It is good to be back on the road and seeing the wonderful sights of Italy but not for long, as we’re now off to Austria. Italy was fantastic in every way and it certainly didn’t disappoint. This week we’ve had a few more Homer issues but learning to work with them rather than against them. The cool air has helped calm my skin and we’ve certainly slept better of a night. The mood in camp is much better now we’re all getting sleep and not feeling like we’re being cooked alive in a tin can.
Friday 18 July: Ferrara to Albo
Heading in to the mountains felt wonderful, bright but cool and welcome break from the blistering heat. We absolutely love the sunshine and a ‘reasonable’ amount of heat but living in it for several weeks and in a motorhome is a challenge. Something we never expected but you live and learn.
We only left Ferrara late due to hospital appointment running late then going to the pharmacy etc, so by the time we found a spot it was pretty late. We actually found a lovely spot near a castle but the roads got a little too narrow and steep, so we moved on and ended up in Albo. We didn’t realise until later but lake Garda is just to our left…just one problem there is a big hill in the way.
For days we’ve been moaning at each about smelly feet. Poor Homer stinks and I recon its Craig cause his feet always fester. He reckons its my jammy toes. Anyway it stinks of bloody sweaty feet and both of us constantly have a toe up our nostril trying to locate the culprit. In a small place its pretty hard to do the old yoga and sniff your own feet, so usually it means shoving your foot in each others face. If anyone saw us they would think we’d gone mad. BUT it doesn’t matter who ’s toe you sniff it smell’s OK, so its weird and confusing the hell out of us.
We let Peanut out for his final pickle of the day and all of a sudden we smelt the feet smell. It was Peanut, the bloody dog has smelly feet, well I never. How can a dog get smelly feet and why have we never noticed it before? Well at home he pickles on the grass and the pickle runs in to the grass. Lately he’s been pickling on tarmac or concrete and it just runs everywhere. Being a short arse it means he just pickles all over his feet hence the smell. That’s it Peanut, you’re gonna have to learn to stamp your feet or you’ll have to get a set of ‘wellies cause they stink.
Saturday 19 July: Albo to Valda
What a fab nights sleep, it was so good we both slept until 10am. The 1st time in ages we’ve have a full nights sleep plus we slept passed 8am. Wow this mountain is good stuff, more please. The temperature dropped to around 20 last night but in the day it is still hitting high 30’s.“Craig smell that” “Smell what?” “I lifted my arms higher” “What do I want to smell your armpits for?” “They stink Craig.
Craig looked at me a little strange and then it dawned on him, I hadn’t sweat for over 2 months. My glands have been blocked and the sweat then gets trapped in your body. It feels good to sweat and get rid of some of this trapped water. As we set off to Trento all of a sudden we noticed traffic lights. Blinkinek we’ve not had traffic lights for weeks, so it felt weird to stop and go. It is funny, we never hit a traffic jam in Southern Italy but stick traffic lights in and you get traffic jam and irate drivers!
After a big shop and din dins we set up the bikes and went in to Trento town. I obviously put on my light block and covered up all limbs, so no sun exposure. Trento town was absolutely lovely and not what I expected. It reminded me more of an alpine village rather than swish Italian mountain town. The town is encircled in mountains and overshadowed by Monte Bedone, which is just around the corner. The piazza feels very chic with cafe bars, fountain, cobbled alleys and fading frescos on majority of the buildings. The town was ruled by a load of princes for years and then Austria had a dabble at running it before handing it back to Italy after world war I. So its rich history is very much reflected in the towns chic and upper class feel. The main church was nice (no photos allowed) and Peanut took a right fancy to it. He refused to go anywhere except to the door entrance. Not sure why as he blind as a bat now and normally just sniffs his way around by following our scent.
We cycled around the town and went in a few of the small churches. In one of the churches the paintings really caught my attention and I am not really a painting sort of person. But they just seemed to line up with what I was thinking about…Russell, Mandy and the family… It was weird. As I walked down the church I kept seeing the same images in the paintings. When I stopped and studied the paintings the expressions were of suffering and sadness. I hunted high and low for a painting with smiles or joy but I struggled. I lit a candle and said a few prays. It really upset me, I sobbed and I couldn’t get it out of my head.
