Showing posts with label france and italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label france and italy. Show all posts

27 August 2008

Highlights: France & Northern Italy

The total distance we covered on our road trip was 4,218 miles (6,890 kilometres). The car only broke down once and we managed to see a good portion of France, and part of Northern Italy.

I loved France, especially Brittany and Normandy, and can't wait to visit Paris in a few weeks. I also have plans to go back to Italy to see Venice, Rome and Pompeii once my finances have recovered!

Feathers in My Cap
  • Travelling through the beautiful French countryside
  • Exploring historical sites and fortifications, my favourite being Mont Saint Michel
  • Eating huge chocolate ice-creams in Italy
  • Glorious weather, especially round the Mediterranean
  • Swimming. Lots and lots of swimming
  • Our car making it back to the United Kingdom in one piece (it was touch and go there for a while)

Black Eyes
  • Getting lost while trying to navigate
  • Searching for camping grounds late at night in unfamiliar towns
  • Not finding camping grounds and sleeping in the car or pitching tents on the side of the road
  • Strangers getting intimate in close proximity to where I happened to be
  • No air conditioning in the car
 To see more photos click here, here and here.

26 August 2008

Last Days in France

With only a few days before our return to the UK, we headed to La Rochelle for a couple of nights. The weather was nice and we spent our days visiting the aquarium, eating flan, and perusing the local markets.

Continuing north we decided to stop at the small town of Dinan for the night. The next morning we took the opportunity to explore the Old Town and wondered around the old fortified walls for a while, before stopping at a cafe for a Croque Monsieur.

That afternoon we made our way to St Malo, our final destination in France, so to celebrate the last day of our holiday we had a meal at a restaurant in the older part of the city. The nine hour ferry crossing to Portsmouth left early the following morning. I was sad to leave France, and already looking forward to returning!

If you would like to see more photos (including more by Owen and Troy), check out my flickr page.

22 August 2008

Back to France

Travelling through France was a lot more relaxing second time around, as we didn't have any deadlines to meet or places to be. On our journey inland from Nice we passed through some beautiful scenery, and stopped briefly for a picnic.

And stayed at a small city close to Avignon where everything was closed due to a national holiday which we didn't know about...

The next morning we had a quick look around Avignon then continued on towards Carcasonne, which was high on my list of places to see. We stayed very near the castle, so spent the evening looking around the crowded streets.

From Carcasonne we headed towards the Atlantic coast and on to Soustons, which was very busy. Our quest to find somewhere to stay involved a deserted campsite that resembled a ghost town, a camping ground that appeared to be run by a cult, and two others which were fully booked. Eventually we found a nice place inland and decided to stay for a couple of nights to spend more time at the beach.

The weather wasn't so good the first morning so we decided to drive down to Biarritz to see the sights. This turned out to be an error in judgement as the city was absolutely packed. With no available parking spaces and hordes of people outside any attractions we quickly decided to head back to Soustons. The next morning Owen and Troy spent most of their time watching the surfing competition being held nearby, while I inadvertently went on an adventure with a French family when we all got lost in the sand dunes.

Travelling north from Soustons, Troy and Willow decided to stay in Bordeaux for a couple of nights while Owen and I continued on to Lacanau Ocean. The weather was perfect and I spent most of the next day sunbathing and/or sleeping. The following morning we met up again in Bordeaux to continue the last stretch of our journey.

If you would like to see more photos (including more my Owen & Troy), check out my flickr page.

14 August 2008

Roadtrip in Italy

We continued our journey on to the Italian Riviera, with plans to stay as close to the beach as possible. Our scheme was nearly foiled when the car broke down not long after we crossed the Italian border. Luckily it was still drivable, and we managed to find a mechanic in the next town. We spent the next few hours exploring before collecting the repaired car just before dinner, and made our way to the beach. To give the car and ourselves a break we decided to stay for two nights, which was such a good idea! It was a relief to have some time to relax, and I spent most of the next day swimming in the Mediterranean.

From the Riviera we tentatively made our way towards Pisa, half expecting the car to die at any minute. It survived so there was much celebration when we arrived, especially when we found a campsite with a swimming pool. Naturally we went to check out the Leaning Tower, along with every other tourist in the area.

