A Travellerspoint blog

Better than France

sunny 30 °C
View Round the World Baby! on Dodgey's travel map.

Hmmm. Where do I start? been a while!

Our last couple of days at Lake Garda were fun. On the last night K went to bed early (ish) and I stayed up and drank with the Italian group next to our tent. We got onto the topic of hobbies, and when I mentioned poker, one of the lad's eyes lit up! He darted off and returned with a poker chip set. There was to be a match!

I won :-)

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(it was a good game - I got lucky, he got lucky, but I got lucky more ;-0 )

The day we set off to meet Matt and Clare we had planned to leave at about 6pm, but we decided at the last minute to leave early - we could always stop and have dinner en-route. Just as we'd finished packing up the tent the sky went black and we ended up having a race to pack the car before the imminent storm. We JUST did it. I had to strap the luggage to the boot in the rain, but God forbid if we'd left it a few minutes later.

Boy did it rain! - we were driving through rivers at times. The poor little convertible was suffering. It went ok, but the windscreen was misty as hell. We had the fan on full, but it just couldn't cope, so we had to take it in turns to open our windows and get thoroughly soaked. When that didn't work, Kirstin had to wipe a "hole" in the condensation for me to peer through.

We drove through the mountains all the way to Pederobba, where Matt lives, passing through Mont De Grappa and generally stunning scenery. Shame we couldn't see much through all the rain. A real crime.

We hooked up with Matt's parents when we got there (Alex and Denise) who introduced us to Prosecco immediately :-) They have a house on one road, and Matt's place is a 30 second walk up the street.

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(Matt's house - where we are now)

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(Alex and Denise on the right - fantastic(a) hosts to say the least)

The next morning we all went over to a nearby house where they make aged meats, you know, like sopressa (sp?) and various other salamis. Everything is home grown (including the pigs). Not reluctantly at all, we accepted their home made wine as well (which everyone seems to be up to!)... it was lovely.

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(Every farm has to have KITTENS! :-) )

Matt's family have another house up in the mountains above the town. We went up on the 1st Sunday for a BBQ. What a feast! They have one particular cut of beef that is HUGE. Thoroughly delicious, and what a beautiful setting.

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(Alex preparing Polenta and Beef)

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A superb day, and I gained about a stone in weight. Talking of which, we went to a mountain restaurant the other day where you can order your T-Bone steak by the weight. It was HUGE! - and also, fortunately, thoroughly delicious - I ate the lot :-)

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(yes, this really is a parking space for cattle, outside the restaurant in the car park, which is kind of apt.... )

Other random highlights... playing in the river....

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(cold and fast flowing - we got half way across, and yes, I'm in my pants)

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(The girls sunbathing in a row of vines just by the house we are in)

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(Having a swifty while the girls shopped at a large open market)

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(Alex popping into a gun shop ... and buying a rifle)

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(Guido - our next door neighbour - a lovely chap who plies us with Limonchello when ever he can get away with it - oh, and he loves to sunbathe!)

Such a relaxing place. Mind you, our livers won't thank us. People make a fuss about Champagne. These people drink Prosecco with everything, any time. And don't get me started on Grappa......

On Thursday we went to Venice! I won't waffle on, we all know what Venice is, but needless to say we tried the obligatory Gondola, walked a lot, soaked up the sights, and ate well. Pictures say more....

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(Drinking in St Mark's Square is famously expensive - to the point you pay more to sit in the shade. Maybe that explains whey absolutely no one was drinking there... odd?)

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(Venice can be madly busy, but you can always find a quite corner if you try hard enough)

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(Though he was having fun, Matt could not decide if he was Jason Bourne or James Bond)

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(Girls very pleased with their choice of Gondoleer)

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("That" bridge)

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(Ahhh!)

That Gondola cost 100 Euros for about 20 minutes - and we ended upi back where we started!!!

The rest of the week has been a juggling act of eating and drinking. Such a hard life! We went back up to the mountain house this weekend after Matt and Clare had gone. More cooking of unfeasibly large pieces of meat ensued.

