DOLOMITES, LAKE GARDA & VENICE RIDE

What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Our visit to the Scravigni Chapel in Padova was a very enlightening experience, where we saw the Frescos by Giotti telling the story of Christ - a story in amazing paintings is what I would call it, well worth a visit. Also in Padova was St. Anthony's Cathedral which was huge and again had many frescos , and sculptures. Seeing Verona from the top of the hill early in the morning it was just beautiful - the guide took me a cycle up the hill overlooking Verona. Seeing Venice and all the waterways busy with water taxis, gondolas and vaporettas it was quite amazing seeing the transport being on boats and not in cars. St. Marks Square in Venice, climbing to the top of the tower seeing a panoramic view of Venice and the islands.

What did you think of your group leader?

Our group leader was excellent and he took care of us extremely well and ensured that we were altogether when cycling. He showed us rural Italy and took us to places we would not have seen and also suggested that we try the local food and alcohol, both were excellent. He had great knowledge of the history of the towns and cities we visited. He was a great character with lots of personality, charisma and fun and everyone was treated the same. Everything was well organised and we had no mishaps. He also organised early morning rides up the local hills to view points for those who were early birds.

Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

It's a great trip mixing cycling with the local culture and cuisine. A certain level of fitness is required but overall the cycling was on flat cycle paths and roads. There were one or two hills which some managed easier than others, but the guide always made sure that he was at the back with the slowest to encourage them up the hill and we all made it. Remember your camera as there are loads of opportunities for taking photos of the spectacular scenery, cathedrals and historical buildings. The rural areas were relatively cheap much the same as in Britain, but the cities were considerably more expensive especially Venice which is to be expected. The markets are cheap with amazing selection of fruit, cheese and bread -wonderful. A must do in Venice is going to the bar called DA LELE in Campo Dei Tolentini Santa Croce where you get small glass of red or white wine for 60c, and a ham roll for 90c. Very busy but well worth a visit just for the experience. The cheapest places in Venice for a drink and food in the evening and not too busy are in the Dorsuduro area, away from the crowded restaurants. Take the rough guide to Venice very informative. Remember your rain jacket for the occasional heavy shower.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

In the Exodus Brochure it states that the bikes are hybrids which is not the case we had heavy touring bikes. They all were well maintained with good components, and we were supplied with a pannier bag, a bar bag and a water bottle. Again this wasn't mentioned in the trip notes and most of us had an extra rucksack and a water bottle to take on the rides each day which were in the end not required. The trip notes should be more precise on what Exodus supply and the kind of bike supplied. The accommodation was all very clean some more basic than others and in Venice the rooms were exceptionally small and very cramped. On hind sight I would love to have spent more time in Bolzano a beautiful Tyrolean town in the foot hills of the Pyrenees where they speak German, there is spectacular scenery, great walks and cycle routes - one for the future. Overall a fantastic trip with a great group of people, an excellent tour leader, a great mix of cycling and culture.