180612-Boxed In

Bicycles aren’t permitted in Venice. I left for Venice this morning by train, easy even for me. After walking Venice, I don’t know why they bothered with the rule – Venice is uncycleable, between the stairs on the bridges and the narrow twisting streets.

I set forth from the train station with my only goal to wander towards the other side of the city. I found amazing quirky streets, canals, and views. I’d occasionally end up in a tourist area, visit those specific sites, and then delve back into the back streets. I highly recommend that technique for Venice. The Basilica of San Marco particularly noteworthy. Unlike Florence, attractions were reasonably priced (or free). I don’t know how far I walked today, but at one point the GPS showed the train station over 4 km away as the crow flies.


Reaching the far side, I decided to work my way back via a different route, and use the GPS. The tall buildings often block the GPS signal. Following a specific path becomes further difficult by the GPS not knowing all of the roofed corridors (some low enough I had to duck). Streets that look connected aren’t always.


Mid-afternoon I headed back to Mestre and my box. I needed the bike shop for two things: a box, and loosening my pedals. Given the complexity of carrying a box AND bicycle, I devised a plan. I would take the bike over and loosen the pedals. I would return the bicycle to the hostel. Next I would return for the box. I would then pack the bicycle in the (vast) hostel lobby. I checked with the Front Desk to validate my plan.

My problems began when I went to retrieve the bicycle. When I checked in, the person at Reception stored my bicycle with the bicycles the hostel rents. When I went to retrieve it, someone came over and yelled at me for putting my bicycle in there. I can usually talk my way out of trouble, but it’s harder when the other person’s native language isn’t English, and they’re mad at me. I eventually got that sorted out (given that I was, after all, taking it out). I reconfirmed my plan with staff before I left for getting the pedals loosened.

Returning to the hostel, I asked someone at Reception where I should leave my bicycle. They kindly stored it in a back room. I left for the box.

I’m profoundly grateful the closest store provided a box; I’d forgotten the difficulty of navigating city streets, especially on a windy day, while carrying a heavy, awkward box.

Unnerved from earlier, I left my box near where they’d stored the bike, and explained to yet another person the plan. I dashed upstairs to grab my tools and other things going in the box. Returning downstairs, the person who yelled at me earlier had returned, and was in the process of taking my box away (I assume to dispose of it).  Repeat explanation process. She wasn’t happy, and wanted to know why my bicycle was where it was. More explanation, and I was exiled to the front of the hostel to pack.

Usually bicycle shops provide a smallish box. In this case the box resembles those of old; remove pedals, turn handle bars, and drop bike in. I have concerns about what the airline will say, so plan to be at the airport with plenty of time to repack.

Packed. But the process, originally thought resolved, had new stressors. The bicycle (in box) is also stored in the garage which I’m not completely happy about. I finished the process frustrated and down. I walked out for dinner, and hope tomorrow resolves more peacefully.

The Italians take their dogs everywhere.



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