Day Trip to Verbania

20-08-18

We left the campsite in Baveno nice and early for a day trip to Verbania which is on the opposite side of Lake Maggiore. We caught the first ferry of the day across the lake and we had the boat to ourselves.

The ferry cut through the water seamlessly and we glided across the lake with nothing but the mountains and colourful town in front of us.

We found a cute little cafe to have some brekkie and sat outside as the morning sun started to warm our skin. The croissants came straight from a patisserie up the road and were delicious and flakey.

It was a lovely little neighbourhood place and the owner was a sweet old gentleman who stopped to chat with the locals and play with the kids. He was so friendly and made us yummy breakfast sandwiches to go with our second round of tea and coffee.

Verbania is the largest town in the region and home to Villa Taranto, a spectacular botanical garden that covers 16 hectares and has 20,000 species of plants from around the world. We walked the two mile path to the Villa which hugged the shoreline all the way.

We passed beautiful houses that had incredible outside terraces and gardens and picked which ones we’d live in if we won the lottery.

Villa Taranto is set amongst rolling hillsides of purple rhododendrons and camellias and is considered one of Europe’s finest botanical gardens.

We walked through a set of grand wrought iron gates and set along the white gravel driveway. We purchased our tickets and started following the self guided tour route which took us past wonderful fountains and immaculately trimmed gardens.

My favourite part of the gardens was the Dahlia walk which zigzagged back and forth taking on hundreds of blooms.

I’ve never seen so many different varieties of dahlias in such an array of colours and it was absolutely stunning.

Some blooms were perfectly formed with geometric precision and others were blousy with crinkled petals. We spent half an hour just in this area admiring the colours.

Next on the route was a brief look at the Villa with a sea of red flowers in front. We couldn’t get over how attractive everything looked. No dead flower heads or yellowed grass. Everything looked lush and tended to.

The formal gardens at the end were breathtaking. A carpet of green grass with tens of different cut outs of gorgeous, colourful flowers. Everything looked all the better for being bathed in wonderful sunshine.

We meandered back to the ferry after a quick stop for a cold drink (and another thrashing of uno). We made it back to the campsite in time for our daily dip in the lake. As we reach the end of our time in the Italian lakes we are beginning to realise just how much we’ll miss the scenery and weather. We are so fortunate to have this adventure.

Lake Como – Bellagio

14-08-18

We left the sosta in Bergamo and headed north to lake Como which took a couple of hours. We had our sights set on a particular campsite and we were just setting off for it when I received an email telling me that they had no availability. We had been warned multiple times that August was super busy and we’d be mad to attempt to tour the lakes during this time but this was our first hiccup. Back to plan B and after a couple of phone calls to a new campsite in a different location we changed our route and got going.

Having missed our turn off (thanks satnav), we ended up driving up and over a mountain range that led down onto the lake side of Como which was a dramatic entrance. The road down was very steep with hairpin bends all the way. We stopped for a photo.

As the road opened up onto the lake we were stunned by its beauty. Huge mountains all around reflected in the water of the still, glassy lake. Lake Como is in the shape of an upside down Y, with three relatively thin bodies of water. This meant that unlike Garda, we could see the banks and towns on the other side.

We couldn’t believe our luck as we were directed to our pitch at La Fornace campsite which was directly in front of the lake, offering awesome views all around. Our nearest town Oliveto Lario was a ten minute walk and had nothing more than a post office and bakery. We were blissfully isolated with nothing but nature around us. We spent the rest of that afternoon chilling out and going for dips in the lake. The campsite had a lovely, laidback vibe and a great little bar and pizzeria with a nice outdoor area. We ended up eating here a couple of times and it was delicious. We had to keep pinching ourselves that we were lucky enough to find a campsite with space and have lakeside views.

