Tour Reflections so far, now almost 6 months in……

Overall we still love our lives on the tour, but we have definitely ‘motorhome life’ matured a little over the previous 3 months.  First of all, the heat has now become a factor, especially over the last month and a half.  We have found that the van can get too hot to enjoy a good nights sleep and this is made worse if you are staying on a public car parks as we feel reluctant to leave the windows open during the night.  Also the heat has affected our sight seeing and often we have returned from walking through a city completely ‘boiled’ and unable to return back to a cooler state.

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Our 12 volt fan.  It is badged up a Marshall (Chinese) and it powerful and relatively silent.

On a practical side, the 12 volt fan that we purchased for the trip has been excellent and has proved to be very reliable as often it has been left on for hours at a time.  We would definitely think twice in the future about where we would travel in the summer months and from our experience Italy, more precisely the Venice region, proved to be just too hot and humid for us and probably would be better leaving for the months in the autumn or spring.

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Typical motorhome stop over scene.  German beer is excellent!

On the budget front we are still slightly ahead of target by about 80 euros only.  The French Rivera and Italy in general proved to be more expensive.  We found that fewer of the stop overs were free, especially on the French coast and our 40 euro per day budget would be heavily compromised just to ensure we could park.  For this reason we found that ‘weaving’ between coast and inland helped and more often than not we found stunning small villages inland that were free to stop over and this diluted the expense of staying on the coast.  Another observation is that there are many more motorhomes on the road from June onwards obviously as people take their annual holidays.  However, this increased population has not effected us and nearly always we have arrived at our destination and there has been space for us, be it at times the last one. Some motorhomers have passed on tips to us about trying to arrive at the next destination by noon or early afternoon at the latest to ensure they can park.  Even though this makes complete sense to us we find it difficult to stick to.  Often we arrive at random times, sometimes in the early evening, but this haphazardness has not affected our stop overs on this trip so far.

Returning to costs, Italy certainly consumed more money, and upon analysis of this we have come to the conclusion that we spent more time out of the van, and defiantly more time in bars and restaurants!!!  Generally, though the supermarkets and fuel are more expensive than France, Spain and Portugal but this is a small difference in price to pay to enjoy such a great country in our opinion.  Conversely, Germany proved to be really cheap and after a few weeks there we managed to get back on track, several times we only spent 200 euros in total per week between us – long live Netto!!!

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We could not resist the giant Schnitzels from Netto!

The van on the whole is going well and any minor interior problems have been rectified.  We have found the fridge really capable running on gas during the summer months and often turn down ‘paid for’ hook ups as we believe it costs less to keep it on gas.  The twin 12 litre LPG tanks seem to last forever, keeping us ‘cooking on gas’ for between 15 – 20 days and at roughly 0.5 euros per litre cost very little to fill.  Finally, on the consumption note, the 2.8 diesel roughly returns 28mpg, which on the face of it seems low, but when you consider that we rarely use toll roads and prefer to tootle down the A and B roads taking in all the towns and villages enroute, seems more reasonable (note we have covered circa 10,000 Kms so far).

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This is what it is all about, meeting people out on the road.

More recently we have become a little ‘Camino’ obsessed and we are really excited that this part of the tour is upon us.  Are we pleased to be leaving the van after 6 months?  I don’t think so overall, the touring experience has been wholly positive for us, after all it is our home and we are now used to thinking about it in this way.  For sure, we are looking forward to picking up the motorhome tour again in early October, be it with a few blisters maybe!

The Suntor

Our Swift Suntor parked up.  For next few weeks we are swapping wheels for feet…….

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Tri-nation Metropolitan Upper Rhine Region – GER, FR, and CH.

From the tranquillity of the Bodensee came the bustle of Freiburg city and this would be our first stop as we tour up and down the Rhine.  We had to miss out Freiburg whilst touring the Black Forest several years ago as we had cooked the brakes on the Elgrand campervan whilst descending the Schwarzwalderstrase.  This meant we had to swap the care free tourist hours for time spent on the side of the road waiting for the brakes to cool, wearing the obligatory Hi Vis.

