A Travellerspoint blog

Lago Di Garda and Mantova

QUICK EXCURSION FROM SLEEPY BOLOGNA

all seasons in one day 24 °C

We had been warned by our resident Bolognese experts that the town is pretty quiet until locals return in early September from their summer vacanza, so having dumped our stuff at our new apartment (home for the next 3+ months), and spent a few days shopping and getting the general layout, we decided to head off again for a few days.

Lake Garda is a pretty easy train trip via Verona, so we elected to stay there for 3 nights, and have a couple of days in Mantova on the way home. Italy's largest lake, Garda, like Lake Como, left us mightily impressed. Enjoying a different, but equally spectacular topography to Lake Como, we also noticed a greater prevalence of German (like) speakers. Our assumption was Austrians, but they may also have been Swiss and even far northern Italians who apparently use German in preference to parlo Italiano.

typical ferries, and unfortunately typical weather ...

typical ferries, and unfortunately typical weather ...

typical cyclist ... excellent bike paths around many parts of the lake

typical cyclist ... excellent bike paths around many parts of the lake

We stayed near Bardolino, a thriving little town renowned for its red wine production, and made quick visits to charming Sirmione (had to visit there anyway out of curiosity as a horse of this name was a high class performer in Oz!); Garda the town with a beautiful lakefront boulevard; and finally to Malcesine which has rocketed into our top 10 bella citta. With a stunning castle and interesting alleyways we were already on a winner, but an absolutely divine lunch at a place called Ristorante Al Gondoliere sealed the deal ... heaven ...

Sirmione ... Scaliger Castle (13th century)

Sirmione ... Scaliger Castle (13th century)

Garda town looking north

Garda town looking north

Malcesine ... looks air brushed but not so ... great work Lisa H

Malcesine ... looks air brushed but not so ... great work Lisa H

Malcesine ... with some non-Italian children braving the cold!

Malcesine ... with some non-Italian children braving the cold!

Our kids also loved the cable car we caught which takes you from Malcesine up to Monte Baldo - a zippy 1800m ascent (plus the car rotates 360 degree for the 2nd part of the trip). Temperature also didn't muck around, plummeting from 22 degrees lakeside to 4 degrees up the top. This was representative of the weather throughout our trip - a mixed bag of lollies after the prolonged heatwave Italy had endured.

Monte Baldo ... weather briefly clears on way up ... Malcesine is the town below

Monte Baldo ... weather briefly clears on way up ... Malcesine is the town below

Monte Baldo ... on top and the weather gods having some fun

Monte Baldo ... on top and the weather gods having some fun

Monte Baldo ... on the way down and another clear moment

Monte Baldo ... on the way down and another clear moment

Mantova followed, and it didn't disappoint with its array of beautiful medieval and Renaissance buildings, and lovely lakeside walks outside the town walls. We hired bikes for both days, and were very excited to see Gabi quickly develop confidence on the 2-wheeler. A big thanks to Granny for all her developmental work there! We thought this was a stunning town, and will be back before too long.

Mantova ... locals fishing with special elongated poles to get extra reach

Mantova ... locals fishing with special elongated poles to get extra reach

Mantova ... P plates about to come off?

Mantova ... P plates about to come off?

Now for Bologna, schooling, and language improvement ...!

Posted by happellfamily12 04:48 Archived in Italy Tagged mountains lake ferries weather cable_car german_speakers Comments (0)

Le Marche

HOT, HOT, HOT

sunny 36 °C

It is easy to imagine Le Marche as Tuscany may have been 20 years ago. Beautiful coastline (albeit with less than bella architecture) melds into very attractive rolling countryside with gorgeous hilltop towns, which finally gives way to dramatic mountain ranges which have sensibly been declared national parks. The two decade gap indicates the blessed lack of tourist traffic through the region, although we may have been spoilt due to the furnace-like conditions which prevailed during our stay.

typical landscape shot which shows the farmhouse right of centre

typical landscape shot which shows the farmhouse right of centre

Our accommodation came courtesy of a Sydney family that have painstakingly renovated a large farmhouse in the central region of Le Marche - www.la-serenita.com. Perfectly situated high on the hillside looking towards Tolentino, the property instantly has a calming effect on all inhabitants (very aptly named), and we enjoyed two relaxing weeks here swimming, reading, cooking, and exploring the region.

our digs - especially attractive late afternoon

our digs - especially attractive late afternoon

Lisa with her standard morning rev-up

Lisa with her standard morning rev-up

homemade pasta - despite this glum look, I think the cooks were happy!

homemade pasta - despite this glum look, I think the cooks were happy!

