A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: katebolshaw

Off to the beach

Day 25 & 26 - Rovinj, Croatia

sunny 30 °C

Day 25 – Friday 10th

Moving again, but this time no packing up. We all had a lie-in apart from Dad who returned to a local spot to finish his painting. Took the ferry back to the mainland, picked up the car and moved on to Croatia. We’re staying in Rovinj in Istria. When we arrived, the replacement tent tube still hadn’t arrived from the UK so we put the tent up without it, making a few improvisations to compensate. The campsite is a bit holiday camp like – in an old Yugoslavian style – but it’s well organised with great facilities (including the crucial tennis court) and is right on the beautiful coast. The sea is so clear and we will be snorkelling! Had a meal at the campsite restaurant watching the amazing sunset with one eye and the Olympics on the bar tv with the other.

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Day 26th – Saturday 11th

A lovely lazy day. The boys played tennis, Kate and Mum bought a lilo and went snorkelling in the really warm sea – lots of fish! At 8pm we took the boat taxi over to Rovinj town (about 10 minutes). What a jumping place! So many people and no British at all – mainly Croatian but some Italian, German and Dutch. We had a wander about and some food, Mum and Dad had a cocktail, and were serenaded by some traditional Croatian festivities – very loud wailing, singing, dancing and bagpipes. Suddenly all feels very eastern Mediterranean.

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Craig taunting Tom with their latest tennis match score (a very rare victory for the old man)

Posted by katebolshaw 07:32 Archived in Croatia Comments (2)

A real bed!

Day 23 & 24 - Venice

sunny 33 °C

Day 23 – Wednesday 8th

We left today, packing up at Umbria and moving to Venice. Good packing – ready to leave at 9am. Great journey – parking at San Guelilia on the mainland and getting the ferry across to Venice. Lovely arrival in the sunshine. We took just one bag with a change of clothes which made walking to our hotel on the other side of the island easy. Bliss! A hotel room on the lagoon waterfront. And a bath!!! We found somewhere to eat which wasn’t too overpriced (considering Venice prices) and then had a stroll around St Marks Square. Packed with tourists but still an amazing sight. Returned to the luxury of proper beds and our own bathroom!!

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Day 24 – Thursday 9th

This morning Mum, Tom and Kate went to the Basilica in St Marks while Dad found a quiet spot to paint. Then we took the river bus for our tour of the Grand Canal. What a great place! Mum saw the railway station steps where she arrived when she was a 17 year-old interrailer. Bit shocked that over 25 years have gone by…
We met up for lunch, then Mum and Dad went off exploring and Tom and I went back to the hotel for a read. Later Mum and Kate went up the Tower in St Marks to watch the sunset – great plan because there were no queues and we walked straight in and the views across the city were amazing. We met up with the Vertigo Brothers at the bottom and then Mum took us for a walking excursion to find an Irish Bar with a telly to watch the Olympics. Another lovely night’s sleep in a real bed!

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Posted by katebolshaw 07:16 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

La Dolce Vita

Day 17 - 22 Civitella del Lago, Umbria

sunny 40 °C

We’ve got a bit behind in the blog so this is a catch-up summary – a joint effort between Craig, Sue & Kate (thanks Tom).

Day 17 – 1st Wednesday

Today we left the picturesque seaside villages of Cinque Terre for the olive & wine region of Umbria. Packing up took about an hour and a half, and after an espresso and croissant we left for the four hour drive. We stopped at the services quickly for lunch, then continued our journey into the Italian countryside. As we neared our campsite – a good 1600ft up, the roads grew smaller and more windy. As we ascended, dad renamed himself ‘Billy Goat Bolshaw’ for his bravery around the hairpin corners. He did really well.
We arrived at the site at about four o’clock – a beautiful terraced olive grove. It was still boiling hot and the thought of pumping up the tent in the sweltering hot was not appealing to any one of us. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I guess) there were a few issues when we arrived so we had to wait anyway. The campsite owner had allowed someone else to stay on the pitch we’d reserved, which would’ve been fine because we’d never seen it – mum had sent the dimensions of our tent to him, specifying that we wanted shade and a view. He offered us a few other pitches but they were either way too small for us or on a ridiculous slope. Mum and dad spotted one that’d be perfect for us but the man said that some people were due to arrive there this evening. We were considering getting a hotel for the night and looking for a different site in the morning, waiting for them to arrive, but when they finally did, the owner convinced them to move so we could had the good pitch. I believe the promise of a complimentary ice cold bottle of wine was included in the bargain. I’m pretty sure the owner was terrified of the irritated, dehydrated, ravenous English people. But we got the pitch we needed and put the tent up. In fact w ended up on one of the nicest pitches in the place on a terrace with a great view, lovely breeze and close to the pool. The local pizzeria had the most amazing panoramic view, and the pizza was awesome. Tom and his refined palette had a tartufi (truffle) pizza, saying it was the best pizza he’d had. Ours were really good too. Tired and weary, we went back to the tent to bed.

