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Friday, August 03, 2018

June 21st: Bardolino to Bolzano


 The Hotel Bardolino's breakfast was great, and we ate quickly, packed, and left the hotel at 8:24, hoping to beat the heat. But first, we visited the Lake again to say goodbye.
Most of the climbing on the 17 mile ride from Lake Garda to Verona happened within the first half hour. Once we got out of the rim of the lake, the ride was mostly flat, and Komoot did what it does best, which was to put us onto a river-side bike path.
I couldn't argue with the views from the bike path. In Bussolengo, we ran into a mid-week market that required us to dismount and walk, but it was so interesting that I didn't mind. I gave the camera to Bowen hoping he would take a few pictures of things he thought were interesting, but all that came out were tons of pictures of my butt instead, which I can assure is not interesting.
The temperature mounted as we got into Verona, until in the last 200m to the train station, Bowen suddenly stopped complaining and just closed his eyes as though he was asleep. He would later claimed that he wasn't asleep, just that he had closed his eyes. I can believe it now, since the minute we entered the train station, his eyes opened wide and he had no sign of sleepiness, but at the time, I was convinced that he'd developed a fever and I was going to have to deal with the Italian medical system.

Things being what they were, I decided that a train ticket back to Bolzano was the right one. There was an EC German train serving Verona to Bolzano, but the ticket machine wouldn't let me buy a bike ticket! When I found one of the assistants to help me, she said that the ticket machine would only let me buy a bike ticket on the Italian trains. That train was a lot slower, but since navigating the Deutsche Bahn website on my phone would have been too slow, I just let her help me.

Italian train stations are nowhere as nice as the German or Swiss train stations: there are no ramps for the disabled or for bikes, and the elevators aren't big enough to take the tandem. Fortunately, a German man at the end of his bike tour took time off to help me move the tandem to our platform, and we boarded the Italian train with no problems, being careful to validate the train ticket before we boarded. There was already a bike on the train, and it belonged to Elisabeth, who had also ridden her bike from Laas up in the Alto Adige river down to Lake Garda and Verona. She said she was developing "sun allergies" and so had to abandon her plans to continue riding past Verona as well.

It was fascinating to hear her talk about immigration and its impact on Austria. "We're becoming a nation of immigrants too," she said. I couldn't tell from her voice and facial expression as to whether she thought it was a good thing or a bad thing, and I didn't ask. But she was very friendly and even offered to help us find a place in Bolzano, going so far as to call a friend who didn't pick up. I found an air conditioned residence apartment in Bolzano with a kitchen and a washing machine, so I wasn't too disappointed!

Arriving in Bolzano, Elisabeth offered to help us move our big heavy bike, but she had a train to transfer to, so I said that she should focus on that rather than risk missing hers. We got out of the train station just fine and rode to the address specified on booking.com, but it turned out that the Park Residence Apartments didn't have full time staff: most of the people who stayed there apparently arranged for someone to meet them at a specific time, rather than just showing up from the train station like a vagabond. Fortunately, the hotel that the apartments were connected to told me about this, and when I called them they were happy to come down and open the office so we could leave our panniers in there.

As a matter of fact, by the time I'd gotten my bike locked up, the primary receptionist had showed up early and checked us in, which meant that we could immediately move into the apartment, and rather than eating out, we could buy food from the supermarket next door and cook it, which was what we did!

After we'd eaten, I realized that if I still wanted to do the Sella Rondo bike day on Saturday, I had to find a way to get to either Canazei or one of the villages near the start, so I let Bowen take care of himself in the apartment while I went out to find the tourist information office. The tourist information office had information about the Sella Rondo bike day, but they weren't able to help with transportation. From my experience in the past, I usually made it to Canazei via Costalunga and the Karersee. But those climbs were severe, involving grades over 20% and/or long tunnel traversals. Even if I could make it over there on the tandem, I'd probably be too tired to do the actual Bike Day. The tourist information office did point me at Base Camp Dolomites, right at the Bolzano train station.

I walked over there and to my surprise they spoke English, and enthusiastically talked about providing a transfer service and suggested that I stay at Selva di Gardena, the official "start point" of the Sella Rondo Bike Day. They asked me if I had a hotel in mind, and I said, I could make a reservation right now on my smartphone. The employee looked at my phone, and then said, "Wait a minute. Let me call the hotel." He called the hotel, spoke some Italian into the phone and when the receptionist spoke to me, she quoted me a price for 2 nights at 100 Euros less than the quote on my phone! Coincidentally, that was the price Base Camp Dolomites gave me for the taxi transfer as well, so I gladly accepted and arranged for a taxi pick up at 8:30am the next day.

After that, the rest of the day was spent buying and preparing dinner, getting ibuprofen as insurance in case Bowen's behavior in the morning was indicative of a fever, and running the laundry machine. I even bought Weisswurst for breakfast the next morning. That evening, I checked Bowen's temperature a few times with my hands and they were normal. I'd wasted my money on ibuprofen, but these came in little satchels for dissolving in water so I packed a few in the panniers just in case.

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