Treviso and Pordenone

Despite a lot of searching courtesy of the free wifi at Rainbow Biogarden campsite I hadn’t been able to find any campsites within a day’s ride of Mestre.  There were plenty of the now familiar ‘Hi dee Hi’ variety, but it seemed they had all shut their doors by the end of September.  Undaunted, I cycled to Treviso where there was a tourist information centre (and a neat little fortified town centre) where I thought I might be able to find out about smaller campsites such as the one I was leaving.

This was my first true cycling in Italy, and with no map but what I pre-loaded on my phone from Google Maps before I left the internet, I took a circuitous route to Treviso that involved some lovely back roads, single lanes through fields of corn or maize or somesuch, and the occasional unexpected major road full of lorries and speeding cars.  Still, the 25km journey was quite enjoyable and I reached the tourist infomation centre without too much trouble.
Slightly dilapidated farm building were often seen.
Thankfully the girl behind the counter spoke fluent English and I was able to ask her my questions.  I learned several important things.  1. The Italians don’t camp in October.  Despite the T-Shirt weather, 19c days and 13c overnight, apparently this is too cold for camping.  2. A lot of tourist information centres aren’t open in October, or they are only open on the weekend.  3. Tourist information centres can only help me with information about their own province, of limited use when my three day journey traverses three different provinces.  

So, armed with this new and slightly disappointing information, I was forced to revise my plans.  So far I have been almost exclusively camping and couchsurfing, with an average cost of 10 Euro for accommodation at the campsites.  Suddenly I am now having to go the bed and breakfast route and shell out something around 35 Euro a night.  More than triple my budget!  I think the Tourist Information girl saw the look of terror on my face and took pity as she showed me a brochure for the cheapest place in Treviso – a hostel of sorts run by a charitable organisation that houses families in distress, people with disabilities, and travellers.  Fortunately I was travelling by bike for the hostel was several kilometres out of town.
When I arrived I immediately went to the wrong entrance, but my inability to speak to the girl who came to the door gave me away and I was shown around the corner to the hostel rooms at the back.  The guy in the office spoke no more English than she did, and hurriedly went looking for someone who did.  Seconds later a professional looking man in a suit came through and warmly welcomed me to the hostel.  He translated as we went through the registration process (Italy require passports or other ID document details) and then gave me a tour of the hostel and my room.  It  turned out that I would have the place to myself except for an older gent in another room.  There was a huge, clean, fully equipped kitchen (except for a kettle) and a large living room, plus I had the three bed room to myself (excellent for hanging out my tent and gear to dry).  And free wifi!  Only problem was the power sockets were different from the standard European plug I had.  Fortunately the office guy and the suit man were able to dig out an adapter since there seem to be some occasional appliances of the sort I had.

I unpacked then went into town to buy maps of Venice to Trieste and Croatia, then had a look around the town.  The town still retains the old medieval (or Roman?) walls and some lovely old buildings.  It would have been nice to stay a little longer, but after spending so much time in Venice I was getting itchy feet.  
Streets of Treviso.
As dusk fell I headed back to the hostel and cooked myself dinner while listening to BBC Radio 2 courtesy of the free wifi.  Just as I finished the other resident arrived.  We quickly established that neither of use spoke the other’s language, but that didn’t stop him trying.  He sat down at the table and proceeded to talk to me while making hand gestures and sharing with me some grapes and, oddly, half an apple.  I think there was something significant about the fruit, maybe it was organic, I’m not sure, but he talked at length about it.  My sole contribution to the conversation was to look up ‘New Zealand’ in my dictionary and point to myself.  He seemed surprised and said something, then gestured to himself and wrote 62 on the table, then 2013 and 72.  I’m still not sure what he was trying to tell me, but I think he was saying his age, or his age at a time something had happened.  Conversation lagging, he excused himself for a cigarette and I made my escape upstairs.

I spent an hour or so hunting for a bed and breakfast or a hostel in my next town and found a couple.  I emailed one that had a single room, and called them in the morning to find that they were full and could only give me a double room for 55 Euro.  Another hour or so of internet and a couple of phone calls later I found a place in Pordenone, not where I had originally planned to go, but about halfway to Aquileia, which in turn was about 50km from Trieste.  The lady who answered the phone didn’t speak English, so I used the few phrases I had prepared (thanks to Google Translate) and asked for a single room.  She replied that yes she had one, but there we got stuck.  After a while she put someone else on the phone who could speak fairly good English.  Turns out she wanted to know if I wanted the room for tonight.  Accommodation sorted, I packed up and headed out on to the road.

Thanks (or not) to Google, I ended up on the main road from Treviso to Pordenone.  One lane each way, with occasional cycle lanes, but mostly just two lanes barely wide enough for two large trucks to pass, and no shoulder a lot of the time.  Armed with helmet and visi-vest I ploughed on.  Thankyou to all the courteous drivers who passed and gave me plenty of room.  I have to say that so far I am impressed with the Italian drivers, the do seem to treat cyclists well.  Better than my experience in Nelson, but there are more cyclists here so I can only assume they expect to see cyclists more often.

I passed through Ordezo on my way, a town the Tourist Information centre had suggested I go to.  I didn’t have time to stop for long, but I did wander through the town centre which was quite pretty, though very similar to Treviso.  I also stopped at what looked like a roadside tearoom to use the toilet on my way.  I ordered an espresso because it was the only thing I knew how to say.  Not usually a black coffee drinker, I thought I should give it a go while I’m here.  The toilet turned out to be the first squat toilet I’ve come across in my journey so far.  Figured it would have to happen sooner or later.
The necessary.
Ultimately I did arrive at my destination.  With about 10 minutes to spare.  First time for everything I suppose.  I’m getting better at estimating how long it will take me to get somewhere now.  I rang the doorbell but no-one answered, so I rang the reception again and spoke to the same lady who didn’t speak English.  We managed to agree that I had arrived and that she would be there in three minutes.  Quite an achievement, really. 

When she arrived and let me in she got her son on the phone to translate for me, and we played charades for the rest of it.  She was nice enough to let me have the big room since there was no-one else staying that night, mostly because she didn’t seem to think there was room in the small room for all my luggage!  She asked her son to ask me what I was doing on a bike with all of it, but he never told me what her response was, though he was surprised and encouraging.  The apartment itself was beautiful in a sort of rich older person kind of way, the bathroom was particularly glamourous – as well it should be for 35 Euro!


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