Delights di Roma

We must begin this post with special thanks to David and Karim who have treated us to four nights in their fabulous accommodation (if you are planning a visit to Rome please contact us for details). We decided to leave the car and camper at Camping Europa and thanks to the staff had a lift to the train station with all of our kit, we calculated that four of the items of luggage belonged to Charlotte (Travel Cot, Mattress, Push Chair and food bag!) The pack had a small amount of clothes for us (and we thought we were doing well).

The train trip from Passignano was two and a half hours to Rome; the trains are so easy in Italy and only 21€ each return, it was good value, the only downside was the lack of space in the carriage so we ended up taking up six seats and all the luggage space. Neadless to say people took one look and kept on walking.

Once in Rome we decided to catch a cab rather than the tube. This was a blessing and a new experience; one that made us determined never to drive in Rome and definately tell everybody that we know to neaver drive in Rome in daylight hours (it is a nightmare). Two lanes become four, some roads have no lanes; everybody uses horns and badges around; actually it reminded us of our trips into Bali where you use the horn and hope. Although the Italians generally obeyed the traffic lights which doesn’t always happen in Bali.

Travel Trip: The tube is probably the best form of travel in rome it is cheap but busy; and watch your pockets very carefully (Narelles dad was pick-pocketed two years ago). When catching a taxi make sure that they use the meter otherwise you could be paying more than double the cost of the normal fare.
The appartment where we were staying had creature comforts that sadly, our camper does not possess! Crisp white sheets, fluffy white bath towels, ariconditioning, our own toilet and shower (complete with powerful spray you don’t have to run arounbd to get wet in – nor does it require flip flops!!) and kitchen with fridge for Lottie’s food. We spent each day out and about in the mornings, back at the apartment by about 2ish, for our siesta and then out again around 530pm for our Passegiata!
As seasoned Rome travellers now, a few handy hints…. try not to go to Rome in Summer – and if you do, make sure your accom is air conditioned. IT was a good 38-40deg c each day. If you are trying to see things, go very early or very late at night – to beat the throngs of tourists that take over Rome’s major attractions!

We went to St Peters one morning, around 930am – the queues for the Vatican Museum and the Basilica were so long that it was about a 2 hr wait – in the heat! We went back another morning before our brekkie we had a lovely mass (with one other person and the priest!) at a small side altar, a couple of pics with Charlotte (actually awake) and we were out sipping cappucinos by 830am. Best time to go!

We ate our daily dose of fabulous Italian gelati each afternoon – a welcome coollness from the heat. The gelaterias in Rome are full of flavours so you really have to try different ones each day to get through them all! (so we said anyway!)

As we were not camping, we treated ourselves to a few dinners out. Sitting al fresco (outside on the pavement – watching the world go by!) we gorged on antipasto, pizzas, pasta, calamari and tiramasu. Luckily we had walked miles and sweated buckets during the day so we hope that cancelled out the extra caloric intake. (plus I am still breastfeeding so that burns up an extra 500 calories a day! luckily!)

For all of you with small babes, who are breastfeeding and travelling to Rome (if any of you are crazy buggers like us!) – be prepared for the stopping, and smiling, and talking and pointing – yep – peop[e were pointing – whether it was at my boobs, or the cute baby who was too busy looking around then drinking we don’t know!) At one stage, I suggested to Dave, we whould put our cap out – charge for a look!

