A Travellerspoint blog

Trip to Rome

Tuscany to Rome.

sunny 31 °C

Sunday morning we said our goodbyes to our home for the last week as well as purchasng some olive oil from Mara and Franco. Mara slipped Kenzie 5 euros for gelato on the way.
On the way we stopped at Siena a walled town. Parking was easy and we road the large escalators to the centre of the town. The town was very nice with a large Dome and Cathedral also a very nice central area. The kids enjoyed looking for the pictures on the walls for the different areas of the city (of course the turtle one was Kenzies favourite). We purchased a nice lunch in a bakery and sat infront of the dome and bell tower in the shade it was really nice watching other tourist sketching the tower they were very skilled.
After Siena we drove to Perugia for a night stop over, this is were the nightmare of a badly mapped area on the GPS started. The hotel was extremely hard to find and the GPS that had guided us so brilliantly so far was of no help at all, it had no ideea of the strets of Perugia. Luckily the kids spotted our hotel on a back street as we drove past. Other people on reviews had said it was hard to find but in honesty if they had some signs it would help. We checked in and the nightmare continued, I placed my wallet in the safe in the room as we were carrying quite a few euros for Rome, when I shut the door it said error and would'nt open again, a trip to reception and the guy said he did'nt know we would have to wait till the next day, I told him no good as we wanted to get dinner, about an hour later and 20 different master keys and lots of phone calls he finally got it open. The hotel was really quite nice but Perugia did'nt like us. We enjoyed a really nice breakfast at the hotel before heading to our Rome apartment.
Rome has a reputation of being the worst city in the world to drive in, I did'nt find it to bad just that everyone drives everywhere, whenever they want you just need to go with the flow.
Our apartment in a residential area of Rome about 20 minutes from the centro is very nice a home away from home all the mod cons, more than home to be honest. Gino the owner was also helpful with maps and local knowledge. Upon arrival we unpacked and looked for a car park which was fairly hard, to leave the car in for 3 days as we were to purchase BIT Tourist 3 days passes for local transport (11 euro each).
After settling in we ventured into the city on the metro which was great we managed to see in an afternoon, the Turtle Fountain, the Trevi Fountain and The Pantheon, the kids enjoyed all and the place was'nt packed.
We also manage dto squeeze in a Gelato which the kids love and it has become a bit of a afternnon ritual, there favlourites are, lemon, strawberry, melon, pink grapefruit and for mke yogurt is really nice.
We arrive back at the apartment about 6.45 pm with Pizza in hand for dinner and the kids watched a DVD while Janine planned the next day in Rome.
Oh yea one other thing it's EXTREMELY HOT 31 degrees F yesterday and about the same for today by the looks.
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Posted by schofields 00:21 Archived in Italy Comments (3)

Florence War Cemetary

In search of Great Uncle Cecil

sunny 28 °C

In 1944 my Great Uncle Cecil and my Grampsy were in Italy, fighting in the 2nd world war, On the 30th July my great uncle died . Today we drove to the Florence War Cemetary in search of his grave.
The Cemetary is on the north bank of the river Arno just out of Florence. As we entered the cemetary we all were amazed at how Beautiful the grounds are kept. It showed such high respect for the 1620 men and women buried there.
A Gardiner who spoke great english directed us to the NZ area where we quickly found Uncle Cecils grave. It was surrounded by hundreds of other kiwi soldiers. The grave was immacuatly kept with flowers surrounding it.
The girls were amazed as we read the surrounding tomb stones that so many lives were lost at the same time as Uncle Cecil. I am Grateful one was not Grampsy.
We made our way to the memorial area where we signed a guest book (signed by many other kiwis) and thanked them for keeping the grounds so beautiful.
I am really glad we made the effort to see this little part of my family history I only wish Grampsy could see the photos.
RIP Grampsy.
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Posted by schofields 10:45 Archived in Italy Comments (3)

Tuscany

sunny 25 °C

After 3 nights in Venice we headed south to our most anticipated 1 week stay in Terriacolia in the Pisan Hills Tuscany. As we drove to the Agriturismo the scenery did not disappoint, everywhere you look you see olive trees and grape vines amongst hill towns.
The owners of our Villa met us and Mara and Franco don't speak a word of English but there son did a great job of translating. It was clear by her gestures she liked the girls. She offered to make our dinner for the night and we accepted. she returned 5 minutes later with a bottle of their wine, olive oil and a bowl of apricots. This hospitality has not stopped all week as we have been kept knee deep in apricots , peaches, cherries, zucchinis and lettuce. The dinner that night was incredible and just what we needed.