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Day 18 – 2nd Thursday

This morning we went to Orvieto for a big shop at the supermarket and got back for lunch (we made the mistake of letting Kate loose with the trolley so we ended up with loads of goodies of questionable nutritional value). Dad was thrilled when he found Sagrantino on the shelf (favourite wine from our past holidays in Umbria). We had a lovely lunch of bread and cheese followed by a dip in the pool to keep us from melting (touching 40). We played bridge afterwards and Mum and Tom were back on a roll. Tom recreated the pasta dish he had the other day in a restaurant (yum yum), then Tom and Dad went off to play tennis at the local tennis court opposite the site. We finished off the evening with a game of Perudo and finally beat Mr Probability (Tom) with much laughter.

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Day 19 – 3rd Friday

We woke to another beautiful day. The pole at the end of the tent is causing us problems by deflating in the night so Dad called the camping company in the UK and they will be sending us a replacement. Kate did some art for her school project while Mum made us all eggy bread. We’re half way through the holiday now and no one is ready to go home! As the evening cooled, Tom and Dad played another game of tennis. We had chicken and vegetables for dinner (which Dad cooked on the griddle). Seems that there aren’t any mosquitoes here but there are loads of ants. Vin Santo and Cantucci biscuits accompanied the Perudo before we went to bed.

Day 20 – 4th Saturday

This morning Dad and Kate went to Orvieto to find a cashpoint, top up food supplies and take a picture of a reflection on the nearby Lake for Kate’s art project. We ate a lovely lunch including some Tartufi cheese and some home-produced olive oil from our campsite (the campsite is an olive grove which they harvest in October). Dad did another painting before making us steak and chips on his sacred griddle. We wanted to see the Olympics tonight so we drove down the mountain at dusk to the country club at the bottom (where there was a wedding on) – no joy. We went into the local bar down the road from us and luckily found the tv on – and joined another couple of Brits (who have a 2nd home here and were surprised to see other English people) to watch heptathlon, long jump and Men’s 10k – 3 gold medals in one night! The family who run the one local bar and restaurant here are so welcoming and friendly. In fact we have noticed how lovely all the people are – we’re guessing because it’s off the beaten track a bit that tourists are still a welcome novelty rather than a pain in the neck.

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Day 21 – 5th Sunday

We decided to go out and try the local restaurant for lunch and had a quick game of cards outside the bar while we were waiting for it to open. The restaurant was like someones front room and the only other people in there were a huge Italian family celebrating the granddads birthday. Really good meal. The food was of a really high standard and the service was excellent. Back to the tent for a relaxed afternoon and a light evening meal of bread and cheese.

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Day 22 – 6th Monday

Today Mum and Dad wanted to buy some wine and olive oil so we headed for Montefalco, a hilltop town. Carmen sent us cross country over the worst roads ever – hardly any tarmac! We found somewhere to eat and after much confusion had a very expensive and disappointing meal. Dad went to buy some olive oil and came back with a barrel. Then Tom and I were abandoned in a café while Mum and Dad went wine tasting in a local outlet. Surprisingly they came back with only 2 bottles which seemed very suspicious until we found out they had arranged for a case to be shipped back home. We stopped for an icecream on the way back in Todi – a really lovely hilltop town very near to our campsite. Definitely worth a revisit one day. Mum and Dad wanted to go to the Focacia festival in our village (which runs really late every night for a week and which the local bar family had invited ud to. We got there at 9 and it was completely packed. Who knows where all these people came from in such a rural area. The queue to get in was so long and moving so slowly that we gave up and Dad was robbed of the dancing opportunity of his lifetime (we’d had a preview of his warm up and it would only have upset the local Italian grannies if they had witnessed it).

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Lost a day somewhere here – ooh, we must be relaxed!