Both men and women stopped in their tracks to chat to our Bimba Carlotta. a simple walk down the street took half an hour – people patting her, kissing her – and Charlotte – lapping it all up. One chap in a bar came straight up to her, kissing and playing with her – and she took both her strong little fists and grabbed handfuls of his big hairy moustache – too funny! Another lady dressed in her natice African dress and headgear just took her out of Dave’s arms and gave her cuddles. Too which Charlotte responded by trying to rip off her glasses and stick her fingers up under her headwear! To then end her lovely time, she grunted and grunted in her the lady’s arms and pushed out a poo – a real charmer our girl! Needless to say – she was handed back to us pretty quickly then!
One evening at a pizzeria (which was great!), all the staff spent half an hr, gooing and cooing over Charlotte. Then, I was given helpful advice… when I was feeding Charlotte, I was asked ‘surely the wine you are drinking will go through to your baby?!’ (the one half glass – the first I had had in a month!)…….that a cotton sheet (like their tablecloth) in the buggy would surely make a cooler baby (rather then the lambswool fleece we have in there – thanks Anthea!)……..that I shouldnt be eating that artichichoke – as in Italy, women breastfeeding don’t eat it as it gives their babies colic!…..

And finally, when we put Charlotte down in the buggy, to sleep (after her milk) we put the Shade-a babe on – that surely, it is bad for her as she can’t look out or get a breeze?! (even though it is fully ventilated with tiny holes and she goes straight to sleep in it?!). But then I heard them talking, it was more disappointment because they couldn’t see the beautiful baby with the big blue eyes!! And even after the swooning, and wishing us all good luck (and happy new year??!) we didn’t get a ‘beautiful baby discount!!’

The joys of it all eh?!

Anyhow – another long post – we must end it for you. As you can tell – we love Rome and had another great time there. And please.. if you are planning a visit let us know – we are commission free!

Back in Passignano now at Camping Europa until tomorrow (Sunday) then off again to our next stop. Sorry for the epic stories and the 50 odd pics – but we hope you enjoy….

All our love and Ciao for now xx

PS We are really logging off now so we can head up to the pool and work on our tans!! (you have to work up an apetite for your afternoon gelati – and besides, our morning cappucino time is over now?!) Jealous yet?!! We are really rubbing it in … we know!!

Sightly Sienna

The campsite is only 80km from Siena so we managed a day trip where we left the campsite at 8:30am, which is a record for us since we have been on holiday (we used to managed 8am mass in Cheltenham but we haven’t even got close this holiday – too relaxed we think.

Siena is great, small village with old town walls and lots to see. Plenty of big hills to walk up too! Great for the butt! We managed to find a parking space outside the old walls on a side street only to be told twice by passing Nonna’s that we could not park on that side after 1230! So, we moved to the other side and walked into town.

After finding the main square and tourist office we mooched around the cobbled streets solo guardando (‘just looking!). We saw St Catherine’s convent and after a picnic lunch next to a Basilica di San Domenico (in the shade), we went and looked around the old fort on top of the hill overlooking the whole town. Big walk, sore butt after, but great
views!

We paid our 3€ entrance into the Basilica and had a good look about. The artwork was amazing and we managed to see most things amidst the throngs of people! Even Charlotte got a chance to get out of the push chair and have a look and a photo with Dave. The Basilica was one of the few Catholic places that we have been that have charged like the horses that run around the main piaza in July and August. There were a total of 10 possible sites to see in the one building all with different entrances and all charging 3€; talk about captilising on your investment! Saying that they were repairing the building so the money is going to a good cause.

A stop at a gelateria ( a must on a hot summer afternoon in Italy!) then back to the campsite ended a nice day!

Lake Views

We have been in Camping Europa for 9 days now with a four night stop in Roma (post to follow). The campsites have shade in the morning and afternoon from trees that line the avenues between the pitches. It was a strange experience for us as we could place our camper anywhere and there is no real outlne of each pitch. We ended up pitching between two Dutch families.