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Classic Freiburg

Freiburg seemed a very historical city, but one that is kept updated with it’s vibrant diverse student population.  This would be my only observation of the city really as I was completely pre-occupied with hunting down outdoor sports shops in hope that we could purchase our ruck sacks that would be used on the Camino.  As it turned out, both Sharon and I achieved this goal over the two days in the city, managing both to acquire quality rucksacks at 50% reduction in the summer time sales.   We also had another stroke of luck, well in my book anyhow, as we had stopped off at a lively bar alongside the city’s university and during the first drink the heavens opened and refused to close.  This meant we had to extend our single post shopping refreshment to a few more and then we also added a flammekuchen (a pizza without the tomato sauce?) to the list.  Even with this blatant time killing, the rain refused to stop so after several hours we tramped back in the rain to the van which was parked up about 2 Kms away.  Apparently, Freiburg has the highest sunshine rate in Germany, so it seems we were particularly unlucky here.

After the city break we wanted to stay beside the Rhine, allowing us to do some walking.  We chose Breisach am Rhein, a small town, where we stayed for free on the car park of the Am Rhein restaurant.   Here the owner permits stop overs on a quiet annexed car park to the side of the popular restaurant, as long as you make a visit to the bar or restaurant during your stay.  We ended up staying two nights here for the cost of two rounds of drinks which were pleasantly enjoyed on the river side terrace and when compared to the official camper stop in the town which charges 6 Euros a night seemed really good value.

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Sharon and new rucksack – Rhine river walk

On the Saturday we loaded up our new rucksacks with books, old shoes and pillows to add weight and then set of a practise ‘Camino’ walk.  We managed an idyllic 20 Km route which took us up the Rhine, through wood lands, into historic town Burksheim, through peaceful country side and finally back alongside the river.  The trip took us almost 5 hours including a brief sandwich stop at Burksheim and both the walking shoes and rucksacks gave us few problems which we were pleased about.

After Breisach we had planned one more countryside stopover before hitting Strasbourg.  Once we were heading north along the country lanes we spotted a poster for an ‘African Music Festival’ in Emmendingen which was about 20Km east of our planned destination.  Needless to say we turned off to hit the festival’s last day, unfortunately we had missed the reggae day’s bill, topped by Julian Marley, but the Sunday offered Afro Beats and World Music – all good!!

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The festival itself was in the small grounds of the town’s central castle and was quite chilled out upon our arrival.  We were amazed that entry to the festival seemed to be free and the main acts would start to appear around 17:30. Obviously, free entry was too good to be true, and we were informed that the site’s security would begin to sweep the grounds removing people without the festivals wrist bands.  Not trusting our hiding skills, we decided to get a seat in a café just outside the festival allowing us to hear the music if not see the actual acts.

After the free stop over that comes complete with services we headed back to original destination, Messenheim, which lies about 10Km from Strasbourg.   The remarkable thing about here is this wild futuristic building that sits by itself in the country side, nestled between old wooden beamed houses typical of the Alsace region – it makes an interesting contrast.

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The Fuchs Technologies building in Messenheim.  The cost was 2 million euros back in 2009, but the building now stands empty as the company (steel fabrications) went bust in 2012.

En-route to Basel we travelled down the French side of the Rhine staying the night at Strasbourg, Turckheim and Eguisheim.  Strasbourg aside, the Alsace villages are very picturesque, with many small pastel painted wooden beamed houses tumbling aside narrow streets.  It is a region though that is very popular and the tourism is high and often we have had to fall inline within in the mass of visitors and tour the streets completing the tourist ‘shuffle’.

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Alsatian village.  One of the many down the wine route from Strasbourg to Colmar.  We completed some wine tasting in Eguisheim (Famille Banwarth) and increased our knowledge lot about Alsace wine. 