Posted by katebolshaw 06:33 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Lazy lazy lazy

Day 15 & 16 - Cinque Terre

sunny 34 °C

Day 15 – 30th Monday

We were late up this morning so decided to take a rain check on our plan to Manorola (another of the five towns) because it was already too hot when we were ready. We decided to chill for a day. Dad and mum went into Levanto, the town we’re staying in, at about midday. They wanted to post the prints we bought in Vernazza back home - there’s no room in the car at all. They promised to bring back focaccia for lunch, but at two thirty Tom and I were wondering where our delivery was. There was a palaver at the post office and queues everywhere, but when they got back we enjoyed a light lunch. After, we played Perudo (a dice/betting game), hearts and bridge for a few hours.
I’ve used up all the string I bought the other day for my bracelets, and mum found some more in an art shop today. I’m trying out beads and different colours and I think I’m getting the hang of it.
After a relaxed afternoon of reading and games, Tom and dad had a game of tennis while mum and I made our way to the campsite bar to watch the Olympics.

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Day 16 – 31st Tuesday

We went to Manorola today as planned, to find a restaurant mum had found on TripAdvisor.
We didn’t see that much of Manorola because we went straight for lunch, but the tiny quay and narrow streets were beautiful. Taverna Del Billy, located about 350 steps above sea level (!) was great. The view was amazing. Being so close to the sea it was mainly a fish restaurant, but being the heathens we are, Tom and I had pasta followed by steak. Tom said it was the best meal he’d ever had, and I loved mine too. Mum and dad went for the seafood and thought it equally as scrumptious. Great desserts too.
Back in Levanto, Tom and dad went to play tennis while mum and I went to the beach. It was a little rocky, and I would swear that the sea on the private part of the beach was bluer and calmer that the public stretch. Mum went for a swim while I sat in a beach-side bar, reading. I went back to the art shop and stockpiled the waxed string I need to do my macramé bracelets – I’ve worked out how to do an adjustable clasp now and mum, dad and Tom are going to pay me to make some for them. I’ve got loads of string and I actually quite enjoy it.
A slice of pizza each from the bakers, then back to the bar by the tent to watch the Olympics. Great day.

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Posted by katebolshaw 06:28 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Exploration Day

Day 14 - Cinque Terre

sunny 38 °C
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Mum shook me awake this morning at nine because we had plans to take the boat to Riomaggiore and explore the town. Tom and dad aren’t fond of boats so they took the train through all the towns, Riomaggiore being the last of the five. From the boat we had a great view of each town – it was quite rocky but we found it okay. When we arrived at about eleven, Tom and dad were sitting outside a small Italian bar with a great view, Dad painting with a morning glass of Preseco in hand, Tom reading by a Coke.

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The sun was shining as we made our way through the tiny town. It was pretty touristy, not usually our thing, but there weren’t too many people there and we avoided the ‘I heart Cinque Terre’ T-shirt stands. Mum and dad had mixed fried fish and chip takeaway for lunch, tom had a slice of pizza and I had some chips. We chose not to do the walk we’d planned, in favour of jumping on a train to the next town of Vernazza to the famous ice cream parlour. I love Italy.

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It deserves its glory, does the Il Porticciolo Gelateria. We made our way to a quay-side bar where we played bridge for a good hour (we’ve started a new tournament after mum and Tom begged for mercy). Strolling back up to the station we noticed a tiny art gallery. We took a look and walked away with four prints. Two are mine, one’s for Tom and one is of dad’s choosing. The woman’s really good – she’s English and lives here now (that made dad green).

Back at the site we chilled out at the tent and then had our continental tea of cheese, bread and salami.
Good day.

Posted by katebolshaw 09:22 Archived in Italy Comments (3)

Bed Situation

Day 13 - Cinque Terre


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Dad wasn’t feeling too great today so we had a down day. We’re in Cinque Terre for 5 nights, so we have plenty of time. A relaxed morning of reading and breakfast – Nutella and ciabatta.

