Booking.com

Thursday, August 02, 2018

June 20th: Trento to Bardolino


We had a great breakfast and then rode down to Trentino downtown. Bowen had lost his sunglasses, and his cough which he had brought with him on the plane from California didn't seem to be getting better, so I bought a bottle of cough syrup from the pharmacy, and $3 pair of sunglasses from a Chinese-run knick-knack store. In 2010, Phil Sung told me that European cough syrup was the best tasting cough medicine in the world, and Bowen said nothing to contradict this statement, eagerly awaiting every spoonful 3 times a day. Looking at the ingredients, it looked like the cough syrup was basically honey spiced up with a few herbs like menthol and other throat-soothers no different from any cough drop sold at an American pharmacy, but with a much more pleasant taste. The pharmacist told Bowen to drink lots of water, which probably did more good to eliminate his cough than the syrup did. Bowen would insist on taking the cough syrup whether or not he had a cough for the rest of the trip until we used up the bottle.
The bike path didn't get any less boring than the day before, but with the knowledge that we had far fewer miles to cover than the day before, I was far more motivated to ride hard and move fast than the day before. Unlike the upper part of the Aldige river, this part of the bike path had far fewer water stops, and was equally unshaded, so we wanted to get it over as early as possible.

In Rovereto, there was a tourist information kiosk staffed by a woman who told us that all we had to do was to follow the bike path signs for Lake Garda. The kiosk was right next to an ice cold water fountain, so we refilled and sure enough, the bike path soon departed from the river side, and we found ourselves climbing. We were now in the Italian-speaking part of Italy, unlike the higher parts of the Aldige valley which spoke German, having been historically part of Austria until after World War 1. Once we climbed out of the Aldige valley, we saw a shaded spot with a water fountain and stopped to eat the apples so kindly given to us by our hotel just before we left. These were golden delicious apples grown on the other side of the Merano valley and tasted delicious! I'd mistaken them for granny smith apples in the past (which I hate), and now wished I'd eaten more of them on previous visits to Italy.
The ride over Passo Giovianni turned out to be much less steep than the climb up from Rovereto. Despite signs broadcasting a 10% grade or something like that, nothing we rode over fell into the "challenging" territory. Even though it was warm, a gentle headwind cooled us off, and the anti-climatic pass sign wasn't even exciting to Bowen. I suppose 287m is no big deal once you've already climbed to 1500m a couple of days before.
Once over the pass, Komoot recommended one direction while the bike path pointed to another. Sometimes this is a trap: bike paths might be optimized in the uphill direction and then not grant you a smooth descent. In this case, however, I reasoned that most people would be riding the transalp route from North to South, in which case the bike path was likely to be optimized in the direction we were going. This turned out to be correct.
From the bike path, your first sight of Lake Garda is dramatic and impressive. The road sweeps away beneath you at a steeper than 10% grade, and you cannot see the other side of the lake. "Wow, I didn't expect it to be this pretty!" I said. "Well, I did." came the reply from the back of the bike. Bowen's 6 years old and already he's hard to impress. The descent was fast and fortunately the bike route while on a road shared with cars didn't seem to have much traffic. We rode down to the lake side, found a supermarket, bought a picnic lunch, and proceeded to find a bench and picnic table at the lakeside for lunch.
There's a hard headwind blowing from the South, which I did not feel like fighting. I knew there were ferries servicing various destinations on the lake, so asked for the tourist information center and got an answer. We rode there just in time, as they were about to close. It turned out that many of the passenger ferries took bicycles, and the big ones had no problems taking the tandem, so we didn't have to take a car ferry like I thought we would have to. We could take the slower one from Torbole, where we were, or ride over to Riva di Garda where a faster ferry would depart later but arrive earlier but would skip Torbole. We decided to ride over to Riva since we were so early, and were told that Riva was  a much bigger town than Torbole and we could walk around the old town while we were waiting.
Riva di Garda was a gorgeous lakeside town and very walkable through its downtown area. We had ice cream, and then I realized that if I wanted to see Lake Garda without cycling, the ferry wasn't a bad idea, and the slower ferry would visit way more destinations than the fast one. So I found a hotel in Bardolino, and then we proceeded to buy tickets for the slow ferry and braced ourselves for a 5 hour tour of Lake Garda.
The various towns around the lake very much reminded me of the small towns we visited in Greece on our 2013 sailing trip. In many cases, the terrain was extreme, with mountains coming right down to the lake and the town simply nestled in the small flat section of lakeshore. I could see why there would be bike hotels in Garda catering to cyclists, but it was also very hot, so I guessed that it was only a cycling destination in the Spring or Fall.
Each town looked like it would be worth staying at. By the time we disembarked in Bardolino, it was 7:00pm and we were hungry, despite having eaten snacks on the ferry. We rode down the street and found our hotel.
In retrospect it wasn't a bad idea to arrive late: our hotel's AC was so old and worn that it could barely keep us cool in the evening. I expected that it wouldn't have even been able to cool our room 2 degrees if we had arrived earlier. We turned on the AC, took a shower, and hurried out to a late dinner at a restaurant hotel owned by the same owners as Hotel Bardolino, granting us a slight discount. This far south, it was not unusual to have dinner late, and even the supermarket was opened after dinner and we could buy some fruit for desert.

With the continual heat, I decided that to attempt to ride to Venice would be suicide. Since no train stations serve Garda had lines that would bring us back to Bolzano, we would have to ride to Verona to catch one. We went to bed knowing that our best bet for a cool ride to Verona would be to eat breakfast at 7:30am and then head out as quickly as possible. I pre-plotted our ride to the Verona train station, sync'd it to the Wahoo Bolt using the hotel's fast WiFi, and we went to bed with the AC running. To my surprise, I slept well, indicating that my jet-lag was finally resolved.

Next

No comments: