Arrivederci Italy!

Thursday 19th April 2018

Dave posting,

Very warm again here this morning at Al Bateo Agricampeggio, Punta Sabbioni, we are wondering where to go next as we are leaving this site today as we head towards Croatia, we are not in a rush at all and we are feeling very relaxed without a schedule or timetable, it’s a wonderful way to live at the moment. Once again, we don’t want to travel too far, short little hops suits us fine!

Cathy is on Google maps and spots a marina where she thinks we could wild camp a little south of Monfalcone, from the views it seems to have plenty of parking and it’s near a beach, we decide to head there and take a look, if it’s not suitable then we will move on and find an alternative.

Once again, we decide to use the toll road, and another guess at how much it will cost? The trip is about 145 kms and 110 kms is on the toll. No problems this time, we used the toll booth lane that was manned, €6.80 paid (not on a pre-paid credit card this time – thanks Joanne!) and we are through!

Marina Julia is our destination and when we arrive it looks suitable, no signs forbidding motorhomes, although there was one forbidding caravans, there is a large grassy, sandy parking area, no markings, park where you want kind of place. There’s a small shopping precinct nearby and it’s peaceful.

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Marina Julia, this will do nicely!

We park in a shady spot near some trees and we go for a stroll, and we are surprised by the view, a naturally beautiful coastline, the sea gentle lapping up to the tide line, lots of driftwood and no litter or plastics. Most of the cafes and beach bars are closed, we think that we can see Croatia across this part of the Adriatic.

We see a café beach bar nearby and we walk over for a drink, 2 bottles of Moretti and we are just staring at the views and beauty in front of us, the freedom to make choices and change things dependent on how we feel is fantastic. The café has music on quietly in the background and Abba comes on, it can’t get any better for me right at this moment! Cathy pulls a face; all the family know I like Abba!  Cathy doesn’t especially when I start singing along!

Our stroll takes us northerly towards a very large camping village and further on out of site a dockyard, where we can see the top of a huge cruise liner above the tree line, we tried to go and take a look at it, but the path ended.

Returning to Pogo we move away from the shady little bay in the trees, the bugs and mozzies are about, and it looks like some people have been using this little hidden space as a loo from all the dried-up tissues we can see, it annoys us as we leave no trace behind wherever we stay not even dish-washing water.

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Across the Adriatic towards Croatia

We tried to do a blog last night, but we have run out of data, we have used 12GB in 26 days! We need to reign ourselves back in with the data consumption, Cathy has closed some Facebook motor-home groups that she was following in the UK and will return to once we’re back home, we’ve altered some settings on our iPhone’s and iPad’s, we’ve accidentally left the MIFI on a couple of nights with the iPad refreshing pages in the background, we’ve learned our lesson at a cost.

We are getting closer to Croatia and it’s a place where Cathy and I have always wanted to go!

Dave

Island Hopping

Wednesday 18th April 2018

Cathy posting,

So today we decided to go back to Venice as we wanted to go up the San Marco Campanile tower in St. Mark’s Square and look at the views over Venice. We used our 2 day €30 each ticket, it covers the ferry over, the Grand Canal water bus and trips to any islands.

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St Marks Campanile

The tower dates back to the 9th century, is 98 metres high and was used as a watchtower and lighthouse. It collapsed in 1902 due to dodgy construction and was rebuilt in 1912 and it is one of the most recognised symbols of Venice.

It was €8 each which seems pretty expensive, there are no stairs, just a lift and there was a queue, we waited 30 mins for our turn, but the views were fantastic, sometimes things are worth paying for and we’re glad we went up.

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From the tower St Marks Campanile

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From the tower St Marks Campanile

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From the tower St Marks Campanile

 

P1040109Ok, that’s done now, we decided to visit the small island of Burano which is actually four little islands connected by bridges and it’s said to resemble a mini Venice, we may go to the island of Murano also.

We got the No 4.1 water bus from San Marco and 30 mins later we transfer at Fondamonte Nove on to water bus No. 12 for Burano, this however took 41 mins, I hoped I wouldn’t be ill but no, I was ok, can’t tell you how happy I am about my new “sea legs!”

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Beautiful Burano

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Burano is so pretty every little fisherman’s cottage is a different colour, bright colours of yellow, vivid green, blue and pink. Burano is well known for its lace making as Murano another island is known for its glass, we may go there later also.

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We wandered around the little streets enjoying the sun for an hour or so and then stopped for lunch, no picnic today as we think it will be cheaper here, Dave had seafood spaghetti and I had my favourite, tuna, tomato, mozzarella and sweetcorn salad, both were delicious and of course there was a beer and a Prosecco!

