Onwards from Venice …

After Venice we decided to chase good weather, as the forecast for that weekend was rain. So we headed west, across the appalling roads that Italy has. After Slovenia they seemed even worse, and the fuel prices varied hugely,being the most expensive we’ve seen with unleaded rising up to 1.61€ a  litre.

We ended up thinking that we’d head for a lake, and as we’d been round one of the larger ones before we thought smaller is better and hopefully less touristy. We also wanted to cross the border into France higher up than we came over, so headed past Turin.

Avigliana it was then, with a couple of small lakes that you can get to easily.  We cycled around one, and around what we could of the other one. It was beautiful and peaceful, and water certainly seems to have been the theme of this trip away. 
Checking the weekend weather again, we decided that with all things considered, with the road conditions, and massive fuel prices although we had planned on seeing more of Italy,  that we’d head for France, and I found a couple of vide greniers to stock up on my bling! We made it to a couple of small ones before a rainstorm kicked in, so took refuge at an aire for the rest of the day. 

I also have to add at this point that on all our trips across borders, we’d never seen much police presence, but this time we noticed quite  few coming into France. We also saw an abandoned van which was being looked at by police, totally full of all sorts of things, piled high with push chairs and bicycles. It seemed to have broken down and just been dumped. 

 From there it became a weather chasing time, and we actually ended up on the south coast of France, the Cote D’Azur, not that far from Marseille. A tiny fishing village called Carro,  has a great motorhome aire right on the beach for about 9€ per night. We thought we’d stay one night and ended up staying for 6! It was just so peaceful, small harbour with a fish market each morning – with horrendously expensive fish so we didn’t buy any. But the area reminded me of Spain,and a run between Calpe and Moraira on the coast road. 

It was aptly named for the Cote, as the beaches were beautiful,  some quite rocky, but clear turquoise seas. We found a snorkeling kit at a local Decathlon store, and saw 100‘s of little fishies in the local cove. It was lovely and hot and we got a couple of swims in, our first time properly in the sea this year! It was also the perfect place for the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and most evenings you could people watch everyone rushing for their cameras to capture the scenes of fire red skies over the sea.

With another bad wave of rain and storms due we found some more vide greniers inland slightly not far from Nimes for that weekend, so moved to a town called Beaucaire which we have been to before and has a free aire on a canalside. 

We found I think 6 out of the 7 vides that were listed, which is a good strike rate, and I got lots of new bling for my next brood of Baglets.
We’re due back home on 22nd October,  as sister Sarah and her hubby Tim are out for a week on 25th. So slowly we are making our way back. With a watery themed trip it seemed right that we should get in some of the canal du Midi again,one of our favourites in this part of France. 

We started by joining it near Agde where we stopped on a small private aire near the coast. Agde has a great network of cycle lanes which we have finally sussed out how to find on our Maps.Me apps on our phones. So now we’re basing where we stop around where the best cycle routes are for us. We did cycle up part of the canal at the previous stop,but the wind was horrendous by part of the damn leading up to Avignon, so found a voie verte instead which was a old railway line they had done up as a cycle track, wonderful! ! Flat, tarmac and sheltered!
Bruces birthday was celebrated by cycling from Castelnaudary to Montferrand on the canal. We’d cycled the other way the previous afternoon,and seen loads of ducks, a water rat and also an otter, which we startled and saw a couple of times – a first for us both. 

The birthday cycle was rewarded with sightings of lots more ducks, coypu (found the correct spelling now!), and some of the most stunning scenery on a very quiet canal. 

The last time we were in France in May the season was just starting up, so there were loads of canal  boats being chugged around – Le Boat being a favourite with most as a hire company. Horrendously priced but seemingly very popular! We have hunkered down for 3 nights here at Castelnaudary as the forecast is bad every where and we have electric at the moment and are on good tarmac ground so no risk of getting stuck!


Romantic Venice. 

