Thursday, 25 December 2008

2004 Within These Walls - Not A Capulet (Or Montague) In Sight

Today the weather is more muggy than it has been so far. No worries as we walk to the train station and purchase our tickets from an automatic machine and head off for Verona. The train has separate compartments and also pull down seats in the corridor, even so it was standing room only when we boarded. At least Verona is only 23km down the line.
On arrival we head for the town centre through this gateway, the Porta Bra.
In the centre there is an open square with restaurants around the perimeter, whilst in the square itself is a fountain with a plaque proclaiming that Verona is a designated World Heritage Site.
This however is dwarfed by the Anfiteatro Arena. The Arena is one of the best preserved theatres from Roman times and was used for Gladiator fights. When we entered the centre of the Arena, Ian said that he felt just like Russel Crowe in the film Gladiator when he first entered the Colosseum to do battle.
With seating for several thousand people, opera takes the main stage during Summer, although none of us are fans of this type of entertainment we would like to see such a show, sitting in the cheap seats, where I'm sure there would be a wonderful atmosphere. Other music events also take place and when we were there the stage was being set for Henri Mancini. A review of a previous concert from a famous musician in 2006 can be read here.
Climbing to the top of the Arena gives a bird's eye view of the square
and surrounding area.
Lunch was eaten at one of the restaurants in the square. Our waiter spoke good English, with an American accent, could it be down to the amount of cable tv he watches?
Whenever we are walking around a new place we endeavor to look up at every opportunity. This bodes us well back home as above the standard shops that are in any city centre, for example, HMV, Marks & Spencer, Primart, etc, there is usually some interesting detail above many shop signs. One day I will photograph some buildings around Nottingham (mental note taken!). Here in Verona, here are some of our findings:

The final photograph shows the young boys Romulus and Remus, who as legend goes were abandoned by their parents the priestess Rhea Siliva and Mars, to be raised by a wolf, so begins the story of the Roman Empire. This plaque can be found on a street corner not too far from the Arena. In the background it looks like the plaster is being prepared for painting. Of course not all of our findings are above head height and a trip would not be complete without a photograph of something like this.
Once again Guzzisue stops to take some shots of a church. There are several churches in Verona worth shooting and we cannot remember which one these pictures are from but the detail is interesting. We were unable to venture inside as a wedding ceremony was taking place.

When in Verona, do as the Veronans do. I'm sure that is how the saying goes, we could not go to see Juliet's grave as there was a wedding taking place there also. Maybe it's me but to be wed by the grave of a dead fictitious character from an old English play does seem a little bizarre. Each to their own. We console ourselves by finding Juliet's balcony instead.
Passing through a passage way to reach the courtyard where the balcony is, lover's from across the world declare their undying devotion by leaving pieces of paper or graffiti on the walls.
With time against us we head back to the train station with an open promise to ourselves to return to Verona sometime as we feel we have only scratched the surface of this wonderful city.
Romeo will have to wait until the next time.

Biker Ted's Christmas Present

Come on Ian and Guzzisue, I want to open my present.
Here prezzie, come to Ted

I can see you.
Got ya!
Let's see what I've got.
The wrapping was a little difficult for my paws
Wow! A scarf with my name on it.
Make that my full name.
How cool do I look!
See you all later, I'm off for a quick run. Many thanks Lise and Happy Christmas to everyone!

Monday, 22 December 2008

2004 Within These Walls - No Sleep Til Afternoon

Sometimes we have a day when nothing happens and this was one of those days. We were late getting ourselves motivated, thus getting down to the train station too late for a train to our intended destination as there were no trains between 09:25 and 12:25.
Having failed to catch the train we trouped off to the bank to change some travellers cheques, but the cashier could not do this in their branch so directed us to another bank. The second one however was closed due to industrial action. With no alternative but to use the hole in the wall approach even that took two attempts. Guzzisue and Ian both managed to draw out some euros, so at least they can pay for the hotel.
By now there was not enough time to go anywhere except to an ice cream parlor for a large alcoholic ice cream. It was then back to the hotel with the intention of picking up our books and heading down to the waterfront to read. I'm not sure if the sun got to us or we were just more tired than what we thought but we just fell asleep for some time. At least we got some sleep so that we were refreshed for tomorrows visit now that we knew the train times.
There is very little to say about Peschiera del Garda itself. It is situated on the bottom right hand side of Lake Garda and has a population of nearly 9,000. The old centre is surrounded by bastion walls some 2.3km in length first built in Venetian times, and later strengthened by Napoleon and the Austrians. With having a bus and train station it makes an ideal base for visiting other towns in the region, for example Sirmione. There is also a ferry service to transport you around the lake.

