with a man with a walker who had been to Canada and the US on business years ago. He tells us us where to get off. We get on the J bus to Igls. The bikes are an even tighter fit. The bus heads up a steep hill. Judy is given a hard time by a woman for having her Bike on the bus. After we get off we see that there are bike racks on the back of the bus! We lock the bikes up in front of the tourist office. We have a light lunch and walk up to get the cable car. We have to switch cars part way up. We end up at 1982m. Great views on a beautiful day! No complaints about the weather today. We take a path part way to the top.
We come back down and visit the restaurant patio for drinks and apple strudel.
After the return trip on the cable car, we get on the bikes and have a fast trip down the hill into Innsbruck.
We have drinks by the Golden Dachl. Dinner is outside. A little cool, but have to do it while we can.
Wednesday September 27 – Innsbruck to Nauders – 5km
Train and bus day to get up the alps to Nauders. Another beautiful day. We get the train to Landeck further up the Inn river. No problem getting the train. (Although I couldn’t get the automatic ticket machine to work!) The strap for holding the bikes is a little different.
Lunch in Landeck train station. Bus station just outside. No trailer on the bus this time. There were racks for 5 bikes on the back. The driver loaded them. The bus is full of students heading home. An hour later and we are in Nauders. A short ride to our pension. We stayed here in 2011. Here is the view from our balcony.
Thursday September 28 – Nauders to Schlanders – 47km
The first 7 km up to the Reschen pass is pretty steep. So we have booked a shuttle van to take us up. A VW mini van arrives from Schmid Shuttle Bus. A very helpful driver loads our bikes and takes us just past the pass. He tells us that the bus company is a family one – been going for 60 years! They shuttle bikers all over northern Italy and into Austria.
The next lake is not so friendly as we encounter some hills along it. Then we have a long stretch of real downhill riding. The Adige river starts during this stretch. Mountains on both sides. It is beautiful!
We have a little uphill to get into Schlanders. Our hotel is near the center. The owner is a real joker. Speaks good English. Our room is ultra modern. Faye has her own room.
Supper is pizza and salad. Our hotel has an outdoor patio where we have after dinner drinks. Faye and I have Aperol spritzers.
Friday September 29 – Schlanders to Merano – 38km
Very good breakfast buffet. We were not charged for the drinks last night at the hotel. Complementary! For the first time I put on shorts! The high is supposed to be 23C.
Still need sweatshirt and a light jacket. Short ride to the river trail. Off we go down hill again. The river gets larger. Lots of apples being picked. 10% of the apples grown in Europe are grown here in the South Tyrol province of Italy. We see cars from Rumania, Slovakia and Poland by the apple orchards. We assume they have come to pick apples.
Until just before Merano, the slopes are not too steep. We see a lot of bikers with E-bikes going up the path, as well as down. Not fair! Didn’t see as many E-bikes the last time we were here in 2011. Just outside Merano there is a 7 bend switch back. Here are videos of Faye and Judy heading down.
This is the valley we are going to.
The center of Merano is busy on a Friday afternoon. We stop for a drink by the river. Our hotel is 1.5km from the center. It is part of a cafe – restaurant. It was hard to get the full attention of the lady who was also serving in the cafe. The room is a little run down. We choose a restaurant nearby and have our worst meal of the trip. The pesto penne was tasteless. There was a young girl at the next table wearing a Canada sweatshirt. We learned that her father was a big hockey fan.
Saturday September 30 – Merano to Bolzano – 32km
We have the worst breakfast of the trip. Hotel Daniela got a poor rating from us.
The weather is decent although there is some fog around. Another shorts day! The route today is not steep. A lot through apple orchards and along the river. Lots of bikers out on a Saturday. Again we saw a lot of E-bikes. Maybe one day we will need them, so better not make any smart comments. The mountains are mostly covered by fog, so we do not get the best view as the Dolomites appear.
Coffee at a small raststop which had charging stations for E-bikes.
We bike into Bolzano and park in the main square. Faye and I have Aperol spritzers and a full meal. Our one room apartment is only a couple of blocks away. We phone the lady who will meet us there and get installed. The room has a double bed and a bunk bed. There is a kitchenette and table and chairs. Nice spot. Faye does not want to go out for dinner. We get soup and salad for her at a supermarket. Judy and I head out and find a music festival around the corner from us. Variety of drinking options out on the street. We find a restaurant nearby and have excellent spaghetti Bolognese. Busy place on Saturday.
Sunday October 1 – In Bolzano
After a number of days without rain, we get it all morning and into the afternoon. We go out for lunch but the rain has driven most people into the restaurants. We get some things at a street market and eat in our room. It is too overcast after the rain stops to try the cable car so we opt for drinks in the square. We visit the church in the square and hear an organ playing.