The next day we got the bus into the nearby town of Bellagio. It was a Sunday and there were only 4 scheduled for the whole day but it turned up bang on time. Situated just a few miles north the bus only took 20 minutes which I was thankful for because the journey was pretty stressful. The road was insanely narrow, squeezing down to one track at times and the bus careered around sharp bends like it was on rails. Occasionally the driver would sound his horn as a warning to drivers coming in the opposite direction but this did very little to slow them down and just on this one journey we had about three near misses where all the passengers made concerned “ooh” and “eeek” noises.

Bellagio is absolutely stunning. With cobbled lanes that rise up the steep town hills and then tumble back to the lake front, it makes for a great place to wander. We explored all the shops and walked to the small harbour which marks the middle of the lake where the three fingers of water meet.

Bellagio has amazing flower beds all over town and the buildings are meticulously tended to. It was impossible to not be charmed by its gorgeous lanes and grand hotels.

We found a gorgeous little restaurant for lunch which was filled with locals (always a good sign). It was a traditional trattoria with a beautiful terrace overlooking the warren of lanes below us. We shared a tasty ravioli with porcini mushroom sauce to start. So simple but so delicious and absolutely caked in butter I’m sure.

I had a slow cooked pork belly for lunch and Gary plumped for saltimbocca which is pan fried veal wrapped in Parma ham and sage. Being in the van we are restricted to stove top dinners or BBQs, and whilst I think I’m relatively creative with dinners, it was great to have something roasted and oven cooked for the first time in months!

We walked off our tasty lunch with a stroll around the grounds of the neoclassical Villa Melzi which had a prime lake front location. The grass was a wonderfully lush bright green colour and cut and edged with precision. There was a small Japanese water garden with acers and coi carp.

The summer house doorways framed the lake wonderfully and we had a great time taking in the sights.

We got the last bus back to the campsite and sat outside watching the sun go down.

The next day dawned very gloomy but we’d already decided to have a quiet one based at the campsite so it didn’t particularly matter. It proceeded to bucket down all day which wasn’t ideal (I had to put my cross-lake swim off), but did enforce complete relaxation. It actually turned quite cold with a chilly wind so we hunkered down in the van, watching films and drinking hot chocolate. As Gary keeps insisting, it’s really important to have total shut off days and we certainly recharged our batteries ahead of another day exploring the lake.

Lake Garda – Riva Del Garda

10-08-18

We had some house keeping to take care of when we left Lazise, including getting a food shop and petrol and navigating our way out of the very busy weekly market that sprawled out onto the street in every direction. We opted for the lake road for a scenic 33 mile drive north to Riva Del Garda. It was wonderfully sunny and the blue sky was punctuated by fluffy white clouds and we had the music on. There was a lot of traffic on the roads which slowed us down considerably but no matter, Lake Garda is just stunning and we were rewarded with incredible views for the whole drive north.

We arrived at a pre-selected sosta just after lunch time and were relieved to find plenty of space. It was no more than a glorified car park but at €12 a night it was a bargain in comparison to the €60 a night campsites nearby. We were only staying for two nights so it would be perfect.

After lunch we walked into town along the main road which took about 30mins. We passed a couple of campsites and stuck our noses in and they were absolutely rammed. No space between pitches and on top of one another with kids everywhere. We gave each other a slightly smug look that we’d made the right choice and continued in to town.

Riva Del Garda is graced with an incredibly dramatic backdrop of mountains and in particular Monte Rocchetta which looms 1575 meters above. We wandered through the pretty streets lined with colourful buildings and boutique shops that opened out into a gorgeous piazza.

We stopped at a lakeside cafe for a an elaborate and delicious iced coffee that I suspect was 80% cream and whiled away a good hour people watching. We made our way back to Harvey along the lake footpath which took in beautifully landscaped gardens and a shingle beach full of people enjoying themselves. In stark contrast to the south of the lake, it’s incredibly windy here and the lake is a hive of sailing and windsurfing activity. Pros were absolutely hooning it along and the 2018 European melges race event was on.

