Saturday, 24 August 2013

Lake Garda holiday, 10th to 21st Aug 2013.....

This is a very long post, so I'll keep any photos separate. 

SATURDAY 10th  - but actually it still felt like Friday night when we left home at 1:30am after Hubby had had a short sleep and I'd not bothered to go to bed at all. We met up with SisterS and bilK at the checkin desk, literally at the desk as they had arrived before us and got in the queue and we arrived at the perfect moment.  Bit of a hiccup at the Easyjet checkin though as we had paid for a suitcase each but on their screen only one case per couple was showing, we were not happy when they said £50 for the other two cases but nothing to do but get out the credit card and sort it out later.

We landed at Verona airport and were transferred to the Hotel Giardino Verdi in Riva in northern Italy and the top of Lake Garda, and our first impressions was the hotel seemed a bit small and basic but as we settled in we loved it as it had good working facilities like showers with plenty of pressure and non slip floors and almost silent air con and really helpful friendly staff. Just two things really that disappointed and that was no kettle in our room and very little choices for our evening meal but the food itself was very good. Have to say location was excellent as we were a very short walk to the lake or town centre with all the lively night entertainment, however we were just far enough away to not have all the noise keep us awake. Before dinner while our men enjoyed their first holiday beers SisterS and I had a mooch round the nearest shops. S eventually bought a bag turning it around and around and asking me if I liked it which I did. After dinner we all had a walk around but it had been about 22 hours since we had last seen our beds so we had a relatively early night.

SUNDAY 11th -  My birthday - deserves a page of its own :o)

MONDAY 12th - We had a lazy start meeting for breakfast at 9am then off for a walk along side the lake. The view here is so beautiful with the mountains either side framing the picture perfectly and add to that an atmosphere of unhurried calm and a gentle breeze keeping us comfortable and we could wish for nothing more! In the afternoon we went on a vineyard excursion. Maso Roveri was a wine tasters heaven as you kept your glass all afternoon and it was continuously being refilled. S and I were only having a sip of each one as a taste but Hubby and K left there quite merry and both bought bottles to bring home. It was very hot that day and no breeze which along with booze meant we all had another earlyish night even though we had been told of the spectacular meteor shower which would be about 2-3am, us oldies (yep me too now) just can't hack it anymore!

TUESDAY 13th - Early start as we needed to have breakfast then walk down to our pick-up point for 8:50am for the excursion to Verona. It's a beautiful and historic city but it really was a very hot day and everywhere was so crowded. We had a walk around when some of our group paid extra to go into the Arena (looks like the colosseum in Rome but smaller), we decided not to bother and looked around for somewhere to have a bit of lunch. All the restaurants on the main street were very expensive so we headed up a side street and found a really nice cafe. The only waiter there and he could speak no English so we guessed at menu items we half recognised and did the rest by sign language. The only problem we had was getting him to understand apple juice that SisterS wanted, until K magically produced the apple from his bag (he'd taken from breakfast) we all laughed and almost applauded, even the waiter, and he taught us "succo di mela" which S used successfully from that moment on. Because of my aching knee I had said I would miss the walking tour and meet them later, however, having rested at lunch I thought I'd chance it as it was only an turned out to be walking in the sun for nearly two hours so every time the guide stopped I looked for a seat or perch so didn't hear the stories or references to Romeo and Juliet, but the others enjoyed it and filled me in on some that I'd missed. Back in time for mugs of tea and beers then dinner.

WEDNESDAY 14th - We'd planned to have a lazy day which was lucky as we woke to thunder storms and rain. It was still warm and as it was market day we still meanderd amongst the stalls wearing our cagouls. There was a lunch stop and dinner but not much else, we all needed to rest up a bit.

THURSDAY 15th - OK rested up and off again! Adventuring out on our own without a tour guide this time, we took the ferry to Malcesine (pronounced Malcheznee) and then took the cable car up Monte Baldo. The views from the top were stunning! In the evening while walking around the lively Piazza we came across an area where they were giving away huge slices of water melon, it had been going on for a couple of hours by the time we got there and it was so sticky underfoot hahaha.

