Travel

Italy/Croatia 2013

First day of our trip started with a long journey from Amsterdam to Bergamo. The trip needs to be 1120km and an estimated time of 10h30min (based on Google maps), which turned out to be a much longer drive than expected: we left Amsterdam at 07:00 and arrived in Bergamo at 21:00. Of course Germany’s roadworks had their part in this story.

The journey took as again on roads we were on last year, we enjoyed the cold and shadow of the Gotthardtunnel:

First event of the journey is that we arrive at our hotel on Friday evening and called the owner, to find out that we actually booked on the night before. But he was very nice and let us stay for no additional costs.

The day ended on a better note, we had dinner at a very special restaurant: Pizza, Wok, Sushi – “special”  people and “special” place.

Day 2 – 03/08/2013 – Garda Lake, Italy

The second day started early, meeting the family at Bergamo Airport. Everybody ready, one part already coming from some holidays around Lake Como and the rest traveling from Bucharest. Quick welcoming and we head straight towards Salo, a town on the shore of The Garda Lake, our next location for the coming 3 nights.

We spent the day with a touristic walk, admiring the little town and enjoying the lake views.

Day 3 – 04/08/2013 – Garda Lake, Italy

Being on holiday, we took the liberty to spend the third day only on the beach, by the water, enjoying the sun, some drinks and relaxation.

Day 4 – 05/08/2013 – Garda Lake, Italy

Having spent the days before in Salo, we decided to use the time in a different manner and travel to another town close by named Bardolino. Being on the other side of the lake, first we had to travel by boat.

Bardolino was a very charming town, with nice terraces, where of course we had to stop first for a drink (to get out of the hot summer temperature) and second time in order to enjoy some nice italian food.

And of course we stopped along the route in small typical shops selling from souvenirs to italian food specialties: old balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese..

 

Day 5 – 06/08/2013 – Venice, Italy

For our 5th day we changed location and traveled from Garda to Marghera, one of the neighbourhoods of Venice, but on the land part. This was easily reachable by car and from here was easy to commute by bus to centre of Venice.

So, with a bit of travel, with check-in and other small logistics we still had plans for the evening to visit Venice, once the heat was getting a bit bearable. Though bearable even in an evening was too much to say anyways, but Mamo and Tato wanted to visit Venice and in the end they’ve put up with the heat with no complain.

Day 6 – 07/08/2013 – Venice (Murano/Burano/Torcello), Italy

Day 6 was first of all a hot one and second of all a very colourful one. First of all I remember the heat that we had to endure and makes me proud of all of us, but also we made a lot of pictures and had lots of fun despite of the heat.

We started the day with a trip to Murano, one of the islands of Venice, very famous for the Murano glass and its glass factories.

Of course we had a short demonstration of how they manufacture glass figurines.

After the visit to the glass factory we had to move forward towards Burano, but first of all had to catch a break in the shade while waiting for the ferry.

Next stop, Burano: one of the island of Venice (or better said an archipelago of four islands linked by bridges) is famous for its laced and coloured houses; and when we say coloured, there is a lot of colour.

Though there was some shade along the narrow streets, we still had to catch a break and hydrate ourselves in different ways:

cold beer..

cold water..

and some with more imagination..

And we also tried to help the locals:

We then continued our journey towards Torcello, a very small island of Venice, the oldest populated area of Venice.

We took a break from the sun to enjoy a nice Italian lunch in the shade, at the “Ristorante al Torno di Atilla”:

Day 7 – 08/08/2013 – Postojna, Slovenia

We finally leave Italy for Croatia, final destination being Pension House Prijeboj, not far from the Plitvice Lakes. The scenery was very nice, nice route along the coast.

We traveled around 430 km, with a stop on the way to visit the Postojna Cave, a 20,570 m long karst cave system in Slovenia.

The cave has an interesting but also challenging cave system, the inner part being reached using a train/cart in which you are advised to stay seated along the route to avoid unnecessary decapitations.

Day 8 – 09/08/2013 – Plitvice, Croatia

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO world heritage protected area, famous for its lakes arranged in cascades. A very beautiful and still well preserved area, though there are more than 1mil tourist each year.

The clarity of the water, the marvellous  waterfalls make these lakes one of the recommended places to visit by most of tourists guides on the web.