We cycled through the streets and stopped for a while listening to some sort of traditional band. Then we headed through some archways and found another little church. I went inside and could see the same faces on the painting. This time they looked more peaceful. How weird… I then looked towards the door and their was a ray of light shining straight on this little statue, it looked so beautiful and I just felt so calm. It was a weird experience and I don’t fancy having another, thank you. Needless to say I sprinkled a couple of Russell’s ashes in Trento and said a few prays.
The other thing I keep seeing are those evil little cherubs, they are everywhere. I used to think cherubs were cute but no more, they give we the creeps. Think its because they don’t have any eyes and it makes them look a little devilish? Maybe its me but they don’t look friendly little chaps. I’ll get some photo’s for you in next update.
The temperature was cooler at 35 but still hot, so we treated ourselves to a nice refreshment. I had an coconut and passion fruit ice-cream cone, Craig had a lemon slush and Peanut had a vanilla ice-cream tub. Needless to say Peanut finished first even if he had to chase the tub half way down the street. We fancied staying in Trento for a couple of days but we found out that there was a cycling race tomorrow and several thousand cyclist expected to hit Trento today / tonight and all the streets closed off for parking. We may struggle with Homer, so we set off down the road. We snaked our way up and down mountain range and admired the wonderful peaks of Pale di San Martino in the distance. The range was created a few millions years ago from the sea bed and we are now driving on coral and shells. How cool is that! The road twisted and turned and climbed higher and higher. The valleys below were peppered with vines and everywhere looked so lush. The vines in this region have been cultivated since Roman times. The famous Pinot Grigios are bright and aromatic due to altitude and cool climate – not that we’d know given we have no idea about wine except it either tastes good or like vinegar.
One little spot took our fancy. It was at a place called Valda. We stopped on a side road with views to die for. No matter where you looked you just got stunning views of the valleys, the mountain peaks, the vines, the trees…it was one of the most naturally beautiful places ever. The rest of the night we sat out just admiring the view in the cool mountain air, it was heaven.
Sunday 20 July: Valda
We both woke to the sound of a donkey that isn’t blessed with a great eeeooorrr. Poor little thing is trying to copy a cockerel and getting it all wrong, it sounds so funny.
We didn’t do much today. A little cleaning and a little washing but mainly we just gawked at the view. Everywhere you looked you saw something new, it was one stunning place. I took advantage of the cool mouton air and sat in just a wrap. Craig said you could see straight through but you know what, I didn’t care two hoops. After all, who’s gonna see me…eeeooorr the bloody donkey. It was cool and my skin was loving it.
We are parked on the side of a pretty steep slope and we have neighbours below. She came to say hello with her long haired lab. She has what I would call one big huge vegetable patch. She looks like she is growing a bit of everything. Today she has cleared a load of hay and trimmed some trees and bushes Now the hay has gone you can see half a dozen bee hive boxes. However, we cant see or here any bees, so not sure what they are?
Monday 21 July: Valda to Klausen
“Craig someone’s nicked our view”
“Oh yeah, we got clouds instead”
The weather had changed and we were sat in the start of a thunder storm. At first we were above the clouds and you could see little fluffy clouds float by and wrap themselves to cliffs. Then the clouds got a little thicker and started to fill the cracks and crags. The views were constantly changing, it was like a cloud show with thunder rumbling all around us. Eventually the cloud gave us a big hug and we couldn’t see a thing. Now we were floating with the angels and every so often the clouds with light up with lightening. We were actually inside the thunder storm and it was great to watch, not scary but very quiet and calming. Eventually the rain started and it pickled down the rest of the day. It didn’t matter because it was nice for my skin to get a little rain kissed, it help cool it down and reduce some of the redness. We also enjoyed watching the slugs come out to play but not sure Peanut thought the same.
