Posted by: glenswatman | August 10, 2011

20110721-31 ITALY

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THURSDAY 21 JULY – An early start to the day washing through the bedding from Bev & Norm in anticipation of the kids arrival on Saturday. Still manage to make time for a morning visit to the beach. John & Chris sell us their faulty groundsheet, only faulty on 1 side, as they have been sent a new one as a replacement. At least now we can get a little more territorial marking out our pitch.

FRIDAY 22 JULY – Get everything prepared for our new visitors, we are going to stay put at Don Bosco which should make life much easier. The Friday evening rush doesn’t seem to be as bad as last week, maybe the poor weather forecast if to blame – it’s got Claire worried for sure.

SATURDAY 23 JULY – Traffic is bad en route to the airport, seems that many people are already leaving the coast due to the bad weather. It is already raining and looking very stormy. Arrive in perfect time to catch Claire, Natasha and Daniel emerging from the arrivals hall. There’s a long queue for the toilets and after traipsing around we cannot find an ATM anywhere. Back at the van we head back to Jesolo with a stop at Lidl for a big shop. At the tourist office in Piazza Brescia I deposit €10 (£9) for each of the 5 bikes we want to borrow. Due to the bad weather there are plenty of bikes in Piazza Torino, near the campsite, so we bag 4 and ride them back whilst Steve goes ahead in Eddie. The kids can’t wait to get to the beach so I quickly cook up a pizza washed down with a drop of vino then send them off to check out the water. Daniel is the first to arrive back, prompted by the fact that there is free wi-fi in the campground. In the evening we cycle about 4km to the next town of Cortalazo where there is a fish festival. In a huge marquee you queue up to order your food then take the ticket to another area to pick up the meals. Notice lots of people smoking in the kitchen, but at least they keep their fags down below the tables! We enjoy a tasty fish, soggy polenta, chips, mussels and profiteroles before trying to work it off in the cycle ride back. Claire & Natasha take a late walk to the beach and see an accident on the pedestrian crossing outside the campsite. One car was stopped at the crossing and another obviously didn’t even see it and ploughed straight into the back at full speed pushing the first car across and beyond the crossing. We have noticed when we cross that Italians are totally obliviously to pedestrians and have adopted the approach of crossing as if there was no pedestrian crossing and waiting for a big gap. Unfortunately the bad weather returns and we have a downpour during the night.

SUNDAY 24 JULY – We let everyone sleep in late as the weather is nothing to get up for. In face Daniel relocates to our bed and doesn’t get up until noon. We watch “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and recognise places we visited in Venice. In the afternoon we teach the kids nomination whist which passes a couple of hours. It doesn’t rain but is cold and windy so we wrap up for our evening walk then feel surprised to see the temperature is only 19C. At Milano square there is an English soul band performing and they are pretty good. They tell us that to visit Italy and perform they must pay €700 (£630) for licensing which is supposedly forwarded to the composers whose songs they feature. As extra entertainment there are lots of kids on single wheel pivoting skateboards plus other small kids who get up to dance, we almost don’t know where to look. During our street walk we snack on ice cream and pizza feeling truly Italian.

MONDAY 25 JULY – The weather forecast for the week is terrible but with today the best of the bunch. Although it is warmer it is still completely overcast in the morning but we make the best of it and manage a visit to the beach. In fact Claire and Daniel both manage to get a bit of sunburn. Today we teach the kids how to play “arsehole” card game. In the evening we pack up the van ready to drive to the ferry for Venice tomorrow.

TUESDAY 26 JULY – The weather forecast is wrong and it is a lovely day. First we drive 20km to Punta Sabbioni where we park the motorhome, €9 (£8.10), then buy tickets for the Marco Polo ferry to Venice, €9 (£8.10) return. We get on the 9.30am boat and arrive at 10am. At St Marks Square there is a long line to go into the cathedral but is moves quickly and we soon get to look around. As expected Daniel and Natasha are not the least impressed with the gilded mosaic ceiling pictures, the mosaic patterned floor nor anything else. We head to Rialto Bridge then I manage to navigate us back to the egg pictures. Now Daniel and Natasha are on a mission to buy ice creams and cannot wait to get to the place where I have seen them the cheapest. After pasta and pizza for lunch I manage to get us lost and we keep coming to dead ends. It is now plain to see that whilst Claire is enjoying the overall Venice scene the kids are fed up so we make a bee line for St Marks and catch the 2pm ferry back. It stays hot until the sunsets so we can enjoy the rest of the day sat out.

WEDNESDAY 27 JULY – Thank goodness for bad weather forecast with no sign of the predicted storms just a nice morning with clear sky. I stay behind, whilst the others head to the beach, and make use of time alone to do laundry, tidy and clean up then cook some food. Natasha returns with braids in her hair that look really good. In the afternoon Claire and Natasha return to the beach and Steve teaches Daniel backgammon. At night we get a storm but other than hearing the rain it really doesn’t affect us.

THURSDAY 28 JULY – We are lucky that the storm has passed and it is another pleasant day. Steve and Daniel take off on a bike ride, having not wanted one in the first place he has soon begun to enjoy them. I cook cheese topped beer damper bread in the electric oven and it goes down really well and gets eaten in one hit. Steve, Natasha and I cycle to the squares but the only show is a pirate one for young kids.

