166 – Saturday 3rd October 2015 -K to Brescia
K ran the furthest yet … 5 km… felt good. More laundry and then an early lunch. Cycled to the train station and travelled the 24 mins to Brescia. Very uninspiring near the station: drunks and druggies! However, the main part of the city is inspiring. I had seen that there were two museums up at the castle … quite a steep walk up and I should have counted the steps! Unfortunately the museum I wanted about the unification of Italy was closed and the armaments museum had little interest for me. The photographic temporary exhibition about the 1904 was quite interesting, given that Milan is hosting the world fair 2015.
Back down the hill, I bumbled around the squares, which all became alive about 3 p.m. … lots of exhibitions about sustainability, selling books, cookery demos and giving away seedings. Buzzing. Attractive architecture. Highlight was the Basilica as it was also a church with a crypt and mosaics – a spiritual place. Not too touristy and worth a visit.
James returned from Dublin via taxi, which the campsite manager had kindly booked … it would not have been possible to get the van back into the campsite after about 9.30 and it saved K trying to park up at the airport when airport carparks are not designed for 8m vans.
167 – Sunday 4th October 2015: Rest and Cycling in the Rain
A late start. After lunch, the rain seemed to have cleared so we cycled past Iseo town and onto the peat bogs …. fine until we lost the route. We decided to cycle onto the next largish town for ice creams and coffee, but the heavens opened – a serious deluge. We watched the stair rods and lightening from the shelter of a tree for about an hour. Once it eased off we about faced and headed back to Iseo. By this time the sun was out, so we stopped off and ate the planned ice cream.
Received a pic message from our Bristol neighbours, Kay and Stephen … they had a super duper caravan and the pic is of an amazing motorhome. Apparently the caravan ‘morphed’!!!! They claim our ability to move on easily is partly to blame for the transition. We are so delighted to see the birth of Phoebe. Sort out the dog passports and please join us, very latest, end March / early April in N France. Grinning from ear to ear for you.
168 – Monday 5th October 2015: Boat to Monte d’Iseo and Circular Cycle Wine Tour
We cycled to Iseo port and caught the ferry to the 1) European 2) largest 3) inhabited 4) lake island … quite a lot of criteria here to reduce the competition in this category. We helped out some fellow Brits who knew they were catching a ferry but not where to and how to get back again! We are just so organised … some of the time!
Once on the island we turned right on the 9.5 km bike route around the island perimeter. No cars, just the odd moped and three wheeler car and paths good. Until, K suggested we detour from the shore path inland a bit to see a Medieval village …. the path became cobbles and it was VERY steep uphill. For a loooong way. At one point we considered turning back to the nice level shore path …but that would have been defeatist and surely we must be at the top soon….. NOT!
As soon as we passed though the Medieval village … more of a cluster of houses all on top of each other, we finally descended and found a cafe for a couple of glasses of wine and a snack. Did I omit to mention, we’d had several glasses already … seemed wise the break the trip up and contribute to the local economy!
Another stop for the mandatory gelato. Phone call from Maddy about why she may like to read History at Uni … Horrible Histories seems a good starting point, but what do I know about personal statements?!?
Time for another glass before we caught the return ferry.
We ate at the campsite restaurant. The lake is known for its Perch, which I had with a lemon sauce …. yummy. J went for his usual – Wiener Schnitzel and chips (seems to have replaced scampi and chips in Euroland) and could not manage a Tiramasu after … shock / horror! I managed cheese … all of it and there was a lot! But cheese and ice-cream go into that other stomach. And the campsite manger sent through a complimentary Limoncello – had to buy a bottle the next day – developed a taste for it! He was also roasting chestnuts over a fire pit for the campers … a really excellent site. The washrooms seemed to be constantly being cleaned.
169 – Tuesday 6th October 2015: Come on Como
We left our lovely lakeside pitch and headed towards lake Como. The lake is actually in 3 parts, like a person with two running legs. Imagine and upside down Y. Lecco is at the bottom of the right hand leg and Como off the tip of the one on the left. Bellagio is in the crotch where these two legs of the lakes meet. The guide book says that Bellagio is the prettiest town on Lago di Como, so this was our via point with the intention of driving after down the other leg to Como. However, by the time we had shopped … twice (K looking for a pressure cooker … Lyn, who we met in Idryia and then Piran in Slovenia, cooked lots in one … so I wanted one!) … time had marched on.
By the time we arrived in Bellagio it was knocking on the door of 4pm. All the car parks, again like Lake Garda, are not motorhome friendly. We managed to find a free parking by the cemetery which was a bit of a walk into the town, but not suitable for overnighting in. We asked in the TIC and the young girl said it was OK to overnight in the main carparks after 8.00 pm until 8.00 am. Our plan was to stay up at the cemetery and then move at 8.00. Does anyone know the French for cemetery … we were with 4 French motorhomes at one point, in a non friendly motorhome car park, and I could only describe a cemetery as a ‘champs des morts’ … but they understood! We relaxed and watched the world go by over a coffee and an ice-cream. We then relaxed some more and did the 1 hour walking tour around the town and managed (just) not to buy a very expensive, but beautiful green Italian handbag that I need like a hole in the head.
