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March 24th 2012
Published: March 24th 2012
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Been a while since our last update, mainly because we haven’t been parked near anywhere that we can steal free wifi from! But anyway, while we were in Pompeii we had a bit of a dilemma. just a few hours after I wrote the last blog I (Sam) locked the keys inside the van! After trying to pick the locks myself I seeked assistance from a local community support man who then herded about 6 other Italians who also tried picking the locks and pretended to shoot them with the police mans gun. This was unsuccessful so in the end it was either wait till the morning and pay a dodgy looking man to get in, or smash the window and claim off the insurance. BUT I gave the insurance company a ring and luckily they covered such an event and the next morning they had someone out who broke in which was free so it all worked out fine! Was lucky we had the hotel that night otherwise we would have been sleeping on the streets of Pompeii.

Before all of this, we visited the Pompeii ruins, which was incredible. Its amazing walking amongst preserved buildings that are over 2000 years old, in some even intricate mosaics and art work are preserved. Some has been rebuilt and stabilized but the majority is as it was when they dug down in to the ash. One of the highlights of the trip for both of us and if you ever get a chance to go there, take it!
The next day we left Pompeii and heading towards Mount Vesuvius which intentions to climb to the crater, however the road that lead to the car park 150m form the crater was blocked with snow and ice, even with the snow chains on we couldn’t get all the way (still got the furthers though). So we walked as far as we could, but the wind was so ridiculously strong that I almost lost Verity a few times and we could barely walk so we had to stop just 100 metres from the crater, which looking back I regret not attempting to go further. None the less the view up there was amazing, you can see for miles and miles, and its pretty cool standing on an active, overdue volcano.

Our next main stop was Rome. We stayed in a huge camper stop about 1km from the city centre and which had a bus/tram service right outside the gate so was very handy. On our first day there was went to see Palentine Hill which was one of the most sought after areas of Rome back in the day, now just an archaeological site but still with some well preserved buildings and statues etc. We also saw the roman forum which was the market/trading area which was more just ruins which a couple of preserved marble pillars still standing and a museum of artefacts, which was quite cool, having things like glass perfume bottles which are all still intact and delicate jewellery in prefect condition inside.
On our second day in Rome we went into the coloseum, skipping 3 hours of queing because we bought a ticket 200 metres down the road instead of at the door! It was very impressive on the inside however you are inside for only like 30 minutes and it is very restricted access in there so the hundreds of people all have to follow a set path from entrance to exit so its very busy. In my opinion Pompeii ruins were far better, and a lot cheaper as well, but the coloseum was still very cool to go to to see what incredible things they built without machinery back then.

From Rome we spent a few days stopping at little stops, enjoying the sun and washing clothes until we reached Pisa. We stayed hear only one day as its very small and the tower is about all that’s there, and about 5000000000000 students from the university that seem to all go to Mcdonalds when we are about to!
Anyway the tower is pretty wonky, 5 metre over hang now I think, and of course we go the classic pictures of us leaning against it! We decided to go up it which was a very strange feeling walking up a thin spiral stair case around the edge when the tower is leaning so much. Its hard to explain unless you experience it yourself. This, like the coloseum, was very busy and the staff are on a schedule so as soon as your 5 minutes at the top are done you are shooed back down the stairs, ready for the next 45 people to go up. And for 15 euros each, it’s a bit of a rip off, but still we may or may not go there again so best to do it while we were there!

From here we started heading north towards Turin. We were going to stop in Genoa but it was a bit industrial and boring so we just filmed it as we drove though instead.
In Turin I wanted to find the weir and the square which are filmed in the old Italian job, but after hours of walking we could only find the square. Turing is a very nice city, very long streets and very old buildings, well worth a visit.

This marked the end of our time in Italy, which to be honest felt quite nice. Italy itself is outstanding, some of the best scenery I’ve ever seen, but theres just something about it that is unwelcoming. Maybe its just because we are arrogant and English but people are always staring at you and they just don’t want to talk to you so it feels as if you are in the way all the time, which isn’t a nice feeling. Its odd and hard to explain without showing you. But we felt a big difference as soon as we got into France, its just a lot more friendly and more relaxing being wanted!

Our drive from Turin back in to the French alps was a night mare, Firstly the van was overheating up hills and secondly the area we were heading into seemed to be a grey area on the sat nav that it couldn’t navigate, so was back to old school maps. We had a couple instances where we drove like 10 miles up hills and then reached and area blocked because of avalanches, which turned out to be the only way which left us having to turn back and find another, but eventually after a lot of detours we arrived in Morzine.

We decided to go there because I wanted to do some snowboarding again, and my friend Angus was there so was nice to see a familiar face. Morzine was like being in England again with hundreds of English people! It’s a gorgeous town though with good slopes so we stayed here almost a week. We had to buy verity a proper swimming costume (age 10 haha) and me some speedo’s, because of French swimming pool regulations as we were parked in the swimming pool car park so thought we’d go swimming (which we have been through out the trip whenever possible, trying to keep fit of course!) . Anyway after a few days of chilling out and snowboarding we planned to drive all the way to Monaco on the Sunday, however on Saturday night, a couple of beers soon turned into a lot of beers and we ended up going to a tiny tiny club, not getting back till half 3 and feeling very ill the next day, so the big drive was hindered a bit!

We finally did the drive, in 2 stages and ended up in a place called St Laurent Du Var which is next to Nice. We stayed here a couple days while I did some work on the van and then headed over to Monaco where we drove round the F1 track very slowly, then to Nice and then to Cannes. We were planning on stopping in all of those places but when your living in a van and you don’t have enough money to own an 80ft boat and be really stuck up, you cant really get on with the majority of people there so we just drove through heading towards St. Tropez.

We stopped about 5miles from St. Tropez in a place literally on the beach (a nudist beach in fact) so stayed here a day or two until we did head in to St. Tropez, which is very small, just with a huge harbour filled with fancy yachts, some of which from London, and really expensive restaurants which are like £35 for a starter!
From here we headed along the coast in the direction of Barcelona stopping a couple times in the middle of nowhere. Oh and we got stopped by the police who were doing stop checks. The guy spoke very little English but still found the ‘Pornstar’ on the back of the van hilarious.
So now we are in a place I cant remember the name of, but there’s nothing here and its been raining since 12 last night so a bit miserable.

Now the plan is to go to Barcelona, stopping at several places on the beach along the way so that Verity can catch a fish with our fishing rod we bought, then from there drive across Spain to Portugal where we will spend a couple weeks surfing and then from there we are on the home straight.
I know I keep saying it but sorry this a big chunk of writing but we will probably end up not writing one till we get back into France again in a few weeks so if you spread it out a bit it wont be to bad!



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