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Watching the world go by………

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Great use of space

We walked around Burano for another hour or so over the little bridges Dave taking photos and me admiring the lovely little houses, some had made a garden with little partitions with plants growing up them & a bench outside just the sort of thing I would do, you had to admire their use of space. We stopped at a shop which sold Murano glass jewellery and I decided to treat myself to a necklace and earring set in a lovely azure blue, we probably won’t go to Murano now, so I’ll get something here.

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It was really hot so we stopped for an iced coffee for me and a grapefruit juice and lemonade for Dave, sat in the shade it was lovely and watching people passing by, however the locals still had their coats on! We are really relaxed and can’t believe we are having this long holiday, we are not at all concerned about our house being lived in by other people and in fact we don’t even think about it we are just loving this nomadic life!

We’d done Burano so set off for the ferry, but we had 25 mins to wait, so Dave decided it was time to try the famous Stracciatella ice cream, we had a small cone each (only €1.50 each) and it was very creamy with irregular dark chocolate shavings and chunks.

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It only took 30 mins back to Punta Sabbioni and I fell asleep again! Once back at Pogo I made Thai green salmon curry with sticky rice, we wrote some blog and off to bed early, we don’t know where we are going tomorrow but its in the direction of Croatia……

Cathy

Sea Legs!

Tuesday 17th April

Cathy posting,

Even at 6.30 am we can feel the heat of the day, Dave makes 2 cups of tea and I get another 20 minutes in bed whilst it’s brewing, I love my tea and normally have 2 cups but not today Venice beckons and I’m excited! As we’re walking towards the ferry stop about 300 metres away I start to feel anxious about the boat journey as it’s 30-40 minutes and I hope I won’t be ill, I have a box of Boots travel calms and as I walk along I take one with a mouthful of water, it says 20 mins before travelling so I’m ok, then I notice I’d put some stugeron in the same box and I’ve taken one of them, I think they need an hour? feel a bit panicky now, we step onto the ferry and I’m worried there are no outside seats only inside and I want space and a quick exit just in case! We sit down and I’m relieved that we set off immediately, after 5 minutes I feel ok, fingers crossed then, it’s quite smooth sailing and after 20 minutes I’m actually enjoying it, I’ve grown sea legs – Hooray!

After 35 minutes we pull into San Marco and we marvel at the water colour and the early morning air is fresh, none of the reported pong! We can just see the start of the Grand Canal now and I can’t wait to get on another boat and go up it. We hop off the ferry and go to find Vaporetta No 1 to take us up there, we wandered around for a bit and got a bit lost few for a few minutes, we didn’t have a street map yet, it was only just 9am and the streets were so quiet and empty, not what I was expecting at all, St Marks square was empty! No tables or chairs out yet. We stumbled upon a coffee shop set up in another small square and decided to buy a map €3.50 from the stall opposite and get a caffeine fix before our adventure begins, €7 for 2 coffees, not bad eh for Venice.

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Our first sight of Venice from the water bus

We find the Vaporetta No.1 stop and now it’s really happening WOW! What a joy it was, we stood outside between the seated areas with the breeze blowing on our faces and marvelled at the views, Dave was taking copious photos, we enjoyed it so much we stayed on until they chucked us off near the train station stop, but we hopped back on and went back to St Marco.

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Doges Palace to the right

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St Marks Basilica in the rear with the Palace to the right

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bit wonky that , I’ll stick with the Vaporetta

First off we decide to see St Marks Basilica, it’s free to enter and you have to drop your bag off at a holding area around the corner, we marvelled at the amount of Gold on every surface, it was dark inside but apparently they put the lights on for one hour and they came on just as we entered, just a few mind and lots of little candles lit by people for prayers,  no photos it says but lots of people in guided tours were taking them on their iPhones so Dave got a sneaky one towards the end before our quick exit, even though it was lovely inside I preferred the architecture of the exterior and could have looked at it all day.

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sneaky iPhone pics inside the Basilica

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iPhone again inside the Basilica

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Stunning St Marks Basilica

Next we decided it’s lunch time although it’s only 11.30 we’ve been up since 6.30 and already been in Venice for 3 hours so we find a bench between St Marks square and the Vaporetto No 1 stop it’s next to a little park on the canal front but it’s closed, there were a few trees for shade and benches looking out onto the canal, there are artists all around us starting their watercolours of the day and tat shops behind us selling their Vegas style diamond Venice caps, they’re everywhere although we didn’t see anyone wearing them.