The next day we cycled a couple of miles south to the neighbouring town or Torbole. The bikes have been a great investment and offered us plenty of freedom and independence. The cycle lane was flat and wide and had amazing views of the lake. We passed numerous sailing clubs and windsurfing schools and igethwr with all the mountain bike and hiking trails around, we got a very outdoorsy vibe. We passed some kids jumping off rocks into the lake. I think Gary was tempted to join them.

We had a quick look around the pretty town of Torbole before settling on the beach for the day. We’ve both been enjoying our kindles and audio books and podcasts and it was great to have a laidback afternoon.

That evening the wind got up and was rattling around the van. The sky had turned an ominous grey and we could hear thunder rumbling not too far away. Within 30 seconds the wind was going mad and we had to scrabble around to shut the windows before they got pulled off their hinges. The wind swept a load of dust and crap into the van and our eyes. We were just recovering when the torrential rain began and we were treated to the most outrageous storm I’ve ever seen. The wind was rocking the van quite violently and lightning struck all around. We thought we were nice and safe inside until Gary noticed a leak on the seal of our window letting in loads of water. We desperately tried to soak it up with towels but it was no good, gary needed to go outside to tape over the seal. Within seconds he was drenched through to his pants and he came back in like a wet dog. Thank goodness for Christie man skills. If I was on my own I’d have probably drowned! It was a very abrupt end to a wonderful couple of days in Riva Del Garda.

Venice

Although we have both been to Venice before we were still excited to see it together. Our campsite was situated on the mainland just off the only bridge to “Venice island.” We hooked Harvey up with ‘leccy’ and hightailed it the 5 minutes to the tram stop. The deal is you have to buy your tickets for tram/bus/vaporetto beforehand and validate them on each journey. If one was daring or skint it looked like you could cadge a free ride as we didn’t encounter anyone checking up….until days later.

Venice is not actually an island. It is a group of 118 small islands interlinked by 400 bridges. Some might describe Venice as a ‘sinking ship’; not only is it literally sinking at a rate of 2 millimetres per year, but it’s population has halved in the last 50 years, from 120,000 to 60,000. Such de-population is due to the extortionate cost of maintaining a home in Venice, as well as its slow descent into the sea.

Yet, Venice is more than just a ‘sinking ship’: it is home to Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, the first public Casino, and an eerie masquerade tradition. It boasts 450 palaces, 350 gondolas, 170 bell towers and 177 canals, as well as the birthplace of the explorer Marco Polo, the composer Antoni Vivaldi and the playwright Giacomo Casanova.

As we exited the tram, walked down our first narrow alleyway, over a pretty bridge and spied our first gondola, we looked at each other knowingly. Venice was not going to let us down. It was as beautiful and atmospheric as we both remebered.

The only way to navigate was by following brown signs with faded golden gilt lettering to San Marco. We passed an asortment of shops selling weird masks that reminded us of the film ‘Eyes wide shut’. Looked on longingly at cool tiny bars with people swigging cold beer or sipping aperol spritz and eating tasty chicetti. Finally we emerged by the famous Rialto bridge and luckily grabbed the last table right by the water for a romatic meal for two. Perfect.

After a delicious seafood lasagne and a creamy carbonara we headed to the stunning piazza San Marco.

It was late and still about 30 degrees so we reluctantly headed back to Harvey knowing we had three more days to explore.

What’s that line from Richard the Third? “A horse, a horse my kingdom for a horse.” Change that for a fan and I completely get ya kingy. I thought we were in an episode of ‘The bake Off’ but we were in the oven. I fell asleep at dawn when the temperature dropped to about 28 degrees. It wasnt helped by the dog next door yapping every hour.

The next day our faithful yapping friend “peggy sue” ensured we didnt sleep in. I was annoyed at first but that quickly subsided when I realised her owners had disappeared for the day and left peggy sue tied up under their camper. One half filled bowl of water. How do these people live with themselves. We filled up her bowl and left for Venice hoping the owner would be back soon.