FRIDAY 29 JULY – Claire’s last day and she heads off to the beach before the kids have even got up. They are both a bit sunburnt and opt to stay in the shade by the van. We return the bikes to the stand then Steve & Claire borrow John & Chris’s electric bikes to take the keys back for the deposit refund. They tell me Claire got trapped on a big roundabout with a lorry forcing her to turn off when she didn’t want to. Pop back to Chris and John’s for a last drink. We’ve had a really good time at Don Bosco camping and have found owner Renato and his staff to be very friendly and helpful but realise that this next week things will be different when the Italians descend on mass for their summer holidays. It will be strange leaving the “land of motorhomes” and all the Italian quirks such as everyone wearing hooded dressing gowns!
LIDO DI JESOLO 18, DON BOSCO – €10 (£9) night Inc electric, long stay discount

SATURDAY 30 JULY – We leave around 7am with the kids simply falling out of bed and strapping themselves in for the drive to the airport. Once we get there we all have breakfast before Claire sets off for her flight back to Leeds. Our journey takes us due north first through the city of Treviso where we do a small detour to admire the centre with a fort, moat and lots of nice streams. Avoiding the toll motorways means progress is slower but the journey more interesting. The kids sleep for much of the time. At lunch time we park at the edge of a beautiful lake with easy access to the water but it is too cold for a swim. At the edge of the Dolomites the road begins to climb and we have superb views of lakes, rivers and motorway bridges. Mid afternoon we pull up for half an hours’ nap. Cortina is a ski resort and you can still see the ski jump from the 1956 Olympic Games. The town is just beautiful crammed full of the most attractive hotels adorned with beautiful flowers. Having just had a nap and with it only being 3.30pm it is really too soon to be stopping for the day. The scenery continues to be impressive with the sun highlighting the different colours within the rugged peaks including some bright pink and reds. Nasswand war cemetery is interesting and unusual. We learn that between 1915 and 1917 many soldiers died in these mountains in places that were difficult to access and even though initially buried there it was decided to relocate them all to this cemetery where upkeep was easier. To get to it you cross a wooden bridge over and icy cold stream then find the graves on an embankment going up the mountain. It’s a tempting overnight spot but the car park is too near the road. At Dobbiaco lake there is a lovely campsite but at a total cost of €45 (£40) we pass and continue to Toblach. We stayed there with Bev & Norm and know there is good motorhome parking by the station. At the nearby Grand Hotel the kids enjoy the visitor centre with lots of interactive displays. The back of the building leads into the forest where there is a trail lined with carvings on tree stumps. We discover an adventure playground where Daniel enjoys getting Natasha to pose for photos. They also enjoy taking pictures on the disused part of the railway track beside the motorhome. It’s getting cooler by the time we return for dinner so we put on coats for an evening stroll. Even the kids are impressed with the backdrop of the Dolomites.

SUNDAY 31 JULY – We’ve had a quiet night, only heard one train but as they are electric they are very quiet. We back track on the journey we made coming with Bev & Norm cutting up into AUSTRIA using the Brenner Pass. Daniel and Natasha alternate between playing on their I Pods, sleeping and popping their heads up to say wow as we pass some amazing scenery. Just before Innsbruck we stop to watch people bungee jumping off the high motorway bridge, it is easy to tell when the jumper is female as you get a lot of screams. Our lunch stop is beside a river but it is glacial water and very cold. The kids are disappointed to find that the transition between countries is barely marked with a sign and we manage to miss the opportunity for them to get photos at the border. Arriving back in GERMANY the motorway is blocked with traffic so we take the country roads and head to Lake Cheimsee. It is a lovely sunny day and the car parks are full so we cannot stop. In India we met Lotte and Volker and they have invited us to visit. There is no suitable motorhome parking near their home in Traunreut but I have put the German motorhome “stellplatz” into the sat nav and it directs us to one at Brunner. It turns out to be a guest house who offers motorhome parking in a garden area. As we are out in the country it looks to be very quiet and we have nice views of the surrounding farmland. Lotte and Volker arrive by motorbike and over a drink we plan to go out for the evening. They return later in 2 cars along with Lotte’s 10-year old son Max. Lotte is making arrangements for me to visit the dentist tomorrow as it is time for my second temporary filling to be removed. First she drives us back to Traunreut to show us where the surgery is and explains that Traunreut is a fairly new city based upon the major companies such as Bosch that have factories here. At Seehausl campsite on the edge of Lake Cheimsee there is a nice restaurant that make stone baked pizzas. It’s a chilly evening and the mosquitoes are out in force but at least the restaurant provides blankets so we can enjoy sitting outside. Although Max speak little English and Natasha and Daniel even less German they seem to get along well when they go off to explore around the lake. Meanwhile we catch up on Lotte and Volker’s news including the sad information that Lotte’s Dad is in hospital terminally ill. This means they have changed their plan to go on holiday to France next week to going to nearby Croatia where they can drive back quicker. This coming week is the only one when all the school children in Germany are on holiday, they have a system here where they begin the holidays first in the north of Germany then moving south they stagger the start with a week apart. Thus the northern kids will go back to school in 1 weeks time whilst Max has only just started his break.


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