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(This is a pretty normal arrangement when eating in Italy. Glass of Prosecco, glass of Grappa, cup of coffee, plus several other variants of Grappa to try, not forgetting red wine too)

We also gave the new gun a try.....

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Although notice how I'm holding a bandage to my head? I've never used a rifle with a scope before. So I put my eye right up to it.... and the recoil of the gun punched a lovely crescent shaped cut into my eyebrow. God it hurt for a little while..

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One of Matt's Aunts cleaned the cut and put on a plaster. Thing is, the small plaster was just too small, so she put a normal one on, from the bridge of my nose to somewhere up my forehead. She couldn't stop laughing

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Oh the fun!

Chilling for a week now and planning our Southern Italy jaunt. Been no shortage of advice, Matt's father Alex works in the travel business, and of course, it Italian.. so lots of tips incoming.

Totally loving Italy so far. So different from anywhere we've been so far, and so much better than we expected. Can't wait to explore all the Roman ruins....

p.s. nerdy note - we managed to beam "wifi" from Matt's cousins house down the road to this house buy attaching a wireless router to a long plank and sticking it out just below the roof. Works a charm!

Update: Managed to get a photo from the depths of my phone's memory card... our neighbours in Garda...

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Posted by Dodgey 10:10 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

From one Lake to the Next

sunny 30 °C
View Round the World Baby! on Dodgey's travel map.

What a change! By the time we left Dongo at Lake Como we’d had enough. It was a lovely place but the campsite was a bit of a nightmare. Our neighbours could not have been any louder or inconsiderate if they tried, we had the bins behind our tent – so people would bang them shut at all hours, we had little shade, our pitch was cramped, and the church bells – well , they got more and more frequent. It seems we were there at the start of some kind of religious “thing” – “our” church would ring half of a “tune” while another church miles away would ring the other half. Sounds great? Well, no, not if you can’t hear the other church, being that we were at one far end of the musical “arrangement”.

For once we actually got up early and packed before the sun came out in its full ferocity. This obviously gave the advantage of not packing in ninety degrees heat, but also meant we’d arrive at our next destination before midday. We’ve realised we have been making the mistake of travelling though the worst heat of the day, then arriving at our new location hot and knackered and consequently picking the first campsite we find. Often not the best choice! So we got up at 7am and were away by 8.15.

Staying with the theme of being efficient in our move we finally crumbled to the pressure of using the Autostrada – the toll-highway. Our GPS told us it was 4.5 hours to Lake Garda, and we had to go all the way back down to Milan! – Madness. The Autostrada route gave a journey time of under 3 hours. It wasn’t all plain sailing. Whoever mapped Italy was drunk. The GPS tried to get us to exit the Autostrada at a junction that simply did not exist! No problem though, we just got off at the next exit and went back to “pikey” roads. Still got there in 3 hours as we’d covered most of the ground. Boy was the Autostrada busy though! We were getting concerned that all of Italy was on the move and finding a new campsite was going to be a bit of a nightmare. Saying that, when we paid only 5 Euros for two and a half hours on the motorway we realised that was part of the reason it was so busy. It’s cheap.

The GPS actually came to the rescue in the end. We got stuck in standstill traffic near the lake, and you could see it went on for miles. I used the “avoid road block” feature on the GPS and it actually worked, and diverted us to the lake in twenty minutes with little traffic.

I’d tried to do a little research on Lake Garda before we set off, on the Internet. Its very tricky researching campsites. When you search you are bombarded with the sites’ own web pages, all vying for your business. Finding reviews with pictures is near impossible. I did however manage to find a blog entry from another traveller, with pictures of a site and vague directions. We headed for that.

Finding the site was actually a cinch. We got taken up a load of steps and were shown our pitch choices…. What a find!!!! The campsite is split onto lots of terrace levels up the side of a very steep mountain side. All the caravans and mobile homes are at the bottom two levels, and then there are another three or four levels above that are inaccessible by vehicle and therefore tent-only. The real beauty is that you end up with no one in front or behind you, plus, you end up away from the caravans and campervans – a good thing as I’ll explain later.