At this moment in time I would just like to send the Seasons Greetings to everyone out in blogland and I look forward to your continuing comments in the New Year.
I received a present from Lise in Norway and given permission to open it on Christmas Eve. I have however restrained myself and will open it tomorrow when Ian and Guzzisue open theirs.

Monday, 15 December 2008

2004 Within These Walls - Gardaland Revisited

It does not feel like three years had passed since our first visit to Gardaland, so a return was necessary as we were in the area. The price had gone up a little to 21 euros, still much cheaper then Alton Towers and much better value. Gardaland is the largest theme park in Italy and claim that they are only second best to Disneyland, but will soon be better. Having never been to Euro Disney it is not for me to pass judgement........yet.
For photographs from our previous visit click here.
Within a few minutes of arriving, via a free bus service from the bus station at Peshiera we were in the Wild West area talking to a horse that was being cleaned out by its owner, Alan. Alan was working there as a Native American, having his own show doing various rope tricks.
He was quite pleased to have the opportunity to speak English, being of American-Ceylonese (now Sri Lanka) birth. His father was in the American forces based in Ceylon. Alan was married to an English woman from Bideford at one time.
We spent a good half hour talking about places he had lived and performed in. Alan also recommended the best shows to see and places to visit within the park, one of these being the Bubble Show. It is amazing what can be done with soap bubbles and cigarette smoke.
The above trick Alan told us how it was done but I will not spoil the illusion. The bubble that can be seen in the last picture is slowly rising towards the ceiling, having come out of the dome bubbles on the table top.
This year Gardaland had a new attraction, Fuga Da Atlantide, which is basically a large log flume.
When we look at all the detail that goes into the design of the rides in some of the theme parks in Europe I think you can see why we do not often venture to many back home.
Throughout the day we managed to go on several rides along with a couple of shows, including the Bubble Show mentioned above.
As we were about to depart we met up with Alan again, who suggested having a beer, well it would have been impolite to refuse. He also insisted that we accompanied him to the Ice Show (Mary Poppins) and the Magic Show.
Before going our separate ways we swapped phone numbers and one day we may meet up again.
During the Summer period Gardaland stays open until midnight with all the rides illuminated, parades, fireworks etc. Sometime we may even stay till the end.
To finish with here are a couple of shots of the surrounding area taken from the Space City Tower ride.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

2004 Within These Walls - Pass, Pass, Stop

While we were breakfasting a group of Dutch motorcyclists came down in their leathers all prepared for their days ride after they had eaten. Although I was all dressed for the off Ian and Guzzisue never get changed into their riding gear until they are ready to leave. The Dutch group were a little bemused when Ian appeared a little later wearing his leathers and carrying our panniers.
Outside the hotel two men had the same look on their faces as Ian wheeled the Guzzi to the opposite side of the road so Guzzisue could get on. We often get bewildered looks as Ian's legs are so short that he cannot get both feet on the ground, here in Splugen this looked even more strange due to the steep camber on the road.
Undaunted we set off and headed for the Splugen Pass. On the Swiss side of the pass the road surface was very good and we passed through their boarder crossing without hindrance but got stopped at the Italian boarder while the guards checked our number plate. The Skat sticker strikes again! The Italian side of the pass has got to be the worst we have travelled on. There are very tight blind hairpin bends, awful road surface and no lighting in the many tunnels that are on this pass. It was fortunate that we stopped in Splugen and not tried to do this pass last night as there were very few villages to stop over in and we would not have made any of them before nightfall. This is one pass I cannot see us doing again for a long time!
We slowly head south and our final pass of the day, travelling towards Bresica, where we pick up the motorway as we will be able to pick up some petrol during siesta time. Pulling off the motorway at the junction for Peschiera Del Garda we try to get in at a couple of hotels, the first was too expensive, the second was full, so it was in to the Tourist Information Centre who found us a hotel, Albergo Favorita, located 30 minutes walk from the town centre along Lake Gada's shore line. This will be our base for the next four nights, giving Guzzisue chance to do some washing.
Below are some of the photographs Guzzisue took while we walked along the water's edge during our stay.