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We got our sandwiches out that we had made the night before and our flask of coffee, we had the stone bench to ourselves but Dave spotted an older Italian couple sat on a step near us so I beckoned them over to share our picnic spot, I loved watching them make their sandwiches from scratch, out came the bread rolls which she passed to him then the cheese and next some fine looking Parma ham, they squished them together. We all ate in silence enjoying our superb picnic spot.

It’s getting hotter now it’s nearly 1 pm so it seems like a good time to visit the Doge Palace, it’s €20 each to visit and €2 extra to view the John Ruskin exhibition which is on for 3 months, we decide that this is a must do also as he was a leading English art critic of the Victorian era 1819-1900 he was a water colourist and amongst many other things he was a visionary of his time,  his desire was to move away from Capitalism and to open peoples eyes to the beauty free to all and all around them, there are many quotes attributed to him but I like this one ‘’ There is no wealth but life’’

He lived at Brantwood overlooking Lake Coniston in Cumbria, he was passionate about the English Lake district and you can visit the house today, and it’s 250 acres estate.

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Room with a view from Doges Palace

Once we’d finished the exhibition which we enjoyed as there were also Turner paintings too, an artist whom Ruskin knew and admired, we wandered through the various rooms of the Doge Palace, they are huge like State rooms I would expect to see in the likes of Buckingham Palace, you almost fall over trying to look up at the ceilings every inch painted with artworks, it was almost too much to take in, it’s a masterpiece of Gothic art from 14th and 15th Centuries and in 17th C it was the seat of Government and housed the Prison, in 1996 it became part of the Civic Museum of Venice network.

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One of the many rooms at the Doges Palace

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Incredible colours and art

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It’s a superb exterior too – Doges Palace, I loved the cream and pink marble and stone exterior.

We wandered around the first-floor terraces looking down into the courtyard below then make our way down and down and down to the prisons below, we’ve been in many castles dungeons and prison vaults, some Medieval in UK and many in Europe on our motorbiking tour, but none have given me the creeps like this one did!  From the prison you walk along a passageway and you are inside the ‘’ Bridge of Sighs’’ and through a small aperture you can see people on the bridge opposite at San Marco taking photos of the bridge and we are inside it!

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From inside the Bridge of Sighs

After all that culture we need a beer! We’re feeling hot and stuffy so off we go with a plan of walking towards the Rialto bridge but get mixed up in the labyrinth of streets and end up at a bar near a small canal and a bit off the beaten track so we reckon it might not be too pricey? We take a seat and a grumpy waiter appears, we say Bon Journo and before we can say anything else  ‘’Drinks or food !‘’ he barks at us, we order 2 x 40 cl beers, they mostly come in sizes of 20, 40 and 50 cl, 40cl will do as we don’t want to get drowsy in the heat of the day. Mr Grumpy appears and plonks down the beers after firstly picking up the napkins and utensils and throwing them onto the table next to us! I kid you not! We take a sip it’s cool if not a bit flat but it’s fine we’re thirsty, next thing some workman start up their drills and get busy with a hammer, we’re not enjoying this spot at all, we drink up quickly but not before Dave notices something floating at the bottom of his glass, looks like breadcrumbs? Yuk, we pay up €7 each, it’s what we expected but not for that service.

We walk to the Rialto bridge which we’d built up in our imagination but neither of us is that impressed by, sorry! It’s got lots of little archways all boarded in black as there are shops inside, it might have the history but not the looks for us anyway.

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We go for a wander following our noses left and right around and around and find another square in the Castello area opposite Campo Giavanni e Paolo one of the largest churches in the City and has the status of a minor Basilica and apparently 25 Doges are buried in the church,  it’s a lovely square with a small canal, gondolas passing to one side and this huge church and what looks like another attached to it, ( found out it’s the hospital) completely different periods from the look too! Dave decided he wanted something to make up for the flat beer with the floaters yuk!  so we ordered 2 Aperol Spritz, the local Italian drink it seems as everyone has one, we get a table in the sun it’s OK  I have my new hat! Which is when Dave realises he has left his cap at the noisy, flat beer bar, it’s his favourite cap and he got it in Costa Rica for our 25th Wedding anniversary holiday so he’s off with his phone and GPS to find it as we’ve been going around in circles! 8 minutes later he returns with the favourite cap which has the words ‘’Pura Vida’’ on the front which means ‘’ Pure life or simple life’’ and he would have been very upset to lose it, he’s hot and sweaty and that Aperol Spritz went down fast! We enjoyed an hour watching the local kids playing football up against the Church façade, no one batted an eyelid it looks like this is their spot the 2 goals being beside each other under some marble square cut outs, they had to be like this as the other end of the pitch was the canal! And the ball did go wayward a couple of times as the defence weakened, they were very good players though and showing some skills says Dave, one goalie was very good, maybe we were watching the next Buffon (Italian Team Goalkeeper)