We also heard from our friend Kat that she’d given birth to baby Kara, she is so beautiful. Also our Lucas has got his first job answering the phones for his daddy, whilst Oliver is enjoy the summer sun in his paddling pool and Devya been helping her daddy in the shop.
The rain stopped for a little while, so we decided to move 10 minutes down the road just to get a different view. Four hours later we were in Klausen. There were plenty little places to stop but Craig kept going. I am guessing he was looking for a better view than Valda but not sure we’ll find it.
We drove through Val Di Fassi and Val Di Fiemme. Fiemme attracts loads of geologists who flock here to see the huge variety of rock and fossils. We see lots of reference to the Dolomites but we are unsure where the Dolomites start/finish? Are we on a mountain range within the Dolomites? We have no idea but we’ll take a look tomorrow and just admire the wonderful views for now.
We passed quite a few ski resort and villages but clearly no skiing this time of year only hiking. As always it was pretty quiet and not a motorhome is sight. However, we did get stuck in a little traffic jam…a truck got wedged on a 90 degree bend in the road and had to shuffle back and forth. Poor driver had everyone and his dog telling him what to do and it didn’t matter who he listened to, he still ended up damaging one of the property walls, quite badly. We passed on timber merchant with a rather apt name…Plank.
As we went over the peaks the views below were just amazing and a shame we couldn’t stop to take a few photo’s but no lay-bys up here I’m afraid. As we started to descend Homer’s brakes started to heat up and boy did they smell. We had to keep pulling in every so often to let them cool down. In all fairness the roads were pretty damn steep and we were loaded up including extra water. To help, we ditched as much as much water as we could but it was slow, steady drive down to Bolzano. Fried brakes are the last thing we need right now. We had hope to stay in Bolzano but it was just chocka with cars and no matter where you turned there was a traffic jam. We headed out of the city and thought, no problem, we’ll park on the outskirts and cycle in, tomorrow. But no such luck. The road seemed long and straight and no where to stop. The odd lay-by said no parking and there were no towns or villages, so it was a welcome break when we spotted a sports field with a car park.
Tuesday 22 July: Klausen to Brenner
We are still in Italy but everything is Austrian or German from the language to the house designs. It does not feel Italian, at all. The drive to Brenner was good with lots of lush green hills and Austrian styled houses with balconies, baskets and boxes full of red, pink and white geranium flowers. Hard to believe you are still in Italy.
We didn’t know if to fill up with diesel on the Italian side or wait until Austria. Then as we approached Brenner and crossed over to Austria a Shell garage with diesel @ 1.40. Excellent, diesel is quite a bit cheaper compared to Italian average of 1.60. As Craig was filling up I noticed the Go Box kiosk. The Austrian road charges are pretty confusing and everyone you talk to doesn’t have a clue how it works. From what we can gather, if you are under 3.5 tons then you buy a pass but if over 3.5 tons you need a go box. At the self serve kiosk it was no clearer apart from the fact we needed on of these boxes to travel around Austria. We pressed the call button, which directs you to a 24 hour call centre and asked the chap if he could explain how the system works. He was very polite but useless, so we got rid of him and pressed every help button on screen and printed all the guides. The chap at the fuel station came out and even he said he didn’t know how they worked…god help us. We parked up Homer and read the guides. It was now approaching 4pm and the cloud was starting to thicken. We opted to stay put, have a walk around the outlet village and then set off along the Brenner pass tomorrow. The outlet village was disappointing and quiet seedy with sex shops, so on the way back we called for the go box in readiness for tomorrow. We had no option to prepay and it cost €5 (rental) plus €75 (prepayment). Every kilometre we travel we get
charged 0.18 cents. The little go box dropped out the kiosk machine like a can of coke from a vending machine and we stuck it in Homer’s window. If we go on any toll roads then we’ll be
charged extra. It can be expensive if you don’t keep your eye on the road and take a wrong turn. But only with experience will we find out how best to utilise the Austrian roads.
We parked next to a waterfall and for our last night in Italy xxx Tomorrow we head down the Brenner pass in to Yodel Land…Austria.