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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Lots of Italy

Ok I've been a little slack these last few weeks with getting my blogs done. Can't help it I've been having a lovely time, relaxing, sight seeing and general holidaying.
So I last blogged about Venice and we moved from there to Radda in Chianti in the region of Tuscany.
Just like all the fantasies we hired a villa for the week and relaxed.
I hired another roady and had the pleasure of cycling around Tuscany. When I collected the bike from the shop the owner informed me there were many hills in Tuscany, we ride up them.......quietly! In other words, head down, bum up and just keep going.

Here is my bike and off in the distance to the right of the pole is our villa.

Surrounded by olives and grapes. It was grape harvest time so often there were tractors pulling trailers full of grapes off to become Chianti. Speaking of which I can highly recommend the chianti Classico if you ever come across it.
From Radda we headed off for day trips to San Gimmiano and Grieve.

After the peaceful week in Tuscany we headed to Florence and a great apartment just over the river from the centre of the city, so nice and quiet.
Florence is incredible what with the amazing history and art.

The Il Duomo was just too big to capture in photos.

The famous David.

David from all angles.

And the Birth of Venus.
We undertook some serious shopping in Florence and I bought a lovely leather jacket. There was also some gifts for family which we posted home and have been informed all has arrived safely.

We also had arrived in Florence in time for the annual blessing of the Chianti. A huge procession which arrived outside the IL Duomo whereby it was blessed by a priest.

And just for those who missed it I also found this sign of the policeman loving his no entry sign.
I'll do another blog in the next few days to cover the rest of out Italy adventures before we take you all off to the wonders of the Greek Islands.

Uke complete me.


Thursday, 25 September 2014

Via ferrata and Venice

So it's been a little while between blogs! There is a good reason for that. Firstly I've been having a lovely time and secondly I've been really crook! I know! On my holiday too, not fair!
My tonsils resembled golf balls and I went into full blown fever etc! It all began just as we left Switzerland and had a solid hold on our arrival in Italy.
I went to the Dolomites for one reason, to climb the Via Ferrata and no pesky virus was going to stop that. So full to the eyeballs with legal pain meds I booked a guide for the Monday then went to bed for two days. Mind you with a view like this, I had to get some photos.

This image was taken from our balcony. Nick had specifically arranged the room and it did not disappoint.
Susie and I walked a little way up the hill to the right in order to catch a gondola to the restaurant on top for lunch.

I had the clear soup but Susie had a lovely Wiener schnitzel and we both enjoyed the view.
On Monday my guide Francesco picked me up early. I was still not well but had broken the fever and the pain meds were helping. As I'm an experienced rock climber he chose Tridantina a moderate route with over a kilometre of ferrata to cover.
Via Ferrata is simply 'the iron way', originally established to allow military troops fighting in the mountains to get around but now an extensive network of routes connecting many peaks.

Here is the route I was to complete. It would take us till lunch to reach the top, where there was a refugo for lunch. Oh a restaurant on top, why not!
Francesco took some photos of me climbing but he hasn't sent them on yet so I've got a few off the internet to give you and idea.

So basically you climb while clipping into the cable, the bridge is right at the top of the route and joins the pillar to the main rock face.

And here's an image sitting having something to eat at the top.

We then had a long decent down the back which is also protected in parts by cables.

It was a great experience only marred by the fact that I had to throw up twice, probably due to the exertion on my flu riddled body. Francesco was wonderfully understanding and suggested I come back one day to climb with him. I think I'll be taking up that offer, the rock is amazing.

The following day we were once again on the move. Down from the mountains to sea level. Venice!
The car was parked on the mainland and we took the vaporetto ( boat bus) over to the heart of Venice to meet our accommodation host Francesca.
Francesca was a real gem. After showing us our apartment she took us on a walk,showed us the best place to eat,what to see and a general rundown of stuff. The canal was directly outside our window so we got to enjoy the gondolas going by with all the singing. I quite enjoyed waving at the tourists and even chatted with a few.
Here are some images from Venice.

Of course we took a gondola ride ourselves, you can't go to Venice and not.

