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Croatian Adventure “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do... Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

A gondolier named Kuba

ITALY | Friday, 19 September 2008 | Views [1818]

Kuba wishing we hadn't eaten pizza twice a day!

Kuba wishing we hadn't eaten pizza twice a day!

On our last morning in Paris we went to the food market at Place d'Aligre and discovered there was also a trash n treasure market. Lots of interesting junk and we spent a few shekels here and there but really loved one painting which would have happily bought - it was a trash n treasure market afterall - but the price was 300 euros, a bit out of our price range!! We bought some more yummy bread and food for a picnic and then Ruby and I took Audra, Eva & Murray back to Parc Monceau for a leisurely afternoon lying in the sun parisienne style.

We ended our Paris trip with a stroll up the rue de Archives and  dinner on a corner opposite the Archives Nationale where there was a fancy formal party happening and all the guests were greeted with a blast from a type of french horn as the walked across the ornate courtyard, most arriving in limo's - very pish posh! The sound from the horns were beautiful though and we got the full benefit everytime someone arrived.

After making our way via metro, with our 7 pieces of luggage and extra bits we (the girls) had collected in Paris, to Citroen in Porte de St Cloud we collected our little 'picasso' and hit the road. Sad to leave Paris but great to be in some open space again. Baden Baden was our first overnight stop and after the tres charmant french we were a bit taken aback by the abrupt germans who I'm sure were really nice - you just couldn't tell!

Bright but not so early we hit the highway again - courtesy I might add of Bel & Nick's GPS and no hard copy maps whatsover. Our destination - Ravensburg. Our dear friends the Kearneys suggested a pitstop in this (now) famous german town where all you jigsaw afficianado's will know the Ravensburger puzzle factory lives. Ruby did some research on the internet and we thought we were all set for a quick tour of the factory or at the least a browse in their factory outlet! We turned up at the factory (courtesy of GPS) all excited but alas the security guard on the boom gate - not a good sign - did not sprechen ze anglais and via a co-worked explained if we email the factory we could organise a tour. Well, nicht so gut for us on a tight schedule to Venice. Thanks to Ruby's excellent research skills we GPS'd our way to tourist info and discovered Ravensburg is indeed a lovely town with a very helpful tourist office and two lovely toy shops which both sell Ravensburg products and even had some on special. With the boot now seriously chokkers we gps'd our way to Aldi (we asked the tourist info lass for directions) and visited this excellent german export, stocked up on food and ate our lunch in their car park! The german Aldi's are truly excellent and thanks again to the Kearney's recommendation to stop and shop! (We also passed a Curves in Ravensburg which was closed as it was lunchtime - Ravensburg really does have everything!)

Onto Austria and the Arlberg Alps. WOW!! We were blown away by the size and scale of these mountains - massive. We detoured off the motorway to visit St Anton and St Christoph. I worked a ski season in St Anton in 1983 and I have to say could hardly recognise or remember anything! Maybe because there was no snow or it has grown a bit in the past 25 years but I seriously think they have moved the train station! We would have loved to stay there but could not get one guest house to answer the door and we tried about 10! Actually one did answer to tell us they were fully booked. Got the feeling they were hiding behind the curtains watching us... bit weird. So it was onto Innsbruck for the night which was pretty spectacular itself. 5 weiner schnitzels later and a bit of thigh slapping and yodelling and it was good night for us all.

The Dolomites entertained us for most of the next morning - stunning - and how on earth did they get those little churches right up high on those craggy outcrops? Amazing! By lunchtime we were in Venice and bless our gps because heaven knows how you would find your way without one. We met Paolo,the owner of apt, at the Rialto bridge and made our way through the narrow streets up and down bridges to his, now ours, flat in Cannareggio. This was our first seriously hot day 31øC so we showered and hit the streets ending up in the jewish quarter in time for Friday night prayers and yummy pizza. We discovered the word ghetto comes from the Italian geto meaning foundry. When the german jews first came to Venice in 1500's (?) they lived in the geto - the area where all the foundry's were. The italians pronounced geto with a soft 'g' as in german but the germans used a hard 'g' as in goat and that is how the word ghetto came about. So there you go!

We walked home via Ferrovia and came across a scottish band doing country and western in front of the train station! Not sure the kids got the irony but Mur and I sure did.

On Saturday morning we took the 50c gondola across the grand canal to the fish markets. It was raining but not too much and we all stood (about 15 ppl) in the gondola as we crossed. Audra was sure we would all end up in the canal and was hanging onto me so tight I thought she would tip us in! The fish market was fabulous and we coudln't resist the prawns/scampi. There was an almighty thunderstorm while we were there which put the dampeners on returning via gondola so we trudged our way back to the Rialto bridge and arrived home soaked through. It poured and poured all day. Sunday was grey but not wet so we headed for San Marco's and all the bits in between. San Marco's was under water - we entered on raised platforms across the water - but not because of the rain, as we thought, but because it was a high tide on a full moon. So, this has happened at least 12 times a year for the past 1000 years!!!!

On our last day in Venice Eva convinced us all that we should take a gondola ride and with the help of Paolo and a 10% discount we found Kuba a polish gondolier (he's lived in venice for 35 years). It was a wonderful experience, we learned a lot about Venice and it was just lovely to get off the tourist trail and into the back streets and a bit of peace and quiet. Mur likened walking the main drag of Venice to a salmon swimming up stream!

And now onto Croatia - but first a quick pitstop in Nervesa alla Battaglia where Orlando comes from - see the photos - it's a lovely sleepy little village out of Treviso.

We are now in Rovinj, Croatia, which is just lovely. Here for 2 weeks so will fill you all in on this beautiful spot soon.

Dovidenja for now!

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