For me personally this has helped me understand what I like and often I lean towards normal cities where people are just getting on with their lives.  In these cities I enjoy people watching, absorbing the city through its people more than it’s architecture or tourist attractions.  Strasbourg was a great example of this, combining wonderful tourist attractions (cathedral and ‘petite France’) with the normal bustle of an energetic, commercial, and industrial city.  A nice detour on the way out of Strasbourg was the European parliament buildings park. We could have sworn there was not a union jack flying outside the building for Humans Rights……..is this the Boris Johnson effect?

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European Parliament Buildings

……………………On a motorhome point, Strasbourg was the first major city on our tour where the municipal has purposely assigned a motorhome parking area complete with all services where you can park for FREE with the only restriction being that you can only stay there for seven nights, which is much more than many of the paid areas.  Nice one Strasburg, maybe your mayor is a motorhomer?!?

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Matt at the French Swiss border

Once at Basel, Switzerland we managed to park the van near Steve and Maryann’s apartment which allieved our worries (thanks Steve for the prior research and parking space measurements).  The weekend consisted of great food and drinks and walking around the Tri-Nations.  On the Sunday we even managed a Caminoesque 20 Km walk around the hills that surround Basel taking in the great views, observing the hordes of sunbathers enjoying the banks of the Rhine and marvelling at the seemless borders – we must have crossed in and out of Germany ten or more times during Sunday’s walk.  On the Saturday we topped this, walking into France, over the bridge into Germany and then back into Switzerland.

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Maryann at the Swiss German border.  It was a good job there were not any wild ‘Schwein’ around, or they might have found themselves slaughtered for a very small cost (!?!)

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The old Warteck Brewery building, Basel.  Cantina Don Camilo (French, Asian, Vegan fusion) was the venue for Sharon’s belated birthday dinner – Cheers Steve and Maryann.  

Today (Monday 15-08) we are leaving the luxuries of their Basel apartment and heading towards St Jean Pied de Port which is 1200 km away.  We hope to arrive there late on Wednesday in time to find a storage location for the camper.  Once this is done, we will pack up our rucksacks with the essentials, strap on the hiking boats and head off for a long walk………

Bodensee and Allgau (Germany)

(27 July to 4th Aug)

Since we had missed out Austria we could spend more time in Germany before meeting up with Sharon’s brother and wife in Basel which has been arranged now for mid August.  We spent a total of nine nights in this small region and travelled around 100 kms in a rough loop staying in Lindau, Kisslegg, Weingarten, Bad Waldsee, Bad Schussenreid and Meersburg

The highlights were bathing in the Bodensee and cycling to the Lindau Island.  Also the views across the lake to Austria and Switzerland reminded us how much we like borders and the differences they offer.

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The Bodensee with swimming pool type ladder entry.  Oh, and not forgetting GERMAN beer.

Having a crazy night at a local kneipe in Kisslegg that entailed local hay schnapps, fun illegal gambling, a visit to a local artists workshop and late night food and drinks back at the van with Claudi and her dog Luki.  Cheers Willie, Erbe, Lise, Claudi and of course Achim the Kneipe owner for a memorable night, I will send a postcard.

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The shared long table at the ‘Kneipe Linde’, Kisslegg.  Note small ‘gambling’ machine.

Next up was marvelling at the lack of Hymers in the Hymer museum and eating schnitzels in Bad Waldsee.  Then, enjoying a little too much the local UmPah band in the biergarten of the Schussenreid brewery and feasting on local Allgau foods purchased for us by a kind widowed local women who insisted that her late husband would have choose the same rustic hearty plates.

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Edwin Hymer must have a sense of humour.  Where were the Hymers?  (this phrase is mildly funny if you speak German…)

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Regional Allgau food from the Schussenreid brewery.  Note great free camperstop at the back of the brewery.

Moreover, taking in the peaceful countryside consisting of forests, vast wheat and corn fields and small hamlets either on foot or on bikes as we ramp up the preparation for the Camino.   This region has also produced some interesting architecture, the best examples being the oldest inhabited castle in Germany (Meersburg), the Basilika at Weingarten and the prettiest church in the world (quote Zimmerman) that lies in Steinhausen.