From Slovenia we had decided that we would stop at Venice. We had planned to do this a few years ago when we came to Italy on a fly drive, but it was impractical to park a hire car up which ws costing us money to ‘do’ Venice. So as we were going past it made sense to stop off at a campsite outside and then scoot in. 

We knew that Venice seems to exist not only as a thing of beauty, but a tool to extract money from tourists, so our plan was to really enjoy ourselves but cheaply! 

The ACSI site cost us 19€ a night which includes electric. So we arrived at lunchtime, and scooted into the city, parking the scooter on the only free bit of parking there with about 200 other scooters and motorbikes! 

But still, sadly, in Plaza San Marco, just a coffee can cost you between 8€ and 12.50€ and that’s before the cover charge or service charge as well. So we saved our money and partook of our flask of coffee which I had made up to go with our picnic lunch. 

It was exhausting walking around taking in the Grand Canal and all the other famous places you’ve seen in films etc. 

We decided that the next day we would buy boat tickets which last the day, as we had a full day, so could make more use of them 20€ per person for 24hrs, (So our running total if you allow a alittle for fuel on and off the island was 80€!). 

Once we has sussed out how to use the boat buses we went down the Grand Canal, then out to Burano Island, then back and around the main island going south.  We were saving the north side for the evening, as we went back to relieve Mutley, who was fabulous through all this. His routine is that he gets along walk each morning which then exhausted him for the rest of the day,being 13 he tends to sleep the whole day anyway! So we went back to see him, and walk  and feed him again before heading back for the evening boat trip, seeing the twinkling lights was great, especially as it meant the grand houses were lit up from inside, showing their plush interiors and very grand chandeliers. 

It is such a romantic place, we sat having a little picnic, listening to a Jazz Quartet at one of the  Grand Cafes just off San Marco and they were amazing. I am so glad we managed to get 2 cracking days of weather there, as the forecast for the coming weekend is really bad, but at least we had an amazing time. I would certainly return, and explore more, probably on foot, as I think you can see more.

Beautiful Bled. 

​We finally managed to get a weather window clear enough to give us a few days at Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj which are in the far north west of Slovenia in the Julian Alps (named after Julius Caesar.

It is a really stunning place, a little touristy,  but if you can rise above that, then you can appreciate it. 

Luckily for us the campsite was at the opposite end to the plethora of hotels,  so we carefully picked our spot and made ourselves comfy for a couple of nights. 

The following morning we made an effort and got up early to go to the Vintgar Gorge, which is a must do if you’re there. About 5 km north of Bled,up quite steep hills, is the gorge, at only 4.5€ to get in, it’s worth getting there early before all the coach loads of tourists get there! The gorge winds down and around with wooden walkways precariously positioned to make the most of the views.

If you get there early then you get less people in your pictures! We walked the whole 1.6km each way,with a little extra at one end to take in the waterfall which is at the finish.

The afternoon saw us scooting at additional 27km or so onto Lake Bohinj. This is a more natural and much less touristy place, and so tranquil. Sadly you can’t get all the way around, but if you wanted you could hire a kayak or boat to take it in from the water.

 The excitement here was that the duck bread I took with me went on the local goat herd! They were all over me, so I stank of goat once they’d cleared the bagful of rather solid stale bread. 

The following morning we had to check out from the campsite,  but  we managed to cycle the other way around the lake and take in a coffee, feeding the ducks some leftover bread. From here we stopped off at Ljubljana again, this time with Spela and Janis for the night, and we had a fabulously late evening, meeting several of their friends and chatting late into the night before heading east to Nova Mesto. 

Janis has recommended a small village called Kostanjevica na Krki, on the Krka river. It’s a stunning little island village, hardly anything there, but that’s what made it so beautiful.  Traveling back we followed a route which went along the Krka Valley,and it really was worth the trip across the country.  

Slovenia is a wonderful country, I’m sure we will return, and the pride that the people have in their houses shows – each one was pristine, with flowers and cut lawns, a stark contrast to some of Italy or Spain.