We find a neat restaurant with a basement room. It fills up quickly. Good food.
Monday October 2 – Bolzano to Trento – 67km!!!!
We get away fairly early after breakfast in the apartment. A quick coffee next door and we are going. Another nice day – a shorts day! The bike paths in Bolzano are very good and we get out of the city quickly.
There is some fog in the air which covers the mountains as we leave the city. Fortunately the sun came out and drove the fog away.
The Dolomites are beautiful. We do have wind against us which slows us down. It is not steep here.
Atone photo stop we chat to a German couple who are biking with folding bikes. Lunch in Ora was a cold meat plate with bread and a salad. More views of the Dolomites and more wind.
It is getting warm so the jacket came off. We stop for a drink and are joined by the same German couple. We chat with them for a while.
Today is a long ride – 66km and it is getting late. Jacket back on. The wind picks up and gets gusty. No fun! The clouds appear and the mountains lose their brightness. 10km before Trento we have a lengthy deviation around a river that is part of some kind of nature area. We had to bike 3km uphill inland, then across a bridge over the river, then 3km back down the hill to continue our ride!
Some more wind then we reach Trento. We are able to find our hotel quite easily. Once again after booking a room with 3 proper beds we got a double plus a cot. After complaining we got a room with 4 beds.
Out for a late dinner which was quite good. Even a free sample beer!.
Tuesday October 3 – Trento to Ala – 46km
Another cool start with fog. But forecast is for 20C, so shorts are on. We go through the city main square. Impressive town tower. Not far to get on the bike path. Good paved path again which we really take too much for granted. Less wind today so we make better time. Also only 44km planned, so we don’t feel so much pressure. The fog is obscuring the mountains.
We pass by Rovereto which is spread quite a ways along the river. The river heads east and we get some help from the wind! Nice change. As we near Ala, the trail goes up the into vineyards. This gets us puffing. We have a hill to climb to get into Ala. Our hotel is on holiday but a number is posted to call. We reach the owners who get us checked in. They have been renovating the rooms. We get a very nice one with proper beds!
We go out for a drink as I really need a beer. We have only 1 more day of biking left. Somewhat glad, somewhat sad.
Wednesday October 4 – Ala to Verona – 62km
A beautiful day for our last day of biking. Another shorts day! More paved path. The path goes along beside the Autostrada. Lots of trucks from all over Europe.
When the path heads up into a vineyard, we take the secondary road and avoid the hill. Unfortunately we cannot avoid the biggest hill of the day. The path and the secondary road go away from the river and up to Rivoli Veronese.
Afterhalf the climb we stop in the village for lunch. Very good ham, cheese and tomato buns. The cafe offered free charging for E-bikes.
We are quite tired after the second half of the hill climb – total of 150m. The last 30km into Verona is along canals which are part of the flood control system.
We get a little assistance from the wind. Coming into Verona we face challenges. Google maps ignored one way streets and sent us down a number of them the wrong way. They were too narrow to allow bikes to go against the flow.
We find our apartment but have to call the owner. The helpers show up and tell us that we can’t park the bikes in the building unless we want to carry them up to the fourth floor. They have an office 15 minute walk away where we can store them. It is late by now and we are tired, so we go to a restaurant a few doors down. Good meal and great mandarinchino liquer after!
We find a gelato place and indulge.
DdThursday October 5 – In Verona
With a day off from biking we sleep in. We have a large apartment with 2 bedrooms, a full kitchen and a lounge area. The one problem is that it’s on the fourth floor! Breakfast is not included, so we have a croissant and coffee nearby. We are close to Place d’Erbe. The croissants were not enough, so we have a tosti there. Verona is very busy. We join the crowds to see Juliet’s balcony. It is in a cul de sac so quite crowded. Unimpressed. It is time for an Aperol spritzer, so we imbibe next to the Arena. Great setting! We head to the Arena to find that it is not open today. Andrea Boccelli will be performing the following 2 nights and they are setting up. We learn that it will be open tomorrow morning.
SsFriday October 6 – Verona to Mestre – Train with 7km on bike
We go back to Place d’Erbe and have tostis for breakfast again. We go to the Arena and have a tour around. More than half of it is closed off for the Boccelli concert tonight. The show includes an ice dancing part so there is an area covered with sheets of foam. Too bad we weren’t staying to see it. We find the place where our bikes are stored and ride back to the apartment to load our bikes. The train station is on the other side of the city. We avoid the center and bike along the river. The traffic is busy and we see an accident in a complicated intersection. After a few deviations we find the station. BIg and busy! They have a ticket selection queue which although slow, worked. The train we are on starts here so we have lots of time to put the bikes in the vertical racks. Took a bit of finesse to get the bikes onto the hooks. Mestre is not the last stop for the train, so we had to hustle to get bags and bikes off.