This time we bought a 48hr unlimited tram/bus/vaporetto pass for maximum freedom. A single vaporetto journey cost €7.50 but the pass was a bargain at €30. No brainer. Jumping off the tram and onto the vaporetto (public water taxi) to tour the grand canal was a great call. Some of the best views can only be seen via the water ways.

For the rest of the day we hopped on and off the vaporetto at various locations then wandered the streets trying to discover hidden gems away from the hustle and bustle.

We headed over to San Giorgio Maggiore to look at the yachts and climb the bell tower. I love a view from up high.

Then we headed for some quiet contemplation in the park on the very outskirts and found this shiny fella.

No visit is complete without a lap of San Marco.

Nothing better than a quick dip to cool them hot feets.

We even managed to grab a cheeky shot from the captains cabin on the way back.

Surprise surprise when we got back peggy sue was still tied up, still yapping and still alone and frightened. Who are these people. It was 8pm and they clearly had not been back all day! I tried to ignore her but with each passing person she let out a scared yelp. My heart sunk each time. Enough is enough. I went around and sat with her for a bit. She was super happy and friendly so I untied her and brought over to Harvey.

I gave her some love and affection and she was a different dog. After a while I left her to curl up on my chair and we watched her settle down and take a little snooze.

At midnight the knobheads from next door still hadn’t returned but it was time for bed. I took peggy sue back and tried to tie her to their step. She resisted and it broke my heart. Poor thing. I sat with her for a while until she slept then tied her up and snook away. The knobheads eventually returned at 1am with their two infants and paid no attention to peggy sue. So annoying but what can you do…

The next day we got up early and headed over to Murano. It sits about 1.5km from Venice in the same lagoon. Famous for it’s glass making and as we found out not much else.

That installation behind us was their signature art piece and reminded me of something out of superman. The glasswork is pretty impressive if you like that sort of thing but it’s not really our thing. Murano did introduce me to one amazing new thing. Cafe Creme.

Its basically a delicious coffee icecream.

Ignore the battered melted cheese thing. Stop looking at it. It will draw you in. Move along now…

After Murano we headed back to the main section of Venice in search of a bar that Ben had recommended. On our way we found the hospital. For some reason we were surprised the A&E entrance was via the water. Hence the ambulance was a boat.

More impossibly grand architecture.

And exquisite detail.

We eventually found Ben’s bar which was unfortunatley shut. However the bar next door was cool AF.

Cheers Venice you were awesome.

Modena

The next big hitter after Florence was due to be Venice but we thought it a shame to miss out on some nearby smaller cities. Distance wise, Bologna was a perfect half way point but the lack of campsites nearby and bad reviews for Sostas put us off. It’s a real shame as I would have loved to take a tour of the Ducati factory. I ride a Triump Street Triple R back home but would jump at the chance ride a Ducati Monster or 959 Panigale. Another time hopefully.

Instead we opted to stay the night in a sosta about 4km outside of Modena with a friendly tree lined cycle path right into the heart of the city.

The car lovers out there will no doubt already know that Modena is home to many of the top Italian car makers. Ferarri, Lambourghini and Maserati the most notable. Indeed the Ferrari 360 Modena was named after the city.

We also learned that Modena has a prestigious University traditionally strong in economics, medicine and law. As luck would have it lots of students were celebrating graduating with bottles of rum taped to their hands and laurel wreaths around their head. This made for entertaining people watching.

We visited 2 Unesco world heritage sites. The Cathedral and the Piazza Grande.

Famous Modenesi include operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti, Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari and the Queen consort of England and Scotland, Mary of Modena. Despite all these highlights the biggest draw for me was that it is home home to Osteria Francescana. A year ago I watched a netflix original called Chefs Table featuring the eccentric Massimo Bottura.

