Our first taste of Eurocamp, Italian Style! – part ii

Hopefully, you have read part i before jumping straight in to part ii, if you haven’t and you would like to remind yourself about how we got to where the following begins then please click here.

As you are reading on I am assuming that you have read part i and so I will begin.  With the organised trip to Venice a no-show and our hearts set on going to Venice on Wednesday we asked at the information desk for options.  We were told that there was a bus that stopped outside the campsite that took you to Ponte Sabbioni from where you could get a ferry.  That option filled us with dread.  A long bus journey with three young children before an equally long ferry journey before we stepped foot on Venice, wasn’t our idea of fun.  We had also read some stories of people who hadn’t been that attentive to the various timetables and found themselves stranded in Venice or Ponte Sabbioni because there are only so many ways back, indeed the return bus from Ponte Sabbioni stopped in the early evening and we didn’t want to be held hostage to public transport timetables.  Therefore, we decided to cut as much of the public transport aspect out of the journey that we could.  Thus,we would only need to concentrate on one timetable and so we fired up Waze and headed south in the Ford Focus to Ponte Sabbioni.

We blindly trusted Waze through back roads and across country all the way to Ponte Sabbioni.  There, we parked at the first car park we saw, which was a very reasonable €7 for the entire day; cheaper than 5 return bus tickets!  We joined the queue for ferry tickets and before long we were aboard and heading across the lagoon to Venice.  Lucinda and I took a city break in Venice back in 2005, long before the Baguettes made an appearance.  Nevertheless, Venice probably hasn’t changed that much for a couple of hundred years, and certainly hasn’t changed since Lucinda and I visited.

We got off the Ferry and decided that the first task was to try to find somewhere to have lunch, to put some fuel in our bellies in readiness for exploring the alleyways and campi (little squares, the name piazza is reserved for St Mark’s Square – campi means ‘fields’) of the island.  Moving away from Piazza San Marco and its ludicrous prices we found a small pizzeria away from the hustle and bustle.  Suitably sated we began the exploration of the city.  The Baguettes are too young to fully appreciate the history of Venice and so we decided that we would not join the tourist queues for the tours of the Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Basilica or its Campanile and simply view them from the piazza.

Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.  The little island welcomes over 20 million visitors per year and thus outnumber the 60,000 or so residents on a daily basis.  With this in mind we were very conscious that it could be very easy to lose a Baguette in the overcrowded alleys, and so we took a water-based felt tip pen and wrote my mobile number on their arms.  Slightly paranoid, maybe but better safe than sorry.

Venice was an adventure for them all.  They saw Piazza San Marco and the aforementioned, Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Basilica and its Campanile and the Bridge of Sighs.  We then walked through the alleyways via the Pandora shop (Lucinda wanted a Venice related charm for her charm bracelet) and the Hard Rock Café (Lucinda wanted a Hard Rock Café badge for her collection – the Hard Rock Café was not there when last we visited).  We showed them shops full of Venetian masks and Murano glass as we weaved towards Ponte di Rialto (The Rialto Bridge) one of four bridges (and the most famous) that span the Grand Canal.  Unfortunately, the bridge is currently obscured by scaffolding and so they did not see it in all its splendour.

The Baguettes really enjoyed exploring Venice.  Éowyn and Amélie spent some of their remaining Euros to buy a Venetian fan and Éowyn also bought herself a pen with pictures of the major landmarks of Venice.  One thing that we didn’t take into account, which was evident as soon as we disembarked and we felt foolish for not considering it before we landed was the fact that Venice is criss-crossed with canals, it is kind of what it is famous for (although Birmingham has more miles of canals that Venice), and to cross those canals there a a myriad of bridges.  Now, many of these bridges are decades if not centuries old and as such were not designed for accessibility.  Therefore, taking the pushchair for Ezra was perhaps a bit of a luxury and we should have made his 3 year old legs walk the 15 or so kilometres that we walked that day.  Still, was good exercise for yours truly, lifting the pushchair up a flight of stairs, across a bridge and down a flight of stairs every 100 metres or so.  I have no idea what wheelchair users do.

We planned to visit Murano and Burano on the return journey, but time was pressing on and the baguettes were getting tired.  Thus we made do with a flying visit to Murano.  Murano is an island (or more strictly a series of islands linked together by bridges) about a mile north of Venice.  It is world-famous for glass and the glass art and jewellery and so we browsed the various glass shops but all we bought was an ice cream and a Murano glass Christmas tree decoration before boarding the ferry back to Ponte Sabbioni and home.

After our excursions in Venice we decided to have a relaxing day by the pool on Thursday.  It would have been a nice relaxing day except it was somewhat marred by an incident that happened at dinner.  Throughout Wednesday and Thursday both Éowyn and Amélie loved playing with the fans that they had bought with their money in Venice.  Taking our evening meal and our favourite restaurant the fans came too!  Before our meal arrived Éowyn decided to go, with Lucinda and Ezra, to the toilet and against my advice she took her fan.  As they left the toilet there was a mum with her young daughter heading towards the toilet.  As Éowyn returned to the table she realised that she had not picked her fan up after washing her hands, so Lucinda and Éowyn headed back to the toilet.  The mum and the girl left the toilet and Éowyn and Lucinda went in.  The fan was not there.  Éowyn was distraught.  So Lucinda headed over to the table with Éowyn, apologised for disturbing their meal, and asked if they had seen the fan or indeed picked it up while they were there – the evidence did kind of point to that.  Before Lucinda had even finished the sentence the father replied ‘Nein‘ and both turned from engaging eye contact with Lucinda.

