Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hvala Hrvatska (Thank you Croatia)

It has finally come to pass that we bid our farewell to Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast. We needed to be at breakfast by 06:30 so that we could catch our ferry across the Adriatic to Venice. The Hotel breakfast that morning was probably the best we had encountered, we have been getting a little tired of cheese and salami and bread. There always seems  to be oodles of bread, but no toaster, Murray hasn't found a coffee to call his own and the tea is, at best, mediocre so Jill, who drinks hot water is the only one guaranteed a drink to her liking. Even then they will sometimes put a tea bag in her hot water so even that has it's perils. Back to the ferry trip to Venice...after the aforementioned breakfast we trundled our very heavy bags down to the departure point  by the required 07:00 only to find a lengthy queue winding it's way from a wild west style ticket office where one was to exchange ones voucher for a ticket. As with everything over here there was passport checking to be done by the ticket people and then outdoors once more to a holding pen in a car park type area where the, yet to appear, ferry was to depart. The cheerful man (he had no right to be at this time of day) told us to join a queue and all would move very quickly once it got going. It may well have done but still no ferry, due to leave at 08:00. Finally ferry arrives at about 07:55 and things did happen quite quickly except happy man came and told Murray and Jill there was a problem and took their passports away and only just managed to return them in time for sailing, all stamped but with no explanation as to the problem.

Arrived in Venice just before lunch after our ferry turned into a tour bus and we had to endure a lecture, in German, on what all the people in the tour were supposed to do. We still had to get a water bus to the bus station then a land taxi to our hotel all with our heavy baggage once more. Boy! it is lucky that we like travelling. Anyway mission accomplished we were in Venice.  Oh did I mention returning the rental car in Porec. It was within waking distance of the hotel but took around two hours to accomplish. First Tom tom sent us into an area of roadworks which we tried to by-pass via a churchyard and a bit of a drive along a footpath, the workman just watched on with concealed amusement and still just watched as we had to retrace our steps over their roadworks, along the footpath and back through the churchyard. This was followed by a route around a large car park, one side of which had the name of the street on which Fleet rentals office was located but search as we might on our many laps of the car park Fleet rentals would not show themselves. We resorted to smartphone and google maps which revealed the error of our ways, it wasn't in the street on their brochure but in a small one off the street  off the the one in their brochure. Of course it was, we should have known. Trouble not finished yet, sign on door say closed away doing a delivery, so we had a cuppa at a nearby cafe, Murray's undrinkable mine OK, still no sign of Fleet man. Went back to the office which had a phone number..."no you not bring back until five, and I come to your hotel and pick it up, no can't change it". Oh well might as well return to our wives and wait. Back to the car, looks like there has been a bit of an accident, people standing around looking at damaged cars, old lady gabbling away at me in Croatian, I smiled, not understanding a word of it, then we noticed the dented car was actually in contact with our, as yet, undamaged rental. Fortunately any damage we were able to rub off so no problem. So that is how it can take around two hours to return your rental car a few hundred meters down the road.
We are in Venice and have done a hop on hop off water bus tour over two days, very good.
We now proceed by FIAT 500!

Not All Hotel Views Are Equal

A Croatian Farewell Diner.

Anyway, Venice it was for two nights before proceeding on to Lake Coma by way of Verona and Bellargio. Como is but about 10km from the Swiss boarder and it was the intention to just nip over the boarder for morning tea so that Murray and Jill could tick off another country on their CV but in reality they decided that they could do without it so on to Milan we went. Now Milano was hosting the European Premier cup winners final on this very day so the town was really buzzing which meant that a hop on hop off tour was about as much as we could manage before heading down to Genoa for the night. We have passed Genoa by on a few previous visits to Italy so it was a real pleasure to experience a little of this historic city's delights by way of a noddy train tour.

There Are Still Gondolas Available For Those That Can Afford Them

Murray Engaged In Some Serious Retail Therapy

Milan's Beautiful Cathedral

Chris. Columbus's Birth Place In Genoa

His And Hers

Historic Waterfront Genoa

One of the highlights, at least for Jill and I, was the Cinque Terre walk, taking in the five towns along the coast between Levanto and La Spezia, hard work but well worth the effort. Many thousands do this walk every  year. We were lucky in that we had an overcast day and it was a bit cooler than the 30 + C that we had been having so all was good. Only problem was that the last two legs were closed as they have been now since flooding in 2011 but these are quite short so never mind.

The Villages are Spectacular

The Track Can Be Demanding, Especially The Steps

These Two Aussies Couldn't Let A Bar Go By

The Emergency Evacuation Transport

Another Of The Cinque Terre Villages

Murray and Lee were to meet us at the last of the Villages we were doing, Corniglia, but texted us to advise a change of plan in that they would now see us at the railway station. We could see why.

Some of the hundreds of steps up from the station to Corniglia

And so that was Cinque Terra, it was just simply fantastic.

We have moved on now to Rome, it has been a whirlwind tour of Italy, but this has been of necessity as Murray and Jill must fly out of here on Thursday and so there will be only Lee and I then so maybe there won't be happy hour each evening and I shall be able to keep my blog up to date, just maybe. But we will miss them, there I have said it, but it's true.
Going for an audience with Papa Francisco tomorrow, at least Jill and I shall be. Murray and Lee said something about lightening and being struck down, so it's just Jill and I again.
And so that is that for now,

All the best


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