I was captivated by his story, creating a restaurant from scratch, Osteria Francescana, and building it in to the world’s best restaurant. As one can imagine not without it’s trials and tribulations. “Nothing easy is worth the ride.”

https://www.theworlds50best.com/The-List-2018/1-10/Osteria-Francescana.html

I wish I could say we managed to get a table to eat there but the waiting list is 6 months.

The next day we attempted to visit Parma for an afternoon explore. We were spooked by the total lack of campers in the dodgy looking sosta and the surrounding car park full of transits selling hooky goods.

We decided to abandon our plans (genuinely the first time we’ve had to forgo a destination due to safety concerns) and head to Verona instead. The drive was not without its tribulations, with terribly poor roads full of potholes and loose tarmac that shook and rattled the motorhome. Our satnav also took us to closed roads and sent us on bizarre diversions but this did afford us views of the incredible scenery.

We drove on another two hours to Verona only to find that sosta completly full of campers. Boom or bust it would seem. Exercising patience is not my usual forte but on this occaision it was necessary. We waited about an hour for somone to leave and gracefully ‘jumped in their grave’.

Aix-en-Provence

For those who don’t already know, take a guess as to how to pronounce “Aix”. I would love to hear my Mum’s guess. Maybe some of you thought as I did it was a three sylable “aey-eye-ex”. As it turns out the correct way is much simpler and cooler, you simply have to say “X-en-Provence”.

Using our Camperstop App we found a random overnighter about 2km out of “X”.

The entrance looked promising.

However that was next door. This was our place.

Upon arrival at the correct place I was greeted by a very friendly Frenchman in the skimpiest of skimps. Emily actually guffawed at how ludicrous they were. Monsieur Smuggler showed me our pitch and gave me some useful information about the site and where to get the bus into X. Although super basic the pitch was side on to the most beautiful example of a wild flower border. Eat your heart out June and Mon x.

We sorted Harvey out with his awning, floor matt and chairs and headed for the bus into X. The bus was about a 5 minute walk down a steep hill to Pont L’arc. Mr Smuggler told us to take bus number 10 but as it happens bus 51 turned up first and an old man told us in French to jump on for centre ville. If this was a year ago we would have ignored him and waited for bus 10. Now we kinda just go with the flow and trust random strangers and know it will work out. Indeed, number 51 took us the 2km uphill to the bus station right in the middle of this pocket of left-bank Parisian chic.

X is all class: its leafy boulevards and public squares are lined with 17th- and 18th-century mansions, punctuated by gurgling moss-covered fountains. Haughty stone lions guard its grandest avenue, cafe-laced cours Mirabeau, where fashionable Aixois pose on polished pavement terraces, sipping espresso.

We spent an hour wandering the streets for the perfect place to have some lunch and people watch.

Who can resist a little bit of lemon drizzle cake or a coffee macaron?

We walked off all those calories through narrow polished stone streets from cool squares to the amazing cathedral.

We also needed to catch up on some blog writing as we have been traveling so much it has been hard to keep up. It wasn’t hard to find a suitable place to have a beer and knuckle down.

We even managed to find our French names up in writing.

And for Emily. Strictly speaking it should have been Le Porcelet.

After hard day being a tourist we were tempted by the onsite pool.

But decided it looked more like a swingers hangout so opted to binge watch “Love Island” on the free WiFi.

World Cup Madness in Avignon

04-07-18

We had a rather frustrating morning in Uzes before we left. We needed to do some washing so I grabbed the load and walked into town in search of the laundrette that we’d spotted the day before. I managed to grab the last, available machine and sat down to wait and watch the hive of activity of locals buzzing in and out and chatting. I was surprised at just how many locals still used the laundrette. This excitable puppy caused absolute havoc by escaping his lead, jumping on all the customers and running rings around his owner.