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(Our new pitch on one of the top terraces)

The great thing about being up high…. Is…..

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THE VIEW!!!!

What a place! We are staying here for a week! (We are actually in the region of Torre Del Benaco but it's a region so I can't select it on the map, so Garda will do for reference - only 6k's away)

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(Better than any mermaid)

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(Better than Medusa)

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(Obviously, most of Italy are on holiday here too!)

At last we get peace and quiet, a super view, good cheap food, and when you walk down to the bottom of the steps you are at the lake – clear and blue. Awesome.

I mentioned before about caravans and campervans. We have definitely come to the realisation it’s best to be as far from them as possible. Particularly the caravans. The thing is, they pretty much move their home with them. These families bring EVERYTHING. And I mean everything. Full size fridge freezers, TVs, satellite dishes, proper garden furniture. I’ve seen some with wooden dressers and cabinets in their awnings. They get their huge (and clearly booked well ahead) pitches, move in, unpack, and make it like home. Not a bad thing you’d think? Well, the problem with them making it like home, is they act like they are at home. That’s not a good thing if you want peace and quiet. Not to mention half of them bring their dogs with them.

To be fair, the Italians have been, on the whole, well behaved, but the Dutch! We now select our tent pitch site not only on location, but on proximity to large family caravans. I’ll take some pictures of the huge caravans when I get a bored moment – you’ll be amazed at how much stuff people are prepared to tow from Holland : - ) – I even read somewhere they bring all their own food with them too.

That reminds me. It’s very Italian here. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, but at Como it was very Dutch. Most people seem to be Italian that we’ve heard or spoken too. Feel much better. We are in Italy after all.

So far we’ve lounged around, swum in the lake, had dinner in Torro Del Banacco, cooked on our home made BBQ, and generally not done much. Tonight there is a firework display at a village directly opposite us across the lake – about a mile away. Should be good to watch from our pitch. There is another big display on the 15 th in Garda itself which we’ll go to watch, then we’ll leave the next morning to join Matt and Clair at his place North of Venice.

We plan to hit South Italy in September, leaving the tent behind and staying in cheap B&Bs and hostels. We’ve had our fill of camping for a while – our inflatable bed has a puncture now.

Update: Been relaxing some more. A group of about 8 Italian students turned up the other day and pitched an array of tents next to us. Three of them play guitar and they are very good. We joined them on the first evening they arrived and they played music and sang all night. One of the lads is Sicilian and played lots of Sicilian folk songs. A great laugh – until Kirstin told them I play guitar. Far too many beers and years had passed for me to remember any tunes. I did however spend the next day re-learning some old classics. Was fun to pick up a guitar again, though my fingers hurt like hell now!

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(Critically embarassing. K told them I could play and they insisted. I'd drunk the best part of a bottle of ValPol plus a heap of beers)

Posted by Dodgey 03:46 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

To InfinItaly and Beyond

sunny
View Round the World Baby! on Dodgey's travel map.

Our last few days in Provence were relaxed, very very hot, and scenic.

On recommendation from an old work colleague we drove up to the tiny village of St Martin De Castillion, perched high on a mountain top, only accessible by one windy steep mountain road. The drive was spectacular, all the while overlooking the valley below.

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(Driving along the crest of a mountain is pretty easy on the eye)

When we got there the 1st thing we saw was a small pizza restaurant with views to die for.

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We didn’t even bother looking at the menu, the views were that breathtaking, we knew we were going to have lunch there :- )
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Another great lunch. What a place! – We both agree that Provence / Luberon is our favourite region so far. Despite the fame that Provence has attracted since the book, “A Year in Provence”, we found it to be very quiet and far less touristy than the Bordeau region. There were only two other people dining at that restaurant, and this is peak holiday season.

