Monday 31 August 2009

Highlights of the journey

It was a very very long way to Lazio but a smooth and safe journey thanks to Mr FF's driving at least until we got into Italy when he turned up the speed and joined in the madness. Despite missing a proper night's sleep on the way out we didn't seem to suffer at all, took plenty of breaks during which the driver slept on a blanket complete with pillow in the sunshine and we were fortunate to find a good place to stay in Switzerland that really recharged us before going onto Tuscany for 3 nights with Carlo and Irene. Strangely after the journey home we both feel quite jet lagged despite taking things steady and finding a hotel at the end of each days travel. We both agree it was really worthwhile taking the car and though we sometimes got a bit desperate looking for overnight accommodation, we always found what we wanted eventually and next time we will know what is manageable and where we might like to stop off. So, some of the best parts of the journey.
Driving up towards the St Bernard pass and finally arriving in Italy to this view.
First stop on the way home, a night in Innsbruck for wonderful food and beautiful scenery.
Driving blind through Austria as it wasn't on our sat nav but finding the hotel where we spent two weeks walking in 1981. The hotel was still wonderful, we enjoyed a coffee and much reminiscing on the terrace wondering how we ever managed to climb all the surrounding mountains though we were younger and much lighter then.
Spending a night in the no frills Etap Hotel in Nancy, France, which was a bit like sleeping in a cupboard but less than 55 euros including breakfast and perfectly adequate. Next day on our way to the ferry we stopped off in Reins to admire the beautiful cathedral
and the equally lovely patisserie where we enjoyed coffee and cakes. And finally the journey home on the high speed ferry, that wasn't actually that fast and departed late but had such comfy seats and a jolly holiday crowd on board that we forgive them. Still lots to tell you but that's enough for today, back soon.

Friday 28 August 2009

I am home

So here we are home again, that was quite trip and I'll tell you about it over the next few posts but I am feeling absolutely exhausted today even though I've slept well both whilst we were away and since we've been back
I said in my last post that I broke a tooth, this happened on the second day of our holiday (yes I was chewing on a toffee) but I wasn't too worried as the tooth that broke was pinned, I assumed that I'd had a root filling so there wouldn't be any problem and it came from the back of my mouth so I didn't have a gappy smile. I mentioned what had happened to Irene when we got to the house in Tuscany and she recommended not visiting an Italian dentist. It wasn't till we got to Lazio that I woke in the night with toothache that got worse and worse until I was taking painkillers beyond the recommended dose, running out of stock and feeling awful. My face started to swell until it was hard to speak or eat and I felt thoroughly miserable. I spoke to Franco, a friend in Rome, to ask if I could buy anti biotics over the counter and immediately he took control, arranging with Mario our neighbour in the village to get me some medication from the local doctor. This arrived within a couple of hours, three large tablets the size of horse pills, one per day. They actually took about 36 hours to kick in, during which time I phoned my own dentist in Scotland who was really helpful, assured me that I should be OK until I got home, made me an appointment for my return and said the pain would soon go, which it did. My Italian lessons never covered this eventuality but I soon picked up the various medical terms and improved my vocabulary considerably. I'd recommend learning 'I'm in sodding agony but I don't want you carving me up' in the language of your destination just in case you ever have to visit a dentist abroad.
The trip was really worthwhile, we loved travelling round Europe and enjoyed having the freedom to do as we pleased, the pensioners version of Inter Railing I suppose. It must have been good, we are already considering doing it again, but not for a while.
Let me leave you with some pictures of our Italian garden whilst I go off to contemplate the chaos that has developed in the one here in Scotland, back soon.

Monday 24 August 2009

On the road again

We left our Lazio house this morning, very sad to go as we'd finally got it back in good order, everything looking great, sun shining and we were packing. Not so much to bring back as we found this visit that prices in Italy had rocketed, we can find identical products considerably cheaper in Scotland but we did buy quite a lot of wine from our local vineyard which we hope will travel well. Starting out on the journey home was daunting, the Italian autostrada was so busy and stop go round major cities like Florence and Bologna, but eventually we got into the Dolomites and the scenery was so fantastic we felt better. We are now in Innsbruck and have just had a really nice dinner in the hotel garden. After more than two weeks of Italian cuisine I thoroughly enjoyed my pork fillet in a cream and mushroom sauce with broccoli and potatoes in fact I suggested to Mr FF that if we ever moved to Italy permanently we could pop into Austria now and then for a proper gravy dinner.
I have lots to tell you about our holiday, its been hard work and I had terrible problems when I broke a tooth but now I need to sleep. We are hoping tomorrow to have a quick walk round the town before moving on through a variety of European countries in each of which I will not be able to stop myself saying grazie instead of merci, danke or whatever. We catch the ferry late afternoon Wednesday, should be back in Scotland early Thursday morning. Its Mr FF's birthday tomorrow and I don't even have a card for him, Happy Birthday driver extraordinaire.