This seems to be the theme at the moment as it is School holidays and some businesses close up for a month so all employees take holidays at the same time. All the Dutch people that we have met speak exceptional English which is good as we can chat about anything. Handy as our broken Italian only covers resturant ordering and travel small talk such as “We are Australian who have been living in England for four years and are travelling for four months with a (beautiful) baby girl before returing back to Australia to live” And thats the best we can do; after that the Italians launch into a full conversation in Italian and we both look at each other and have to politely tell them that we only speak a small amount of Italian.
Saying that the Italian people are so nice, always greeting you in the street with a buon giorno and a smile, this is why we love this contry so much. You can’t go anywhere in hurry as once they see ‘Carlotta’ – they stop and swoon for ages! Ai Gli occhi belli they all seem to say! (she has beautiful eyes!) So of course, our little Madam opens them even wider, gives them a cheeky smile and even giggles at times!
It has been pretty hot (same as a Perth summer that we haven’t experienced for a few years) here in Italy with temperatures between 33-38 degrees clear blue skys. Camping Village Europa is located on Lake Trasimeno with its own lake frontage in which you can swim – although it is slimy and has lake weeds so to us its not that appealing! But other campers have been swiming and there is a jetty that takes you further out past the weeds (which have yet to try.)
The campsite has a small pool that have used a couple of times (we think that the pool is run on a tight budget as the filter is not on that often and there is plenty of cut grass in the pool from peoples feet. The joys of camping! (Apparently the other day while we were in Rome the pool went green – lovely!). Charlotte is getting much better with the pools- screaming splashing kids and the cold water don’t seem to bother her much anymore. To cool down we have been using the showers on the water front (which are very cold) and sitting in the shade and reading our books while the water dries. Narelle has been doing timed sun splashing as opposed to bathing!

There are no baby facilities so we have been using the washing up sinks to bathe Charlotte, which only have cold water, but she enjoys it as the water splashes from the tap, she reaches for it and splashes around – its very cute. And of course, this draws a crowd most evenings! People seem to think either I am a very cruel mother or it’s all very cute.

Bella Vista

Greetings from fabulous Bella Vista campsite. We are based in a town near Albenga, called Ceriale. We have spent most of this visit here lazing about! The sun has been glorious – hot even! And this campsite is great. The biggest pitfalls would be the dust as the pitches are hard standing and both us and all our stuff seem to be covered constantly in a film of red dust! And secondly, the noise after 10pm gets louder instead of quieter – with all the children running about madly and the bar noise which is only 2 pitches away from us! Oh well, the joys of camping. There is a great pool here and we have spent a few afternoons in and out of the water. Charlotte is getting better at putting up with the bigger kids splashing and making lots of noise and we had 2 smiles from her in the water yesterday!

This site is really busy and we are surrounded by Dutch and Belgians. The owners here are dutch so I guess that may explain it. Not one word of Italian have we had to speak here yet – as it is either Dutch or English!

Our new friends are a couple of nice lads from Holland. Rutger and Tjerd had actually already left the campsite but we found a bag they had left so we texted them and they turned up again (from France!) the next day. If you are trying to pronounce their Dutch names with a really Aussie accent, they don’t mind if you call them Roger and Cheers! Such a small world as Rutger has travelled Australia and was telling us stories about his time in Freo backpackers! Who would believe it!

We have ventured out of the site. Although the cappucinos (real ones and cheap too!) on the terrace and the pull of the sunbeds at the pool (even if you do have to rent them!) – are difficult to pass up, we had Monday out and about. We spent the day wandering along the coast checking out all the different ‘bagni’. This is a private beach where you pay to rent an umbrella, cabin for changing/leaving your stuff and sun beds. Most of them were full of bronzed Italians who rent their beachside ‘lounge rooms!’ for a month at a time. Thing is though – at 20 Euro and upwards a day it is pretty pricey.

So we have been to the supermercato and bought ourselves a big green umbrella and bamboo beach mat – to have the afternoon at the beach.
We wandered around the town of Alessio and had lunch at a lovely little trattoria. All the Italians were outside basking in the hot sun virtually naked (save for a pair of budgie smugglers or bit of string they call a bikini!), but we sat inside the darkened cool resturant and relaxed. Charlotte ate her first breadstick – or should we say, destroyed her first breadstick – with great relish. It was a nice day.

