Today we finished the southward trek of our voyage and turned north after finishing the southernmost portions of our itinerary. Now we head north and start to pick up all the gear we scattered around on our way south.
Our original Itinerary was to ride the train from Naples to Venice; however, now we have to cut our stay in Naples short by a day and return to Florence to pick up the bike and trailer we left behind 13 days ago.
Since it is a long way from Naples back to Florence we reserved seats on a Eurostar train, which is Italy's version of the bullet train. This first class ride cut about 2 hours off our journey and ensured us a comfortable ride in an air-conditioned car. This was a real treat because we can't use the fancy trains unless our bike packed up in it's boxes - which are in Chamonix France.
Once we arrived back in Florence I realized why someone suggested establishing a base camp and traveling out and back from that base. When we returned to the Hotel Splendor it was like returning home. There were people we knew, and places we were familiar with. This was a nice change from going somewhere new all the time.
On this layover day we spent a nice quiet evening surrounded by painting in the hotels sitting room reading, writing, and relaxing.
Once again I want to let everyone know that if you come to Florence you should stay at the Hotel Splendor. The Masoero family that runs it are very patient and nice. They also speak English very well, which really helps the average American who only speaks English. Their hotel is very nice and has wonderful painting decorating the walls so it fits right into the Florence experience. Their phone number is (055).483.427 or you can contact Darlene Ravin at (303) 694-3322 who book all of our accommodations.
This morning we got up at 6:00 so we could pack, retrieve the bike; eat breakfast, and catch the first of a series of train connections to make our way to Venice. For the first time in Italy we ran across a very cranky train conductor. He pointed out that we needed a bicycle supplement for this train. So Dorothy ran off to the ticket office with only 10 minutes before the train was scheduled to leave. Of course in her rush she forgot to stop at the little stamp machine to get the supplements validated, so when she handed them to the conductor he started lecturing us in Italian about validating tickets. It all seemed pretty unimportant to stamp the date on a ticket that we had obviously just bought, just so the conductor could be sure it was valid before canceling it, especially 15 seconds before the train was scheduled to depart. After humoring the cranky conductor the rest of our trip was uneventful and we didn't even face any stairs between platforms although we had several connections to make. We didn't face any stairs and the train portion of the voyage was pretty uneventful.
The adventure started when we got to Venice with the bike and all our gear. Venice we discovered is built on a series of islands that are separated and criss-crossed by several canals. There are no cars, or scooters allowed Venice and the only way to get around is to walk the maze of streets and bridges or take one of the varieties of boats to your destination. With the tandem the crowded boats were out of the question, so we decided to push on through the simple way - on foot. The only catch was that when we arrived at the first bridge over the Grand Canal we discovered all of the bridges are covered in stairs. This makes perfect sense, their tall bridges, and there aren't any cars, so stairs are the perfect way to get pedestrian traffic over them. However for us hauling all of our gear over the eleven bridges between us and the hotel in the heat was a bit much. By the end of the trip to the hotel, I felt like I had completed one of the twisted little off road triathlons that I get involved in. Fortunatly the Pausania hotel is very nice and the woman behind the desk (Maria) was very sympathetic to the way we looked and must have smelled.