Friday 7 August 2009

Europe in 2 days

If we hadn't found this wonderful hotel in Switzerland I don't think I'd have been in a fit state to blog today. Our travel plans have gone remarkably well, smooth 7 hour journey to Dover and a couple of hours on the ferry found us in misty confussing France at 5 am. We seemed to drive and drive, through France. Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany. We stopped and slept a little but kept eating up the miles. Finally last night we needed somewhere to sleep and off the motorways we found a beautiful little Baroque Swiss town, a hotel with good rooms and a terrace beside the river. Showers, food and lots of sleep, we feel so much better and today we drive to Tuscany having completed the major part of this journey. Its been horrible I admit, just travel really, I've completed a sock but not felt much like knitting, really I wanted sleep. So about 400 miles to cover, 3 nights with Carlo and then about 300 miles to Lazio. Lets not think about the journey back, we are almost in Italy, the weather is gorgeous, flipflops are on, we are on holiday.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

I'm beginning to think Ryanair are right

The last few times we've flown out to Italy we've just taken the one bag 10 kilos of hand luggage option and its been fine, quite liberating to be limited and I've always had plenty of clothes etc, no problem. So imagine what its like packing when you can take as much as you possibly want in the car. I've used this opportunity to have a wonderful sort out in my wardrobe as well as buying essentials to take to Italy, things you don't find so easily there like nice mugs plus things its easier to source while I'm at home when I have more time and know where to go. We bought two large storage crates the other weekend, handy for transporting and when the house is rented out we can pack away personal things and put them in the cellar. Means we don't have to keep taking out working or holiday clothes, toiletries, books etc. Oh dear, that's the theory, this is the realityPam suggested we stock up on snacks and drinks for the journey, which made sense to me, any excuse to buy snacks. When I showed Mr FF what I had bought, and maybe I did get a little over enthusiastic, he said 'but we don't usually eat in the car and we don't usually eat sweets and chocolate, why would we want to do so now?' I explained that we might get bored and a sucky sweet could help, he said he won't get bored as he'll be concentrating on the driving, OK more for me then.Its been such a big build up to this trip that we are both stressed and I think I've got to the stage where I want to fly to Italy. I was never 100% about all that driving, we intend to leave Scotland mid afternoon on Wednesday to drive down to Dover and get the 2 am ferry, yes that is the 2 am that happens early morning. We should arrive at the other side around 4 am and depending on how we feel either drive some more or rest. The idea is to have an overnight somewhere in France, then the next day drive on to Tuscany where we will spend a few nights with our friends who kindly let us use their house from time to time. We leave them early on Monday morning to drive to our house in Lazio, which you may know has for the last three years been occupied by a couple of Americans on a corporate let. To take back possession of our house we need to complete with the relocators an exit inventory, agree any damages and return the security deposit. Then it will be all systems go to unpack and get the house ready for holiday letting again, though I hope there will be time for a little relaxation as well, even if its just to build up our strength for the journey home and find things Italian to bring back, don't want to waste an empty car do we.
I'll try to get on line to let you know what we are up to but if not think of me knitting furiously to pass the hours and please don't forget me, I'll be home at the end of the month.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Tea with Mrs FlipFlops

A while ago I made this felted tea cozy, it was enormous when I first knit it and though it felted up quite nicely it was still large.
I decided the other day it would be useful to knit another to take out to Italy, the land of teapot shortages and so no need to stock cozies. I couldn't for the life of me remember where my original pattern came from so I winged it, casting on 150 stitches and starting to decrease them after a while using up a fair amount of stash wool in the process. I put the old and new cosies into the washer together with the bathmat and gave them all a 90 degree boil up. Excellent, the original cozy shrunk some more and is no longer of industrial size and the second one is just right. A new teapot and the Yorkshire Tea are packed so that's a good start to the preparations for our epic journey.No need to guess what I shall be doing this weekend, it involves cases, crates, boxes and bubble wrap.