Tuesday 06.08.2013 0km
We where pretty beat since yesterday so we sleep in until 9AM and dig in on the breakfast buffet before hitting town with temperatures that almost made the skin sizzle.
We hadn't made any grand plans for Milano, it just happened to be within a practical distance of Stelvio but the Milan Cathedral seemed like the obvious destination.
On the way we cool ourselves with some icecream.
This being Italy they thankfully had sorbet so at least I'd only have to worry about the brainfreeze and not any violent repercussions from my milk-sensitive stomach.
The lemon sorbet was both soothing and delicious.
The Duomo turned out to be the only major tourist attraction we saw in Milano but I have no regrets, it is without a doubt the most magnificent building I've been in (and on).
You feel pretty humbled in a building with a roof height of 65 meters.
Since we usually only manage to do just a few things per town on our trips I persuaded the Bear to go all in on the Duomo and we got every option in the catalogue including the crypt and the extortionate entry fee of €12 to get on the roof that turned out to be worth every single cent.
We had planned to visit the Santa Maria del á Grazie to see Da Vincis The last supper mural but upon arrival it turned out that they didn't accept more visitors that day even though it was well before closing time as they where "fully booked".
How a mural can be fully booked is beyond my understanding but then again I'm not Italian.
From there we make our way back to the shopping district surrounding the Duomo and stumbles upon a Ferrari-store where you can amongst other things can buy yourself a pushbike for the bargain price of €13500.
When we got tired of (window)shopping we sat down outside a restaurant overlooking the Cathedral which completely destroys the town hall at Mariannenplatz in Munich as the best view I've ever had over a dinner.
The Bear did as one should and ordered a pizza but I couldn't bring myself to it since the main ingredients of an Italian style pizza is mozzarella and olives.
Mozzarella I can't have because I'm allergic and I hate olives with such a passion I might as well be allergic to those too.
So instead I got roast beef with salad and tomatoes.
I'm not usually very fond of tomatoes but these where delicious (placebo-tomatoes?).
We broke the most expensive beer record by paying €9 for a bottle of domestic but considering the view it was worth it.
We picked up a few beers at a convenience store on the way back to the hotel where we planned for the next leg of the trip and booked the hotels for Venice and Ljubljana.
Wednesday 07.08.2013 275km Total:1776km
We leave an overcast Milan behind us this morning and head out on the Autostrada towards Venice, the clouds dissipate quickly and are replaced by a scorching sun.
Not even having the visor open helps because the wind even at 130km/h feels like a blow-dryer in your face.
The pileups we're used to from the German Autobahn are present here as well but the Italian queue-discipline leaves a lot to be desired.
The cars are scattered across the lanes like fallen dominoes.
When we eventually ran out of patience and started lane splitting it demanded full concentration and pretty aggressive riding.
Arriving in Venice in the afternoon the traffic situation was completely chaotic and the temperature absolutely relentless, as soon as we stopped the sweat just came pouring out.
We take refuge at a petrol station where I phone up the hotel and ask just how the hell you're supposed to get there.
This being Venice I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise that you can't ride a (land)vehicle to anywhere near the hotel.
We have to park at a garage (or the garage as I believe there really only was one) and carry our luggage for about a kilometre.
It might not sound like much and under normal circumstances it wouldn't have been but the temperature was just brutal.
Even inside the shaded garage the sweat was continuously pumping out and dripping to the floor and my hand are sweating to the point I'm having trouble gripping the gear.
I'm making excuses here because I made an absolutely pitiful spectacle of the walk to the hotel where I was whining the whole time to the point I'm surprised the bear didn't push me into the canal.
Had I at that moment had a red button that wiped out Venice from the face of the earth I wouldn't even have hesitated.
The bear give me if not physical so at lest mental kicks in my ass which is the only reason we made it to the hotel or I might have just drowned myself in the canal.
Free of the bike gear and a t-shirt so soaked in sweat it must have weighed several kilos and installed in an AC-tempered room with a cold beer from the minibar I slowly but surely got my mojo back.
A shower later I'm even ready to hit the town.
We wander aimlessly along the canals with alleyways so narrow you can touch both walls until we purely by chance end up at the Scuola grande di san Teodoro concert hall where there that evening was to be a concert with music from the four seasons by Vivaldi.
