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Published: April 26th 2013
I like to try somewhere new every year so when Fiona went out evening and Lois was in bed some time back in the depths of winter (which quite frankly could be any time from February through to January the way this year has went...) I decided to book a holiday. The intended destination was Portugal but for some reason I can’t recall I got sidetracked and plumped for Italy and basically booked 80% of the trip in the couple of hours that Fiona was out.
To say she was a little surprised when she came back was an understatement. “What do you mean you’ve booked a holiday? “We don’t have any money” and “You do realise Ella will be 9 months old then?” Were a few of the more reasonable question/statements made at that time but unperturbed I booked our return flights and hired a car in the next few days and we then all Fiona had to do was pack...
The first week was on the Venetian Coast in a place called Pra Delle Torri, we flew into Venice Marco Polo airport and had an hour or so drive to our first destination. Well we would have
had an hour or so drive I had trusted my instincts and the motorway signs and headed towards or destination of Carole but I didn’t, I went with TomTom and he took us 45 minutes further than our intended destination as I had entered not only the wrong post code but then the wrong street name which matched a place thankfully only a 90 minute round trip detour away, we had a nice lunch in the mistaken location anyway so it was worth it, kind of. But I’ve gotten ahead of myself, back to the flights.
One of the things that always surprises me when I look back at our travels is that we’ve never had any luggage problems, we’ve never really had ANY problems in all the flights we had in our RTW adventure we only had one delay which was caused by a freak snowstorm in Las Vegas which meant we spent a day longer there and there was also an airline strike with ANA which meant we actually got a complimentary upgrade and better route to Asia than we were entitled to with another airline and meant we didn’t have to double back, so all in
we’ve been very lucky in all the bus, train and plane travels we’ve had over the years but for the first time we had an issue with our luggage when we landed at Venice Marco Polo, and even then it wasn’t a biggie...
We took everything minus the kitchen sink with us, two buggies, two babies, two car seats, two big suitcases, a Trunki (pink, nactch), a laptop bag and a rucksack. Unlike last year in France when I didn’t realise you could check two free items per child into hold luggage that did not count as part of your allowance, anything from buggy, car seat, travel cot, high chairs and more so we took two light weight car seats (one from each grandparent’s car) and two light buggy’s, we checked the car seats and one buggy with our suitcases and kept Ella in the other buggy and checked it at the aircraft when we boarded which was really helpful.
Everything went swimmingly; I parked in the short stay car park (for two weeks!!) opposite the terminal door at Edinburgh Airport, we joined a massive queue for luggage drop off and were then called to the very front
of a new queue after only five minutes waiting, we got priority security clearance via FastTrak (part of the long stay in short stay car parking package I booked in advance and well worth the extra £5 a head) which meant we walked past maybe 60 people queuing to go through security and went to a dedicated lane with no one in front of us then we boarded the plane first. We took off on time, got genuinely good food on board, Ella was happy, Lois was happy, we landed early so far so good.
We cleared immigration quickly and picked up the buggies and car seats from oversized luggage without as much as a detour and then I seen it... One of our hard shell cases, a wedding gift that had been on many holidays and had even more scratches to show for it, came around the carousel split down the front with the protective foam pouring out of a 12inch crack. It wasn’t overly heavy (22kg’s) so must have taken a tumble from some height to sustain that damage and was completely ruined.
To be fair if that’s the worst thing that has ever happened to
us on our holiday’s we’ve had an extremely good run, I went to the lost luggage window and talked English very slowly and in an Italian accent so I think the woman has it all under control and expect compensation forthwith.
We picked up the car, a Lancia whatever that is, and hit the road in the 38 degree heat, the girls all slept and as I mentioned I overruled my instincts and took us somewhere off the intended route for lunch, it was all good and we landed at our desired destination about 4pm.
We were staying in a Europcamp caravan in this vast park, we couldn’t have been further away from the pool if we has specifically requested it but we were close to the beach and one of the five restaurants on site. The park really was fantastic, the main pool (one of three large pools) is the best pool I’ve ever seen, complete with pirate ships and water cannons, it was worth the 20+ minute walk in each direction to get there every day and really did keep us fit in the sweltering heat.
