Present time: 9:00am, Sunday
Location: our apartment in Venice
Situation: sunshine (again), coffee (my third)
Plan: scope out the bus for Mari’s 0655 flight on Monday; see if we can get to the island of Burano; try to eat the food and drink the wine we purchased yesterday before leaving tomorrow morning.
Back on Friday night, Tom, Ginny, and Mari arrived at the Mestre train station. It did not take them long to find me as I was the only fully-loaded cycle tourist moving slowly up and down the street (although I was now wearing pants and a polo shirt instead of cycling clothes so I did not look so strange). Agnese was there too, Antonio was across the street, and Volker (with my bike box in the back) was parking his vehicle.
Unbelievable. There we all were. The bikes were assembled and safely stored in the FIAB office, just a block from the train station. Ginny, Mari, and Agnese went food shopping in Venice and stocked the apartment. And we had dinner reservations for eight.
On Saturday we walked from the peaceful Cannaregio section, strolling alongside the canals, crossing small, arched bridges, making our way to the Rialto Bridge and eventually Piazza San Marco. The crowds of tourists grew and our progress slowed until the mass of humanity completely clogged the bridge and extended south to the famed plaza. I stopped for a few seconds to take a photo and lost contact with my four companions. Ten minutes later they backtracked and found me. (This only happened about a dozen more times.)
Headed east and then north we gratefully left the hoards behind. The Castello section had smaller, narrower canals that the gondoliers skillfully navigated. Corner after corner, we followed tiny cobblestoned alleys until we were halted by the Laguna Veneta. The island of Murano was a short ferry ride away. We lunched outdoors in a pleasant piazza and then returned to our apartment.
Last night we were all guests at Antonio’s house back on the mainland for dinner. Volker was accompanied by his friend Christina, Antonio’s friend Rennata cooked an amazing five course meal, and we politely tried to eat as much as possible.
When we arrived for dinner, fresh bruscetta, chunks of Parmesan cheese, olives, and crackers were already on the table. A bowl of potato chips seemed oddly out of place. Then Antonio brought a serving platter of three different types of salami. Rennata presented us with olive oil sautéed peppers and zucchini. A gigantic bottle of red wine was opened. The main course was pasta in pesto sauce. Finally, and somewhat bewildering, a large bowl of fresh salad greens from the garden was shared. Dessert was brought by Volker, a fluffy, light, fruit filled cake. During dinner, the Italians spoke extensively to Agnese. Volker and Agnese would occasionally translate for us. After dinner Ginny, Volker, and Antonio discussed bicycle routing and compared notes on funding such endeavors.
We were driven back over the bridge and we made our way past the domes, monuments, and statues back to our apartment, exhausted and satiated.