Marg and Leigh's travels around the world

We are two retired women from New Zealand, busy travelling the world. Our quest is to experience other cultures before they are changed beyond recognition, and see endangered animals and environments before they disappear. We hope you like our blog and enjoy our exploits. We sure have had fun getting here.

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Last Few Weeks!

We wanted to escape the unexpected cold over the last couple of weeks of our trip, so we drove from Austria down to Lake Garda in Italy. The pretty drive around the side of the Lake reminded us of Wellington with lots of windsurfers whizzing along in the stiff breeze! We soon arrived at Peschiera de Garda where it was much warmer, and found that it had a lovely old town surrounded by fantastic medieval walls. The town is pedestrian only & just lovely. We visited the Fish Museum which was a real eye-opener about the local history on the Lake & river. We then enjoyed a wonderful lunch at a local restaurant overlooking the river, and with a colourful owner who specialized in the sweets menu, which we tried and loved.   

We found a great campsite in Camping Belle Italia, where we had a lovely spot right on the shore of Lake Garda. We had great views and so relaxed for ten days or so, and did nothing! This was our second campsite in this area - the first one was for one night only, because we found it was very boring with campervans being crowded in behind cabins and with no outlook over the lake.

Camping Belle Italia is a very large and well-laid out camp, but it was not overfull - unlike the other Italian campsites we experienced in the peak of summer! There were many German & Dutch people at the site and we can understand why they were travelling south at this time of the year given our brief experience of the cold autumn temperatures in the northern parts that we fled from!

We enjoyed this campsite which had a wine and olive oil tasting event which was great. We didn’t have to drive anywhere of course, so we tasted a lot and ended up buying 2 bottles of red, 1 of sticky and 2 lots of great local cheese. We wanted to also buy local olives but they were sold out! We got to watch the All Blacks/France final on the big screen in the bar there - albeit commentated in Italian! A day of rain was not a bother as it was so much warmer & we were happy to relax & catch up on the blog & emails. We really enjoyed our time here - relaxing & sorting out stuff before heading north again.  

Finally it was time to make a run for the Czech Republic as the homewards flight date was drawing ever closer. We trucked on the autostrada over the Brenner Pass and back up to Salzburg. We were feeling very pleased with ourselves as we knew how to find our way to the Salzburg campsite we had previously stayed at. Imagine our dismay as we pulled up at the gate to find it closed for the season!! We scanned our camping books & could only find a couple of sites that were a long way out of town & our hearts sank as it was getting dark & we were tired from travelling all day. After a couple of wrong turns & back tracking we spotted a camp sign which lead us to a very attractive site around 5 minutes from the original one. What a relief to find it!  

The next morning we travelled on through Austria & into the Czech Republic.  We really noticed the scenery change, especially around the Czech border where it looked much poorer. We navigated our way into the lovely town of Ceske Budejovice to our friend Klara’s place, where we were to leave our van for the winter. It was lovely to catch up with Klara and Vasek (and not forgetting Max, their dog), for a lovely home cooked meal.  

We had cleaned, packed up our stuff in the van & packed our suitcases so the next morning it was just the final bits & pieces before heading to the train station & a train to Linz & onwards to Passau in Germany. The train was very efficient even though we had to do part of it by bus as they were working on the track. We were a bit anxious as we had to change to another train in Linz but the bus driver got there ahead of time & all was well! We arrived in Passau, a gorgeous 13th century town, to find our hotel right across the road from the railway station so it was an easy walk to get there. It was a great place for a break in the trip & we had the chance to explore the town the next day before catch the ICE fast train on to Frankfurt.  

Our biggest problem on boarding our next train was finding the right seat as we had great difficulty working out which was the correct car! Finally after lots of up & down the carriages we found the right one! They were very comfortable seats & we had a great view of the passing countryside. The train took us right to Frankfurt airport to catch our plane to Singapore. After the usual waiting we boarded our flight & winged our way to Singapore for a one night stopover. We had a wander around Orchard Road the next day & then headed out to the airport again to continue onwards. Unfortunately after waiting in a queue we were told that Qantas staff were on strike and our flight was cancelled, and that we would be put up in a hotel until they resumed work again! We really didn’t want to staying Singapore any longer so Leigh managed to get us onto a Jetstar flight to Auckland & then on to Welling ton. We were seated in the second to back row of the plane & discovered that it has an interesting way of bumping & whipping around when hitting turbulence! Not the most comfortable flight we had ever been on but we were heading home!   

Finally Wellington & seeing Mike, Andrea, Callum & Luke waiting for us in the arrivals area! Fantastic! They had bought our car to the airport & it was really, really strange being so close to the road in our Audi, after travelling for over 7 months in Vanni. The left side of the road was a little strange as was working out which way to go around roundabouts & corners. However, we made it to the supermarket & then onto Tawa to catch up with the family as it was Callum’s 8th birthday. Great to be home but not as warm as we thought it would be so waiting for summer to come while planning for the next trip back to Vanni who hopefully is all tucked up safely in Ceske Budejovice.

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