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We have a bit of a bed situation. My lilo slowly deflates during the night, so in the morning it’s almost flat. It’s giving me some trouble with my back and shoulders as well.
Mum and dad’s one is even worse. We think it was overinflated at some point because there’s now a bulge on the left side of the bed, making it almost impossible for two people to sleep on it.
So we went on lilo hunt today. We found a shop which does those red and blue tubey ones (trés uncomfortable), but anyone who’s seen mum and dad’s lilo in Devon will know that that isn’t up to their two-foot high mattress standards. So we bought two cheap singles and later on we ordered a new one for me and for them on Amazon.it, to be delivered to the campsite in Umbria in a few days. Until then, mum is going to sleep on the normal bed (on the good side), dad is going to sleep in the middle of the tent on the two cheap lilos and Tom and I are going to alternate who had the sinky bed. Fun fun fun!
While we were out we brought some things for dinner. I found a jewellery shop which sold the string I’ve been looking for for ages to make macramé bracelets with. I found instructions on the internet and I’ve already made three.
We had a proper Italian meal for dinner – anti pasti of cheese and salami, primi pasta course of ravioli and tagliatelli, secondi meat course of steak and fresh fennel and desert of shop bought tiramisu and chocolate pannacotta. Nom nom nom.
We burnt mosquito repellent candles as we ate and I don’t think anyone got bitten. Dad was feeling a little better and enjoyed the meal.

During the night, the air tube above mine and Tom’s sleeping compartments deflated. We’re not sure whether it was the valve not being on right, the seams leaking or a puncture, but let’s hope for the first. Otherwise we’re in trouble.

Posted by katebolshaw 09:18 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Lakes to Levanto

Day 12 - Cinque Terre

sunny
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Moving again. Tom and I had pizza leftovers for breakfast while mum and dad had croissants. Wrong country, but hey.

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Packing was long and tedious and included some roof box wrestling. As we learnt when it exploded on the M25, its best not to overfill it. Even though we started at eight, it took two and a half hours under the beating sun to finish and we were all hot and sweaty when we’d done. We set off for Levanto, a town near the Cinque Terre area. Dad was sad to leave Orta – he’s made it official that he wants to live there in the future. While simultaneously living in the New Forest, Devon, Gordes and Umbria.
The drive was the shortest we’ve had yet – four hours or so. We ended up driving very high up along the coast, winding roads up on a cliff face. Dad did very well, ignoring his fear of heights and was very proud of himself. When we reached Laevanto we couldn’t find the campsite. We went into a different one and finally got directions from the tourist information. The site is rammed – there’s tiers of tents and rows and rows of caravans. Luckily we have a quiet, shady spot.
After putting the tent up again, we decided to go out for dinner. We trekked around the town on foot for at least forty minutes before finding a pizzeria to do the trick. By then we were all tired and ravenous, and the meal went down well. Back to the site a the tiny bar by reception had the Olympic Opening Ceremony on, so we watched while mum and dad had some ameretto. Went to bed straight afterwards. Tiring but good day.

Posted by katebolshaw 09:13 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

The Monk Train

Day 11 - Orta

sunny 37 °C
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Sorry about the delay – got a few days behind and had to sit down and catch up. All up to date now 

After a fantastic brunch of cheese, salami and bread we set out to find a place to go swimming and possibly hire a pedalo. We found a place called Miami beach but they charged a load for entry before 2.30pm, so we decided go into Orta for a drink beforehand. Preseco for the parents as well as a pina colada for mum and lots and lots of bridge. More doom and gloom for Tom and mum and they continued their streak of “unlucky” failure.

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While we were sitting there admiring the view, the tourist train came right into the square, full of singing monks in sunglasses. We laughed and laughed and laughed – if we’d of got it on video it would’ve been a hit on YouTube. It was really really hot and humid so while everyone was sitting down I went to investigate ice creams. I went into six different shops (this is where I belong) and finally chose a parlour famous for its pistachio. It was amazing. Three scoops each later we returned to the beach and got in for free. Not only did we get a pedalo but it was yellow and had a slide. After assigning roles; I was admiral, Tom captain, mum ‘sea lord’ and dad ‘sea dog’, we set out for an hour of fun aboard the ‘Miami Duck Warrior’ (our name). It was great. Dad stayed onshore and did an amazing charcoal picture of the mountains behind us.