On our last night, as always seems to happen, we got talking to the locals – a chap who lives on the campsite, an older guy who works there, and some chick – can’t remember where she fitted in. We chewed through two bottles of Rose and then were offered Pastis with Grenadine. Lovely and lethal! At one stage the older chap said something slightly disparaging but amusing to the younger guy, about the “Englise”. He immediately responded by warning him we could understand! Haha  I looked at him and frowned, he looked sheepish. We had a good laugh. I have no doubt that with a good month or two of immersion in the language we’d be pretty darn good. We are not doing too bad so far.

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(Farewell Provence!)

The next day we set off. We had a loose plan of heading to Lake Como in Italy. Our GPS told us it was a nine hour drive using the small roads (six if using the toll roads), so we decided we’d find a cheap hotel mid route and break up the journey. No rush after all.

The GPS picks some very odd routes if you let it – and we do. So far each time it has resulted in spectacular drives. We are sure it picks the slowest route possible, but to date, it’s worked out great. This time was no exception.

We drove in the valley of the Provence mountains for ages. Totally agricultural and beautiful. The only catch was that petrol stations seemed not to exist. We got some in the end, but it wasn’t a place you’d want to run out – I think you’d be waiting all day for the AA to come out. After a while, we started heading into the Alps. Everything was a surprise; we had no idea about the route we were taking, and we like it that way. One minute it’s fields and farms, then all of a sudden, we are driving straight for the Alps!

A memorable moment was driving along when all of a sudden, with no warning, we found ourselves skirting along the side of a huge turquoise lake with lots of people camping, boating, kite surfing. It was stunning and really caught us by surprise. Our route took us straight across it at the top. No pictures I’m afraid – I stupidly packed the camera deep in the boot, and that’s not somewhere you want to go unless you are unpacking proper.

After the lake we started winding up the mountains. Again, incredibly beautiful and on such a huge scale. Absolutely loads of people camping in the mountains. All very “Alpen”. We drove past the base lift of “Serre Chevellier” – a ski resort I’ve been too. Didn’t expect that.

As we ploughed on I noticed that one of the road signs was in Italian and was just about to mention it to Kirstin when right in front of us was the “ITALY” border sign. We’d driven across the border and not even noticed! :- ) Aureviour France, Bonjourno Italy!

As predicted by a friend, the road quality suddenly increased four-fold and the driving became mentalist! – Really, they are nuts! Maniac overtaking, violent lane swerving, zero patience and a desire to break the sound barrier.

We drove on, gawping at the total change in architecture (neither of us have been to Italy before). A mix of huge ugly manufacturing buildings, and older style “square” Italian buildings. We passed Turin and by this stage the heat had got to us and we were exhausted. Time to stop for the night. Easier said than done. Every village we drove through seemed to be based entirely around the local farming and everything was closed, and not one sighting of a B&B or hotel. When we eventually found a hotel in a larger town, it was closed! :- ( - but a very helpful old guy gave us directions to one that would be open – in Italian of course. And at this stage, we didn’t even know the word for “no” or “left”.

After some dicking about (getting lost) we found the hotel and were delighted. A real bath! And a smart room! I acquainted myself with the receptionist and got her to help me compile a list of key Italian words and phrases and then we tucked into our first Italian meal. It kind of went ok. I played it safe and had Gnocchi followed by pollo rosta – even I could work out roast chicken! Kirstin however, was not quite so lucky. She ordered what we presumed was some kind of Proscuitto dish. That it certainly was…

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(Yep, that was it. One giant piece of smoked gammon!)

We had a lovely wine (ok, we bought a second bottle to take to the room) and retired, where I than enjoyed my 1st bath in at least a month. Heaven!

The next morning it was onwards..

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(not my kind of transport)

Again, we found ourselves driving round a huge lake but just as we started to get accustomed to the Italian road signs we hit another border. Now we were in Switzerland! – time to stop for lunch. Couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to leave one country, have lunch in another , then move to another :- )

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(The lake at Bissonne)

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(the “proof I’ve been here shot”)

Lunch was a little more successful – we played it safe. I had Carbonara and K had Gnocchi (we may have been in Switzerland but it seemed the Italians had taken this part over)

The spectacular driving continued and eventually we got to Porlezza, a small town not far from Lake Como which was “supposed” to be the point from where we followed directions to a campsite in the woods I’d found on the web. It of course didn’t work out that way. The promised road signs were absent and the mentioned roads did not exist. They didn’t answer the phone either. Not good signs at all.