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Signs for Santiago, 2400Kms away from the Basilika in Weingarten. 

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Corn fields, woodlands and hamlets dominate the vistas in Allgau.

From a motorhome point of view our first impressions of touring in Germany is very positive.  The roads are almost as smooth as glass and the supermarkets are very inexpensive which makes a welcome change after Italy.  We have also managed to fill up with LPG at a countryside petrol station in Allgau which bodes well for the rest of the trip.

Alpi Sarentine (It), Austria and Liechtenstein

We had a slow start after the music festival and left Treviso quite late.  Also, as this was possibly our last time in Italy for a good while we were not ready to let it go just yet (it was planned that we would drive to Innsbruck).   We decided to stay in the Alpi Sarentine for one last Italian night before hitting Austria and chose Chiusa as a base.  In the end it did not really deliver our last taste of Italy, more Germanic, as once we travelled above Bolzano the German influence becomes very strong, to the point where I had to dust off my rusty German.

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Dual language is very evident, Chiusa

Chiusa, or Klausen in German, was a very pretty mountain town and was set up for summer hikers.  We should have maybe used this stop off to do some walking training in preparation for the Camino de Santiago which is already looming upon us, but I was desperate to start the journey through Austria and therefore we settled for a quick morning stroll through the town.

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Our view from the camper stop of the hillside castles, Chiusa (It).

Austria in the end turned out to be a non-event.  Due to our lack of travel plans and maybe research we did not realise that the Tirol, the region we would be travelling through, does not allow overnight parking.  We tried several towns and found that we either had to stay at a campsite (around 30 Euros) or at a restaurant car park, but then we would be obliged to buy a meal.  This ruling is only specific to the Tirol apparently, and the rest of Austria is set up well for free stopovers.  As our planned destination after Austria was Liechtenstein and this route through covered the majority of the Tirol, we decided to abandon Austria entirely for this tour and had to please ourselves with an Austrian one day drive through.  After 40 Euros on the Austrian tolls, many long tunnels (12km the longest), dramatic mountain range scenery and several hours in the cab later we landed in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein.

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We did a drive through of Austria, bis spater!!

The reason we wanted to go to Liechtenstein was that we find small countries very interesting.  To seek the specific Liechtenstein experience we ventured out into the centre of Vaduz in the evening.  After we had drawn out a few Swiss francs we sheltered from the rain at a bustling Brassiere on the main pedestrianised street.

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At prices similar to Switzerland, Liechtenstein can be quite expensive – about 7 euros for a local Liechtensteiner beer, 17 Euros for a pizza.

We were not the only British people who had this motivation to see Vaduz as once we were back at the ‘free’ night stop over car park we met two UK couples travelling together.  They both had 10 metre long twin rear wheel brand new A classes, so were in a different league to our little van. However,  Kevin who was a hedge fund manager from Essex, summed up our motorhome differences – “it does not matter how expensive your van is, we both still have to Sh** in a chemical loo”.  I found this quote quite levelling!

The next morning, we took the walking trail up to the Prince of Liechtenstein’s castle and I took a late opportunity to continue breaking in a pair of walking shoes that I will be using on the Camino, much to my dislike, as I would rather complete it in my old Vans.  This walk lets you take in the mountain range views that surround Vaduz, and these views summarise Liechtenstein.  Overall we enjoyed our short stay, we would of liked to have interacted a little more with the locals to gain more of an insight but we can save this to another visit.

That concludes our short time in the country of Liechtenstein (that makes 10 countries visited on this tour so far!)

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Are Liechtenstein number plates the best looking in Europe?  I think so, especially on black cars.

 

Suoni Marca Music Festival – Treviso (It)

After ten days of almost solitude in Bosco Mesola it was time to pick up Sharon from Treviso (Venice) airport.  We decided to stay at the free camper stop in Treviso again so Sharon could recover from her journey back.  We had two surprises when reaching Treviso 1)  Colin and Anne who we had met in Slovenia were already parked up and 2) the city was hosting a free music festival called Suoni Marca.  On the Friday that Sharon returned we did a quick recky of the festival and decided it was worth staying the Saturday night too, especially since Suzanne Vega was headlining.