Best laid plans awry again … we had the collywobbles (what a wonderful old word that is) about staying in a non friendly motorhome carpark with no other vans. It was a long drive the Plan A, Plan B and Plan C that K had identified in Como and it was now starting to get dark! Oops! One of the Italian apps described a motorhome parking up the hill between the legs and only 30 mins. Bollocks on two counts. It was a frigging mountain with the tightest hairpins we have done on this trip and it was now dark! And it took the best part of 45 mins. And we could not find it in the pitch black. So we parked off the road and made sure all the blinds were shut fast so we did not alert people to our whereabouts by sending out light sabres. Being now 9.00, we dined only on the leek, potato and blue cheese soup that had been in the slow cooker all day – lunch planned for tomorrow!
We also agreed, again, that not having a Plan A -C within reach is not on and that we need to possibly get up earlier!!! Gulp.
170 – Wednesday 7th October: Narrow Misses, Ferry and onto Milan
K woken in the night to the sound of Alpine cow bells … VERY close. I stuck my head out of the bathroom window to be greeted by a very relaxed flock of sheep only about 1.5 metres from me … it was so still and quiet I could even hear them ripping at the grass. Don’t they sleep?
We set the alarm … our new found and probably short lived new early rising discipline! Discovered that we were next to a helipad … yep, so remote up this mountain it would be a necessity. J took on the challenge of the hairpin descent … at least I had had the benefit of on-coming headlights going up last night. In theory, I should have been able to enjoy the lake views … but it was seriously steep and the hairpins were very tight. Not relaxing.
The next stage of the trip back along the lake to Bellagio was, if anything, even less relaxing! Narrow roads with on-coming traffic and a resurfacing vehicle that decided to reverse suddenly – missing us by millimetres. J managed a polite ‘Oh No’ … my reaction was unprintable.
We arrived at Bellagio and J queued in Chard whilst I went to buy the ticket, having read about a supplement if you buy on the ferry. J was been ushered on board whilst I was still waiting for the card machine to connect with the UK via Mars, Venus and Pluto .. thought I was going to have to do an Indiana Jones style leap across gaping water to catch up!
The west shore of the lake is supposed to be the more attractive …. the plan (can you tell this one went awry too!) was to leisurely meander down to Como, and spend the night there. HOWEVER, the roads around Como are NOT designed for traffic … of any kind. And again, we could not find anywhere to park. So we kept going to Como … drove in and drove out! Large and not inviting.
Top tip: if you want to visit Lake Como – arrive at a main town and go everywhere by boat. Max two days, as although pretty, all the villages look the same! What was good to see was some of the fantastic waterside villas that I remember from my childhood – all pink and yellow.
We found a huge supermarket complex which delivered:
- K bought a pressure cooker
- J had a MacDonalds …. even if a slight comms issue and he needed up with a Happy Meal 🙂
- We managed to ring Camping Milano to see if they had a space to take us … no need to book – just turn up.
We arrived at Camping Milano mid afternoon and got ourselves set up. We then caught the bus and Metro into the centre. Coming up from the Metro to the Duomo Piazza is quite something. The architecture of the cathedral alone is special, but then add in the Vittorio Emmanulle mall … wow factor. We eventually found the Expo ticket office and bought our consecutive day 2 day tickets…. so pleased J is a senior again …. EUR57 versus EUR42! Then found the TIC and picked up info for when we come to the do the city properly.
171 – Thursday 8th October 2015: Expo Exposed
We caught the campsite shuttle to the Milan Expo – theme of food sustainability and feeding the world. A LOT, and I mean seriously a lot of people, and so many school groups, all arriving at the same time.
We had googled the best bits and had a shortlist of country stands that we really wanted to visit.
So we started with UK – they do this kind of thing well – a bee hive with a live feed to a bee hive. Given we visited an amazing bee museum in Slovenia and K listened to a Farming Today broadcast about the importance of bees and pollination … this exhibit gave very little info, but it was sensory with a wild flower meadow and the bee sounds.
Ireland was next … best bits … a thunderstorm audio and giving kids a soft cuddly toy of a cow. If you knew nothing about Ireland you would think it rained all the time and all the landscape is covered with cows!
We don’t do well in queues, so the only other country we visited was Czech republic – no queue and it was evident why! UAE had a 3 hour queue. Korea 2 hour etc etc. One spends this long at the airport to fly to these countries, not to spend 5-10 mins seeing a stand! We got into some of the smaller countries, such as some of the African nations who were part of the Legumes section, but that was it. We still managed to spend 5 hours walking it … It is truly vast! And so busy! People kept pouring in.
We have decided not to use our day 2 tickets … our time will be better spent exploring Milan for an extra day.
Milestone – 6 months
We have reached the 6 month travelling mark …
3rd April: Vacated our house in Bristol
4th April: Flew to Jordan for a 11 days driving trip
We cannot tell you how pleased we are to still be loving this. The time has just flown by. We do not miss TV (even the rugby or Strictly, which has just started), washing machines etc. Just people.
We are just so incredibly lucky and we know it.