We spend a good hour and a half driving up and down the same roads getting totally confused. The directions simply did not tie up with the roads that actually existed. We stopped for a beer to help lubricate things along and decided to abandon the mission and head onto Como instead. This was when I discovered that the campsite in question was actually listed as a destination on our TomTom GPS! – yay! – so off we headed – 12 minutes away it told us.

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That’s not a road, if you look closely, it’s a farmers dirt track. It got worse – muddy and rutted. The GPS had sent us into a farm. Not a hint of camping anywhere, and the car was bottoming out frequently. We really did end up on the boon-docks. We gave up and headed to Como :- )

Driving along the edge of Lake Como is an intense experience. It is a mixture of stunning scenery, VERY narrow roads and tunnels, and of course mad Italian drivers. Oh, and a gazillion looneys on sports bikes trying to chose which bend to use to donate their organs on. The problem of the narrow roads and tunnels is exasperated by the fact you are driving in bright sunshine (well into the 90’s) for a few minutes, then plunged into darkness in a tunnel for 5 minutes. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust, and you are essentially driving blind for the 1st few seconds when entering or leaving a tunnel. And boy, there are a LOT of tunnels.

We checked out a few campsites and they were all worryingly crammed full. The Italian way of camping is a tad different to the French way. They just ram tents in any space available. When you arrive it is akin to being in a busy street bazzar in Morroco, with tents and caravans instead of stalls. Not an inch of privacy. This was worrying us. Especially as we are now well into August and the Italians are famed for ALL taking their holidays in August.

Fortunately we found a site that looked promising. Only problem was that there was only one approach road (one car wide of course) and it was by a church, where a funeral was in progress. The road was blocked by a hearse.

We tried finding another route but that was the only one. Desperation at this point encouraged us to get the hearse to reverse back down the road :- ) There was one tent plot left. We took it.

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(Our new view and home. The photo is not warped, the tower is indeed wonky. No wonder Pisa leans if they can’t get something this small right)

By the time we had pitched out tent (which is now starting to rip at the seams already) we had both lost a kilo in sweat. We quickly threw on our cosies and dived in the lake. Heaven! Bobbing about in the fresh water with a backdrop that takes your breath away. Phew.

It’s not a bad place. Very scenic. Only catch is that we are flanked by two church towers. One rings on the hour, and the other, on the half-hour. 24 hours a day. Right by us. Pretty hard to sleep though. That and a group of pissed Dutch girls arriving at the site at 4.30 am and singing and shouting for half an hour. (We are seemingly in Holland now – so many Dutch here).

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(The view to the left is unreal but I’ll have to wait until the cloud clears or you can’t see the highest mountains)

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(One for Andrew :- ) )

A few observations about Italy so far…

They seem very friendly and eager to accommodate you. Much more so than the French.

Most things are half the price of France, which is odd as we are neighbours. Beer is about the same, but smokes are half the price, shopping is about half the price. A roll of cotton in France was 5 Euros!! You get 10 rolls for 3 here. A bottle of water in France is circa 1 Euro. Here – 12 cents. Even branded ice-creams are less than half the price in Italy than France.I don’t get it. I have a reasonable grasp of economics but I can’t fathom why one country next to another, in the same European Union, can be so wildly more expensive.

There is a much more laid back atmosphere here. People seem to have bought into the relaxing way of life more. It feels almost like being in Greece.

Off for a walk along the lake now to check out the other campsites.

