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Cycling Italy Day 6-Cruisin’…On Lago Di Garda and Then Uphill Baby!!

July 25th-Riva Del Garda, Italy to Brescia, Italy (36.7km)

All Aboard!

On Monday we were so sad to go, but it was time to leave Riva Del Garda and continue our cycling adventure. There is a cruise boat that travels from one end of the lake to the other that also accommodates cyclers so we took the morning boat from Riva Del Garda to Desenzano on the south shore of the lake- 4 hours of pure cruising on a wonderfully sunny day. Love it!

During the cruise we had a chance to see all the other small resort towns clustered on the shores of Lago Di Garda. You could tell that each one had a slightly different look and feel to it. A person could probably spend all summer just hoping from one to the other!

As we made our way past sail boats and wind surfers, we arrived in the town of Desenzano and brought our bikes back on land. Our destination for the day was Brescia…approximately 35km away.

We were forced to snap out of lazy cruising mode almost immediately because the road out of Desenzano was a twisting, uphill journey that had us ascending inclines that were the steepest we had attempted. The trouble with having all of your luggage loaded on the back of the bike (12kg for me and 15kg for Skott) is that the bike is very back heavy. When you are going up a steep incline, it is actually possible to get to a point when your legs can’t pedal anymore and you freeze in motion. At this point, as I found out, gravity pulls you and the bike back and you end up doing an impromptu pop a wheelie. Fortunately when this happened, it was sort of in slow motion so I was able to get my feet on the ground, but I did have enough time to see the motorcyclist passing on the road beside the cycling path do a double take as he saw me essentially melt off my bike. No one said we looked cooling during this expedition!

Cycling hard!!

As we made it beyond the outskirts of Desenzano and into the Italian country side, we could tell that the terrain had changed once again. Our surroundings were more arrid and rugged than what we had ridden through north of the lake. We also noticed that things looked a lot more rural. There were lots of slightly weathered little farms along the way…growing crops of mainly corn and grapes.

We passed a quaint little monastery and Skott was disappointed that the monks didn’t invite us in for dinner.

The monastary that wouldn't let us in....

As we got closer to Brescia, all of a sudden we came to a fork in the road with no signage for the bike path. We hummed and hawed about which way to go and after consulting a few drivers passing by, we took a left. It started out okay but we quickly realized that while we were indeed entering Brescia, we definitely weren’t entering via the bike path. We were arriving at around 6pm so rush hour was in full swing and the only thing that convinced me to go ahead was that we saw other cyclers taking the route as well. Skott’s comment after we got into the Brescia city center was “wow, my wife is a tough chick!” haha!

It’s amazing how fast you can cycle when you’ve got a little extra adrenalin running through you.

We have found that the best thing to do when we arrive in a city is to find a place to sit, have a drink and a bite to eat before we figure our where to stay. Otherwise, it becomes very difficult to navigate through a totally unfamiliar city when you’re tired and hungry. I’m terribly impatient and irrational when my stomach is grumbling! (For those who know me best, yes, I’m never all that patient but it’s best to set yourself up for success : )

Some locals helped us call a nearby bed and breakfast. They had availability but it was 70EUR for the night. We decided to check out a couple of budget hotels first and then go back if we couldn’t find anything. In a nutshell, the 2 desirable budget hotels were full. Then, against our better judgement probably, we decided to check out one other even though common sense would tell you that a one-star near the train station is sure to be a dive. It was still early enough in the evening that we had quite a bit of daylight left so we decided to quickly check it out. As soon as we got near this lovely Moroccan One-Star we saw that they also advertised 24 hour rooms available…I skidded to a stop and told Skott that there was NO WAY I would stay there. He totally agreed and also, without saying a word to one another, we could tell we were on the same page as to our feelings about the people that were hanging out in this neighbourhood. Time to go!

Our BnB in Brescia

We doubled back to the original bed and breakfast we had inquired about. She still had the room and when I explained we were backpackers on a budget for an RTW trip, the owner, Maria, agreed to take 10 Euros off the price. Casa Rossi-Hirzel was such a lovely bed and breakfast. It was in this huge Italian villa right across from a small park with lit up fountains flowing in the evening air. Our room was lovely and spacious and Maria even had a dog that looked just like Mr. Mugs.

Our lovely bed and breakfast.

We finished the night off with a quick dinner at a small Pizzeria nearby. We did a little walk in the nicely lit, historical city centre and agreed that Brescia was quite a pretty city, even if it was a lot bigger than what we typically like.

Total Distance Cycled To Date: 330.0km

Another pic of our cruisin' adventure...

How do you get to this castle!? Another treasure on Lago Di Garda.

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4 Responses to “Cycling Italy Day 6-Cruisin’…On Lago Di Garda and Then Uphill Baby!!”

  1. Kim and Tam August 4, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    Ahhhh Shawna and Skott you have no idea how many times a day I check your blog to see if I can read an update !!!!! I am loving this adventure and feel so fortunate to be able to read your blogs along the way. They are interesting and very funny !!! Glad your bike tire is holding air now. Cheers to you both on a safe wonderful adventure !!! Happy belated bday Shawna
    Kim Rowan

    • Shawna August 5, 2011 at 12:51 am #

      Yay! Thanks Kim! I’m so pumped that you are following our adventures. We were really thinking of the Winnipeg Folk Festival at the beginning of July, knowing that we would be missing for sure another fabulous year. How did everything go!? Yes, the bike tire is holding but our dear old bikes certainly are creaking a lot. I think this is way more than they’ve been on the road for ages! haha Come to think of it though, our legs feel almost the same. Cheers & hi to Tammy!

  2. Faith August 13, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    With cycling and cruising it seems like you are really getting a unique and exciting view of Italy :) That island castle in the last photo looks interesting. Sorry the monks didn’t invite you inside!

    • Skott and Shawna August 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

      Oh trust us Faith….we are also sorry the monks didn’t invite us in! :)
      Yes, we absolutely loved Italy, and via bicycle was a great way to see it…definitely recommended!

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