Venice
 
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1-3 Apr - Venice, Lake Garda, cross into France

Boat to Venice

Deliveries by boat

Lake Garda campground

Alpine drive

Picnic on the Med just past Nice

Finn meets a friend at the marche

Our camping tower

Forest of sculpture from found objects

Chasing Pigeons in Venice (1.1 meg movie)

Suzie

Mike

1st April Friday

We are all awake early and get out with blankets round us due to the hour and a chilly wind, but the sun begins to warm us through breakfast. We are back to biscotti and milk.  The children go and play and I meet a friendly German woman (Miriam) and her daughter. We chat while Mike finishes the pack up, and the kids come to look at her big VW van they just sleep on the floor at the back on a mattress, she has a son too. We exchange email and get ready to walk to the ferry. Miriam drives off but turns back and gives us a lift down the road as she says the next boat is in 10mins and we won't make it. We thank her and get our tickets and start towards Venice. We arrive at a terminal and think we are on the edge of the city somewhere but are a bit confused and see cars as well as canals. We find out we are at Venice beach an Island on the way and still have to take the boat bus on.

We find it and and enjoy seeing the approach to the city with all the boats of different sizes and speeds going in and out with us. As we get off the boat we see our first Gondola!  We walk to the huge piazza San Marco even off season it is swamped with tourists but is a sumptuous display of decorative architecture.  We take it all in for a while an then regroup in a smaller piazza looking at our map. We wonder off towards the Bridge ot Sighs and find the smaller canals with more and more Gondola's. We ages walking around spotting builders barges and electrical supply boats as well as the Gondolas and we listen to some of their banter as they pass, one is even singing and we have an fun exchange with him because he adds some electrical guitar noises to his traditional ballade.  We find some small supermarkets and get bits for a picnic and just after find a nice sunny piazza and are amazed to see it has and assortment of plastic play slides and trikes out for general use. This is great as we need to let Finn and Sammy let of some energy as we have been keeping them contained in the backpack and buggy. We need a rest too. We enjoy our lunch and work our way back past the big Rialto bridge over the Grand Canal. The scene from there is chaotic with water taxes and Gondolas everywhere, as well a boat laden with large cardboard cartons. We make our way back down more narrow laneways and canal bridges to Piazza San Marco and let Finn and Sammy loose amongst the tourist groups and pigeons. They have a ball and draw a lot of attention before getting there promised ice-cream. Unfortunately we pick probably the most expensive place in venice and pay 8euros for them! We walk back to our bus boat and take the same route changing to ferry. We are all tired but keen to get on the road and the kids are happy to just sit. We drive all the way to lake Garda, Stops?

2nd April Saturday

We spend the morning in the camp and everyone gets a shower and to relax by the lake, cycle or play.  We pack up after lunch and are back on the road at 2pm. We are not sure how far we will get but we have a plan. We drive while Finn sleeps and the others play and make good progress taking the route dad sent us from Autoroute Express across the top of Italy avoiding Milano and Genoa. The big three have a game that seems to last well using their soft toys which have been developing very distinct characters and names during the journey. Eli and Rosa sometimes leave Sammy behind in the speed of the game so we have to intervene but in general they are very good at amusing themselves. We pull of the road before Cuneo and I hope for a play ground and there is one two minutes later. The kids get to let of steam and I cook diner. We have our picnic diner and settle them back in putting into action our plan. We set up the laptop in a safe location were everyone can see it and put on a DVD. We hope to be able to make good progress this way and it works a treat and we wonder why we didn't think of it before! Progress remains steady until we reach the beginging of the moutains. We decide to press on over the border to reach France so we can wake to croissants and pain au chocolat. We do fine except I am unhappy with the tunnel between the two countries. It is really long compared to ones we have met and it is narrow and old and the road surface is terriable. The only good bit is that only Eli is still awake to witness my anxiety. We find a French village and pull in for the night hoping to rise early and continue.

3rd April Sunday

We get up and start putting the kids into their car seats. Mike does his daily engine check and discovers a petrol feed tube has frayed. He has to repair it so we just wait and listen to his grunts and moans but finally he has it done and we go in search of a patisserie. We are not disappointed and munch our way down the moutains. The road follows a deep gorge and river with huge cliff of varying colours and types. The moutains are huge. We are able to keep going passing into Italy again for a bit enabling the kids to say goodbye. Then we get on the highway towards Nice but get off soon after as Newbie is a bit slow on the inclines. We find a high cliff road that takes us past Monte Carlo and into Nice looking down on the Med and all the big ships. Once though Nice we stop on a pebble beach and take another break. We realize that we are not too far from the farm and decide to make our way there. We turn in land for Grasse and once again are coping with mountains at slow speeds. We continue to climb past Grasse at one point the sign says 963ft. We have great views of the coast in the distance. We try to make contact with the Wwoof hosts but get no response. We decide to keep going and stop in a small town on the way that has a market. Finn meets a lovely little boy how cries out in excitement Speederman when he sees Finn in the Spiderman suit he lives in. We get a call back from the hosts they are at the coast but will be back at the farm this evening but tell us that we can go on there. We find our way and are blow away by the beautiful location of the farm and once out of the van the kids are over the moon about all the things they find: ponies, donkeys, goats, ducks, hens, turkeys and geese, tons of bikes, teepees, and swings and slides. We have explored most when the hosts arrive Carina and Berte drive up in a big camper and five kids pile out. We learn later the big two both 13 are foster kids. They also have their own boys, 9 and 6 and girl 3. We all go in for a cup of tea and get acquainted a bit before going back out to feed all the animals. We discover that we have missed the pigs that are in a field below the house. We go in again for soup at a big table with the little guys eating on their own low table. We are offered a family room in the house with its own bathroom, instead of the van on the understanding we will vacate it when B&B guest come. We are all asleep quickly after all the driving,  activity and fresh air.

 

1 April - Venice

I get up early and walk Cal.  We debate whether to move the camper to a campground, official parking or area di Sosta, but in the end we talk to other campers and decide its safe enough where it is.  Pack up and Maria, of the other campers who is there with her son and daughter from Germany, gives us a lift down the road to the ferry, where we have to quickly improvise a muzzle for Cal and then get aboard. 

Forty minutes later we disembark, surprised to see that there are cars on Venice.  It isn't until we walk around and buy a map and ask directions that we realise we are on Venice beach, not Venice proper!  So we find the next boat and really get to Venice this time!

The two things that struck me about Venice were the lack of cars and all the tradesmen and taxis - normal workers but all on boats.  With 4 in tow we didn't go inside any of the magnificent buildings, so we walked around, starting from the very touristed Piazza di San Marco, but then going off into quieter areas to see more normal Venizian life.  We buy a picnic and find a square where someone has put out children's bikes and slides for anyone to use.  We stay there in the sun for a good while, letting the children enjoy themselves.

We walk back and take the boats back to Newbie, who from the ferry looks very small on the shore, next to a few larger campers.

1-2 April Lake Garda

At the lake it is getting late so we find a campground on what we think is a small peninsula sticking into the lake.  It later turns out we weren't out on the peninsula as we thought.

Our German proprietress eventually appears and I book us in, all in Italian.  It's an expensive (for us) 4 star.  The facilities are excellent and the site is very clean and tidy. 

2 April

There is a cacophony of different bird calls from the lake as I walk Cal off the site and to the lake shore.  We spend the morning here getting washed and re-sorting the camper.  The older 2 set off together on Eli's bike to explore, they meet some English children and also find the shop, restaurant, closed pool and games room. 

We leave at 2pm.

 
 

This site was last updated 04/13/05