Our next destination was Firenze (Florence) for a couple of days sight seeing. The city is certainly beautiful, and two days wasn't enough to do it justice. The campsite we chose was above the city, very close to the replica statue of David with amazing views of the city. We took a bus tour and spent some time roaming the streets, but missed out on the museums and galleries because the lines were so huge. August was the wrong time of year to visit, the unrelenting heat and the crowds were no fun at all (neither were the mosquito bites I got the first night when I fell asleep with the tent unzipped!).

Leaving, however, was not a relief as it was horrible being back in the car. The weather was scorching, there was no air conditioning, and there was no room to move. However, this made it all the better when we came across a huge lake not far from Firenze and decided to go swimming. Floating in an Italian lake in the middle of summer is a definite mood booster!

My euphoria lasted until I fell asleep on the motorway when I was supposed to be navigating. This resulted in exiting the motorway much too early, being demoted from by position as navigator, one of the boys taking over as navigator and sending us the wrong way back down the motorway, them being demoted as navigator, and then the other one doing exactly the same thing, resulting in a detour of 60 miles. At least the sunset was nice!

We arrived very late into Parma where we were once again looking for accommodation in the dark, with limited success. Owen and I slept in the car, which was an interesting experience. We were unfamiliar with the areas of the city, and suspect that we stumbled into the redlight district to start with. Once our mistake became shockingly obvious we tried a couple more spots before finally finding an empty carpark on the very outskirts of town. The next day involved a lot more driving as we had to get back to Nice for Campbell's flight. We all had our fingers crossed that we would have more luck finding a campsite this time!

If you would like to see more photos (including more by Owen and Troy), check out my flickr page.

08 August 2008

Roadtrip in France

Our journey continued towards Bordeaux, then on to Lacanau near the Atlantic coast. We witnessed a beautiful sunset on the way, which helped to lift my mood after we got lost trying to circumnavigate the city (navigating is not one of my super powers).

The next morning we decided to spend a few hours at the beach north of Lacanau before continuing the journey. After our break from driving and with a lot of ground to cover to get to Nice on time, we decided that we would have to drive until we couldn't drive anymore. This resulted in four very tired people trying to find a place to sleep at about 1.00am, unfortunately nothing in the French countryside is open at this time and we ended up camping on the side of the road. The next morning I was glad to realise I had slept through a visit from a potential serial killer, who was listening to classical music outside our tents reminiscent of Hannibal Lector. Although I was prepared for any night time problems (I slept with my shoes on just in case!)

To avoid a repeat of this incident we decided to leave plenty of time to find a campsite when we reached Nice. However after getting lost for a couple of hours, then picking Campbell up from the airport at 10.00pm, we found ourselves in exactly the same situation. This time we wanted to make sure that we wouldn't be disturbed, and eventually found a spot up in the mountains next to some ruins. We didn't have a lot of time to sleep since we wanted to leave early in the morning to minimise the chance of discovery, but it was worthwhile when we went into the closest town the next morning and found a wonderful bakery with the best pastries!

If you would like to see more photos (including some by Owen and Troy), check out my flickr page.

04 August 2008

Starting Our Roadtrip in France

Our first week travelling through France was fairly hectic as we had a lot of ground to cover and sights to see between Calais and Nice. We were averaging about six hours of driving a day, but somehow managed to squeeze in quite a lot of things!

The first stop was the picturesque village of Escalle, where we spent our first night camping in the rain. I had been worried about my extremely limited French, but although the manager of the campsite didn't speak any English we managed to understand each other well enough. It was a little bit harder at the next campsite at Villers Sur Mer, where I ended up drawing pictures when all else failed...

The highlight of the first week was our visit to Mont Saint Michel, a fortified church and village on a tidal island in Normandy. We ended up visiting at 11.00pm, which turned out to be the best possible time. There were hardly any people about, the lighting was very atmospheric, and there were lots of bats. We spent a couple of hours strolling round the fortifications and exploring the old buildings and hortus conclusus.

From Mont Saint Michel we travelled to the Quiberon Peninsula and stayed at a really nice camping ground right by the sea. The next day we stopped to have a look at the prehistoric stone arrangements of Carnac, then on to Brightonelle Sur Mer. Owen decided to go surfing while the rest of us got comfortable at our new camping ground. It was also a nice spot, but the next morning I had the disturbing experience of a couple getting intimate in the shower stall next to mine! I'm known for having really long showers, but that certainly wasn't one of them, I left very quickly!

Being by the sea again was nice, especially knowing that we had a lot of travel inland still to come.

If you would like to see some extra photos (including more taken by Troy & Owen), check out my flickr page.