Welcome to Europe

Well it’s been awhile so I thought I’d bring the blog up to date since we’ve been in Europe.

As always being back in Europe is wonderful. Everything works, everything is nice and the food and wine is some of the best in the world.

There’s history and beauty almost everywhere you look and clothes and shoes to match.

There is of course a downside to all this. Expensive petrol and road tolls make travelling more stressful than other countries in the world. Hotels are way too expensive for us to consider so every night is in a tent (which still costs 7 times more than the most expensive hotel we stayed in Africa). There is also little in the way of excitement as we pretty much know every place we go to will be beautiful, it’s a hard life 😉

Upon arriving in Italy from Egypt, the first thing we noticed at the airport was how much skin we could see….and colours…. After being surrounded by men dressed in white and the few women we saw dressed in black from head to toe for the last few weeks… the colours, clothes and tans of European holiday makers was a bit of a shock. People seemed quite happy too!

We spent a week with Katie in Siena which was beautiful. She had an awesome little apartment right in the centre of the old town with a terrace over looking a beautiful church. We drank several spritzers per day and watched the craziness of the Palio which we were lucky enough to be there for.

We also ate salami, prosciutto and Buffalo mozzarella, lots of it…but the spritzers were definitely the outstanding feature of our time in Siena.

With so many church bells in Siena it didnt take long before we decided they were actually Aperitivo bells, telling every one it was time for an aperitivo, which we dutifully obeyed. The aperitivo bell generally started any time after 12pm and if we ever felt we missed it we made our own bell by chiming two glasses together.

After a week of this behaviour Dean and I said goodbye to Katie and caught a bus to Bologna, one of our favourite cities in Italy.

The aperitivo bell also rang here however not quite as early as it did without Katie by our side 😘

From here Dean caught a train to Ravenna to pick up the bike while I walked around shops and got a hair cut and colour 😳

Picking up the bike was relatively straightforward, however at some stage between leaving Egypt and arriving in Italy our petrol tank was drained, the bike had been riden 10kms and at some stage fallen over (evident from scratches on the pannier and our world map ripped) and anything that wasn’t locked to the bike stolen (luckily not too much) 😖

Dean returned to Bologna, picked me up. We basically picked a point half way between Marostica and Bologna and decided on Ferrara.

Ferrara is now also one of our favourite cities in Italy (another one)

An old wall surrounds the city and a huge castle stands in the centre with a moat around it – absolutely stunning. There was also a ‘buskers festival’ on which added to the atmosphere and reminded us of the Adelaide fringe, there was even a guy from Australia busking there.

We loved Ferrara so much we decided to spend another night however rain was forcast and our tent is only almost waterproof now so we decided to push on to Chiara’s house in Marostica.

As always it was lovely to see her and Bianca and be back in Veneto. We enjoyed almost a week hanging out, catching up with family and getting things fixed on the bike.

As always it was sad to leave but we had to pull ourselves away and get back on the road. We spent a couple of nights at Deans Zio Bepe in Varese who spoilt us with beautiful food and wine before heading in to Switzerland.

Switzerland.

So beautiful with luscious green grass, water turquoise blue, perfect colour coordinated flower boxes blooming with geraniums and petunias in the windows of every Swiss chalet, waterfalls cascading from the mountains and cows with big bells around their necks (not quite sure why?!)

It’s perfect.

A bit too perfect.

Everything is ordered, everyone follows the rules and everyone is very sensible.

We found it a bit boring.

I certainly won’t be racing to a Swiss party… If they even have them?!

But most of all, it’s so bloody expensive! I’ve never seen so many tourists in the supermarkets! In a lot of cases the cost of food was similar to Australia but some thing’s even made Australia look cheap. With a coffee at $7 and camping at $55 it gets a little stressful. The place is beautiful but we didn’t feel it warranted the cost.

The Alps are just as beautiful in Italy and France and are a fraction of the cost (and a little more fun!)

There were many suggestions of returning to Veneto 😁

So we spent several days in Switzerland trying to dodge the rain, travelling between Interlaken and Bern. We travelled over some beautiful passes and did a hike in the mountains to try to work off all the good stuff Italy indulged us in.

We’re now in France in the Alsace region which is stunning. Lots of little mediaeval towns with more perfect flower boxes and cobbled stone streets and some great cellar doors to visit. The cost of food and camping isn’t hurting our soul and even though we can’t afford to eat in a restaurant, we can afford a beer in a cafe. I feel not being able to do this takes away from the experience of being in a place. I love to watch people work, eat, drink and interact with each other and see how life unfolds. This is what we missed in Switzerland.

The rain is still controlling our itinerary and the weather seems to change hourly. We were originally planning on going to the UK but have decided to head south to Morrocco while the weather is good – the cold and rain has reminded us how uncomfortable it is to ride in bad weather.
It was raining too hard to cook tonight so we had no choice but to go to the cheapest restaurant in town. We got away with only spending €35 but that was still more than we wanted but with no chairs or tables and only mud to sit in we had no other choice!

I’m currently lying in our tent, it’s raining and we’re waiting for drops of water to start to land on our heads.

I’m going to put some earplugs in now so I can pretend it’s not raining and we’re not going to get wet!

We still discuss retuning to Veneto 😍

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