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MONZA, TRIESTE AND BLED SLOVENIA

Monza, Chaos, Trieste and Bled

storm 28 °C
View Grandfolks Grand Tour on Combes Caper's travel map.

June 12
Last night after dinner we strolled into town to catch tail end of a Pink Floyd Tribute band. They
wrapped about 9.30 and everyone left the town drop back to sleep.
Impression walking through town centres both here and in France is that most of the shops are
occupied and there are few if any shops plastered with pseudo sale or closing down signs. The
vast majority of the shops stick to selling one product, e.g shoes (still cannot get head around the
eyewatering prices), undies, baby clothing, linen, bathroom goods, chocolates and so on. Charity
shops, have yet to see one.
This morning was a very big shock. Took a few bits up to the car in order to bring it back to the
hotel. Everything looked normal, until you went round driver's side and saws gaping hole where
back window had been! The glass was all over the back seat, one case had been hauled out as it
had grass on underside. Absolute jumble of stuff, but not much missing. Whether the alarm alerted
someone who disturbed them, or whether, as there were only clothes in car, they couldn't see
anything to sell - like computer or phones. Even left my riding gear!!
The result has been hours on the phone, first to get temporary replacement glass and then more
hours at the carabinieri . That was, when we could find it, I asked several people for directions,
most hadn't a clue, but finally young man in bread shop put me on right track. It was tucked away,
getting in was like Fort Knox, huge walls metal and stone, large solid metal gates, and then sitting
in very hot room WAITING. Nice young Guarda kept apologising, and in the end I think his
superior decided to let him do the paperwork and then that was it. They were more concerned
about whether thieves took documents than goods. Poor Bernie had to sit with car meanwhile in
baking underground car park, no signal and no food!
Back to glass company and eventually on road about 4. We took motorway, which was a river of
trucks in both directions. Although the A4 is being widened, it seems they will soon outgrow it and
lord knows what it is like in peak season .
Stayed with super couple at B&B just above Trieste. Views right over the sea and port. Trieste was
occupied by U.S.A, GB and New Zealanders for nine years after the war. Francesco spoke perfect
English as a result, and he had an aunt who married a Brit and went to UK. He and his wife only
started business last summer, the house is simple but the rooms are airy, well decorated with new
bathroom and even small kitchenette. Though as there was a pizza bistro just down the road there
was no need. Breakfast was delicious, homemade jams, cake, biscuits plus yoghurts, bread and
omelette.
Francesco and Bernie enjoyed swapping notes on their old cars, and the never ending list of
todo's.
13 June
Leaving Trieste, we set off for Bled Lake, very good road and no tolls, but a vignette for £15 valid
for a week. We whizzed through, my please to stop at Lipica Lippizaner stud fell on deaf ears - will
catch it on return . Lake Bled is as picturesque as advertised. Thought of Johanna as lots of
kayaks sculling on it. Have found the places for swimming, hooray. Took a nice long walk around,
came across horse and trap for sightseeing, maybe have a go. One looked just like Linda's Bob,
has he emigrated? Looking at the hooves of another, think Matt could have a field day.
First thunderstorm today, but quite tame. Though good old downpour .

Posted by Combes Caper 12:26 Archived in Slovenia Comments (0)

Montcet to Monza

9 to 11 June

sunny 32 °C
View Grandfolks Grand Tour on Combes Caper's travel map.

9th June
After lovely breakfast on the terrace we set off for Monza. Drove up through Le Bugey, a wonderful wooded area in low hills eastwards towards Geneva. Although Bank Holiday, there was little traffic so we made good time to Mont Blanc Tunnel, where for an eyewatering 42E we entered the tunnel. Nearly as long as the Frejus, but told ourselves it saved us time and fuel! Once into Italy, the motorway was strangely empty for many miles, so we had time to enjoy the scenery of some Alps still with a dash of snow, the lovely chalets houses and rushing snow water down the shutes and rivers. How different from the trip to Verona when we drove through a monsoon and hardly noticed a thing!
We didn't really meet any traffic until we got the Milanese autostrada, even on Bank Holidays, business is business. Found the way to the hotel in Monza, but only actually got to drive up to it because a very very kind traffic guard showed us the way through a one-way zone the wrong way! Bit nerve wracking in case someone speedy came towards us!