It immediately felt like just the right thing to do when you're in Venice.
I walk in to ask for times and prices and just like at the opera house in Vienna we aren't really dressed for the occasion but the lady at the box office seemed fine with it so we leave with two tickets for the 8.30PM show.
We continue our exploration and manage to find a nice restaurant where we sit down and order a couple of Italian specialities.
I decide to go full native for once and order a squid and shellfish platter (scampi fritti and something something di mare) and a glass of white wine (yes there's proof!).
The bear gets what apart from the sourfleisch he got in Germany the most heinously looking meals I've ever seen.
It was supposedly "Cuttlefish with black sauce" but it looked like two sponges that someone cracked a couple of pens over.
He gave it the grade "edible" but it sure was never going to win any awards for most beautiful food presentation.
Me make our way back to the opera house and take our seats for the Vivaldi concert which was a very pleasant experience with music I'd actually heard before for the most part even though the pair of us are pretty much heretics when it comes to the classical school.
After the concert we get icecream/frutti di fruits and a couple of bears on a random plaza somewhere.
That we got lost and had to ask for directions back to hotel wasn't really the beers fault.
It was a fairly long way back to the hotel so more hydration was needed.
When we get to "The Irish pub Venice" I can't resist a small revolution against the Italianos and we get ourselves a pint of Guinness.
I'd have to rate it quite the same as Bears cuttlefish: edible.
After this we conclude that we have just the right amount of hydration, strength, intelligence and courage to get back to the hotel.
Thursday 08.08.2013 0km
We head out in the morning in search of the ticket office that sell tickets for "the grand canal tour".
Now that wasn't as easy as it may sound even with a map for two geographically challenged individuals so I think it took us nearly two and a half hours.
Not that we were in a hurry and like Hansel and Gretel we comfort ourselves with a few goodies along the way.
We booked the canal tour for 2PM.
I had a tough time keeping a straight face when the ticket lady was spelling out Jensen on the phone because it sounded like she was reading the menu of a pizzeria.
In lack of other specific destinations we decided to find the pick-up point before getting some lunch.
Guess if found it? Of course we didn't.
No we got unreasonably lost in the alleyways of Venice again and by now we were so hungry we had to console ourselves with some Chinese food before venturing on.
We at least thought we had the general direction right and it turned out we had and made the pick-up with plenty of time to spare.
So the clock turned two and we boarded a sea-taxi that our guide had rented for the occasion and went along the canals of Venice under bridges so low you had to duck to avoid decapitation.
It was a nice experience and the occasional ocean breeze gave some respite from the scorching sun.
It was fascinating to see the system of canals from the "right side" as they have signs and traffic lights just like on the roads.
But then again in Venice the canals are their roads, on terra firma in Venice they don't even allow bicycles (or at least we didn't see one for the two days we where there).
After the canal tour we went to the Piazza San Marco and stood in line to get in to the Basilika di San Marko.
A very beautiful building but really in amateur league compared to the Duomo in Milan, you get easily spoiled!
But you never tire of views so we went up in the clock tower to see the city from above.
For some strange reason this too was exactly 65 meters above ground.
The view was magnificent but you couldn't really see anything of the spiderweb of canals that criss-cross the whole town, perhaps it was a bit naïve to think that would be visible from that height.
After wandering around for a bit we manage to find a restaurant that understand that there actually is a tourist that want a pizza with no cheese and not more cheese (there are plenty of Americans here) so now even I have eaten a pizza in Italy.
The bear as usual sums up the experience in a few words: kinda like home but with less grease.
We start heading back to the hotel but do a pitstop at "The Irish pub" again.
I was curious about the "Irish car bomb" but had no idea what it was so when it arrived as a half pint of Guinness and a shot with 50/50 Baileys (which contains dairy) and Jamesons whiskey I passed half the car bomb to the bear and settled for eating the Guinness.
It actually tasted even better than yesterday so if I keep this up I might eventually loose my "fear of the dark".
We did another pitstop in a convenience store on the way back to the hotel, by now I have blisters on both my feet and I still have some backpain since the accident on Stelvio so we decide to call it a day.
All and all we were more than content with the couple of days spent in Venice.
The bear ate ice-cream on no less than three occasions during the day on got "the horns" as response to him wearing a Wacken T-shirt so a good time was had by all.