 

 

P1040077It’s cooling down now as it’s 5.30 pm and we decide we are done for today, so we start to walk back in the direction of St Marks square to get our ferry back, in one little street we spot a little shop window of a tiny bar the sign says Cicchetti €1.80 , we saw little slices of baguette each with a different and interesting topping, tuna and some type of gherkin, parma ham and sun-dried tomatoes, salami and artichoke we ordered 4 of them and 2 glasses of Rose frizzante, it’s 6 hours since our picnic and we do like a little tapas style snack! We fancied 1 more each so Dave got the tuna and I ordered something like radish cream with finely minced/sliced dried ham it was delicious! I asked the guy afterwards what the meat was, and he made a little impression of riding a horse! Oh dear, but it was tasty. Chiccetti are small snack or side dishes an Italian version of our favourite tapas.

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ooops! the tasty horse snack

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No horse here!

We got the No 14 Water bus back from St Marco to Punta Sabbionni, we’re exhausted and I fell asleep on Dave’s shoulder, we alight the bus and walk the short distance back, Dave chops all the vegetables in the fridge I want to make something with it before it goes off so a hot veggie curry it is with tinned potatoes (great for Moho’s) we decided to drink the bottle of Pink Champagne which we had bought in the Champagne area to celebrate Venice, Cheers! Hic !

Just about to go to bed and Dave exclaims, ”Cathy I’ve got an egg on mi ed! ” Translation of which is

‘’Cathy can you come and take a look at this small lump developing on my head?’’

He has indeed got 2 largish lumps on his head we think something climbed inside his cap when he left it at the bar, he’s not happy! He never ever gets bitten! He hates that bar lol!

Cheers and goodnight

Cathy

Just One Cornetto!

Monday 16th April 2018

Cathy posting,

We’re off to Venice! Yippee! we’ve really been looking forward to this, the sun is shining and it’s only 60kms to Punta Sabbioni from last nights parking and sleeping spot in treviso, it’s also a lagoon on the north east side of Venice, it looks a nice place in its own right but we are staying there because of the easy access to Venice and it’s many islands, it’s €23 per night to include water, waste ,EHU and showers. We arrive late afternoon and set off straight away to walk the 300 metres to the ferry/Vaperetto/water bus! it has that many names!  we suss out the timetable for the morning.

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Al Bateo Agricampeggio, a great spot for Venice

 

I want to arrive by water in Venice which is strange in that I don’t like boats and have felt ill on almost every single one I’ve been on! We check the times to San Marco and they run every 35 minutes, €20 for 24 hours or €30 for 48 hours, (unlimited uses on the Grand canal and can visit any islands too) we decided on the 48 hours as we may want to go to Murano island is known for its glass making, it’s where the Pandora and other brands of beads and charms are made and I have some bracelets and quite fancy buying a new glass bead.

At the Ferry Stop at Punta Sabbioni, I spotted a tourist shop selling the usual caps and hats and the ubiquitous flip flop! I quite fancied a new hat as I’ve only brought a cap along, it’s a very fine Toronto Blue Jays cap but I’d like a stylish hat for Venice, I spotted just the one and at €9 I was happy.

We strolled back to the site in the warm evening sun and bought some supplies from another campsite that had a bigger shop! We had some chilli in our ice box so we had that with Dave’s bargain purchase of 6 x 660 ml Moretti for €8 he was a happy boy.

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Cheaper than at home!

We sat outside with the Chilli and the Moretti and then made use of the campsite showers which were huge and nice and hot even if we did have to press the button every 15 seconds for water.

Out came the maps and Dave did some research even though we already have some ideas, St Marks Basillica and the Doge’s palace are on the to do list and he made a list of other things we are interested to see. We set our alarms for 6.30 a.m!

Cathy

Italian Toll Roads!

Sunday 15th April 2018

Dave posting,

Light rain woke us this morning, it’s 8am, the kettle is on for the first cuppa of the day. We are thinking about Venice and going there, so a small amount of research in to places to park and visit, we use numerous resources, A Life In The Slow Lane, Our Bumble, Our Tour, Charlie the Chucklebus.

Time is creeping up on us and now we have to get ready to move off before 11.30am (Camping Sirmione) as is the sites rule, the bill for 3 nights on the superior pitch was €96.60, although expensive it’s definitely worth the money in our opinion, it was like a mini holiday in the tour.

We drove towards Pescheria and spotted a LIDL, in we go and buy groceries. We stay put and switch the wifi/mifi on, more Venice researching over crackers and humous. We don’t want to get a train or bus in to Venice, we want to “arrive” in a water bus, vapourette, so we decide on a plan. The plan involves stopping in the NE area of Venice and catching a water bus, but we need a cheap overnight stop tonight.