The troops are ready for another day of exploring:

From the entrance of the Park we first cross with a ferry.

And then you can walk around through the forest, with ups and downs, and enjoy the views.

And one of the biggest waterfall in the Park:

We would really recommend others to visit this place.

And our last evening we enjoyed the cool and nice area, and a bit of showers that we were dreaming of after the worm summer days in Italy.

THE END

 

Cote d’Azur 2012

Day 1 – 30/06/2012 – Kriens, Switzerland

First day travel will have as destination  Hotel Sonnenberg in Switserland, a journey of 721km.

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This is how it all started – ready to go: And now, Stefy’s feelings at the end of the day are as follows: – we had a long journey, plenty of traffic jams on the german highway. We were even sent out of the highway and had to take a long, jammed way through the country side – German highway = f***ing boring And now in Switzerland: First impression: Vignette in CH 40FR, which is about 32 euros and is valid until the end of the year. But then again, what do we do with it? So then we started having second thoughts “why did we take this route?” And then, there came this  and we were speechless: More thoughts about Switzerland: – you share the bathroom but you don’t share the Nespresso coffee machine :D And more picture for today, please enjoy the view as much as we did: Comments of the day: – What about the inverted first aid sign? PS: For those of you that were wondering, yes, the myth is true = vaca mov exista in Elvetia :D

Day 2 – 01/07/2012 – Lake Como, Italy

Day two of our journey was again a beautiful one, full of interesting activities. We drove 201 kilometers trough some really nice areas, this time with the destination of lake Como in Italy.

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The destination of the day was lake Como, and the plans as we thought about it were just to bike around a bit and then enjoy the game in a nice italian atmosphere. Most of the things went as planned. The highway was again beautiful, nice scenery and lots of tunnels: And of course the Gotthard tunnel, famous for its length and 17kms. Of course the name was the joke of the day ;) We started with the bike tour, which was along side the lake (for most of the time) and beautiful surroundings on the narrow streets:

And of course the bikes had to join us on the boat trip, on the way back to Como:

For the second part of the day we decided to take the funicular and enjoy the nice view over the lake: And of course we enjoyed a fresh and simple fish dinner (mamaliga cu peste :) ):

And as planned, the day had to end with the Euro 2012 Final. Though we were ready and fully supporting the Squadra Azzurra, this part of the day did not go as planned:

Day 3 – 02/07/2012 – Bergeggi, Italy

Third day of travel and things are every day surprising. Not such a long travel today either, but with some small delays because of unexpected change of plans. Direction of the day – Ligurian see, Bergeggi, Italy:

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As you might see on the map, the route is going around Milano. Being with the bikes on top of the car we decided initially to avoid the city and just head south to the sea. 20 km before Milano we got redirected (due to traffic) by the gps through another route. It never cross my mind that this will mean actually going through the city, but it was too late to turn around when we realized that that was the case. So now, in Milano, going in the city traffic what did cross our minds (or at least mine :P ) – San Siro….and of course we ended up of doing the tour of the Inter Milan (for me at least :P ) museum and stadium: The day went on the road and we finally reached Bergeggi and its narrow streets. This location was specially chosen to enjoy the sea, and we found the best place to do that, as this was the view from our balcony: And couldn’t stop myself to add also the pic with the view from the terrace of the hotel: And the day went on with a visit to Noli, one of the cities nearby, then a late lunch and the afternoon spent on the beach. Warm blue water and rocky sand are the perfect combination. And on our way home we stopped for some groceries for dinner: Limoncello, red wine, prosciutto, mozzarella, bruschette..in combination with our special view…perfect:

Day 4 – 03/07/2012 – Auberge de Col de Bruis, France

Day four of our journey was again unexpected, but in a good way. After a short stop in Ventimiglia, Italy, we ended up in the “mountains”, 800-900m up high, perfect place for some biking.