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Kim Bingham at Suoni Marca, crunching through ‘Where is my mind’ by the Pixies

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Headliner, Suzanne Vega

We had another great night in Treviso and even upon our now second visit to this city we marvelled at it’s beauty, it’s local feel and again were received well by it’s inhabitants.  Giuseppe, who Sharon met initially in the drinks queue just before Suzanne Vega came on stage, will be our strongest memory.  He was certainly a character and spoke very little English, but with the help of random passers by that he stopped and involved them in the group temporarily for translations managed to keep the conversation going for more than an hour!  Also he kept buying us drinks, quoting “you are in my city, welcome, I’ll buy the drinks”……..

So we are nearing our time in Italy and we have almost spent two months here in total.  It has been a great place to visit and quite varied too in terms of scenery.  The only downside has been the poor roads and in total the toll of the potholes, be it the vibration of hitting them or just trying to avoid them,  on the van has been two punctures, two shelves, one cupboard door and the main lamp shade – luckily all these things have been easy to fix and not permanent damage.

Slovenia

(8th to 12th July)

It felt pretty good as we left the Prosecco hills having a different country set as our destination, especially one that was once part of the Social Federal Rep. of Yugoslavia.  We choose our first Slovenian destination to be the border town Nova Gorcia – for some reason both Sharon and I find border towns fascinating as by taking a few steps you are suddenly changing language, culture, car reg. plates, food, drinks and prices:- the list is endless.

We parked the van up at the free stop over in Gorizia (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy) and then slowly walked through the Italian part of the town.  It seemed quite lively and there was even a youth breakdancing festival happening in the main square and generally everything felt fairly Italian.  About 1.5km from Gorizia’s main square, towards the railway station, lies the border line where the old ‘fences’ used to stand, separating Gorizia and Novo Gorcia.  We felt quite excited and slightly ‘emotional’ as we approached the border, where lies a plaque sunk in the pavement showing the line between the two countries.  The emotion was prompted by the small permanent exposition showing photos of different times: with the dividing fence up, the day it came down and then through to the celebration of the day that Slovenia joined the EU.  There were images of Italian people holding banners welcoming the Slovenians and this was complimented by images of the Slovenians being proud to be part of the EU.  This made me think of the recent Brexit and how it contrasts.

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One foot in Italy the other in Slovenia.  Please note, these are Sharon’s new flip flops.

To contemplate what we saw and felt a Slovenian beer was required so we ventured a little into Nova Gorcia.  We did not need to go very far and soon we were sitting outside a very cool bar still with the Italian border in view.  The beer was Lasko, a light medium strength Slovenian lager, and the price was 2 Euro for half a litre.  In Italy, 200 metres away, this would be 4 Euro minimum – mad isn’t it?

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At the very cool ‘Boarder Bar’ located at Novo Gorcia’s railway station.

After a while we ventured back, only to stop off at bar in Italian Gorizia which had a form of live music.  An energetic singer was paired with a keyboard player (and we assumed that this also supplied the drums) and they marched through all sorts of music from Italian rock and ballads to 60’s American rock and roll.  The local crowd were loving it, dancing and singing, and to be honest we it enjoyed the spectacle of people watching.  I must admit though, there were some points when I too was found on the dance floor…………

The next destination was inland, Postojna, which is famous for it’s caves, but we were more interested in that town centre so that we could absorb some of Slovenia’s society.   When we arrived in the town, we were surprised that is was quite small, but we did manage to find a pretty good restaurant selling typical Slovenian food.  I had Zlikrofi (kind of like a twisted ravioli) as a starter and we both went for calves’ liver as a main, be it mine in a burger bun – I had expected that the liver would have been minced, like a beef burger, which would have been pretty original, but it wasn’t, as it came in thin fried slices.  However, it was still very good, tasty and filling.