Short ride to our hotel. One room with 3 beds. Ok. We crash for a while then go out for dinner.
Friday October 6 – Verona to Mestre – Train with 7km on bike
We go back to Place d’Erbe and have tostis for breakfast again. We go to the Arena and have a tour around. More than half of it is closed off for the Boccelli concert tonight. The show includes an ice dancing part so there is an area covered with sheets of foam. Too bad we weren’t staying to see it. We find the place where our bikes are stored and ride back to the apartment to load our bikes. The train station is on the other side of the city. We avoid the center and bike along the river. The traffic is busy and we see an accident in a complicated intersection. After a few deviations we find the station. Big and busy! They have a ticket selection queue which although slow, worked. The train we are on starts here so we have lots of time to put the bikes in the vertical racks. Took a bit of finesse to get the bikes onto the hooks. Mestre is not the last stop for the train, so we had to hustle to get bags and bikes off.
Short ride to our hotel. One room with 3 beds. Ok. We crash for a while then go out for dinner.
Saturday October 7 – To Venice – short train trip
We are not up early. The hotel breakfast is not good. No meat, cheese or egg. At the train station we get tickets from a machine. Not a very fast process! 10 minute trip to Venice. Get boat (vaporetto) tickets, board a crowded one and head down the Grand Canal. Get off at the Rialto bridge and wander around. Find a sandwich shop with seating and decent prices. We just walk, buy a few souvenirs and have an Aperol in a quiet spot where there was no orchestra playing. In St Marks square they were charging 6euros each to hear their orchestra.
We get on a boat and go up and down the Grand Canal. Back on the train we talk to an older man who speaks good English. He pointed out the boat building factory where Carnival cruise lines have their ships built. You could see 2 in progress.
At the Mestre station we talk to a taxi driver who said there were minivans in their fleet that could take us and our bikes to the airport. We decide to try that in the morning. We crash now that the tourist part is over.
Sunday October 8 – To Venice airport – 11km
Breakfast is early but no better this morning. We are away by 8:15. We stop at the taxi stand and find that the large minivans are set up with 3 rows of seats. Can’t take 3 bikes. We have a route which we had done before. Given that it is Sunday it is not too busy. The last 4 km have no bike lanes and is a little scary.
The airport is brand new! We arrive before 9:30 and decide we have time for coffee. We get the bikes organized and our panniers strapped and in line by 10:30. We have Air Transat Option plus so we get to the desk quickly. It takes a while to get all the bike stuff done. Getting plastic bags and paying take time. At least this time they were checking both the Montreal and Toronto flights in at the same time. There was another couple with bikes who were going to Montreal who started the process the same time as us. We kept bumping into them and learning from each other about the unfolding drama. The plastic bags were too small so we had to get 2! Of course we had to pay for the bikes at a different counter! Air Transat check in is on the ground floor. Oversized baggage check in is on the first floor, so we don’t want to put the bikes in bags until we get to the oversized baggage place. The other couple is there before us. Both of us try to find out whether we should put the bags on the bikes before going into the area where they swab the bikes. We were told we had to wait. Meanwhile a number of wheelchairs go through ahead of us. The Montreal couple are getting anxious as their flight is 50 minutes earlier than ours. After some heated exchanges the first bike gets into the swabbing area. There is only a narrow aisle for the oversized baggage to get through. The rest of us wait. Finally a person in charge tells us we can put the bags on!!!
In the narrow aisle we put the bags on the bikes. Every 5-10 minutes they would allow another bike through the sliding doors. It was frustrating but comical at the same time. The Italians are so into rules that they are so inefficient. Anyways the bikes are gone and we have to get into the security line. Holy crap, the line snakes around the whole first floor! There are a lot of staff with large tablets going up and down the line. They have a flight displayed on their tablets that is ready to board. Their job is to get people to the front of the queue so they can make their flight.
It takes about 45 minutes to get through. We head to our gate to find another line up! We now have to go through immigration for a passport check. Fortunately this does not take long. We get to the gate and join another line! This one is waiting for the bus to take us to the plane.
What a saga. If you fly out of Venice, allow plenty of time to get through it all.
After Venice, we figured that Toronto airport would be a breath of fresh air. Wrong! Toronto airport has just started a new system for clearing customs and immigration. It is called “Automated Border Clearance”. We had filled out the usual customs forms on the plane. There were about 30 self service kiosks set up on the arrivals level. We had no prior warning about them other than a sign that indicated it was a new “Express” approach.