"what if we do leave the EC, and go back to the lira ...?"

"what if we do leave the EC, and go back to the lira ...?"

godsend during the heatwave

godsend during the heatwave

The highlights of exploring the region were many, and included :

San Ginesio festival week, including their palio

not a great pic, but the equine and human skills on show were impressive

not a great pic, but the equine and human skills on show were impressive

just part of the colourful parade

just part of the colourful parade

parade over, but the party is just beginning

parade over, but the party is just beginning

Swimming on the Conero Peninsula (Sirolo) with the dramatic limestone cliffs

gives the Amalfi coast a run for its money ...

gives the Amalfi coast a run for its money ...

when in Italy it is important to do as the locals do and flout the law!

when in Italy it is important to do as the locals do and flout the law!

muscles cleaning the mussels

muscles cleaning the mussels

Day trip to lovely Ascoli Piceno further south near the Abruzzo border

paunch in the Piazza Del Popolo

paunch in the Piazza Del Popolo

temperature nudged 40 degrees this day, so any relief welcome

temperature nudged 40 degrees this day, so any relief welcome

Ascoli Piceno was beautiful inside and outside the centro

Ascoli Piceno was beautiful inside and outside the centro

Visit to neighbouring Caldarola for a tour of the castle (Castello Pallotta) followed by aperitivi

15th century drawbridge

15th century drawbridge

usually very good buddies

usually very good buddies

little known German beer but it mattered not ...

little known German beer but it mattered not ...

Stunning drive up into the Sibylline Mountains National Park, followed by a swim in Lago Di Fiastra

not quite end of the holiday season so still fairly busy

not quite end of the holiday season so still fairly busy

welcome relief after the long drive ...

welcome relief after the long drive ...

Posted by happellfamily12 15:13 Archived in Italy Tagged towns countryside weather swimming pool hot hilltop Comments (1)

Charlie Caper by Gabi

THIS MIDSHEN HAS GOT TALENT ...

semi-overcast 22 °C

When we were in Stockholm Sweden we were walking down the street and we met Charlie Caper. He is a midshen. He could me up and he said what is your name.

We did some tricks. First trick was he had a lide in his hand and I thought it went in his pocket but it went down his panss.

warm up act ...

warm up act ...

Second trick I had a coin in my hand and it decsapead behind my ear.

watching closely ...

watching closely ...

how did he do that?

how did he do that?

Last trick he had two paper balls in his hands and they desapead into my hands.

not this time Charlie!

not this time Charlie!

it really is magic ...

it really is magic ...

Then he said “thankyou Gabi” and a nother lady came up.

Editor's note : This guy we happened across was fantastic, and a quick internet search that night revealed him to be a past winner of 'Sweden's Got Talent'! His internet site for anyone interested is www.catchmagic.com.

Posted by happellfamily12 07:17 Archived in Sweden Tagged stockholm street theatre magician Comments (1)

Sweden

We found Pippi Longstocking, but where is Wallander?

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Sweden was a bit of a leap into the unknown. We were tossing up between Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Estonia, and it was only some super-cheap flights with SAS (remember them?) into Stockholm that swayed it for us.

Speaking of which, we enjoyed possibly the perfect airport travel experience from Arlanda airport (45 kms north of the capital). Pick up luggage from the carousel, take lift down 2 floors, walk 20 metres to waiting Arlanda Express, leave platform 2 minutes later, reach a top speed of 200kms/hour 5 minutes later, enjoy a pristine carriage with TV, magazines and multi-lingual announcements, exit train 20 minutes later in the center of Stockholm. Unbelievable experience ... but can it be replicated down under??