Gary sorted the van out and then picked me up. Since buying the bikes we’ve been on the lookout for a hardware store that could sort us out with a new number plate to attach to the bike rack. The current set up obscures the original number plate which is illegal. The first number plate holder that we bought was £50 and came with indicator lights but alas this didn’t fit. When we tried to return it we found that the shop had shut for an hour and a half for lunch. We waited in the stifling heat and were then told that the shop didn’t do refunds. Gary persuaded them eventually using much gesticulation and google translate and after much back and forth they relented and gave us our money back. We had about three trips back to the van to collect the right registration documents before they would print us a new number plate and we had to secure it to the back of the bike rack with a couple of Bungee ropes.

We eventually got on the road at around 3pm and reached the city of Avignon an hour or so later. We arrived at the Aire that we had picked out but thought it was a little out of town and deserted with no security so we drove on to the next campsite and booked in for two nights. We had a quick wander in the old town to pick up a map and get a feel for the place before heading back for dinner. First impressions were that it was a really majestic city with incredible buildings at every turn and a lovely quirky edge.

The next day we got up and ventured into town again to take in the sites. Avignon’s old city is surrounded by a medieval wall and packed with boutique lined streets and narrow walkways. The city boasts some incredibly grand architecture, including the Palais des Papes, the largest ever gothic palace which housed pope Clement v from 1309 to 1377.

We walked past the Pont St-Benezet bridge that was built in 1185 and half washed away in the 1600’s. It’s such an odd sight to see a bridge span out across the river and stop abruptly in the middle of the water. We walked up to the Rocher des Doms gardens that offered beautiful views out across the Rhone.

It was so incredibly warm with very little breeze that we took plenty of breaks in the beautiful squares dotted around the city. Avignon has a vibrant cafe culture with independent restaurants filled with locals eating and catching up outside in the sunshine. We found a couple of bars to watch the nerve wracking England World Cup match that went to penalties. The atmosphere was awesome and England’s win was the cherry on top of a great city day.

Back in France – Exploring the beautiful coast in Cote Vermeille

We packed up and left Roses in the morning and headed for the windy coastal road that would take us into France and up the Cote Vermeille. Although we only had 39 miles to drive, progress was slow on the narrow roads that turned and weaved around each bay. We were rewarded with amazing views of fishing ports below and birds of prey soaring above us and were happy enough to potter along. We pulled in every now and then to allow the stream of cars behind us to overtake.

Our first stop for the day was Banyuls Sur Mer. We lucked out with a parking spot on the main road just out of town and then strolled down along the seafront. It’s a beautiful seaside town with a promenade along the beach and avenues lined with plane trees. We stumbled across a market and shared an awesome savoury crepe (which I think is called a gallete) at one of the stalls. We got talking to the owner who was really sweet and enthusiastic about our trip, and had also done a similar route in a camper van a few years back, but taking in Slovenia and Croatia too.

We then made our way back to Harvey and headed up to our next stop, the picture postcard town of Collioures. The roads in and out of the town are so tight that we had to park in the motorhome carpark above the town. Turns out this was also an Aire with motorhome facilities so we decided to park for the night.

We left Harvey and trekked up to Fort St-Elme which is a military fort built between 1538 and 1552 by Charles V. It was a steep trek up to the summit on a dusty track, passing vineyards as far as the eye could see. The views down to Collioure were well worth the hike. We could see little boats bobbing in the port and the pebbly beach and around the craggy coast. We spotted an old windmill and I’d read that you could take a footpath down to see it. Uncertain we’d selected the right track, we started our descent down a scrabbly path covered in loose rocks, walking through almond groves and more vineyards. The Moulin de la Cortina is a 14th-century windmill and looks like something out of an Enid Blyton story.

Now we’d come this far we continued our exploration into the town of Collioure itself, which was stunning. Effortlessly beautiful town houses painted in pretty pastels lined the promenade and cutesy cafes dotted the lanes. It had a really nice artsy vibe to it, with loads of independent galleries and boutiques. Apparently it was a place of inspiration to artists such as Matisse and, later Picasso and it’s easy to see why.