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After we’d come back to the tent at six, Tom and dad went off again for tennis in the sweltering heat. There was a little confusion at the club and they ended up playing two of the locals. They won, surprisingly, and came back with a huge grin. We went back to the pizzeria from two nights before for pasta AND pizza – I couldn’t even start my pizza so I brought it home for breakfast tomorrow. We leave tomorrow, I can’t believe we’ve done our time here already and are moving on again. I think all the planning has paid off though – if our stays were any shorter it wouldn’t be worth unpacking, and if they were longer we wouldn’t be able to see as many places.
All in all, dad’s day went:
BRUNCH – PRESECO – CARDS – ICE CREAM – PEDALO – TENNIS – PIZZA – BEER
Sounds good to me 

Posted by katebolshaw 09:02 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Welcome Back, Sunshine

Day 10 - Orta

sunny 34 °C
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Mum had found out about a local market in our village so we got up early to go.
I had the shock of a lifetime when I went to the shower block - the toilets are holes in the ground and the showers only run for two and a half minutes before they stopped and you had to go outside to reset them. Not fun.

We were in the village for nine, expecting a market full of local farmers selling their produce. In fact, the market was a van selling cheese, a man with fruit and veg and a second hand clothes stall. And that was it. Tom brought some cheese and salami and mum brought some veg, and after a coffee at the cafe we resided to the tent for lunch. A very good lunch, actually - we had crusty bread and cheese and crips and mum made some sort of salad for her and dad. The sun was scorching, verging on too hot, but we enjoyed a relaxed afternoon reading. In the evening we found a pizzeria, great pizzas and more bridge - again, dad and I slaughtered mum and Tom. We went back to the tent and Tom and dad went on mosquito hunt. The Bolshaw Insect Obliterabion Serivice succeed and there were no bites during the night. That said, dad already has nineteen, Tom has eight, mum has six but I've scraped by with just one, and I think that may have been an ant.

Great day, relaxed and enjoying the sun.

Posted by katebolshaw 09:52 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Moving on (again!)

Day 9 - Lauterbrunnen/Orta

sunny
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Up to see the sun rise this morning - mum and I had graciously accepted dad's offer to pack the tent up while we went to Mannlichen. We got to the station just before eight and took the train to Wengen, where we found the cable car station and began our ascent. It was breathtaking. The view from Mannlichen was outstanding - every way we looked we were surrounded by mountains and valleys. The place was deserted as well, there was only one other person in the cable car. We had hot chocolate at the top, views from every angle.

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We saw the Jungrau, Eiger and Monch mountains all in a line, and the Grindlewald valley, the town of Wengen and even one of the lakes far in the distance. It was the clearest and sunniest day we'd had, and there was barely a cloud in the sky.

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We stayed up the top for about an hour, then came back down in the the cable car, reaching Lauterbrunnen train station about eleven. Mum and I walked to the internet cafe to upload yesterday's post and the boys came and picked us up from there. They'd done everything for us - put down the tent, packed it away and loaded the car (a difficult job requiring more patience than I have). We were on the road for about midday.

I do have to say, driving through the Alps with a father who has vertigo and a mother who is scared of tunnels is both difficult and quite ambitious. The supposedly four hour journey took six instead, and the drivers swapped frequently.
But we arrived safe and sound in Itlay, the sun hot already. We're staying at Lake Orta, north west Itlay, in a small campsite up on the hill. The pitch mum had arranged for us to have had a beautiful view. But when we got there the space was too small for our huge tent because our neighbours had put theirs overlapping the two pitches - the owners of the campsite came down and tried to help, but there was nothing we could do unil our neighbours came back. They offered us a pitch higher up, dry ground with no view, or said we could stay on the football pitch for a night and move the next day. We didn't like either option, so they said they'd ask our neighbours to move over the next day. We managed to put the tent up at an odd angle but had to park the car at the top. But what a view.

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After the tent was up it was quite late, and we went to the restaurant over the road for dinner. Great food, and lots of it, especially good for the boys who had been on the go all day.
The evening was very warm and dry, a welcomed change from the clouded valley of Lauterbrunnen. Dad and I took Tom and mum in bridge until they didn't want to play anymore, Tom declaring our success 'lucky' and 'scammy'.
A few dramas but a lovely evening, great view and good weather.

Posted by katebolshaw 09:36 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Lazy Sunday Lunch

Day 8 - Lauterbrunnen

semi-overcast
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Another dreary morning - we couldn't bear to get out of a warm beds until about midday. It was absolutely freezing last night, really really cold. Mum said it was the worst night of her life; with all our jumpers, blankets and socks we still weren't warm enough. 