Using Search for Sites we found a free Sosta at Treviso, a quick read of the Sosta reviews in Search For Sites and we are heading there now. The coordinates say nearly 3 hours journey, so I re-format the sat nav to include tolls and motorways and now it’s only 1hr 45 mins via the A4 motorway.

A few minutes later we leave the LIDL car park and in 3 kms we roll up to the ticket machine at the start of the toll motorway, ticket issued, and we are on our way for 140 kms of motorway driving.

The weather changes to rain, the motorway is a decent drive with good road surfaces compared to the toll-free roads that run parallel to the toll roads and no lorries at all. (I think that in some European countries HGV movement is not allowed on Saturdays and Sundays).

The strange thing over here is there are no signs or information about toll road costs, or distances or towns, you just get on and worry about the euros when you exit!

radio aux

Listening to The Eagles and Foreigner albums & 90 minutes later we are coming down the exit slip road to the toll booths, we stop and put the ticket in, well we first of all I have to stand up in the footwell to reach the machine, it asks for €11.50, that’s cheap! well what a pavlava, I tried my pre-paid MasterCard three times, I tried cash but the machine wouldn’t accept notes, and now the remote ticket machine operator is telling me what to do in Italian through a loudspeaker. Mastercard, credit card, visa card, he says, I said “I am trying it but it’s not accepting it!”

This goes on maybe five times, suddenly a receipt is printed, and the barrier raises, off we go then grabbing the receipt. A minute late Cathy says the receipt value is zero, but our Reg. No. is on the receipt. We continue for a few minutes when a police car appears out of nowhere, sirens on and flashing lights, Cathy says “they are coming after us Dave!” as they drove by quickly.

Pulled up in Treviso at the Sosta, it’s attached to a huge car park which is very full for 6pm on a Sunday night. Selected a spot and put the kettle on, it feels ok with 5 other motorhomes here. There are 3 other motorhomes in the corner that look they have been here a while. The police patrol car drove around a couple of times in the evening before 11pm, it’s an okay spot, earplugs in to soften the noise of the noisy rail track 250 metres away.

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I’d never be able to get in that!

Treviso is by all means a lovely place to visit but we just wanted to sleep, Venice awaits and we’re excited.

Goodnight

Dave

We’ve found gold!

Saturday 14th April 2018

Dave posting,

This morning, from the camp site we walked to Sirmione, it’s a glorious day, we are wearing shorts, tee shirts, caps & walking trainers, sun tan lotion has been applied. It’s such a fantastic day that the Italians have come out to play, the atmosphere is positive, vibrant, cars trying to park to visit the old town, bars and cafes’ are busy, the sun umbrellas are out, everybody wants a drink and a view of the lake.

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Gold Rolls Royce

The sky is azure blue, the sun is beating down, the water is gentle moving around and is a bluey grey colour, there’s no breeze and there’s a feeling that summer is coming and just around the corner.

We amble around for a while, we feel like getting a drink and sitting by the water, we find the perfect spot facing West in to the sun on a hotel wharf, the water is gently lapping under us as we can see through the decking.

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Our lunch spot!

We sit watching the boats trips coming and going, passengers alighting and boarding, life feels very good for us right at his moment. We ordered a small lager and small wine, it arrives with some tapas snacks, mini pizza pasties and olives wrapped in sausage and breadcrumbs and deep fried mmmm, lovely, let’s order some food. A club sandwich arrives 15 mins later and we are glad that we ordered just one to share as it’s large! And they’ve put chips alongside, it was delicious too.

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What a great place for a bite to eat!

We are so relaxed and content at this moment, but we will have to move from our seats soon, as we want to go and see the castle. We paid €26.00 for 3 drinks and the sandwich and made our way to the castle entrance.

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Sirmione Castle

Sirmione castle is considered one of the finest examples of a medieval fortification including a very rare fortified port, the castle is also known as the Scalinge castle after the ruling family of the area until 1387. Entry fee was €6 each but you can visit for free on the 1st Sunday of every month and it’s closed every Monday by the way.

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Castle drawbridge

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Fortified port

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Super view looking back down the Sirmione peninsula

There are many ice cream shops selling a huge and I mean a huge variety of flavours, they are in the chiller cabinets in waves, rolls undulating, certainly not kept in plastic boxes. The local infamous flavour is Stracciatella, allegedly this flavour was created by a local man here in Sirmione, but history mentions it was in fact Enrico Panattoni from Bergamo, a traditionally made ice cream with fine, irregular shavings of chocolate.  All the shops make a big effort to display their ice cream in such an appetising way! There are so well presented.

