Italia: 4th - 9th August
We packed up our tent in drizzly München and departed for Lago di Garda. Our original plans included at stop, at Joshua's request, at Schloss Neuschwanstein. This is the fairy-tale castle constructed by the Bavarian King Ludwig II in the late 1800's and is featured in many tourist brochures as well as in the opening title for the Sunday Disney program when we were growing up. We decided to by-pass it this time, due to a shortage of time (see below), but will Catch It Next Time™. This is a phrase we use when we can't see everything we'd like to see but is in keeping with our general travel philosophy of 'Do a few things well'. One reason for the lack of time was Gaynor had some last minute children's clothes shopping to do in central München. So while Gaynor, Ari and Elijah chuffed off to the city, Fenton and the rest packed up camp before heading in to pick them up. Unfortunately, parking in the city centre and meeting up were endeavours fraught with frustrations. There's a reason public transport works so well in big cities!
The trip to the lake campground (Camping La Rocca at Manerba del Garda) was roughly 450km (about 5 hours) and Joshua became ill and slept most of the trip. Not a happy camper. Gaynor couldn't remember in which language to thank her first Italian shopkeeper going through German, French, English and finally grabbing onto some Italian. Once again, we set up the tent in the dark -- this time with help from some nearby Dutch children.
5 - 6 August
These days were enjoyed doing next to nothing. It would have been exactly nothing but for the fact that we had given the staff the week off. Gaynor and Joshua's idea of nothing (and usually Mara's too) is reading for hours on end. Elijah and Ariana's is swimming, monkeying at the playground and playing any ball sport. Fenton's idea is laying next to the lake and/or exploring and Bryna's idea is hanging out with whichever person is doing what she feels like at the time. Perhaps the main reason we went to stay at the lake was to do nothing and thus to come back feeling rested.
The campground -- which also included many caravans and campervans -- stipulated rules regarding siesta. No loud noise or swimming in the pool between 1 and 3pm. Most local shops are also closed during this time. Elijah seemed to have trouble getting the word 'siesta' out with alternate versions including 'cemetary' and 'seminary' -- all synonymous with dull and boring in Elijah's mind.
Lago di Garda is a glacial lake, very touristy -- particularly popular with German and Dutch holiday-makers -- but with beautiful scenery. There is a reason it is so popular. Here's a hasty panoramic photo of it taken during an evening walk.
Drove the scenic route through the mountains on the western side of the lake and stopped for a light picnic lunch on Strada Panoramica (name says it all -- see the postcard shot below which is overlooking the lower reaches of the lake) in San Bartolomeo. We then pressed on to the lookout near Tignale which was so high and had such a steep descent down to the lake shore that it was dizzying (Gaynor felt this literally). The view was too much to take a photo of so here (8.2MB file) is a short movie at the lookout. The rest of the drive continued among spectacular mountains, through deep mountain passes, impressive grottos and tunnels near Prabione, Prà da Bont, Sermerio and Tremosine.
So apologies that there are not many more photos of us lazing about or otherwise having a good time but were too busy doing nothing. All in all, though, a very relaxing and enjoyable time. Just the tonic!
Next post: Our intrepid adventurers move on to Venice, Fenton takes ill and they come across a navigational problem not even GPS and a map can solve!