The way there was again really nice:

And then we arrived: The  surroundings were beautiful, rocky roads, or better said trails on the hills/mountains. It was almost the perfect bike riding place, unfortunately not for the type of bikes we have (too “narrow” wheels). But that did not stop us from doing both off-road and on-road: And the evening ended with a short visit in a village nearby, Sospel, and a dinner at a “french” restaurant owned by a dutch lady:

Day 5 – 04/07/2012 – Sunset Hotel Resort and Spa, La Gaude, France

Before starting the journey we had a charming breakfast prepared by our host

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After the efforts of the fourth day, we had to have a relaxed day of just enjoying the sun, the pool and a nice dinner. So our trip had as destination the Sunset Hotel Resort and Spa, but with a short bike ride and pit stop in Menton.

Actually we were “forced” to ride our bikes in Menton, because most of the Parkings were limited to 2.20m height.

And finally at the hotel, just relaxing:

And of course we had to end the evening in a beautiful way:

Day 6 – 05/07/2012 – Peymeinade, France

Day sixth was reserved for meeting the rest: Bianca and Ionut (you can follow their adventures at http://onbikeallday.blogspot.ro/), who were coming by motorcycle from Romania, and Manuela who was landing in Nice.

So this was a very relaxed day, we woke up and spent some time by the pool:

Then head off to Peymeinade and waited for Bi and Ionut. Once they were there we went to Grasse to have a late lunch.

Please admire Bianca’s french look :) (I know you will thank me I made you famous :P )

And of course the evening could not pass without a proper BBQ. The size of the stakes we bought was incredible, Ionut and Chu felt like in the Flintstones eating brontosaurus ribs :D

Day 7 – 06/07/2012 - Peymeinade, France

Our location was again Peymeinade, though only for sleep. We choose this location strategically in order to visit around in the area, being located a few km from Nice.

So now that we were a complete tea: Let’s get the party started!!!

First stop of the day: Saint Tropez, Tahiti beach! Beautiful place, plenty of people and boats around. But also expensive place, when you consider the place for a chaise-longue to be 25 euros/day.

We all had a very nice and relaxing lunch:

And then some aquatic time:

Second stop Saint Tropez port. No, this was not my boat :)

And no, is not my car either :)

And for those of you that liked “Le gendarme..” and Louis de Funès’ adventures:

And the last stop for the day, a delightful dinner in Saint Maxime:

And this is how a sea food salad should look (and taste) like:

Followed by a nice walk through the smalls streets of Saint Maxime to properly digest it :)

Day 8 – 07/07/2012 - Peymeinade, France

For this day we decided to leave a bit behind the hot seaside places and go a bit more in the mountain area, the Alpes-Maritimes. On the way the family was very active:

First visit was to Gourdon, a small village full of character and nice scenery.

Second stop for the day Tourrettes sur Loup:

And had a great lunch in a local restaurant.

And the evening ended with a nice dinner and walk in Antibes.

Day 9 – 08/07/2012 - Peymeinade, France

The ninth day started up early because we have serious plans ahead: canyoning = “gorgeron” (pour les connaisseurs). Intensive activity, impressive views and a very nice time. Each one of us can recommends you to try this at least once.

First impression: is so damn difficult to get that suit on. Conclusion: it is hard to be a super hero, but must be harder to dress like one.

And if you are wondering what Chu is doing, so am I. He says he was getting ready and testing the suit:

And the end was glorious:

We all recommend this activity, it was more than an interesting experience. First thoughts when you get in the water is that it is unbearably cold and you just want to get out. Especially your feet that will always be soaked and cold, your hands as well, but once you start moving and keep moving, it is great. And not to forget, the guide will give you instructions on how to behave in case you pee in your suit :P , though not saying any of us had to use it.

After all this great effort we had to celebrate with a specific lunch of french cuisine in a small village nearby, Greolieres :)

And of course as the day came to an end we had to say goodbye to Ionut and Bi, who continued their journey.

Before dropping Nana off at the Nice Cote d’Azur airport we had a short stop to admire Monaco:

 The house of the Principe de Monaco. And the famous Monte Carlo Casino.

We continued further to our next location in Saint Raphael. Here we had a short bike ride and a nice dinner.

 Day 10 – 09/07/2012 - Saint Raphael, France

For the tenth day the plans were more relaxing, be lazy a bit. So we went for a bike ride in Saint Raphael.

Lunched there on a beautiful terrace on the beach.

And had a afternoon dip:

Nothing compares with sleeping on the beach and listening to the waves, beautiful. With all energies replenished we went for a short trip to Frejus, a nice old village around 6 km away from Saint Raphael.