A whirlwind day and a half in Stockholm gave us the merest taste of its charm and beauty. A city made up of 14 islands - with 30% of the city area consisting of waterways, and 30% parks and green spaces - obviously has a huge natural advantage. Throw in the well-earned reputation for design flair, and a surprisingly strong multicultural feel, and this all adds up to an entertaining and interesting visit.

very flash Ostermalm from our ferry trip

very flash Ostermalm from our ferry trip

downtime in Gamla Stan (old town)

downtime in Gamla Stan (old town)

Lisa heading into Riksdagshuset (Parliament House)

Lisa heading into Riksdagshuset (Parliament House)

our Stockholm hotel ... a pleasant slice of Swedish style

our Stockholm hotel ... a pleasant slice of Swedish style

We had however made the decision to 'do as the Swedes do' in summer, and thus a visit to the beautiful island of Gotland off the east coast beckoned. Figures vary, but they say that at least 50% of all Swedes visit this island at least once in their lifetime. It is hard to think of an Australian equivalent ... possibly Byron Bay ... but this place has a strong emotional hold over many carrying the blue and yellow.

A one hour bus ride to Nynashamm, followed by a 3 hour boat ride on the massive 'Destination Gotland' ship (carrying over 1400 passengers plus cars) was seamless and enjoyable. The Swedes are big pet lovers, so there was even an allocated area on board where you could sit with your canine friend!

sailing the high seas ... and braver than their parents!

sailing the high seas ... and braver than their parents!

Our accommodation was in a large camping area called Kneipbynn, and we elected to rent an apartment rather than expose our limited camping abilities. This campground is famous for being the site of Pippi Longstocking's house when they made the movies many years ago, and they still hold little plays on-site which young and old enjoy. The other main activities were visiting the two fantastic onsite parks - Vattenland (Water Land) and Sommarland - and cycling the short distance into Visby, the island's main town. We were fortunate to run into medieval week at Visby, which was re-enacted with some vigor by the locals. Visby is a stunning town ... right up the top of our list of belle citta.

view from our apartment in Kneipbynn

view from our apartment in Kneipbynn

Pippi's house

Pippi's house

we only touched on Gotland's beauty due to the weather ... next time ...

we only touched on Gotland's beauty due to the weather ... next time ...

locals at play in Visby ... Lisa had a crush on the bloke with the long prong

locals at play in Visby ... Lisa had a crush on the bloke with the long prong

Despite pretty ordinary weather throughout, we had a fantastic week, and returned to Stockholm with our fellow Swedish holidaymakers keen to return again another day.

Note : for TV (and literary) buffs, the answer to the question posed in the sub-heading is Ystad, in the south of Sweden. I was tempted to do a day trip from Copenhagen - via Malmo - but bike duties called!

Posted by happellfamily12 07:36 Archived in Sweden Comments (0)

Legoland

Wow - that hurt the hip pocket - but the kids had a great time.

semi-overcast 24 °C

Saying goodbye to the Christiana we caught the train to Billund for Legoland. We had fallen into the trap of staying in the over-priced fairly average Legoland hotel. Many of the comments on Trip Advisor pan the hotel, and it is not much more then a Flag Inn charging Sheraton prices. On the plus side it is great for kids with entry to Legoland included in the price; allows easy access to the park; and there are buckets of Lego for them to play with scattered throughout the hotel.

The kids were in their element and loved going on the rides and seeing many famous cities and sights made out of Lego.

Lego Ride

Legoride.jpg

Gabi was brave enough to go on the Polar Ice roller coaster with Dan, and I think they were both as terrified as each other. It was a gutsy effort by Gab, as it is very high, goes extremely fast and is more suited for older children.

Of course it is hard to leave Legoland without clutching a box of Lego and both kids came away from the massive shop clutching a small box. Lego for the kids has kept them entertained in every country since we left and has been played with on trains, planes, airports, stations, restaurants, apartments and hotel rooms, so adding to the collection is a plus for all parties sanity.

It's all Lego

LegoNyhavn.jpg

LegoLand.jpg

legoridefroggy.jpg

I was hoping that there would be a history of Lego where one could take a walk down memory lane and see the sets we'd played with as kids in the late 70s : train stations, hospitals, star wars. However it was not to be ...

Posted by happellfamily12 08:55 Archived in Denmark Comments (1)

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