FRIDAY 16th - Another big excursion today, this time up into the Great Dolomites, the highest mountain range in Europe. It was a lot of time in the coach with a tour guide that was very interesting and entertaining. We made several stops, Ora for delicious strudel and coffee, this part of Italy used to be Austrian so the buildings look very Austrian. Next stop was Passo Pordoi which is about 200m above sea level, where we ate our packed lunch while K took the cable car even higher (we'll just borrow his photos lol). Last stop was Ortisei were we enjoyed both a church and a museum. A long day but not too much walking around and got back to our hotel in time for dinner. Then we quickly packed up all our belongings ready for tomorrow's transfer and managed a final wander round beautiful Riva at night.

SATURDAY 17th - We checked out, said our goodbyes to the two waiters, Georgio and Levue (sp?) who have looked after us all week then into our taxi and on to the ferry for the five hour trip along Lake Garda to Desenzano. This hotel was called Piroscafo. First impression was how modern it all looked and of course S and I were beyond excited that our rooms had kettles....she was so excited in fact she phoned our room twice, I later found out that the first call cut off because the lead on the phone was broken and she had to hold it in to make the call. Location was brilliant, totally central and the tables at the front looked onto a mini marina with boats bobbing and a pretty bridge. The other main feature was the hotel served breakfast but not our evening meal, for that we had a table at a fabulous restaurant just around the corner. We ate really well there and drinks were included this time too :-) Desenzano is at the southern end and widest part of the lake, so it felt more like looking out to sea. Have to say that the resort was beautiful and the hotel was really nice but the biggest problem for us was the slippery bath that K actually fell into and our very slippery shower that had a very deep tray I hated stepping down into especially as the door opening was far too small for my ample (but not massive) proportions :-(

SUNDAY 18th - This was a free day so we enjoyed being lazy. We found on the first floor a lounge area and an outside terrace which was perfect for a relax and chat while taking advantage of the free wifi. Our rep Federica came to give us our very own welcome meeting, but she only met S and I as our men had headed out in search of a bar with a big screen showing the football on sky!!! S&K's air con also packed up today by showering water onto the carpet, they reported it but it never actually got fixed.

MONDAY 19th - This was our last excursion, a full day in Venice and it was brilliant. Off the coach and a boat trip, then a Gondola ride, then more than two hours free time when we went into the Basilca, a stop for liquid refreshments then into another church, then a group boat trip around the lagoon, then we went as a group to a restaurant (saved us hunting down a meal with limited time and doubt we would have found anywhere reasonably priced). Our guide Barbara talked very fast with a strong Italian accent so was hard to keep up, she also walked very fast so we couldn't keep up with her walking either and had to focus on her daft toy mouse strapped to the top if her pole to see where she was in the distance, very funny. We went back to take photos of the famous bridge of sighs and then met up with the group again at 9pm for the exit boat trip to the coach getting us back to Desenzano after midnight. On and off so many boats and so many bridges to walk over with oh so many stairs and thankfully my knee survived.....well right up until we were dropped off the coach a reasonable walk from our hotel in a very wet storm and lightning all around, we were totally soaked and giggling like mad people when we reached our rooms.

TUESDAY 20th - Our last full day of our holiday. It was market day so of course we checked it went on and on, so many stalls. The men snuck off quite quickly and opted for beers over shopping, who would have guessed eh? We had had our buffet breakfast and then we had a three course lunch to make up for missing our paid for dinner the night before, later of course we went back for that night's three courses....I selected all the dishes that looked the lightest but still had to leave lots.

WEDNESDAY 21st - Breakfast and packed and checked out but left our cases in reception as we still had a couple of hours. We'd seen the top of a castle so decided to walk up the hill to it. It was quite steep on the road up but we found a slightly less steep route down and it was a lovely castle and an amazing view looking down across the rooftops to the lake. Best of all was we'd not wasted our last morning. Then all too soon it was the uneventful journey home with all the queues, checks, luggage manhandling, waiting and other airport stuff before and after the flight. Then home!

This holiday was booked through Thomas Cook but it was in fact an Inghams package holiday, and the four of us agreed that we would recommend Inghams as they were very well organised even with the luggage payment problem we'd had, as soon as we told the reps it got refunded and sorted for our return journey.

And if you want to see some beautiful scenery, here are some photos Photos

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