Ironically I purchased a cycle jersey from Venice! There are no bikes and no where to ride! I can just imagine the Venice Aqua bike cycling team. Even the store owner could see the irony and we all got the giggles. Every time we walked past his store he would wave and say hello.
We also went to Murano to see the glass blowing which was a lovely day and we did purchase a few lovely things.

The fellow who made the horse took about 2 minutes to complete it. In all Venice was what you expect it to be. It's an interesting place and I hope it survives. There is mumbling that the big cruise ships won't be allowed soon as it's putting Venice under a lot of strain. Too many people and something about the amount of water they displace!
Anyway that will do for now. I'll blog again soon all about Tuscany and Florence.
Uke complete me.

Location:Località Santa Croce,Radda in Chianti,Italy

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This is just a test blog without photos as it doesn't want to post with them. If this sends I'll keep trying to find the problem.

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Saturday, 13 September 2014

Fondue,mountains,chocolate,what more could you want?

Switzerland, the land of the milka cow,everything cheesy and more walking poles than you could poke a stick at.
We had five fun filled days in Switzerland and our accommodation had a view straight out the window of the Eiger. Really could it get any better? All the houses in Switzerland are built the same and usually from wood so it's like a fairy tale village. You sort of look for Julie Andrews to come singing over the hill. ( yes, I know that was Austria).
Here is our house.

Ugly I know!
And the view outside.

That's the famous Eiger and here is it's most famous north face.

There are so many walking trails in Switzerland but really only one I really wanted to do,that's the Eiger trail which winds directly along the base of the mountain. Susie joined me on this walk and loved it.

You can see the trail heading off in the distance. We took the train up to the beginning then walked downhill to
Alpinglen where the restaurant sells lovely food and warm drinks to hikers,very civilised.
Being at the base of the Eiger and looking at the face was a dream come true and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

Susie scored a hitchhiker who mistook her for a purple mountain daisy.

While we were walking we heard the whoosh of chutes opening and a little yahooing as this group launched over us.

On an earlier day we had taken the cog railway to the top of Europe, Jungfraujoch.
The train actually travels through the Eiger and stops at the old rail access holes so you can see out onto the face. They used to be opening doors( watch 'The Eiger Sanction' great movie,Clint Eastwood) now windows that can be opened in case of emergencies on the face.

Once your at the top it's about 2-3 degrees and the weathers unpredictable. We were very lucky and got a clear view of jungfrau and Monch.

So what do you do when your in the snow? Why tube of course.

Make snow angels

And then,of course you have to dodge the occasional snow ball.

We walked,or slid through the ice palace.

How's the guy behind us? I think he though Susie was weird! The top of Europe was a great day and we got so sunburnt. We even stopped for some Fondue fun.

Do you like my 'where's Wally' shirt?
So how do you top that day? Oh I know, go rafting in the coldest water you can find.
Sorry no photos but believe me we went for a half day rafting trip. The rapids were quite tame but the water was so cold. Our rafting guide suggested to jump in and float down a little way. Me and one other fellow from our raft decided that sounded like fun and went over the side..........biggest ice cream headache ever! Sooooo cold even with all the wetsuit and booties on.
I also booked a paragliding flight for that afternoon. While sitting in the park watching them land, I wondered about my own sanity!
I can now say, having done it, it was one of the most magic things I've ever done and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. So calm, none of this leaping out of planes stuff( I've done that too and paragliding wins hands down).

On our final night in Switzerland Susie and I went for dinner and I enjoyed Raklette,which is basically melted cheese served with boiled potatoes and pickles. Funny really cause you get this little tea light pan thing to melt your cheese,so I paid €27 to cook my own dinner. Susie ordered ice cream with hot chocolate sauce for desert, only to be told they were out of chocolate!!! What tha! It's Switzerland,the home of chocolate! Weird!
Here's just one last photo of the views we had to put up with.

And a bit of Swiss humour on the doggy poop bins.

Now we are in Italy so I hope they don't have a pizza shortage.

Uke complete me.

Location:Strada Ruac,Colfosco,Italy