We leave tomorrow for our next destination near Perugia where we will stay until the 28th of July -where we hope to take day trips to Siena, Assissi and 4 nights in Rome (courtesy of our friends David and Karim)
Ciao for now

PS Hi and big thanks to Jens and Wendy (from Belgium) who have sent us loads of info to help plan our visit to Brugges in September. Hope to see you then guys!

Our campsite in Crespian was Camping le Mas de Reihe and has a web site here

Quick one this time!

Hi all

I promise this is a very quick update! We had already written the last post on our laptop and just uploaded it when we could get internet access. Lucky for us, we havent had to pay the 8 Euro at the campsite – and we are in the local village of Somnieres (and paying only 3 Euro for an hr!).

We drove for 463km from Lourdes on Tues to Crespian. (it is near Montpellier and Nimes). The local village of Somnieres is very medievil and the old town very cute (although pricey 4 tourists!) This campsite is lovely – set up in the tall trees although the hot weather is now upon us. It is a challenge to get the camper cool enough to put Lottie down in the evenings and she is still screaming for milk (or cuddles we are not sure which!) – frequently in the night! She has hit the 6 month mark now and this week has extended her food repertoire – now including weetabix, watermelon and today she had salmon for the first time!

Anyhow – moving on tomorrow to Italy! So , next post will update with more pics!

Camping Les Pair-O-Knees (Pyrenees)

We are now in the Pyrenees just out side of Lourdes. We have been here for the past three days and we head off to our next stop tomorrow. We have been camping at a campsite Soleil Du Pibeste – set in a valley overlooked by the beautiful Pyrenees mountains. The weather has been so variable – with thunder and lightening storms one night (not much recommended in a camper with a screaming baby who wanted to feed every 1.5 hrs!!), and sun to get you sunburnt!

We arrived late on Fri and spent Saturday visiting Lourdes. It is a fairly big town and it has a definite ‘tourist’ population. We walked our way through the tacky street stalls selling candles, postcards, statues and of course…every size bottle imaginable for collecting your holy water. (from 30mls to 15L!!)

We visited the the local church where St Bernadette was baptised, the house where her parents lived and then down into the ‘holy city’. It is all very big, consisting of the large Basilica that is made of up three seperate churches one on top of the other. And of course, the grottoes. We saw the lines to queue for the baths and they were taking FOREVER (there were a lot more women than men). We didn’t line up – firstly because they had closed the line and secondly Narelle really wanted just to see the whole dunking thing more than she wanted to actually do it her self; Dave had the whole “..are they doing it for a cure; to cleanse the soul or just following each other like sheep?” They all did look like sheep in the stock yard meandering through iron pathways to what looked like pens to then be dunked; aussie sheep farmers would be impressed – luckily there wasn’t anyone waiting with branding irons!!

So we decided in the end to walk along the river that runs alongside. The water was so clear and pretty and we felt a more spritiual presence here, in our own quiet place – then with all the tourists back in the main square.
The were hordes of tourists, of course but they mainly consisted of elderly and sick groups and they were being pulled along on little wheelbarrow type chairs. They were hundreds of ‘helpers’ (volunteers) everywhere all dressed in uniform that looked more like a fancy dress costume of nurses from the 1940′s. To us both it seemed more like Disney in Paris than a Catholic church.
Dave has finished his second book for the trip (the first was “TV Nation” by Mike Moore which is a TV show that was on in the late 90′s on SBS and BBC2 in the UK. The second book is called “Cafe in Venice” by Dorian Mode; it is about a thirty something musician who makes it to the big time and then is tossed asside as only the music industry can do. He ends up in the desert contemplating the meaning of life. The book is very well written and so funny Dave was in stitches (much to the annoyance of Narelle) with tears flowing down his cheeks. Dave can highly recommend this book. It seems to be on the same wavelength to the way he is feeling; maybe its being thirty something and coming to that point where you start seeing the world through different eyes, maybe broken dreams and ideas that have not been fulfilled; maybe just fuled by lack of solid un-interupted sleep; who knows but we are becoming more and more like our parents…maybe because we are now ones ourselves.