We continued walking through town towards the coastal path, following our noses and a small number of folk in front of us, we passed a jetty.

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He’s so relaxed!

Then we end up at the point where the path ceases, and we can’t go any further, but we are at the tip, we thought we could walk all the way around the further point of the peninsula, but not so.

As we head back we come inland a little and find a small public park with a tree lined boulevard and a plaque referencing Maria Callas, the famous Greek/Amercian soprano opera singer (1923-1977) who lived here in Sirmione.

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Through the park

We both agree that’s it’s been a wonderful surprise discovering Sirmione, water as far as the eye can see, mountains, snow, park, walkways and paths, beautiful flowers, shrubs and trees, everywhere is clean and spotless, fantastic buildings everywhere.

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It’s been a fantastic day and we have fallen in love with Sirmione! We will be back…… Arrivederci!

Dave

Camping “proper” in Sirmione Del Garda!

Friday 13th April 2018

Cathy posting,

The sun has got his hat on hip hip hooray! This morning we are totally relaxing, it’s seems like we’ve done so much in 19 days on this trip and 22 days since we left our home, as we’ve already said we have rented our house and now “home” is Pogo our motorhome, we are more than happy with our living quarters but we really have been looking forward to getting our chairs outside for some sun.

The morning started with what we thought were bacon medallions but turned out to be just thinly sliced pork so we had them with egg on toasted olive ciabatta, strange but it was quite tasty. We have a little toast or toasty maker

And of course good coffee was needed, we buy the coffee from Lidl, it’s called Bellaroma and we like it.

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It makes great coffee!

Dave headed off for another hot shower splurge! Got to make the most of it, even though we have a hot shower in the van and it’s surprisingly good it’s not as powerful or strong as you’d normally have. We’ve chilled out for a couple of hours in the sun and I’ve been writing this here blog and drinking more tea than is good for me, I’m off to wash some clothes ,€3.00 before we start leaving an odour trail behind us!

Late afternoon and we decided to go for a long walk to Desenzano del Garda,  you can literally walk from one side to the other on Sirmiones’ peninsular, it was approx 11 Kilometers there and we had planned to walk back but we stopped for a beer! (free snacks again) and to enjoy the view down the lake to the north of Lake Garda.

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view from the beer stop

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We didn’t do this place Desenzano del Garda any justice as we didn’t really visit the town, we just walked to it and came back, it was more about the walk for us.

We eventually tried to get a bus back but we can’t find out any information for the times, time is getting on now it’s 6.40pm, we are at the bus stop, the timetable is vague, as a bus stops right next to me, I asked driver how to get back to Sirmione, she said we’ve missed the last bus so we asked asked a man at the nearest restaurant he said there is another bus in an hour and we need to buy a ticket from a tabac (tobacconist) before getting on the bus its easier and cheaper than paying the driver. We go back to the bus stop area to look for a tabac, no, I can’t see one? I decided to go in to the chemist, who can usually speak English as we have found on our travels around the world. Yes, this is the right bus stop here, pointing, the tabac is up there but the bus comes in 10 mins so you must be quick! we quickly exit and go to find the tabac up the street, we bought two tickets (€1.50 each) and ran back to the stop, we made it with 2 mins to spare! we then waited for 25 mins for it to arrive! We hopped on and sat near the front so we knew when to get off, the bus trip took only about 7 mins, it was a bit scary and we were worried by the driver who BRAKED LATE ! seemed to be tired and almost falling asleep, we put on our seat belts just in case! got back safe and sound, but we’ve no tea so it’s the campsite restaurant for us! Carbonara for Dave and seafood Linguine for me, it was lovely and thank you to Freda and Gerald for the money to pay for it and also thank you to Jonathan and Roisin in advance for the Euros for tomorrows dinner which we’ve just booked in for!

p.s. – the campsite launderette is very organised, you have to choose your time, i.e. 30 minutes, your temperature i.e. 30° and they give you a key to the electricity control unit, as soon as your minutes are up, switch the electricity off and lock the unit and then you go and pay, obviously this keeps people from leaving their stuff there for ages because you have to pay for the length of time you’ve used. These were just my clothes, Dave had his washed a couple of days ago in a tub with a sealed lid which sat in the shower whilst we travelled, my clothes are not going in with his socks lol!

Cathy

Fair Verona day 2 & on to Garda

Thursday 12th April 2018

Cathy posting,

Juliet’s house, well we can’t come to Verona without going to look at Shakespeare’s mythical story of both love and tragedy and so we go to Romeo & Juliet’ s balcony, it was a little cobbled square and you could also go inside the house, included in our Verona card (€18), it was packed with school children but we’re glad we went to see it.

