After three ferries we finally made it to Chioggia. Volker led us across a canal to a restaurant and we made reservations. Then he said “Let’s go see the beach”. We were happy to jump on our bikes, feeling like kids wearing sandals and regular shorts. Only one problem: you can’t get to the beach in Chioggia. Or, apparently, most anywhere else in Italy.
We were immersed into a world of cars, mopeds, motorcycles, pedestrians, bicycles, and intersections where something was trying to be in the same space as us at the same time. Volker says Italian mote fists can be undisciplined. That applied to everyone else as we’ll. It was noisy and chaotic. There was no view of the sea; the entire time the beach was hidden behind amusement parks and restaurants.
To get to the beach you first need to pay for parking. Then you pay for your spot on the beach. They assign you a spot that is marked with a post (the closer to the water, the more expensive it is). It seemed as if the beach itself has been commercialized and the restaurant and amusements are designed to soak more cash out of your wallet. Just as in Vegas, where you can’t get to the show without walking through the slot machines, you have to wade through the sideshow before you can feel sand on your feet. And then, like a cow returning to the stall for milking, you must cue up on the beach in your assigned spot.
Today was the first official day on our bikes and we went in the wrong direction, east back to Venice, a ferry to Lido, and then south to Chioggia. Tomorrow we will head west before turning north towards the Alps.
Ginny and I met Tom at the FIAB office in Mestre at 0800 (he went to the airport with his daughter Mari for a 0655 flight). We loaded our bikes and organized our gear. Volker met us there at 9:30 and led us back over the bridge (this is not for the feint of heart, no shoulder, but the drivers gave us plenty of space).
The extremely flat ride, warm sunshine, and light breeze made for a relaxing ride and Volker led us through each small town while pointing out the interesting sights. For the most part, we rode on the west side, along the lagoon, the Adriatic on our left and hidden from our view. Finally, I saw some steps going up to a sea wall and I ran up them to see a famous Lido beach and I had trouble comprehending what I was looking at;
Poles were driven into the sand at perfect intervals creating a checkerboard of checkpoints. Bathers are assigned real estate that is found by matching numbers on the poles. If you manage to find the public beach access (there are a few, but they are not well marked), you may sit upon a line etched into the sand, but you are not allowed to set up an umbrella.
No matter, we were cycling, not sun bathing, and the day was wonderful.