Day 4 of the European tour
Day 4 of the European tour
Already day 4 of the tour and we have been through 6 countries. It been a furious pace but we finally it to Venice and it’s a first 2 night stop. This has slowed the pace a little and given us time to catch up with the outside world.
We have been to so many amazing places and the camera is working overtime. We left London and headed to Dover to catch the ferry to Calais, luckily the channel crossing was smooth and no one lost their lunch. We then headed to Bruges it was only an afternoon stop but the place is amazing as I have commented on elsewhere the chocolate and the beer is fantastic to the point where we had a Heineken in Italy the other day and it tasted like crap, we are slowly readjusting the taste buds to Peroni.
We then spent the night in Brussels enjoying an the local dish of mussels with a beer of course and also enjoying more Belgium chocolate before heading for Germany. We travelled through the Rhineland taking in a river cruise where a german band of musicians boarded at a stop and gave us an impromptu concert before departing at the next stop. The next day we headed to Munich for lunch and arrived in Innsbruck by early evening. Just an observation the beer in Europe is cheaper than Coke and it is stacked by the checkouts at roadhouses along the autobahns. The autobahns in Germany are KILLA! Normal speed limit is 130kmh and certain sections are 250kmh and they are super smooth. Germany is so clinical, they all follow the rules nobody crosses the road unless the light is green and they only cross at the lights and they adhere to the road rules unlike Italia which is chaos but more of that later. We spent the night in Innsbruck, the place is postcard perfect and everybody cycles around my kinda place. We also stayed in an old world style hotel with real keys instead of plastic it was a welcome change from the chain hotels. Did I mention the beer is fantastic? The Alps are unbelievable the views are spectacular and all roads resemble a stage out of the tour de france or the giro d’italia.
Day 4 we headed down to the plains to Venice. After the order and control of Germany we have complete chaos in Italia. They drive like maniacs, the pedestrian crossing are a joke they don’t stop in fact they don’t stop full stop they will just go around. The hotel charges 1 euro? for the wi-fi but it doesn’t work in your room you have to be in the lobby or up on the pool deck and it only works intermittently. The bathroom is a work of art but not everything works. The shower nozzle is like a garden sprinkler I had the pleasure of being completely doused while sitting on the throne when Angela turned the shower on she was dry and the room was soaked. For those of you who watch the show the “IT Crowd” will understand the next experience. I was in the bathroom when I noticed what I thought was the clothesline and went about trying to find the point on the opposing where it would latch into. All the while I was trying to get Angela’s attention to show her as well. I gave up because the cord with a little red ball on the end wasn’t long enough. I then noticed flashing lights on the fancy keycard entry system and the aircon digital readout was flashing “HELP”. By then the kids had come in and where laughing there arse off because I had yank the emergency help alarm at least a dozen times. Unlike in the show nobody showed up (we are in Italia) to assist and I wasn’t carried away in a wheelchair to my wifes disgust.
Venice is jaw dropping, even after 35 years it still leaves you speechless as you cruise up the Grand Canal. Yes we had a gondola ride through the canals; we were in 8 boats with a piano accordion player and singer serenading us down the Grand Canal. Halfway through the ride one of gondoliers upset the singer which then triggered a tirade in the Venetian dialect which both Angela & I could not translate but I got the gist of it.
We spent today wandering the streets of Venice in the morning it is truly a magical place but the number of tourists is ridiculous you can’t swing a camera without hitting a tourist. It costs 1.5 euros to use the public toilets in Venice that’s obscene! First you have to find them then you have to line up and wait but they are clean and there are no freaks or weirdos hanging around. Venice was a magical experience.
Day 5 of the European tour
We finally reached Rome in the afternoon and after a short stop at the hotel we headed straight to the Centro Historica for a walking tour with a local guide. It was fantastic to be back in Rome after 35 years and be able to recognise the sights I saw then and of course all the other famous locations. The highlight of the walking tour was the Pantheon. It was breathtaking piece of architecture and to think I stood on marble where Roman emperors would have stood thousands of years ago.
A quick pizza and tartufo in Piazza Navona was enhanced by the Marochini (Morrocans but in reality they now come from Senegal) who sell counterfeit bags & watches playing cat & mouse with the Carabineiri (Italian Police). The Carabineiri would drive by and the Marochini would pick up their bags & watches laid out on sheets and walk off and return 30 seconds later. This would happen every 5 or minutes as the Carabineiri looped around the piazza until finally after about an hour a few Carabineiri set off on foot through the Piazza and the Marochini disappeared probably to the next tourist spot.
The Romans cannot drive. They have given up painting the lines on the road because nobody cares. The scooters use the centreline as a lane and the traffic is magnificent you have to be extremely unlucky not to be caught in total gridlock.
Roma is basically organised chaos I really don't know how anything gets done and I think the Romans don't either but it is a beautiful city.
We arrive in Florence by lunchtime and after a quick bite to eat we are off to see the “David” at the Academia followed by the Duomo and the Church of the Sante Croce where the tombs of Michaeli Angelo and Gailileo are.
We wandered the streets in the afternoon getting ready for our return in 2 weeks. It was a pretty warm day so we were keen to have dinner and get back to the hotel to rest.
I am starting to get really sick of people trying to sell me crap. They just walk up to you and shove paintings, scarves, umbrellas & all other manner of rubbish in yor face and then expect you to pay. Rome was really bad for this especially around the Coloseum, there was even a Gladiator at the Trevi fountain trying to get you to pay for photos.
Tomorrow its onto Monte Carlo and Nice.