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A liver burger, Štorja Pod Stopnicami Restaurant, Postojna.  Slovenian red wine also comes recommended.

Luckily, the town was having a festival on the night time and here proved the perfect place to do some people watching as the town folk came out to see the local dancing and music performances.  We stayed until the end and we felt that we had achieved a little bit of the Slovenian submersion we were hoping for.

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Local traditional dancing at Postojna’s summer festival.

Next stop was the Slovenian coast and we choose Koper.   The parking place is about 1km from the old town, which is pleasant, and the coastal promenade was busy of tourists and local people going for a stroll.  We only had a couple of nights stay in Koper, but you could easily spend a week there on holiday as it has the old town, coast and a nice feel.

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Historic centre, Koper.

We had randomly parked next to an English couple at the aire, Colin and Anne.  In fact, it was Anne’s birthday on the Sunday so we spend the early evening chatting, sharing a splendid sausage and oven chips dinner, all topped off with the European cup football final at a local Kopen bar.  Parabens Portugal!!!  And ‘parabens’ Anne for that matter!

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Seaside promenade at dusk, Koper.

The stay at Koper brought an end to our very short Slovenian 4 day taster and I think it would be really good in the future to dedicate a month or more touring the whole land.  On the motorhoming front, we managed to fill up with LPG in Slovenia and the adapter is the same as the Italian one.

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A totally mad camper from Serbia, complete with a fiberglass roof off a Volkswagen implanted in the roof.  Koper.

As a slight twist to the tour, recently Sharon had received some bad news (RIP Maggie) and was heading back to the UK for a short spell.  This meant we had to get within the vicinity of Venice airport choosing Treviso as a base.

Sharon has now been dropped off at the airport.  At the drop off carpark we had some motorhome drama as there were not any height markers on the roofed entrance barrier, be it this one was easily over 4 metres high.   Once we got into the car park though, the exit barrier had a 2.8 metre restriction on it!  I was pretty baffled by how this could have been planned and obviously we could not get under as we are 3 metres high.

Obviously we did manage to get out of the car park as I am sitting in the van writing this at the Delta Po.   I apologise to all of the people I obstructed whilst I sought help (note to Venice airport, if you are going to employ a Liaison officer, please employ one that speaks both English and Italian, having one that only speaks American is pretty useless I am afraid, leaving me to communicate with the airport Carabinieri with my, by now, very limited self taught Italian).

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Typical Treviso (It) canal vista.

As a side note, what a spectacular town Treviso turned out to be?  It is all encased by a wall and moat, has another mini canal system crisscrossing within the boundaries of the walls and has some classic grand piazzas.  As mentioned above I have returned to the Delta Po for the week whilst Sharon is away.  I plan to do some cycling around this tranquil area and generally chill out for a bit.

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Happy times in Koper sitting in the big hand chair. (I must have smiled straight after the camera clicked!)  Waiting for you to re-join the tour Xxx

Venice Region

(1st July to 8th July)

Leaving San Marino we headed north and back to the coast, choosing Bosco Mescola, which lies just inside the Venice and Veneto region alongside the river Po.  This was a random choice as it appeared to be set in series of deltas and we supposed it would be similar to Delta Ebra in Spain.   It was certainly quiet and the stop over site only had a few vans parked up.  We took the opportunity to cycle around the delta visiting small port, Goro.  Here I was amazed by the amount of commercial fishing boats that were moored up, there were hundreds.

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Commercial fishing boats at Porto do Goro, Po Delta.

It was at Bosco Mescola where we confirmed that we could fit in a quick trip around Slovenia, which was not on the original route that was sketched out roughly at home.  I was pleased about this as I remember Slovenia being a nice place as I used to visit Zrece (north east of Ljubljana) for work some years ago and I am interested to see the country and it’s people again.