Lucinda returned to our table and as we sat consoling Éowyn and contemplating what we should do, and indeed feeling impotent but not wishing to start an Anglo-German incident we noticed that they had quickly paid their bill were leaving the restaurant.  We are certain they picked it up, possibly in all innocence but they did have the perfect opportunity to do the right thing and return it to an obviously upset 7-year-old.

Éowyn learned a hard lesson that day and we spoke to her about her feelings saying that she could either hope that the little girls loves the fan and it is her favourite toy and she treasures it for ever; or she could hope that the fan breaks and it upsets the little girl and her parents have to buy her a new one; or indeed anything in between but however she feels is fine.  She was still upset despite contemplating on this emotions so Lucinda and I became 7 year olds ourselves and helped Éowyn make up a rhyme about a mum, with a stinky bum that gave a fan to her daughter, when she really shouldn’t oughta!  This cheered her up.

The next morning, Éowyn said that she had thought about her fan and hoped that the girl really looks after it and loves it but she was still upset that she had lost it.  She is more magnanimous than I.  After breakfast we decided to explore a little more of the area and drove to the nearest town to the resort:  Porto Santa Margherita.  Porto Santa Margherita appears to be geared around tourism and there are many hotels along the sea front.  One of the striking things that you will notice about our photos is that there are not hoards of tourists in the background.  It seemed very much that we were the only ones on holiday and in Porto Santa Margherita that was even more pronounced.  It appeared that the holiday season hadn’t even started, it felt like an English seaside town in November (except for the 25ºC weather and clear blue skies).  There was only so much that we could do to entertain ourselves in such a quiet town so we headed back to Pra’Delle Torri.

After lunch we headed back to the pool and only moved away for ice creams.  Anyone with young children will know that they sometimes do not appreciate how quickly an ice cream or lolly can melt while they are eating it and before you know it they are covered in ice cream or there is a pool of ice cream on floor between their feet.  Amélie had decided that she didn’t want a ice-cream but wanted a lolly instead.  However, she wa taking her time and savouring it, oblivious to the drips collecting at her feet.  Then she made the mistake and looked down at the floor.  Then the screaming started for enjoying her lolly drips were some ants attracted to the sugar.  I tried to calm her down but before I could stop her, she had climbed on the table screaming and sobbing because of the ants.  The joys of parenthood!

Conscious that our time was rapidly coming to an end we decided that the final Saturday in Veneto should be spent in Caorle.  Saturday in Caorle is market day so it sounded like a perfect combination.  We eased ourselves into the day and headed to Caorle.  We noticed that there was a park and ride car park on the outskirts of the town with free parking and a free bus ride into the town.  We took advantage, although it appears that we were the only one.  The car park was empty and there was no bus, nevertheless we parked and decided to walk into town.  It wasn’t too far and the highlight of the walk was to wait for a swing bridge over one of the canals to swing back after letting one of the fishing boats back into dock.

We arrived at the market for about 11am (we were on holiday!) but like San Donà di Piave before we were too late.  The market was packing up but there were still a few stalls open and time to grab a couple of bargains, including riding on the tailcoats of a nice German lady who was haggling in English for the same item as we wanted.  We let her do the hard work and then said make that two!  There was also time for Daddy to buy Éowyn (and Amélie who had broke hers, and Ezra who didn’t want to feel left out) a new fan – for a fraction of the price that Éowyn and Amélie paid in Venice!

Caorle did not let us down and we discovered probably the best gelateria in the world.  You make your own gelato.  Yes, as you walk in you can choose you choice of cone (or tub), then add your favourite flavoured gelato (as many as you want) and then add as many toppings as you can balance on top.  The gelato is charged by weight and was very reasonable – although the peanut m&ms were probably a mistake.

After the ice cream we took a stroll along the prom (prom, prom) where the sea is held back by big rocks as many shore around the world.  However the rocks that face the prom have been individually carved by local artists with a nautical theme – see the pictures on Flickr.  We walked the full length of the prom passed the Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Angel to the beach.  As we passed the church a newly married couple walked into the world as man and wife to the whoops and cheers of random strangers (including ourselves) who were playing by the shore.

Sunday, was our last full day in Italy and we woke to heavy rain.  This lasted all morning and so we began the arduous task of packing ready for home.  We then had lunch using the remainder of our food and by the time that was down the rain had stopped and so we headed to the pool.  The afternoon was sunny and warm and so we stayed  by the pool for a good four hours before heading back to change for our last dinner in Italy.

Before heading to our favourite on site restaurant we had one thing left to do that we had promised the girls that we would do before the end of the holiday: we headed to the bike hire shop and hired a two-man (person) pedal car.  Lucinda and I were the power while Amélie and Ezra sat in the front seat and Éowyn balanced between Lucinda and I.  We only hired them for 30 minutes which was ample for exploring the park, including a whole area that we hadn’t seen before which included two restaurants and mini golf course!  Ezra didn’t like it at first and kept asking us to stop.  So we encouraged him to say ‘Ciao’ to everyone.  This was a great distraction and before long he was laughing and really enjoying the reaction he was getting from everyone.  As we passed the Nutella crepe girls he shouted ‘Ciao, sweetie’, I’m not sure he whether he was being smooth or (because they also sold sweeties) that he was in fact saying goodbye to the sweeties.  I’d like to think it was the former.

Monday morning we packed up and left the site early for one last arrividerci to our favourite town, Caorle, and an ice cream at favourite gelateria before returning to Treviso airport and home.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Italy and at Pra’Delle Torri in particular.  Our first foreign caravan holiday was a great success and are already looking to see where we should go for the next Bagnall foreign trip.  Obviously, you will have to tune in to see where that will be.

I will now leave you with a few more photos from our holiday and please look through the 600+ pictures on Flickr.

Peace and Love