10th June
Set out to explore Lake Como, took wrong turn and ended up heading to Lecco and on to Bellagio. Now the scenery was fantastic, but the road hair raising, reminded me of Grenada........ How they managed to scoot around the tiny lanes and miss each other, heaven knows. We found that there was nowhere along the lakeside road to pull over and admire the view, quite what happens if someone breaks down is a puzzle. Eventually we did reach a small port where we turned round and decided to head down to Como itself. There we strolled along the lake and sampled our first icecream, watching the world go by. Families playing cards, lads paddling , lots of cyclists, but gently gliding by, and the dog walkers with their bejewelled pooches. Tucked into pasta and took a walk around the centre of Monza in the evening. What a difference when you can just amble around without a chill wind. On reflection, think that next trip to Como should be on an organised day trip so you could get a trip out on the lake, it is just so beautiful.

11th June
Today did a bit of shopping and not a lot else, temperatures still climbing. Recommend Il Nuovo Caffe for a salad and baguette lunch. Great staff, vibrant and very very reasonable. Monza has a nice old centre, but sadly spoilt by spray paint, you couldn't call it grafiti, on a lot of the nice buildings. On the Piazza Central there is a great new type of coffee/cake/chocolate shop and cafe. Beautifully set out windows, tables with tablecloths outside and a maitre d' complete with tails and tie. Studiously avoided being tempted though, could feel the pounds creeping on just looking at the goodies!
Pleased to report that the weather continues to be just what everyone needs, hot and dry. Ideal for lazing and grockling.

Posted by Combes Caper 08:25 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

LE BLANC TO MONTCET LES VIGNES, AIN

Montcet Les Vignes

sunny 32 °C
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June 7
Having been totally flaked out the previous day, we had a leisurely breakfast, and flopped out until after lunch. I had a lovely swim and it revived me no end. We went to Bourg en bresse, and had a wander around the shops , found a lovely bakers which had a very tasty baguette for a snack. Drove around the lanes back to base . Then we went out to dinner at Auberge Bressane in Bruellas, an Auberge of the old school, family run with local clients. Fantastic meal , and we struck it lucky as it was feast time , so we got pudding for nothing .The Auberge treats you to dishes which not only look good, but are of good portion size, tasty and yet non expensive.
We slept like logs.

8 June
After breakfast planned out a route with M Gayet. Down to the marshes And. And pretty Medieval villages. Extremely hot and we hiked around Perouges quite a few photos. Bought some fruit for lunch, got back to base about 2.30. This evening we decided to stay on site for dinner, took another dip in the pool this afternoon. In all this sun the water had warmed up a lot.
Also caught up on marshalling the photos. And now writing a few words for the blog. The French get their bank holidays right, no rain here today, wall-to-wall sun hot and hot breeze.
We are dining alfresco tonight. Fellow guests were a German couple en route for the south of France. He was amazed that we British go gallivanting into Europe without several languages under our belts. We explained that the Channel makes things so much more difficult as you have to take decision to go into Europe and do not grow up hopping around all over as much as they do.
He also told us, on reminiscing about childhoods, how his grandfather had said his time as a prisoner in Buchenwald, as a young man just before the war ended, had been so dreadful and how the Germans struggled for many years to get back on their feet. To rebuild family connections and put together a decent life.

9th June Breakfast out in the sun too today before we set out for Monza. The Lazy Susan each morning is packed with a variety of homemade jams, fig, cherry, peach, rhubarb, blackberry, blueberry, home harvested honey to name but a few! Elaine does her own sourdough bread, though do miss croissants. Good selection of local cheese too.
M. Gayet, I seem to have forgotten to tell you all, is a teacher. He teaches Esperanto and quite a few of his clients come to take short courses. He also has an extremely interesting life story. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer 5 years ago. Came to the end of medical interventions and he and his wife decided to treat it themselves by total change of lifestyle and diet. This is why the food they eat is 90% produced by themselves. The vegetable and fruit garden is wonderfully productive and, though to begin with I balked at the idea, I found the food interesting and certainly filling. For M. Gayet it has saved his life and today he is an extremely healthy, slim and busy man. He wrote a book on the experience, but my French is not up to understanding quite such a deep volume, maybe he will translate it. Would recommend the B&B as it is has a beautiful garden, is immaculately equipped and they are such a great couple. Plus the other guests add that extra sparkle too.