Small update (going to be a lot of these. When you mention wi-fi the locals look at you as if you’ve just invited them to start war with Germany) – Our neighbours are the new “louds”. Un f’ing real!! We have resorted to putting our music at full volume to drown them out. Something we’ve never had to do before. Their kids SHOUT all the time – as LOUD AS THEY CAN. The adults are no better. There are 8 of them in a huge caravan – 5 of them kiddies. Idtiots. Last night they decided that topping up their water toys (you know, dinghies etc) was a good idea with the electric pump. At midnight. By our heads.

Update – 8/8 – Went for a little explore down the South side of the lake today. Stopped at a lovely village called Menaggio and had a coffee.

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Then we moved on to Como itself. Got stuck in horrific traffic. The roads are barely wide enough for one car but coaches and full size lorries frequent the route causing huge tailbacks while everyone has to reverse and let them through. Interesting drive along the lake – you spend over half the time in tunnels.

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(Out of one tunnel, into more…if you look there is another tunnel immediately after the nearest one – you can be underground for 5 minutes or more, then out for a few seconds, then straight in another!)

Como was kind of interesting. A larger town, but nearly everything was shut as it was lunch time. We got fleeced for 8 Euros for two tiny beers, enjoyed the most amazing ice creams, then left in search of a better value lunch.

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Off to rent a speedboat to take on the lake now. Going to visit Bellagio (Where George Clooney lives no less) – seems appropriate to arrive by boat.

p.s. finding Wi-Fi was a challenge! – None in Menaggio, Como, or anywhere we searched. I then had the idea of using my Playstaystion Portable (PSP) to seach for wi-fi as it has it built in. Far handier than walking around with a laptop open looking like a nerd of Star Trek searching for a signal. I ended up finding it right by our campsite outside a private church library :- ) - I’m posting this sitting on a bench at a bus stop outside!

Further Update – Just got back from our speedboat trip! We hired a 6 seater boat for the day and went on an explore. They are pretty relaxed here – “here is the boat, don’t hit the rocks, if you break the prop it’s 500 Euros, Cio!”

What a superb thing to do. I’d already noticed via pics on the web that the villages on the lake are better viewed from the water, and sure enough, it was spectacular.

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(Not a bad pad hey!)

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We cruised down the lake checking out all the gorgeous properties along the way, then stopped for coffees and cakes and stocked up with beers and water. Tying the boat up was a laugh – neither of us had a clue what to do. We sussed it in the end, but I’ll admit I was a little surprised it was still there when we returned. I had half expected to be swimming out to get it.

After that we headed down quite a bit further, cruising past Bellagio – the place where all the moneyed types live (and ironically, the only place you are not allowed to stop and moor-up. We eventually got to a small cute island and wandered up to the restaurant but the menu was pricey and not very imaginative, so we headed across to one we’d driven past in the car the other day and had the most fantastic lunch. Really fantastic, and not pricey either. Some cheeky old git tried to tell us off for using his jetty – it was clearly marked “for use by restaurant clients” – we sailed off – what could he do? :- )

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(No, she didn’t crash)

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(I reckon Postman Pat lives here)

With our 6 hours nearly up we headed back up the lake and pulled into a sheltered cove and had a swim. I can tell you, it’s not a natural feeling jumping off a boat and leaving it abandoned – with no anchor. I had to front crawl to catch it up as the wind got a bit of pace behind it.

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Our timing could not have been better – for all of the day we had a pond like calm lake with scattered clouds and then as we set off for the last 20 minutes to return the boat the wind picked up, the sky clouded over and it started to rain just as we got back to the tent (which we left open….)

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(Our trusty steed. As you can see, the weather turned a bit just as we got back)

What a super day, and all in all, not too expensive. 195 Euros for the boat including insurance, and 44 Euros for the fuel we used. A lot of money for us in the scheme of things, but well, you have to try these things.

We saw a sea plane flying over the lake regularly so we plan to see if we can fly over Lake Garda when we are there. We are setting off tomorrow morning.

Right! Off to the bus stop to post this monster!

