A Travellerspoint blog

September 2012

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Bikes, Taxis, Ferries, Buses

It is hard to believe that it is four months since we left Australia armed with our four bags.

those bags

those bags

Since that time we have covered much ground and seen many places :

Planes - Singas, Milano, Morocco, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Ancona, Berlin, Pisa.

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Trains - 25 and still counting.

Ferries - Just a few

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Lost - one European adaptor and a few tempers over : trains, technology, crap directions, dumb tourists ... not excluding ourselves from this category, forking out for unexpected taxis, paying twice for the train tickets in Switzerland - thanks Trenitalia, Italian bureaucracy.

Thank-you - Tak (Danish, Swedish), Grazie (Italiano), Merci (Swiss French, Morocco), Danke (German).

Loved - Italian prices (2 euro beers and massive gelati, and also many meals for under 8 euro). Northern European efficiency and the Christiana.

Cheap Beer and Food

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pasta

pasta

Love that bike

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Highlights - Lake Como, Le Marche, Berlin, Lucca, Gotland, Bike Riding, Rock Jumping - Otranto, staying at the airport hotel and having dinner in the airport (Milano). Watching Olympics and listening to commentators in Danish, Italian and Swedish.  Molto Gelati - Flagola for Nat (her Italian for strawberry), stracciatella for Gabi. Lake Garda and lunch in Malcesine (tortellini with smoked cheese and pistachio nuts).

Food, Jumping and Gelati

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A lovely lunch in Porto Venere

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Its the wind not the gelati

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Lake Garda and Le Marche

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Walked - many, many kilometers over cobblestoned paths.

Climbed - thousands of stairs - why is it so that our apartments are always on the top floor? Dan??

Lugged - 80, 60, 40 kilos of luggage, 20/23 kilo children

Discarded - 20, 40 kilos of luggage, no children

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Taken - many photos, a bit of free lunch from the breakfast buffets (gotta stick to the budget).

Swum in - the Adriatic, Mediterranean, Atlantic, Baltic (bit crisp), Lake Como, Lake Geneva. Piscinas : Menaggio, Lausanne, Berlin, Le Marche, Lake Garda, Mazagan.

Atlantic and Lake Como Pool

Lake Como Pool

Lake Como Pool

Atlantic

Atlantic

Sunset & Sunrise - in Morocco 8.30pm and Stockholm 4.20 am

Sunrise from the hotel room

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Read - Bring Up The Bodies - Hilary Mantel; The Killer's Art, Unspoken - Mari Jungstedt; The Dark Heart of Italy - Tobias Jones; A Month Of Sundays - John Updike; An Italian Education - Tim Parkes; a few lowbrow novels.

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Slept in - 19 beds

Packed and unpacked - 20+ times

School - Gabi has attended school in all the countries visited even if it is via distance Ed.

School Work Le Marche

School Work Le Marche

Who knows what the next eight months will bring ...?

Posted by happellfamily12 14:11 Comments (0)

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)

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