Narelle is also onto her second book; the first book was purchased by Charlotte for Mothers day some five months ago; it is the first book she has read since Charlotte was born some six months ago! The second book is also a baby book called “the rise and fall of the yummy mummy” by Polly Williams. The first book was a lot tamer than the second and you guessed it Narelle enjoys the second a lot more. Having a baby in the UK both books tap into the baby scene of England and we can both relate to it so well.

Narelle here – I just got back from doing the dishes and read what Dave has written. Are you all asleep yet? Sorry that this blog has become our book review page! Just we are so excited to be reading again – feels like we were never going to get the chance ever again! Lottie is still waking frequently in the night, but usually, our evenings are our own with Madam being in bed by 8pm.To finish off – today we visited the Pyrenees Funiculare.It took us 1000m above and the views were awsesome.

It was hot and sunny when we went up and we took a tour (in french so it was very cultural!!) through the Caves up there. It was all very flat and probably the easiest caves we have ever walked through – we got to take Lottie in her buggy. (although she slept the whole way through – obviously she was too clever to listen to the guide drone on – French or not!).
The weather had changed fiercely when we resurfaced with freezing cold wind and yucky rain. It was a bit of a hike downhill again till we could get back on the funiculare to take us all the way back to the car. The views were amazing and we did something pretty touristy – so were are happy campers!

Well, enough gabble for now.. hope you enjoyed it!

Hope to update again before we leave France

Joyeux Anniversaire Narelle!

We are currently in Saint Emilion enjoying the Bordeaux region where there is vineyard after vineyard on every corner and in almost every part of the countryside has a vineyard. We celebrated Narelles birthday at a very nice restaurant in the heart of St Emilion. Dave also cooked all of Charlottes food and did the dishes so its been a relaxing day today.

Our first stop was with the Alan and Terry (Viks parents) in St Jean De Monts. Alan and Terry were very helpful and it was really nice to have a friendly face to talk to, get ideas and give us a little more confidence for the trip. We spent five nights in all and the weather although not perfect blue sky’s (it was overcast most of the time) and even though it rained it was a nice gentle introduction into the better weather of Europe (compared to England).

For the first time in a long time we have had a chance to read our books and relax as though we are on holidays. We even managed to go for a swim. The swimming in France and most camp-sites in summer restrict access to “proper” swim attire (speedos) or as some may refer to them as Budgie Smugglers. So we had to make a special trip into the supermarket to buy some new swimwear – which will come in handy during the trip much to our dislike.

We are updating from a great bar in St Emilion called Bar Internet. We have free access for customers which is great considering that most of France is charging between 6 and 10€ per hour! This is the reason that we haven’t made an update for some time.

Charlotte is being the centre of attention everywhere we go! Tourists and French seem to love her although they comment on how little she is – Petit Bebe!! And don’t seem to believe us when we say she is 6months! (Even we can’t believe that either to be fair!) She is taking to camping quite well – not missing a beat! Taking it all in she is very inquisitive and alert all the time. we have had a couple of terrible nights but we think the wind and rain had a lot to do with it! Our other challenge here in St Emilion has been the mozzies! We had a camper full of them on Tues night so Wed saw us shopping and using our creativeness to ensure a mozzie free night! You couldv’e fuelled a bus on the citronella fumes, and we used socks and jocks to plug entry holes for them into the camper! We even spent 5 Euro on a voille curtain to use as a make shift mozzie net to go over Lottie’s cot! So, last night we all had a better sleep – coupled with a sleep in till 9am!! (a great b’day pressie!)

We will update more photos at the next opportunity.

We are off to Lourdes tomorrow – so here’s hoping to find more sun and less moquitoes!

We will be there for 4 nights and then on to the Montpellier next Tues.

Thanks for the b’day wishes and emails – it’s lovely to know you are watching us on our way!

xxx Narelle, Dave and Charlotte xx