 Day 11 – 10/07/2012 - Castellane, France

After one day of sea, we moved our camp to the mountain side, in Castellane, a village at an altitude over 700m in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, very close to the Gorges du Verdon. And when we say the word gorges that means more adventurous sports.

But first things first, the way there was again interesting: narrow roads, rocky hills:

All in all, a very nice place:

And the view from the room was again beautiful.

The afternoon was the adventurous part, this time doing rafting on the Verdon river, well known for its impressive canyons. Unfortunately we did not get to take any pictures, but we will definitely go back soon. And for those of you who are willing for some action, we totally recommend this place: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verdon_Gorge

And for the evening we had a very romantic dinner :) in Castellane. Chu also tried for the first time the famous escargot :D

We continued the “party” on our balcony with a bottle of wine and “shooting star gallore” as Chu called it.

Quote of the day: “It’s expensive to be a hippie!”

 Day 12 – 11/07/2012 - Castellane, France

Since the area was so beautiful and we have many other plans around, we could not stay just one night in Castellane. The plans for the second day were to visit Lac de Castillon and some small villages around.

First we had a short stop in the small village of Saint Julien du Verdon, which offers a very nice view of the lake.

We then continued the journey and visited Saint Andre les Alpes village, this one less impressive and the temperatures were not the best at lunch time.

So we decided to cool down on the lake, inflated the mattress and spend a beautiful afternoon there. The water was so blue and not cold at all, perfect for those temperatures. At some point we were also wondering how come there are not more people here, since it is much better than the sea.

And on our way back we stopped for a short session of photo-shooting. You could not not admire the surroundings, the perfect blue color of the lake, extremely beautiful.

The dinner took place in a local restaurant, famous in the area for its traditional cuisine. Chu got the most strange menu in that restaurant: Lavander menu! Very strange! He says was tasty, I have my doubts.

 Day 13 – 12/07/2012 - Baudinard sur Verdon, France

Leaving behind Lac de Castillon, next on the list was Lac de Sainte Croix and the village nearby Baudinard sur Verdon. The way there was around 70km with impressive surroundings.

And finally we got to see the lake, or a part of it since is very big. But the view was really nice.

And of course the gorge in its splendor. This was the place were the gorge is directly connecting to the lake, thus lots of boats on both of them.

We also had to do some climbing in search for the perfect picture :)

Done with the photo-session we had to find a good place to have a lunch-picnic, and we found it. A non-public beach, not too many people, rocky sand, blue water and lots of green:

We spent our afternoon on the lake and then continued our journey towards Baudinard.

We spent our night in Auberge du Baudinard, which in translation means inn. The inn was established in a 17th century post office, very cosy and the host was very nice. We enjoyed our dinner in a quiet atmosphere, local cuisine and red wine :)

After the dinner we had a nice walk through the village.

Officially this was out last stop before heading home and we chose the best place to do this.

 Day 14 – 13/07/2012 - On the Road

Day 14 was the day we started our trip back to Netherlands. We had no plans made, we thought that we might better just drive directly to NL, since the GPS was saying just 12 hours. But before leaving Baudinard we had one last thing to do. The night before the host told us about a beautiful place nearby where we could have the perfect view over the lake and surrounding villages.

This was located 5 minutes away from the inn, the Notre Damme de Baudinard. From the main road a country road started, on which we drove, then there was a barrier so we continued the journey by foot for a 10 min walk. Though it was quite some time back and forth (since we went there without the camera at first :D ), everything was worth it as you can see bellow. The pictures say everything so I don’t have any comments:

And then we continued our journey, though the weather that followed was nothing that we were used to, and I suppose I was not the only one thinking why don’t we turn around :)

Due to the weather conditions and the fact that we left Baudinard around noon, we decided to make a stop half-way in Chaumont (According to Chu this is the place that Michael Jackson sings about in his song “Bad”). 

And this is what was waiting for us further on :)

Thoughts at the end: was a very beautiful trip, we loved the places we saw, we loved the things we did, it was just perfect. Was a very good idea to take the bikes with us, was good not to have everything planned from the beginning, and was even better to combine the sea with the mountain. We loved it, and even more we were within the budget (proud :D ).

THE END

 

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