I got up about ten, dad was already outside, painting under the canopy. I got on with my drawing while mum and Tom alternated between reading and sleeping.
We were all up about midday and the sky was starting to clear, little patches of blue sky appearing between the clouds. We decided we wanted to see one of the lakes, Thun or Brienz. We headed towards Brienz for some lunch and found a really nice restaurant right by the lake, with a veranda with the best view. It warmed up a lot and the sun came out - not quite warm enough for shorts but we took off our raincoats. Great meal, then back to the tent after a scenic drive. 
We came to the Internet cafe for more brownies and I put yesterday's blog up. 
Home about six. Tom let dad loose on his hair with the clippers and he cut most of it off, looks really good. He looks like a different person. 

Tom attempted to put on a load of washing for the first time in his life so we had to go through what the symbols meant. Even after just one week of camping, clean has a new definition - anything that isn't visibly dirty.

Dad barbecued burgers for dinner, really nice. Lots of cards for our last night in Switzerland, bridge for over an hour accompanied by a giant Lindt chocolate bar and Goldbears. Happy days.

We were all in bed by about eleven. Dad offered for mum and I to go up to Mannlichen (by cable car) tomorrow morning while Tom and him put down the tent. The forecast for tomorrow is great - clear skies and pretty warm. Moving on to the Italian lakes tomorrow, four hour drive to Orta.

Posted by katebolshaw 02:21 Archived in Switzerland Comments (5)

And the Heavens Open...

Day 7 - Lauterbrunnen

rain
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Sitting in the tent this evening, freezing cold and dampish. The rain has been relentless, the grass underneath the groundsheet has turned to a boggy mud, squelchy and soft. Came back from the toilets looking like a drowned cat, despite waterproof and hood. Not fun. 

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This morning was a bit of a slumber. I don't think we were all up and dressed until 1.45 p.m., when we had bread and cheese for lunch. 
Tom and dad had an urge to play tennis at the indoor courts that they discovered yesterday so they dropped mum and I off on the high street in Lauterbrunnen. I needed a waterproof coat and I found one in a sport shop sale, then mum and I looked for a coffee shop with Internet access so I could post yesterday's blog. 
The cafe was warm and dry and had speciality brownies - I can now verify that they are indeed a speciality. We read for a while, then the boys picked us back up at five on their way home. 

We found some wooden boards to put by the tent door because our 'front step' was a mud bath by that point. No leaks so far (fingers crossed it'll stay that way) but one of the air tubes seems to be deflating very slowly, so we're hoping it isn't punctured. Inside is dry enough, but unlike our canvas mansion tent, water seeps thought the walls if you lean against them so we're sticking to the middle.mThank God we ignored mum and brought the eight man tent instead of the four man - its just big enough but when we're all inside we're kind of on top of each other. Dad utilised his DIY canopy and barbecued some pork and chicken for dinner, really nice. Tom, mum and dad read this evening while I tried to do a sketch for my art by lantern light. 

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So I'm in bed now, raincoat on as well as all the jumpers I brought, listening to Noah and the Whale's cheery '5 Years Time'. Hope the weather clears up for tomorrow because mum and I want to go up some more mountains, cable cars this time, but it'll be pointless if we cant see the view. It's slightly claustrophobic here, not just because of the tent space but because we're in a valley between two very tall mountains and the clouds sit below their peaks. It's like a misty white blanket is smothering the town, slightly creepy. Socks on, hoods up, time to try and get some sleep. At least the sound of the rain helps us sleep. 

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Posted by katebolshaw 07:41 Archived in Switzerland Comments (2)

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough!

Day 6 - Lauterbrunnen

overcast
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Today we had an early start – mum and I were going to tackle the mountains. We were concerned that the thick cloud cover would block our view and considered going tomorrow, but a weather check confirmed that today was going to be the best of them.

Dad took us to the station and we took the 8.07 train to Kleine Scheidigg, submerged in misty clouds. We changed trains to the reach Jungfraujach at ten. Jungfraujach is the highest point in Europe that can be reached without climbing. It was absolutely amazing. Truly stunning. All the peaks were snow-capped and we saw the glacier.

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At the top is a really sophisticate set up – a kind of museum about the mining of the tunnel, lots of restaurants and a bar and loads of viewpoints. It was just astounding – I couldn’t believe a place like that actually existed. Because of the cloud bank, we couldn’t see the valleys (which were far off anyway) so it felt like we were floating on top of the world.