Posted by Combes Caper 16:15 Archived in France Comments (1)

NEWQUAY TO ROSCOFF AND POITIERS

Up and running

sunny -25 °C
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Weds
Ferry very smooth again, which in that strange way made u wake more often! Not welcome was the loud music to wake you at 5.30. Grey and damp start to the day a and decks awash with water , considering the ferry was full everyone was off within 220 minutes.
Stopped off at Geant for delicious coffee and ficelle at cafe/bakers in there.

Going along towards St Pole was a WW2 tank shell at the side of the road, and on down toward Morlaix there were several roundabouts with unusual settings . The first was a group of model beach huts, and dun escape on pebble beach. The next had an Alice in Wonderland sized chair at a precarious angle. Then a circle of giant horse shoes on another, but was worried as they had not heard of our saying that to place horseshoes upside down means your luck runs out! Finally this lovely gem, near the Loire the far side of Langeais, at Pouance horse and cart!
Langeais has those interesting cliff face cave, which were used until pretty recent times, and the narrow iron bridge, accessed by local camping site. What chaos there must be when two caravaners meet?!
We were so glad to get down,after leaving Angers onto the bank of the Loire, it was so quiet and the river, being low tide, had sandbanks exposed. Along one section we saw a windsurfer flying along, by time got camera out - he was across the water! Then we saw our old favourite La Promenade. Sadly on its day off, and even more sadly it looked in need of some TLC.
Samur as majestic as ever, then passing Chinon we went by many vineyards with the workmen busy putting up welcome signs.
Between Descartes and Laurais we found a lovely road which skirted alongside the river, and reached the B & B by 4.30. Spent the evening chatting and learned a lot about the French stance on all the political topics everyone is talking about.
Thurs 5
Cherries with brekky, homegrown, realised a rarity in Cornwall, these were small sweet and juicy.
Took it easy all morning then went into Le Blanc, Roman town through which the Creuse runs. Wanderer along the riverbank in glorious sun. Though wind cool. French towns in middle of day peaceful and quiet as everyone busy lunching and chatting. Weir with cut through for kayakers.
Beryl and Paul our hosts in Laurais told us about Le Brenne nature reserve. We drove out there, the area is wooded, many etangs, and tracks for riding and cycling. One section we passed you drove in , parked and it was a vast area totally for bikes walkers horses and nature. Several villages within Le Brenne to stay and eat. Would like to visit again.
Quiet dinner and evening.

Having left Le Blanc around 10 we set off for Bourg en Bresse.
On d11 to Herisson came over hill to see two huge marquees guess what it was? The Foots barn Ttheatre company? Very impressive medieval village, just over the hill, sadly no nice place to have a snack . Which I fouond surprising as it must attract a lot of tourists. The rest of the drive after Montlucon was very wearing. We took the scenic route, right through lovely wine villages. Julienas, Morgon, and so on. However, we were tired and pressed on.
When we finally arrived in Moncet , a sleepy village, I looked around trying to find signs of life and heard voices from the Community Hall, on entering, it was just like turning clock back to St Columb Darby and Joan lunches. There were 30 or so pensioners all sitting around chatting, I finally managed to catch the eye of one of them and asked directions. In a flash, a torrent of words hit me at full tilt. Somehow I managed to focus on one voice and picked up where to go.

Extremely wearying trip as the A79'was shut and detour took us through some lovely hills of the Macon and julienas wine district , nut it was very hot and twisty roads and meant we were hours later than planned at our b&b Les Vignes.
Les Vignes is an old building with huge timbers, airy rooms and a cottage all set in a large garden complete with pond with dinghy. A good sized modern swimming pool, which was very refreshing to plunge into. Dinner was a multinational affair, we Brits showing ourselves up as all the others spoke fluently at least two if not 3 other languages. Earlier I had worried about our meal as it was vegetarian but it was delicious. We started with radish, leek and potato soup served chilled, followed by mixed salad and a huge soufflé with cheesey topping, after that a superb fromage blanc, and finally a home grown cherry clafoutis with ice cream . Walnut wine was served as aperitif and a Beaune with the meal.
The owners, he is a teacher of Esperanto, he sculpts, writes and paints. Madame runs the b&b, and they grow all the veg on site.

Posted by Combes Caper 13:55 Archived in France Comments (1)

Eleven Days to the off

Combes Caper

overcast 14 °C

Finally, thanks to Kylrenia , I have managed to enrol on travellerspoint.com and will keep you posted on this blog.

Posted by Combes Caper 13:41 Archived in England Comments (1)

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