July 18th - 21st
In the morning said our goodbyes to Roma, picked up the car from airport and had a 7 hour drive to Venice in front of us. We arrived late afternoon, parked car in a multi storey at end of bridge (connecting mainland to Venice) and were savvy enough to use our GPS on walking mode to find our hotel in amongst all the canals and bridges. Our hotel room was big, the hotel itself was in a old building with big wide corridors, set on a quiet street, with the canal at our feet.
We headed straight out in search of some yummy food. We ate at a restaurant on the canal banks, then wandered around before having another galati to finish off the night.
In the morning after a decent sleep we headed out to see all the sights of Venice, we wandered to San Marco Square (St Mark's Square), the Bridge of Sighs, the famous Rialto Bridge, and took a private Gondola through the canals and out on the Grand Canal. We had read you could pay €60 for a private gondola or ask others to share, we asked a few people if they wanted to share but they declined, as my mum and dad had given us money for coming away, we decided to splash out.
We both loved Venice and would like to go back sometime. But it was time to leave and get on our way to next overnight destination, on the way we stopped off at the pretty town of Verona, made famous by Romeo and Juliet. Verona was beautiful, on the banks of the Adige River, there were old buildings, a lively street market, street performers which were awesome, we couldn't work out how they were all balancing! And of course Juliet's house. I got a love heart stitched with our names outside her house, which was pretty cool.
We then carried on to Albavilla just south of Lake Como, where we stayed the night, we were overlooking a massive lake and it was very pretty, the hotel was rather grand looking, we didn't do much in Albavilla as we arrived quite late after a late start then over 3 hours of driving.
Left Albavilla in the morning and headed to the nearby Lake Como. We drove around the lake looking at all the fabulous houses which were oversized and hiding behind a forest of tall trees. We were actually hunting around for George Clooney's house; we think we spotted it but not sure. (We had googled it, so we knew what it looked like). We took the opportunity to get the bikini on and sunbathed for a bit, and Shan got in the lake for a swim! The lake water comes from the mountains and I'd led to believe the water was rather chilly, even for July.
After Lake Como and headed to Milan for a few hours, we went inside the Milan Cathedral or the Duomo di Milano in Italian. It took almost 6 centuries to build and is the largest in Italy. We walked around the shopping mall looking at all the designer shops, and even went in the Mercedes store. We also went to see the San Siro stadium from the outside; this was a must for Shan as the San Siro is AC milan and Inter Milans home ground.
Continuing on the drive, we drove through Bologna, home of bolognaise ragu sauce and lasagne. We were thinking of stopping but it was a very quiet town and we weren't hungry (believe it or not).
We had a mammoth drive ahead of us as we planned to drive all the way to Amsterdam! We drove out of Italy, through the famous Mont Blanc Tunnel, through Switzerland, right into the middle of a very busy Geneva, where a fair was in full swing- at 1am! Took the autostrada in and out the German and French borders and over 1000km and 12 hours later we arrived in the Netherlands!
Now in hindsight we should have taken the alternate route to Switzerland but Shan really wanted to drive through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, but we didn't realise how much the toll would cost, and ended up on the side of the road collecting all our spare change to pay- it was €44! Arriving in Geneva we had no money and a long drive ahead so we thought it best to withdraw money at a cash point- forgetting it would be Swiss Francs! So we just took a little out, exchanging it back later. Also at the time we didn't realise but we should have bought a vignette to drive in Switzerland. A vignette is required by law if you intend to use the Swiss motorway, you can purchase it online or at the border. Stickers for a day, a week or a month do not exist, only for 12 months at a cost of CHF 40 (£37!!)