Posted by Dodgey 08:27 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

A Reddish-Orangy Walk

32 °C

We actually did something organised yesterday! - We went with a guide from the Office de Tourism on a walk through the Luberon hills to look at the old ochre mines. Good value too! - 4 Euros each. You can go to larger mines and go inside them, but that's another attraction. This was more based on the walk than the mines.

A lovely morning out. We walked about 8k's and our guide was very knowledgable. We also got lucky - although she spoke reasonably good English, one of the French member of the group was from Brittany and was very keen to translate everything for us. Which was just as well.

Although we got the gist of most conversations, there were definately times when our lack of complete French made things a little confusing. At one stage she told the group (6 of us) about an old folklore tale of two mining groups who tunneled towards each other. When they met in the middle they were so pleased they all drunk lots of Pastis, so happy in fact, even the donkey had some. I translated this as they failed to meet in the middle because they had all drunk too much Pastis. Close, but no cigar. (Probably the truth though)

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(Ochre mines)

The Ochre deposits are basically sand stone. Stone is too strong a word. You can scrape your name in the "stone" with your finger. They used to use high pressure water jets to blast it away, then let it settle in lakes and separate the ochre from the sand (sable!).

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(There is no shortage of the stuff - but its so soft it'll all be flat in about 15 years they reckon)

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(Especially if people like these two numpties climb all over it)

Production didn't stop that long ago. Synthetics are used for the colour these days but there is renewed interest in using the real thing. There were still plenty of signs of life not so long ago.

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Ochre was everywhere. We've been warned to brush our clothes off and rinse them in cold water so that the colour does not "fix"!

The general walk was beautiful, and thankfully, shaded most of the time. Another lovely day out. We learnt more French too. I can now tell you with authority, but maybe not the spelling, that a white cherry is a "Bigaro" - a word I pointed out to our helpful translator that we'll probably never find a use for again!

We also learnt about the life cycle of Secarda insects (Segal in French). Our guide seemed obsessed by them and repeated many times throughout the walk all the details of their lives. I won't bore you, but you never know, might be useful one day.

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(I'm getting somewhat obsessive about dead trees)

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(pretty hey!)

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(So much so I took two! :-) )

A few more days here, we think - it's lovely, then we'll head to Lake Garda or Lake Coma in Italy and camp until mid August when we are meeting Matt and Clarty D. Next planned things to do here are going to see some chap's garden model railway - should be hillarious - my idea, and K wants to arrange a day horse riding (I'll give that a miss thanks). We are also going to revisit the lovely restaurant on Villars one evening - it was that good, and excellent value (we had dinner in Apt the other night and it was beyond horriffic - all acompanied by a child that grizzled ALL evening and his mother ignored him all night)

p.s. Congrats to James Bullion and Karin - a baby boy arrived yesterday!. A Bullion Viking no less.

Posted by Dodgey 01:54 Archived in France Comments (0)

Lunch in Villars

sunny 32 °C

Well, just a miniscule update really. I've done a long post below regarding camping, but that is aimed at the general public (linked from a travel website) though you might find it interesting.

Still having a super time. It's baking hot. Piece of advice - if you buy a ragtop for touring Europe. Get one with air conditioning!. It's simply too hot midday. Our cooling system is whacko - it blows cool for about 2 seconds, then blisteringly hot. I looked under the bonnet - it draws air from above the engine - doh!

Moving on - went for a random drive around yesterday and stumbled across a tiny village called Villars. We had a super lunch in a lovely shaded restaurant. The chef came out and said hello and then went in to cook for us. It felt very personal. We were the only people there for the 1st hour. He came out and wished us Bon Appetite as we started.

We both had the Carpaccio to start (raw beef) - it was sublime! - ice cold, on a bed of salad and herbs, with parmesan shavings on top. Best Carpaccio we've ever had. I then had a perfectly cooked filet steak and K had pork in a mustard sauce. We chugged on a local bottle of rose :-) - A Villars no less!

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A really fab lunch in a lovely setting.

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We are off on a hike tomorrow with a guide. Lots of pictures to come.

Posted by Dodgey 10:10 Archived in France Comments (0)

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