Cold times.

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February 20th 2012
Published: February 20th 2012
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We're getting around quite fast now and are noticing big differences in the weather the further south we go!

The last time i update we were in Melk in Austria, which like i said, was very nice as we had the hostel for 3 nights for our crazy 1 year anniversary. Had a lovely meal out with a bottle of wine... which i may, or may not have seen again in reverse later that night.....

After our time here we headed toward an area called Mauthausen in which there was a preserved concentration camp (a forced labour one) which we visited for £1 each... crazy. The camp was amazing, only some of the barracks had been destroyed, the rest was how it was when it was in use, but was very hard to imagine the horrors that happened there, even with all the pictures. Im sure verity will write about it in a bit more depth, but i think one of the hardest hitting rooms of the whole place was the gas chamber, where over 4000 people died which is a very strange thought when walking through it.

Anyway from Mauthausen we headed towards Zell Am See which is where one of Veritys freinds is a snowboard instructor, so it gave us both a chance to get some skiiing and snowboarding in. We stayed in Zell for 5ish days, where i went snowboarding everyday, which was insane by the way, and Verity went skiing for 2 after coming over with a bit of a cold. Was great there going out in the evenings with JJ (verity's) freind and actually having things to do instead of sitting in the cold van!
On our last day here we made a decision to head south for the warmth, as getting cold and wet when out of the slopes and then getting into a cold van was not the best! It didnt help that the inside of the van was freezing, so we had to buy water daily and eat out alot of the time, which was getting expensive.

So we headed west for one more day on the slopes to a place called Neustift. I heading out early that morning and came back 2 hours later after realising the 1 run on the mountain was awfuly, so we went to a swimming pool instead, and made the most of our 4 hour limit in the warmth. It was one of them crazy swimming pools with an outside section where you could look out over the alps, was really amazing.

From Neustift we headed south to start our route around Italy, with our first stop, Lake Garda. The drive from Neustift to Garda was incredible, through mountians with typical little italian towns everywhere. Unfortunatley it was getting late so was to dark to take any photos which was annoying. When we arrived at lake garda it was miserable weather, and then it snowed!!! So we stayed there over night hoping for better weather in the morning, but no.... lots of rain and a very slippery slidy van!! (Still havent had the chains on yet, thats how good the van is!.... or the fact they know how to treat roads after snow but anyway)

Our plan was to spend valentines day in either lake garda or venice, and with lake garda looking pretty dim we chose venice. Took us a while to get a plan on what to do when we got near venice, but in the end we thought we'd get a hotel for 3 nights... however after asking 2 useless tourist information offices, a random italian man with the word HOTEL written on a bit of paper on his lanyard came after us out of the staition and said 'follow me, i take to you room'. So obviously we did and he took us to a room about the same size as mine at home but also with a useless shower and a toilet in so very cramped. But for 30 euro a night we had to as we were also paying 21 euro a day parking!
Venice itself was a really really pretty city and it made things 100 times better with no snow and lot of warm sun! And with it being carnival season, there was alot going on which made a good atmosphere. Verity was fixated on the people dressed up for a daily competition for those in best carnival costumes, which involved big dresses, masks, and lot of shiny things.
After being ripped off of money for a valentines meal that was tiny and cold, and no where near as good as the one on our anniversary, which was 20 euros cheaper, we headed back for a last showers before we went back into the van. (after i wangled a deal from this dodgey street seller for a cool thing you fire into the air and then it spins like a sycamore seed, but with lights on.. its pretty damn cool)

From Venice we drove down the east coast of Italy, stopping at a few places along the way (one of which we couldnt get to because of 6ft of snow) until we got to the level of Pompeii where we planned to cross. The east coast is gorgeous, but to be honest there isnt alot there in the form of things to stop a look at for a coule days, hence why we did it so fast. I say fast, but because we avoid the toll roads we add about 3 hours to each journey we do, and end up in cool little italian villages and town where the roads are just about wide enough for 2 cars! I think was of the most amazing places we drove is the spur bit of the boot of italy. Its all a nature reserve and has an amazing coastal road, which goes over, round and under the hills, BUT every little bay has a private holiday resort on, the type where people go to see english people in a foreign country and then boast that they have been to a place they really havent, so we couldnt do anything but drive and take pictures.

We managed to find a place called Manfredonia, which is just past the tourist resorts, where we stayed the night before heading over to Pompeii where we are now. We have a hotel room for 2 nights, with a crazy italian lady owner who speaks about 2 words of english, look and come. Its about 16 or 17 degrees at the moment so very nice compared to the -27 we had in the Alps! We plan to go to the old destroyed city tomorrow which is about 500m along the road, and then hopefully climb Vesuvius the day after, providing we can get there, as aparrently its to icey to get there or something, but we'll see.

Sorry this isnt as good as the last one, but we have been travelling alot more and been taking pictures of the landscape rather than visiting places. But before i leave you again i just want to say how awful the roads are...and i mean awful!!!! The roads them selves are falling apart everywhere, even the main roads. Everything in the van shakes, and bounces around, including us, and i would say the road laws are more guidlines. People just overtake whenever, despite whats coming or what the road lines say, and the horn is widely used for most manoeuvres, and there is a police car every 5 cars, which also seems to use this make believe law.. CRAZY

Next time there should be some more intersting things to say as we have alot we want to see on the west side of Italy, so for now CIAO (which is hello AND goodbye over here.... very confusing)

Sam and Verity xxx


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