Before Slovenia though, Sharon wanted to see Venice again and that led us to Chioggia which lies south of the famous city.  At Chioggia we could easily day trip Venice on public transport and avoid the high costs of the Venice campsites.  However, Chioggia surprised us and in turn delayed us and we ended up staying 3 nights there.  Chioggia is known to locals as little Venice and it’s old town is encased by a canal network, be it one that is not as polished as it’s bigger sister.  For this reason the old town holds it’s own charms and appears quite a normal town.  The tourism in Chioggia is concentrated on it’s coastline where the familiar Bagnis (beach bathing clubs) line up and down the sea leaving the old town somewhat detached.

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Canals at Chioggia.

On our first exploratory trip into the old town we stumbled across a canal side bar where the ‘aperitivo’ was nearing it’s end.  Even though, the barman made us very welcome by frying some sardines (free) to accompany our wines.  Here we met some party people locals who were very friendly and helpful as I was trying to find yet another tyre place.  That brings me onto the drive to Chioggia – we picked up another puncture!   I could not believe it, we stopped off at a supermarket enroute and sure enough when we left the car park we were on a flat.  This time I changed onto the now good spare by the road side leaving us with a defunct 5th tyre which would need replacing or repairing as soon as.

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At canal side ‘Café Red’ in Chioggia – cheers for the sardines!

The day trip to Venice was fairly uneventful and extremely hot.  We walked around the streets, took a look at San Marco square and then ventured off into the Ghetto Nuovo (Jewish quarter).  We ended the day aperetiving with Lynne and Welsh couple Chris and Janet, who were on a cruise ship that had stopped off at Venice port.  This threesome delayed us some what (it was fun – we hope all is well and that Lynne made her flight home!!!) so we caught the last but one bus home and arrived back at the van after midnight.   Again this bus journey saw friendly Italians at their best – whilst looking at the time table to see where and when the bus would be leaving, Venician Matteo, a young barman in the city who was also returning home, asked us if we needed any help and ensured we got on the right bus.  Grazi Matteo!!

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Walking towards Ghetto Nuovo, Venice

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One of Sharon’s arty photos, a Prosecco aperetivo in Venice.

The next day was a bit of a mess to be honest.  We left Chioggia at about 11am once we had visited a supermarket (Eurospar – really expensive when compared to Conad) and then tried to find a tyre place.  This led us on a wild goose chase around Mestre to no avail.  We finally gave up and refuelled ourselves with a very rare visit to Burger King.  Whilst chewing through the burgers we noticed a small Gommista on an industrial site at the back of BK and it was here that the sole mechanic dropped what he was doing and helped us out – the puncture on the spare turned out to be unrepairable and therefore he ordered me a new commercial van tyre that arrived within the hour.

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The van at a tyre place (gommista) again, outskirts of Venice. That is our 3rd tyre purchase since being in Italy.

Finally, we got going and our destination was a vineyard which had great reviews in Camper-Contact.  I set the GPS co-ordinates and about 2 hours later we arrived at this destination.  Something was wrong though as the ‘destination’ appeared to be in a sunflower field and there was defiantly not any access for camper vans.  So we checked the co-ordinates only to find out I was one digit out on the North and that meant we were approximately 250 km away from where we wanted to be.  Sharon admits she was pretty pleased that it was me that entered in the numbers!!!!!  A quick search led us to a nearby campsite Riva d’Oro at Revine Lago near the Prosecco mountains.  Here the highlight for me was getting to know a little the campsite owners Lisa and Tony who as it turned out used to run a restaurant in Breno that was based in an old 1960’s Alitalia airliner during the early 1990s.  I was completely fascinated by this story and I spent some time on the net researching the history behind this plane.  I think it is a very brave idea to pick up an aeroplane and site it on a plot of land as your restaurant base – however, I love it and there should be more of them!!!!

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An old postcard showing the ‘Caravelle’ restaurant that was based in Breno, Brescia.  For any ‘spotters’ the plane no longer exists on this site.  It is thought that it was dismantled and moved to Cergnago in 1997 for use as a piano bar then to moved again to Rivanazzano, Pavia.  It is assumed it was sold for scrap in the mid 2000’s.  Fascinating.