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Next we climbed 384 steps up the Lamberti tower, it’s 84m high constructed started in 1172, it was intended for defence but also housed a jail, we could have paid €1 to go up in the lift but no! I want to get fitter! (ps my legs hurt the next day!)

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Looking at St Peter’s hill from Lamberti Tower

The views from the top of the tower are very good as you look towards St. Peter’s hill.

We have to leave the Sosta by 1.30pm to keep within 24 hours, so off we go in the direction of Lago Di Garda, bring it on. It’s only 40 kms to Garda south at Sirmione and after shopping at LIDL for supplies we arrive at a very pleasant campsite Camping Sirmione where we plan to chill out for a few days, it’s not cheap, but we did pick a superior pitch with lake views personal drinking water tap & hook up! We are having a holiday within a holiday! There is a restaurant and bar on site overlooking the lake and very hot showers! Lovely! €31 per 24 hours. As soon as we arrive the sun is shining and we get straight onto the lakeshore path and walk to Sirmione old town, it’s 4 km each way and the views are breathtaking and beautiful, there are beds of tulips and little marinas along the way which made for a very pleasant afternoon stroll.

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Close up of the view from the campsite

The 13th Century Castello Di Sirmione played a crucial role in the defence of Lake Garda, we decided to save the castle for another day and headed towards a square with lots of restaurants and bars, it was called Palazzo Callas, named possibly after the late and well renowned opera singer Maria Callas who house is a house on the hill in Sirmione.

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View from Camping Sirmione

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Pogo’s hiding behind the hedge, he likes his view!

We ordered two beers and it comes with the usual little bowl of olives, crisps and this time some little cooked tuna pieces rolled in black poppy and sesame seeds, we love it! We sat people watching for an hour, then decided to have what all the Italians were having Aperol Spritz in wine glasses with ice, we’re not moving from this spot, best table in the square, we can be nosey from here and the sun is shining! Oh and they brought more olives and mini baked breads, yummy.

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Too late we’ve eaten the snacks,yum!

It’s time to head back, the 4 kms walk back was as pleasant as before and we go and have hot showers and I make a triple tomato risotto which is a staple in our house,  in LIDL we purchased a wine “brick”, it’s 1 litre of wine, we’ve read about these from other bloggers and had to try some, we bought one white wine €0.65 and one red at €0.95. The review from myself is that it was drinkable at 10% volume & I thought it would be too sweet but it was very dry, maybe I could get used to it when the budget gets off track! possibly the red one will be better.

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Dave in the office

Dave writes some blog as we are 3 days behind! And I read my book for a while. Off to bed early as we really want to explore more tomorrow and the forecast for the weather looks great!

Cathy

Oh Romeo!

Wednesday 11th April 2018

Cathy posting’

We woke up in Brescia this morning with no specific plans once more but the inclement weather suggests we should wait and go to Garda maybe in two days time. Verona is close, let’s go there! We look up the city centre Sosta in Verona, price guide is €10 per 24 hours, that seems cheap, maybe the information is out of date. It’s only 60 kms from here, so a short drive & we arrive and pitch up, ( it’s an unmanned, barrier & ticket entry and pay on exit system). Secured Pogo and we go out for the rest of the day and if it is €10, it’s excellent for Verona.

The bus stop is directly outside the Sosta so off we go €2 each to the stop Castelvecchio, well we can guess what’s at that stop. The friendly bus driver points us in the direction of Piazza Bra, rounding the corner and all I could say was wow! directly in front of us is Arena Di Verona, a well preserved Roman amphitheatre, seats 20,000 in ancient times it was 30,000 and it was built in the 1st century AD between the end of Augustus reign and beginning of Claudius, it’s the 3rd largest after the Coliseum in Rome and the Amphitheatre Capua.

A 12th century earthquake damaged almost all of it and it’s not as splendid as it was once so I would have liked to have seen it before but oh my it was a sight to behold. Excavations under the structure have discovered a complex hydraulic system to bring water inside the arena for spectacular water games but also to clean up after cruel fights held inside!!

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Arena Di Verona

Quite a contrast to the wonderful operas held between June and August each year, I would like to attend one of those!

Whilst visiting we could not get up to the top of the arena as staging was being created ready for the performances later in the coming months, the work involved to turn an arena like this into a modern performance venue looks to be very intensive.

We bought a Verona Card for €18 each, this turned out to be good value as it covered the Arena which alone was €11 each and many other attractions plus 24 hour city transport. As ever it started to rain and so we headed to the nearest coffee shop and of course we may as well have a view! We’d missed breakfast so went straight into Bruschetta, they were superb and I loved the little blue coffee cups.

