We were on our own again after farewelling the Sandgrens, whilst Irene & Wally were off gallivanting around the Italian countryside for a couple of weeks. We packed into the trusty Peugeot and headed for northern Croatia. It was here we would visit the stunning Plitvice Lakes. A cascading number of waterfalls and natural lakes. Ez quite liked it while I was a little underwhelmed. Good but my ideal of some great lakes is being able to swim, boat, ski or fish in them. These you couldn’t do any of the above…just marvel at their beauty (sort of like going to a strip club)
Well, we did go in a boat at one point that was just so that we didn’t have to carry to kids too far. We stayed local before rising the next day to head to Slovenia. We were visiting it as it was the country between Croatia and Italy but we had also heard great things about it.
We crossed the border and could instantly see a change from Croatia. 15 seconds in Slovenia and Piper was already asking “are there playgrounds in Slovenia?”. Slovenia was clean, green and mean (not really mean couldn’t think of any other rhyming words). Forests a plenty, the air was crisp, you could say it was cleaner than the kitchen at an OCD anonymous meeting.
We had a just a couple nights here and checked out the Postjona caves. The longest caves in Europe, pretty cool but if you are a Sydneysider and have been to the Jenolan Caves when you were 12 – probably no need to see this one.
Piper and Evie – On the plus side these caves had a train. On the minus they were cold and you had to walk. Too bad, Jabba the Hut had to carry me the whole way. When will he learn?
We left Slovenia and headed back into Italy to rejoin Irene & Wally in the magical city of Venice. It was my first time in Venice and I loved it. For those who don’t know (that’s probably 1% of the world!) the whole city is on an island without cars, and the main ‘roads’ are all canals full of boats. The kids were excited to be leaving the mainland and jumping on a bus that was really a boat. There are a series of squares and little pedestrian only streets, with bridges over each canal. Having no cars means it is an easy place to get around and fun for the kids. You can get just let them run and hope they don’t get lost in the crowd of tourists (or hope they do if you need a break). We just had to keep an eye on Evie to make sure she didn’t land in the water after taking off in her fast running shoes.
We packed plenty into our time in Venice including: –
- Kicking back and watching the action outside the window of our apartment right on the Grand Canal (the main ‘street’ through the middle of Venice). The parentals had shouted this one and it was great to have a little luxury on the trip (although I can’t exactly say we’ve been slumming it). Gondolas, water taxis, delivery boats, valparetto all whizzed past the window and we got to watch it all from our little balcony (that photo below is the actual view from our window!)
Piper and Evie – It was great just to get a break from Dad’s driving. Too tight to use the air conditioning, continually using the windscreen wiper instead of the blinker and more grinding of gears than an Oxford St nightclub.
- We visited the outer islands of Murano and Burano. Both colourful and pretty islands away from the crowds of Venice. We took part in glass blowing on Murano and even the kids had a crack. Evie was the star.
Evie – I was the star, Piper sucked at it
- Got lost in the streets of Venice, as you do. It was only when we were leaving that I finally worked out where we actually lived. It was more confusing than Chinese algebra.
- Ez and I had also had a bit of couples time. No, not like that. The legends at my work had given me a parting gift of an Urban Adventures (check out www.urbanadventures.com ) tour voucher. Little quirky tours in cities all over the world. We had a food and wine experience around the back streets of Venice visiting the cicchetti bars. We pretended we were the same age as the 20 somethings on our group, taking selfies, suggesting we all do shots and singing she’s a pisspot every time the tour guide took a sip of wine. We even rode on a traghetto, a gondola for the locals where the custom is to ride across the canal standing up. Not known for my graceful balance I thought I’d be the one to send us in the drink, but alas we made it safely.
Piper and Evie- We got a bit of time away from the parents. We really needed it as they’ve been crowding us a bit lately. It gave us an insight into what it will like being 18. We loved it. Also Nonna and Papou actually care about us.
- We ate Gelato. We’ve ended up spending just under a month in Italy and would hate to think how much Gelato we have eaten. We always have an excuse. Lately it’s been we’re leaving Italy soon and need to get our Gelato fix in. For the first week it was ‘we’ve just arrived in Italy’. We also used excuses like ‘it’s a Wednesday’, ‘If the waiters name is Mario or Luigi’ we get a Gelato.
Piper and Evie – We can only laugh. I feel like we are being force fed Gelato. I fear our livers are like a foie gras experiment. Don’t get us wrong, we like it but every day?? It’s fun just listening to old triple chins make up a new excuse everyday.
Leaving Venice, we headed to Treviso to meet up with Irene’s Italian familia. We lunched in the stunning Prosecco growing area in the green hills of Treviso with Auntie Nita and cousins Arnaldo and Igenio. Beautiful food, great company (even if Irene had to play translator).
Evie is starting to come around to her dad. She commented this week after having continuosly told me that she doesn’t love me and only loves girls – ‘I love boys and girls, even my daddy’. I’ll take any win.
The kids are also starting to get obsessed with an Italian kids tv show called Masha e Orso (Masha and the Bear). It is completely in Italian but they sit there laughing their heads off at slapstick comedy in another language. Not sure if Masha and the Bear remind the kids of Ez and I?
We left Wally and Irene again as our next few nights would be spent apart. We checked out Verona and Milan whilst they headed to Athens for 35 degree heat. It’s quite funny now driving with the kids through any toll booth on the highway. Without fail they ask “is this another border? What country is it?”, a question we would never get back home. It was time to farewell our Peugot after a serious 2 month relationship. During that time we racked up a healthy 7200km, about as much as we do in a year back home in Erskineville.
It was now time to continue the next part of our adventure and head to the Greek Islands where we would spend our last week with Wally & Irene. I’m actually writing this post on board our Blue Express flight to the Greek Islands. We had to get up at 4:15am to get to the airport. It was then a free seating flight so I had trampled about 5 nonnas and then lay down across 3 seats to get seats for the family. I felt a little red faced when the flight ended up only being about ½ full. Don’t feel too sorry for us though as we now have a month in the Greek Islands to get over the early morning flight. More about that next time.
For more photos from this part of the trip, check out Erica’s gallery from Venice.