Monday, 23 July 2007

European Grand Tour 2007 Day 6

Day 6

Back in the car again today. We headed off quite early and drove down the side of the lake to Tremezzo. We stopped and had our breakfast on a bench right on the lake front. There was a fabulous view over the lake towards Bellagio:

Bellagio from Tremezzo, originally uploaded by xrrr.

We went to Tremezzo specifically to go to Villa Carlotta. The world famous (aparently) villa and gardens.

Villa Carlotta, originally uploaded by xrrr.

This turned out to be a great move. We had the entire gardens to ourselves (aside from the gardeners) and as it was early it was still relatively cool so it was a great time to stroll round the magnificent gardens. Every now and again you would walk round a corner and glimpse a picture postcard view of the lake and mountains.

Villa Carlotta, originally uploaded by xrrr.

There was this strange huddle of turtles in a fountain that I thought was a statue until their heads moved every now and again:

Turtle Pile, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Right next door to the Villa Carlotta is the Tremezzo Grand Hotel. It looked like a great place to stay. We walked past the garage and it had a Ferrari and Porsche 911 (both British) parked up with a bunch of German Mercedes. Valet parking. Private lake front. Fantastic views. Needless to say, not cheap. Maybe one day.

Back in the car we decided to break up the journey to our next hotel on the west coast of Lake Garda by visiting Sirmione at the southern tip of the lake. Satnav set so away we go. For some reason that I can't remember we (I) decided to take the scenic route avoiding the motorway. Not a good move. We took the SP342 between Como and Bergamo. Not at all picturesque and full of lorries avoiding the motorway tolls. We got stuck in a few jams and I was getting a bit grumpy. We stopped for petrol, the man behind the till could not speak English (not a problem with my "numero tre per favore" of course :-) and asked me in Italian if I was German. When I said I was English he started jabbering something about Liverpool. I told him London as I assumed he would not know Guildford - despite the 65 Italian restaurants in Guildford.

Petrol and Pringles purchased it was off to find the autostrada to try and speed up the journey a bit. Eventually we got to the motorway, and we were off to Sirmione.

Sirmione, originally uploaded by xrrr.

The (rubbish) guide book described Sirmione as a beautiful medieval fortress village on a vehicle free peninsular of Lake Garda. "Like the dot above an 'i'". We parked up in the car park and walked the 5 minutes or so to the drawbridge.

Sirmione was horrible. It was really busy, full of tourists and full of annoying tourist shops that sell lace bibs with names embroidered on and snow globes and the like. Not sure they actually had any snow globes but there was lots of souvenir places. We stopped for lunch and I got a bit grumpy (again) because I had a grim ham and cheese foccacia (that was not actually foccacia) and Alison had a burnt pizza.

After lunch we started on the panoramic walk round the town walls but after about 5 minutes decided that we were not having fun so left!

Lake Garda, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Back at the car park I got the photo that I had promised my physiotherapist (who fixed my dodgy knee) of me, my car and an Italian lake. Well Dianne, here it is:

Me, my car and Lake Garda, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Alison was slightly worried that the accommodation I had booked for that night was going to be like Sirmione. I must admit that I was getting a bit concerned as we drove down the road by the lake. Fortunately things got better as we went further north. We were staying in a place called Gardone Riviera that turned out to be very nice indeed. We found our hotel, the Hotel Villa Sofia and parked up for the day.

Hotel Villa Sofia, originally uploaded by xrrr.

The hotel was pretty good, it had a slightly unhelpful desk person and the bathroom window was strangely not frosted so the road junction up the hill could see into our bathroom. The best thing about the hotel was that it was only 5 minutes walk from the historic part of the town. Quiet streets and no tourists (apart from us).

Gardone Riviera, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Gardone Riviera, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Before dinner I decided to leave Alison sitting by the pool and hike up the hill to take some photos of the view. Whilst I was stood by a gate to a house the only car to come along was a clapped out old Ford Fiesta with two old ladies in it. It turned out to be their house I was loitering outside. They started talking to me and I said "sono inglese". They saw the camera and muttered something about "uno photo" and started smiling. I responded with "bella vista, bella vista" waving my camera and they seemed happy that I was not paparazzi or a burglar. I wish I had asked if I could have taken their photo but I am always a bit embarrassed to ask total strangers if they would not mind me taking their photo - i.e. I have never asked anyone I don't know for their photo. Never mind. This is the best photo I took that involved me climbing up a 5 foot wall to stand on to get a good view when the coast was clear:

Lake Garda, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Shame I could not get another 5 feet higher so I could chop out that roof.

Back to the hotel and a quick shower flashing my bits to passing cars - no accidents caused - then dinner. We found a fantastic restaurant in the old town that served up the best meal we had all holiday. Off to bed as the next day it was the bit I was looking forward to all holiday. The mountains.

[All Photos][Next Day]

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