The caravan itself was basic and baking; we didn’t
have air-con and only one fan, which pretty much circulated the hot air. We were never in it during the day but even at night it was 32 degrees when we went to bed, the girls were in their pants in one room with a fan on and Fiona and I had shots for sweating in one room to putting our heads in the freezer to keep cool. If it wasn’t for ice cold Peroni I don’t think I would have made it.
The Euro’s (football tournament) were on whilst we were in Pra Delle Torri and the atmosphere was brilliant, Italy far exceeded expectations which lifted morale of the workers and with a huge proportion of German tourists in the park the night of the semi-final was incredible.
The facilities were great, beside the swimming pool(s) and beach there were lots of play parks, bike hire, shops, restaurants and even a huge soft/bouncy play area called Luna Park, which I’m pretty sure will be a breach of copyright on the amusement park Fiona and I visited in St Kilda when we were in Melbourne but I’m no grass so the secret is safe with me... We spent
most of our time on site with a few drives to local towns thrown in, which in most cases was to get the girls to go for a nap in the air conditioned car in the midday sun.
We also took a drive to Venice one day which was simply stunning, it started off as one of those midday drives to get the girls to rest, if I recall my destination was Treviso, a nice city about an hour away, we were going to go for lunch and have a wander for a bit of shopping with the girls in their buggies but I took a wrong turn and before I knew it we were on the road to Venezia, which was a bit worrying as Fiona was adamant that you couldn’t drive to Venice, that there were no roads only canals, hmmmn, as we got closer I started to think she was right, every sign and car was heading towards the docks and the Ferry terminals. We were really hungry and the girls had woken in the back so I decided that we’d go to the docks which was bound to be a buzzing chic carnival of cafe’s
and bar’s.. It wasn’t. It’s wasn’t at all.
In fact there was nothing but Ferry boats and multi-story car parks so I performed one of my many illegal motoring manoeuvres in Italy (when in Rome and that, or even Venice) and header for the centro.
We were right in the middle of Venice now in Piazzale Roma which must stake a claim to be the most expensive car park in the world. Surrounded by water on all sides a quarter of this main square was car parking and the rest was pretty much a bus station, I followed a sign for parking which took me through a tiny close into a small car park with car’s basically abandoned, I couldn’t move anywhere. A boy came out, gave me a ticket and motioned to leave my keys in the car. We thought this was a bit dodge but I was super hungry so took anything of value out of the car; children, phone, camera and TomTom in that order and put the kids in the buggies then walked back out onto the square.
I’m sure everyone has seen an image of some sort of Venice, it’s all water
right, gondola’s, speed boats, small boats, bus type boats, wee bridges over the various canals linking the different streets, you get it.. What I didn’t know is that these wee bridges are ultimately two flights of stairs with an adjoining platform, to say that I got a fair bit of exercise that day would be an understatement. I’d carry Lois up in her buggy, put the break on at the top of the stairs then run back down, Fiona would be running up the stairs at the same time whilst Ella was at the bottom of the first flight. I’d then carry Ella up one flight and down the next then run back up the second flight of stairs, passing Fiona half way to grab Lois in her buggy and carry her down. We were both never more than 6 steps away from one child but at times I couldn’t move for laughing at our tag team combination. We did this maybe two dozen times in a five hour period.
It is one of the busiest places I’ve been and the streets (when you do get off the water) are very narrow interconnected lanes, the architecture is stunning and it really is unlike anywhere we’ve ever been before. The bus boats work well and it’s cheap to get about once you’ve taken out a mortgage for the car park, speaking of which when we were finished for the day and the girls both sleeping on our boat from St Mark’s square back to Roma Square we returned for our car to see it still there with the windows open and the keys in the ignition. I took my ticket to the window and Dick Turpin himself relieved me of €42 for our stay.
The food was expensive too and I don’t think we seen another child or buggy the whole day, we kept thinking how do people in wheelchairs or any walking aid get about? I guess they don’t, we just about managed it but could have done with a shower and change of clothes at half time, a really great day followed another couple of days at the pool/beach in our park then it was on to our second destination, Lake Garda...
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