Venice? - CycleBlaze

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Venice?

Jacquie Gaudet

I've never been to Venice and regret not visiting in on my first trip to Europe (and only time to Italy) in 1981.  What I've heard mostly about Venice lately is it's so crowded and there are all these gigantic cruise ships...

The tour I had planned for 2020 had to be cancelled but now I'm replanning it for 2022.  I had given up on Venice back then but now I could even book an Air Canada flight back from Marco Polo airport.

Questions for those of you who've been to Venice:

  1. Is it worth the trouble?  Our previous plan involved flying home from Milan (only Lufthansa with its $$$ bike fees from Trieste).
  2. What would be the best approach:  pack up our bikes in Treviso and take the train with them in cases (assuming this is possible)?  Ride from Treviso to an airport hotel, pack our bikes there and leave them while we visit Venice for a day or two?

The timing for this would be late June so peak tourist season, I expect. 

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5 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie Gaudet

We’ve been to Venice twice by bicycle, but both times were in the era before the huge cruise ships arrived so they’re probably not representative of what you’d experience now.  It’s encouraging to see that the larger ones have finally been banned.  Hopefully that will hold up.  In 1993 we just arrived at the end of the causeway, knowing nothing and startled to find we couldn’t take our bikes into the city.   That didn’t work so well, though we were able to lock them up at the train station and hope they would still be there when we got back.  Five years later we booked a room at Mestre, left the bikes there for a few days, and caught the water taxi over.   if we go back again some day I’d like to bike along the lagoon and take a boat in from that side.

People love or hate Venice of course.  Personally, I would go - there really is no other place like it.   Given the chance, we’d like to go again ourselves.  And I’d stay in the city overnight.  I loved walking around after dark and after the crowds have died down.

And if you’re in the region anyway, it’s not that far to bike across the Po Delta to visit Comacchio, aka Little Venice: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/zagreb2020/the-comacchio-valleys/.

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5 days ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott Anderson

When I asked Al about Venice, he was definitely interested, and also mentioned that it would be worth the splurge to spend at least one night in the city.  Then he wondered how long we'd be away.  "Eight weeks," I said.  "I'll be anxious to get home," says he.  Even now that we are both retired, he seems to think a trip of more than 3 weeks is too long.  I think 3 weeks is a minimum and that there is no reason to go for such a short time when it's such an effort to get there.

In any case, I'm going to go ahead and plan for ending the tour in Venice.  Adding to the trip wouldn't go over well--plus he gets bored with flat routes.

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5 days ago
Rich FrasierTo Scott Anderson

I agree with Scott but I wanted to add some emphasis.  I think that if you go, you should stay at least 2 nights in Venice itself.  At night, all the day tourists are gone and the city can weave its magic on you.  There are plenty of sites to see - you won’t be bored.  And the farther from St. Mark’s you get, the better it will be.  My experience is pre-cruise ships but I think my advice still is good.  

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4 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Rich Frasier

I agree with both of Rich’s points here.  Stay in the city more than one night if you can squeeze another night out of Al.  And find lodging away from St. Mark’s.  The last time we were there we stayed across the Grand Canal in Dorsoduro near the Accademia Bridge and were very happy with it.  That was only fifteen years ago, so I’m sure it would still be relevant advice.  What could have changed?

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4 days ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Rich Frasier

Yeah, I'm thinking of at least two nights in the city.  Ride to Tessara, pack our bikes,  spend a night, then on to Venice.  Flights back depart early afternoon (travelling on points so limited to Air Canada to avoid expensive bike fees) so the question is finding a Tessara hotel willing to receive and store our collapsed bike cases for a few weeks and then store them full for a few days.

Where did you stay?

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4 days ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott Anderson

That's what I've heard, stay away from St Mark's.  I do all the planning and booking  but I do try to keep costs reasonable.

The big change is that Covid happened so tourism businesses suffered.  Operators need to make up for lost income and there's a lot of pent-up demand.  So I'm actually taking a leaf from your book and pre-booking everything (free cancellation only).  In the Dolomites, though, online booking for spring 2022 doesn't seem to be available yet.

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4 days ago
Graham SmithTo Jacquie Gaudet

Jacquie Venice as a cycle touring experience is forever etched in my memory. In 1979 while on an ad hoc, ad lib trans-Europe ride (my first cycle tour)  I made friends with a couple of Irish lads and a Sth African traveller in Innsbruck. We agreed to meet again in Venice.  They were travelling by bus and train, and I was on a lightly loaded touring bike, so I pedalled frenetically over the Alps, through the extraordinary Dolomites, sped across the river plain and into old Venice via it’s industrial hinterland. 

What an experience in Venice. Back in my early 20s I travelled extremely frugally, so with the Irish and Sth African guys I rough camped (sleeping bag inside a plastic bag…no tent or ground sheet) right in the centre of Venice in the ‘people’s park’ not far from San Marco. Of course it rained so much I was expecting Noah to float by. 

By morning we were so drenched we sought refuge in the first cafe we found open. The owner was unbelievably welcoming and filled us with coffee and pastries until we looked vaguely human again.

On Day 2, I set off to see the sights solo and discovered that central Venice was designed to obstruct any army trying to invade by bicycle. Countless steps, canals, narrow alleyways etc soon convinced me to lock up my bike and proceed on foot into an amazing photo-journalism exhibition in a gallery at the edge of San Marco.

After several hours of being totally absorbed by the photos, I exited the gallery to discover my bike was surrounded by several angry looking men in highly ornate uniforms. In contrast, I was wearing grubby shorts and a T-shirt. The more they shouted, the more I smiled while subtly unlocking my bike saying “No Italiano”.  As they became more and more irritable (thankfully they weren’t armed) I beat a slow retreat into the crowds of San Marco.

The bottom lines: yes definitely go to Venice but don’t  try to go there as cheaply as I did in my feckless youth. Budget for some comfortable accommodation, stay right in the heart of the old city and wander aimlessly. It’s a very special city.

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4 days ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Graham Smith

What a memory!  That's right up there with Al being arrested cycle touring in Yugoslavia (before I met him, when it still was Yugoslavia).  Apparently the suspect was blonde and had escaped on a bicycle, then along comes this blonde guy on a bike... 

The advantage of being older is that we can afford better accommodation.

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4 days ago
Rich FrasierTo Jacquie Gaudet

Hi Jacquie - I don’t have a record of the hotel we stayed at, but it was not far from the train station.  If you’re carrying a lot of luggage, beware if booking something too deep into the city.  There will be a bunch if those picturesque but steep bridges to cross!   

Rich

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4 days ago