Travelling again, we made it into Europe.

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Europe » Italy
September 14th 2021
Published: September 16th 2021
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Well I hope you are all sitting comfortably as I am about to start again...

Thank you to those who have come back for some more of my ramblings and to new folks here your most welcome! I write this and will hopefully finish before as we get to Slovenia, country number 3 of what we hope will be a journey of a further 6 countries, maybe more might be less.

I write (Graeme does the clever stuff and gets it online) for us mainly but conscious that you the audience wish to be entertained or sometimes educated. That's a laugh in itself as I failed almost all of my exams, well if grade E at CSE level counts but I hope that you will stay with us on the journey...

So what does travel look like in Covid time, well here in Europe people are travelling, showing Covid passports when asked and masks are a more normal occurrence, obligatory in enclosed spaces. So those are the rules and we are happy to abide by them to be able to do what we love doing, Travel.

So the plan now as we are only allowed for 90 days of 180 to be in Schengen (Yes it really is a place we visited last trip) is to do the (what seems the norm) 14 days in each country, before you can jump borders, getting into Turkey before our 90 days are up... There we wait for 90 days and then we can head back, not sure which direction yet?!? Back into Schengen and have 90 days to get back to the UK with a good wind in May 2022.

We left Portsmouth what will now be 4 weeks ago and our travel to begin with was dominated by getting to a French vet to get Poppy a French passport, yes folks Poppy is now French. Although she doesn’t seem fussed for us the implications of getting her in and out of the UK and Europe should be a whole lot easier, just don’t ask the reasons why?!?!? We headed north to the vet, which scuppered my plans of going South. This put us east of Paris and a “hey Graeme we are close to Monets gardens” giving us our first real stop. Giverny does not disappoint a little quieter as many places we are finding, which is probably to be expected. As an ex Art student (what one does when one fails their exams!!) Monet was one of my first loves and today his paintings are still some my favourites. It was a delight to wander the gardens he created and inspired him till his death.

The next stop is the Champagne region of France, the vines have been stripped so unlike the Moselle last time these vineyards are all quiet apart from some interesting vehicles that clear weeds from the bottom of the vines moving between plantations. You can do some fancy wine tasting tours in the big houses Moet etc but we are looking for the authentic small house's which we find in Avize. After finding the Aire we go in search and are not disappointed, 5 tastings and 2 purchases. Only 2 I hear you say, well space is a premium in a motohome so choices have to be made. We'll however enjoy them when the time is right.

Lake Annecy is our next stop and what a beauty. The campsite is nothing special but we have a cycle path right outside and we have a lovely few days cycling and swimming the Lake considered to be one of the purest in Europe. It's fed from Mountain streams and rain water only, a spin I am sure but a beautiful Lake if your ever in the area.

We now have our sights on a dizzy 3842m heights at Mont Blanc. Sometimes when you travel you have to discount certain things and Jungfrau in Switzerland at 4158m was one of those. It took too long to get to the top and taking the dog well just didn’t seem right, but The Aguille du Midi does it in an exhilarating 20min journey.... and oh boy the views to Mont Blanc some 8km and 400m higher and other peaks are incredible, this is one of those moments that take your breath away, there is a downside Hypoxia the air here has 13% less oxygen than normal and we can feel it, light headed, off balance effort takes it toll... after 2 special hours at the top we head back down with just time to take an old funicular railway up to the end of the Mer De Glace, glacier. Chamonix and The French Alps has more to offer so we will be back, but our two weeks in France now allows us to cross the Italian Border free from quarantine and mindful of this it’s time to move Countries.

Northern Italy is "The Industrial North" Graeme has told me, that sounds horrendous to me....but I have a plan. Well it certainly is busy but we head up into the mountains of Italy’s first National Park The Gran Pradiso..... Well there's the drive in first switch back roads and narrow passing places but we make it into a village aire and the views are stunning. A river for Poppy, our water dog and a quiet park up for us, except for that noise?!?! Our neighbour has his binoculars out and we join the search checking all the tree tops for that elusive bird... but no we should be looking at the ground it’s Marmots. They are relatively large ground squirrels, apparently there are 15 different species, what a delight they keep us entertained from the van window and on occasion joined by Chamois. The park is beautiful and still one of the less busy parks. Aside from the fact we can’t attempt some of the mountain walks (too hot, and to be fair too hard!!) we loved our time here.

Italy is known for its Lakes and we have it in mind to visit a couple but which with a large Motor home... We settle for Lake Orta and what a find, a beautiful setting typical terracotta properties spill down to the waters edge and the iconic Island with church and the sound of diners being serenaded fills the evening air. Our waterside (don’t think we’d manage this non covid times) park up is opposite a swimming beach and short stroll to the village restaurant allows us to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary, just perfect.

Lake Maggiore must be where the beautiful people hang out, our drive by takes us past placial Hotels and glitzy restaurants.....we keep driving . Next is Lake Iseo which is different from the others, formed by Glacial retreat, so steep sided we end up in several tunnels that whizz us to the end of the Lake missing our planned exit, as it turns out as a happy mistake. We end up is Pisogne, with free parking between 12-2 and busy restaurants in the local square, pasta, risotto, two side salads and two glasses of prosecco, a bottle of sparkling water and a coffee all for €18, be rude not to! We opt out of paying €33 for the campsite and head up another twisty road to a mountain aire and a cooler nights sleep....

Our final stop in Italy, for now is a campsite to collect a bike part for our e-bike. The campsite is huge but we have a nice big pitch, the beach has a doggy friendly section so Poppy is happy. We can sit and recharge our batteries and enjoy a bit of downtime.... We just hope the part arrives before we get itchy feet and feel the need to keep moving. Just a note to stay the coolest thing we have found in one of our overnight park ups was a fizzy water distributor 5c a litre.... we were in heaven.

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