Hat today, gone tomorrow!

Tuesday 1st May 2018

Cathy posting,

Happy Birthday to our lovely daughter, this morning was leisurely, sat on the beach with a cup of tea and watched people swimming, today we leave the site and we are heading to Trogir. Dave & Sat Naff had a fall out today, in future he says he’ll follow it as today he decided he knows better and we’ve no idea where we went! but it was a 20Km detour!

We arrived at Camp Rozac which is on Čiovo in the Central Adriatic, a little island joined by a tiny swing bridge over to Trogir which in itself is a little island attached also by a bridge to the mainland, the site is again on the beach and it’s €27 plus €1 per person tax, we thought it was €19 but no the prices go up from the 1st May! The info isn’t always correct so unless you call in advance which we can’t be bothered to do then you take your chances, we pitched up on the beach, no issues this time as I wasn’t there!

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view from Pogo on Čiovo

I’ve lost my beloved hat, the one I bought at Punta Sabbioni just before crossing over to Venice I love that hat, it fits my head! I have fine blonde hair and I hate the sun on my head as it burns my scalp, I’ve had heat stroke twice before and always wear a hat in the sun, no exceptions ever! The Venice hat ticks all the boxes for me, the fit, lets air through the fabric, it’s lightweight, keeps its shape, brim not too big at the front, small brim at the back and a nice bow that protects my neck, I’m very upset about the loss, I don’t know if I’ve left it in the shower block at the last campsite, Camping Plantaza in Starigrad yesterday?

Off we go about 5pm after pitching up to walk into Trogir, it’s along a main road but there’s no pathway, then a shortcut up a steep hill through the homes of the locals and down to the swing bridge, crossing over we are in sight of the Trogir medieval fortress which is called Kamerlengo.

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walking from the camp to Trogir in the distance

At the water front which joins Trogir to Čiovo is a lovely promenade lined with palm trees with small cruise ships and boats moored up alongside, we suspect the day trippers are lunching somewhere on the front.

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view of the promenade at Trogir from the Fortress

I need a new hat, so we decide to leave the sightseeing until tomorrow and start walking through the labyrinth of tiny streets, they are so narrow and pretty, we haven’t seen anything like it since Bergamo 

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romantic balcony?

No luck finding a hat in any of the shops we tried but I did find a beautiful little restaurant, all lilac and purple tablecloths in a little nook with stone steeps planted with flowers and pretty as a picture, Dave says we are not allowed as the budgets knackered, even a sad face didn’t work!

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maybe another time 😦

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even the launderettes are pretty in Croatia

We went back to Pogo and had an omelette cooked outside and watched the fireworks for the 1st May holiday for Croatia over the bay, it was a special sight, lots of families from Croatia & Slovenia enjoying their last evening on the beach.

Cathy

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 it’s 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 2 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 water 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

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, it’s 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