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Bruschetta tastes best in Italy!

What got to me the most was the Juxtaposition of the Arena and the coffee shops opposite, 2 worlds!

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We looked at the information for other tourist sites that were open until the evening and we decide to go to the Museo Castelvecchio, free entrance with the Verona Card saved us a further €6 each.

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Fishtail battlements at Castelvecchio

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Castelvecchio Museum inside the castle

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Museum is quite modern, light and airy

We saw venetian paintings, frescoes, well preserved Flemish art circa 1350’s,many other pieces of extremely well-preserved wall coverings, the castle suffered damage during Napolean times and WW11 but an interesting place all the same with it’s fishtail battlements.

 

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The art work is amazing, look at the colours from circa 1400, not screened or covered up!

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Unbelievable fresco’s, so well preserved!

We decide to head back to the Sosta and come back early in the morning as our tickets were for 24 hours and the weather looks like it might be better.

Cathy

 

 

Bergamo, day 2

Wednesday 11th April 2018

Dave posting,

We intended to go back into Bergamo this morning as we loved it, the weather is not looking so good though.

We have been away on the road now for 3 weeks it really is time to do some housework in and around the van. We have been meaning to do the cleaning, sweeping and dusting for about a week now, so today is the day. We work well as a team, we’ve settled in to blue and pink jobs! I wash the windscreen and the whole cab area inside. Cathy did the kitchen, work surfaces, bathroom,  Last was the removeable carpets that came out for a beating! A blue job!

Well what a friendly bunch motorhomers are! We have noticed the comradery amongst you, there is always someone to help or advise you. Often conversations start that lead to interesting details and information about places you intend to visit or have been. We met a New Zealand couple who surprised us as we thought they were Italian, he really liked our van and came to take a look.

We don’t always have a plan of what to do or where to go, sometimes we get up &chat and then decide, we follow our instinct and feelings about what we want to do next.

Lake Garda and Venice were always a plan though, checked the weather forecast, urmmm rain and cloud for the next 3 days at least around Garda, let’s go there when the weather improves. We feel the need to move on, so we take a chance and drive to Lake Iseo to find a free wild spot near there. We found it okay but now it’s a supermarket! Oh, we stopped for a while, drove around the area looking for a suitable spot, no joy though. Back to the supermarket to buy a small amount of fresh groceries. Next we had lunch whilst we researched where to go, the heavens open and it’s raining heavily now, spent a couple of hours in the car park, doesn’t matter a lot when it’s raining!

Let’s go to Brescia it’s not far away, we head there hoping to use a free overnight stop. We find the “listed spot” next to the Prison (might be safe!) but it doesn’t feel right, not enough length available to park, it’s close to permit parking for cars, it’s not level with both left hand side tyres in the gutter giving us a lob sided fell, can’t use the chocks as the tarmac and grass shoulder is too rough.

We rested for 10 mins and chose the cheapest paid for site nearest to us, it’s 7.15pm now and we just want a place for the night. Cathy found one 5kms away, Ristorante Cascina Maggia, it’s a farm/restaurant with camper car facilities, €15 including electric hook up. 10 mins later we are there, plugged in and set up. We go back to reception and ask if the bar is open, we need a drink! “no, sorry, not open on Mon, Tue & Wed” Anywhere nearby ? “Yes, 500 m that way!” Off we go on foot to find it, we find a bar near a fairground Called L’Old Roger, it looks like an English pub abroad but there’s nothing else that’s open or near, we go in and ask do you do food? Yes, we are shown to a table, it’s quite busy as well with a good atmosphere, it feels friendly, its warm and we feel comfortable, we order food and drink. One beer, one wine and two burgers…unbelievable burgers, Cathy was Iberico ham (200gr) brie, smoked bacon and caramelised onion, mine was 400gr irish steak, bbq sauce, cheese, smoked crispy bacon, the buns were perfect for the burgers, like a soft shell with crunchy seeds and not too doughy inside. Cathy was disgusted at my 400g! she says she makes chilli for 4 people with that much beef! mmmm! but it went down very nicely.

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Beer, burgers and football

 

It’s getting busy now, the atmosphere is ramping up, the Italians are watching and supporting Roma in the Champions League quarter finals and they are beating Barcelona, they get a little nervous as the final whistle approaches, great atmosphere in here tonight!

Cathy’s beer she described as “smoky” I tried it but I didn’t like it! It’s our second meal out in 19 days and it was great, Cathy never orders burgers but this menu had to be tried! and she reported back that if all burgers were like that shed have one more often.

(sorry not many photos!)

Dave