The seaside castle called the Chateau Royal gave the whole town a sense of grandeur.

Having geared ourselves up for a bit of a slog in the still-strong afternoon heat, we headed back up the steep hill to the motorhome. We still get a bit nervy about leaving Harvey for prolonged periods of time in empty car parks but on our return we were pleased to see fellow motorhomers had joined for the night. This was our first stopover in an Aire and we loved it. The view was incredible and the sense of freedom we got from knowing that we were self sufficient in the van was liberating. We can drive and stop anywhere without having to factor in specific campsites which is more cost effective. We can still run the fridge and cook and have showers and we don’t need an electric hookup to power anything inside the van. We had a BBQ and sat watching the sun go down as the most incredible colours danced across the sky.

The beautiful bay of Roses

We nailed leaving L’Estartit Les Medes campsite in about an hour and a half. Not bad considering that includes Emily’s morning teas, showering, breakfast and packing up your whole home and taking it on the road. The plan for this day was to end up in a campsite called Salata near Roses. En-route we had wanted to get to the top of the impressive Montgri castle but upon closer inspection it would have taken us about 1.5 hours to go up and back down. Emily had read that there was an equally impressive view from Montgo Castle about half way along our route. Another time Montgri.

Image result for montgri castle

It only took us about 40 mins to make it to Montgo Castle. HaRVey was feeling particularily chilled out for the journey until he was asked to climb a hill so steep it was first gear only. He also didn’t much care for the decreasing width of the roads near the peak. We thanked him for his effort and rewarded him with a prime spot in the empty car park so he could see the bay unfold in the distance.

Not surprisingly we could see Montgri castle in the distance and slightly below our altitude. Boom, glad it was Harvey making the climb and not us. Montgo castle was pretty plain to be fair and the only two doors were locked so we couldn’t get to the top. We did do a little insta-posing from the steps as the back drop of the blue sky looked very cool.

After an hour of wandering around and admiring the view and watching the many speed boats and pretty sail boats pootling about we had a spot of lunch. Sharing the magnificent view with the white washed villas with bleached terracotta roofs to the azure waters below.

They looked so inviting that we decided to take a chance and see if we could find a spot by the beach. Normally we avoid entering the smaller places for fear of getting stuck in a narrow street full of parked cars. This one however had a very cheap empty car park with shade for Harvey under a lovely plane tree. Luck of the Christies strikes again.

What a great little find this was. Mainly Spanish and French families, a few classy restaurants and the bluest clearest waters we have seen in the Med so far.

We stayed for about three hours taking several dips in the pristine cool waters before once again donning our warming sunshine coats. The kicker for me is that I still have my cold urticaria. I thought it had gone as I didn’t have a problem for 6 months in SE Asia. As soon as I hit the med sea I realised that it was back with a vengeance. 20 mins in the sea and without fail a rash appears where ever I am cold. Never mind, people with the same condition have it much worse and it goes away as soon as I am warm again. Thank god for continental summers.

We were sorry to say goodbye to Cala Montgo but our next destination was calling and I wanted to get there in good time to watch the 8pm world cup match between Nigeria and Argentina. I wanted to see if Messi could ignite a lacklustre Argentine side but more importantly to see if Maradona would fall off his perch flipping the double bird. Surprisingly still alive and still entertaining. I think the bottom picture was taken when he found out his Moscow mule wasn’t gonna make it.

Diego Maradona

Anyway we arrived at our new location of Salata campsite which is about 2 miles away from the main town of Roses. The walk into town was along a beautifully clean promenade lined with a mix of typically Spanish touristy bars and more modern Mediterranean chic. Even at 6pm there were plenty of people sunbathing on the beach and the more energetic playing football and beach volleyball. We made it all the way to the Marina, touched the obligatory arbitrary point (usually a big rock) and turned around to make it back in time for the match. A pretty full on day and just the type of day we love.