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There was a park area on the side of one of the mountains and I had a go at a giant zip wire and the ringos. The sky was blue and it was surprisingly warm. We needed sunglasses outside because of how bright the snow was, especially when coming out of the ice caves below. There were ice sculptures and the walls and floor were actually ice. It was seriously cool.

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We came back down, changing again at Kleine Scheidigg and getting off at the town of Wengen to try and find some lunch. Back down for about three o’clock, then walked back to the site where we found the boys.

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They’d rooted out an indoor tennis court the other side of Interlaken and they spent an hour there before exploring the supermarket and hitting the showers. The joy of playing on ‘the Fed’s’ home turf left them both exited and boasting about their backhands.
After mum had a nap and the rest of us read we went back to the restaurant at the campsite, really nice, and Tom and mum tried cheese fondue. Their technique was so bad the staff had to correct them twice. Dad and I had steaks and we’ll be going back to the tent as soon as I’ve finished this. We’re all shattered and I’m sure we’ll appreciate a good night’s sleep. Let’s just hope the forecasters are wrong and the rain won’t come tomorrow.

Posted by katebolshaw 06:34 Archived in Switzerland Comments (4)

Onwards and Upwards

Day 5 - Gordes/Lauterbrunnen

semi-overcast 17 °C
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Moving day.
Up at eight a.m. but we knew it was going to take a while longer than last time because we’d really unpacked for the longer stay. Total about two hours from getting up to being in the car ready to go. Not bad.
We left the clear blue skies and picturesque valleys for the snowy peaks of Switzerland. Whole trip took about eight hours including lunch and a huge traffic jam. Last two hours mum took over the driving because dad was getting nervous of the mountains. It confused me that he was afraid of the heights when we were still on ground level, but now I know dad’s vertigo is triggered by the thought and sight of mountains as well as from being on them. The last hour or so there were the most amazing views; forested mountains and snowy peaks, half disguised by the clouds. That still didn’t tear Tom away from his book.

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Mum and dad have been to this campsite to, twenty five years ago. Mum also came a good thirty years ago with her family. It’d be fair to say it’s changed a bit from the rural campsite it was – Contiki 18-35 holidays have landed. Luckily mum booked us a pitch as far away as possible from the Contiki chalet invasion, a nice big pitch conveniently situated ten metres from the showers.

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The tent was up in no time.

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We ate at the site restaurant, English food, while taking the mic of dad for utilizing the blanket supplied as the night grew colder. That night really was freezing – jumpers and two pairs of thermo-socks didn’t even cover it.
Shivering all round but an okay night’s sleep overall.

Posted by katebolshaw 12:23 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

Hot Hot HOT!

Day 4 - Gordes

sunny 38 °C
View Europe 2012 on katebolshaw's travel map.

Sorry about late posts, couldn’t get Wi-Fi to put them on ‘til today.

Dad was up early again and had been to Gordes and back for a coffee before we all woke. He finished a painting that he began yesterday, it’s really good but he won’t let me post it.

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We decided to go to Rousillion for lunch on our last full day in France because there was a restaurant that mum and dad wanted to go to which they’d been to before – Hotel Davide. The red rocks and buildings were beautiful.

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(sorry its upside down, I did everything I could but it wouldn't turn!)

It was seriously hot, 38 °C at one point. We had to park quite far away from the town so the whole walk into the centre we tried to find the shelter of trees and buildings as much as possible. Not easy at midday.
We found the restaurant (trés posh) but it was wincably expensive and the menu wasn’t as good as mum and dad remembered. After wandering around aimlessly for a while we found a café/bistro thing and the food was surprising good. Simple, but good. Dad and I had a discussion/dispute about modern art and techniques, Tom got involved and it went the way Bolshaw discussions usually go – bordering on argument but not quite tipped over the edge. There were two art galleries that we went to while passing and I found quite a few mixed media artists I liked. We retired to the air conditioned car and took the scenic route back to the site. Sunflower fields and cropped lavender made mum’s heart leap so we stopped on the road more than once for photos. Worth it though.

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Relaxed evening by the tent, few dad and I won bridge, tom insisted we play hearts as well and we all lost. Tom cooked spicy sausage spaghetti and I did dessert; strawberries and melted chocolate. Lovely evening though sad to be leaving. But that’s what this adventure’s about – new places, new experiences.

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Posted by katebolshaw 12:07 Archived in France Comments (1)

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