The girls have made them selves at home around the villa and befriended their dog and tiny kitten. They have been swimming everyday and loving it.

We have ventured out to sightsee in San Giminagno and Volterra and Lucca. Volterra was amazing just what you expect an Italian town to look like. The girls loved shopping there and bought lots of alabaster rock shapes.

We got a big shock when I went to send 9 postcards and got charged 2 euro each ($4) so we wont be sending many more until we return to England.

Today we drove to the Florence War cemetary and tomorrow we have a rest day before we head towards Rome.
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Posted by schofields 10:12 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Venice

3 days in the city of water

overcast 26 °C

IMG_0684.jpgWe arrived at Mestre in early afternoon and parked our car at the multistorey car park opposite the train station to Venice. From Mestre train station the trains leave about every 10 minutes for Venice which is about a 12 minute train ride. In Venice we had booked an apartment and the owner was meeting us at St Lucia train station Venice, we were to sight him because of the orange cap he was wearing. Lucklily for us he was the only one with a orange cap and easy to find. After a short 5 minute walk from the train station we were at our apartment which was just off the main street in a very quiet and safe complex with great security and peace of mind.
On the first evening we took a quick stroll down the central street and the kids were amazed with stalls selling all sorts of souveniers, Kenzie really liked the masks.
The second morning we took a water bus to San Marco Square which took us out around the harbour, there were plenty of cruise liners and super yachts moured everywhere. San Marco square was pretty empty from last time we were there so we got a chance to have a good look around.
For the rest of the day we meandered through the back roads stopping for Pizza and Gelato on the way back to our apartment.
On our last day we ventured out to Murano and Burano to see the sights we had read about. Both did not let us down.
Murano with its local glass work was fantastic and the kids mavelled at how a glass master could make a horse out of a glowing ball of molten glass in about 3 minutes. We walked past the first lot of glass factories as they wanted to charge to watch the glass work, and found plenty of others who were more than happy for you to watch. Briana and Kenzie purchased some small glass confectionary keepsakes.
Burano was postcard perfect with its brightly coloured buildings and boats. Burano sells alot of lacework which I am sure is nice if you like that sort of thing.
All in all we all loved Venice, it is expensive so go with deep pockets, water buses are not cheap.
If you don't want to shell out $150 for a gondula ride (we did'nt) catch a tranchetto across the grand canal for 0.50 euros, these are just a large Gondula which you share with others it gives you the idea and does'nt empty your bank. The only down side of Venice is the people on every corner trying to sell you junk you don't need and they don't give up easy.
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Posted by schofields 09:17 Comments (0)

The Car

How we are getting around

all seasons in one day

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Before leaving New Zealand we booked a Peugeot Eurolease from Peugeot New Zealand. We booked a brand new 308 Stationwagon straight from the factory. As you can see from the picture above it is a fantastic modern car, with all the latest bells and whistles.
This is actually the tractor that the farmer on our agritourismo uses everyday to plow his fields etc... They obviously build them to last.
We did actually book a lease car from Peugeot and it is 308 SW, 1.6 litre turbo diesel with all the bells and whistles. We picked it up from Lille train station where we were meet by 2 representatives from Peugeot and they ran us through the car and how it works. The lease worked out pretty cheap and included zero excess insurance and all lease cars are straight from the factory 6km on the clock when we got ours. So far we have travelled nearly 3000 km averaging 5.4 litres of fuel per 100km ($3.00 a litre here). The car drives fantastically and eats up the motorways no problem. The model we have has a complete glass roof which was great when driving through Switzerland and the mountains. On the Autobahn I managed to get upto 151 km/h till the co pilot noticed and made me slow down. Even at 130 km/h we were getting passed like we were going backwards, some people must of been doing over 200 km/h. The kids have plenty of room and the boot is huge, we are really please with what we have booked.
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The only draw back with lease cars is you get a red number plate and everyone else has a white.
We have driven on one day for nearly 6 hours and the seats were comfortable and no complaints about sore bums.
It took a while to get used to driving on the left and the pedals and gear stick being all screwed up, but now it is fine. One thing I recommend bringing is a GPS, we would be buggered without it and and I am sure the driving would of been alot more stressful with Janines map reading skills.

Posted by schofields 08:24 Archived in France Comments (1)

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