You may have noticed that it has been a bit quiet here on the blog. If you follow our adventures over on Instagram then you’ll know we were on holiday for the past 8 days.
We did a lot and we saw a lot and I’ll be breaking it all down into a few posts on the best bits. But for the moment, here are the highlights.
Sunday 20th March
We packed up the car with the luggage, the children, my dad and ourselves, closed up the house and set out on the first leg of our journey. A reasonably pleasant three hour spin down the motorway through the Black Forest took us as far as Lucerne in Switzerland. We spent the night in the Ibis Budget Hotel. Not much in Switzerland could be considered “budget” but the hotel was clean and quiet. The price for two rooms sleeping three people each was approx. 180 Euro without breakfast.
Monday 21st March
Eager to get on the road to Italy, we decided to leave breakfast till we had done an hour or so of driving. We had a few snacks in the car to keep the children’s mood up, but it was the lack of caffine and the dearth of places to stop that got to us adults in the end. After missing a motorway rest stop we pulled off to try our luck finding a bakery in the nearest town. We struck gold with a little bakery with outdoor seating on a sunny plaza with a fountain and a view of snow-capped mountains. This is where the holiday really began.
The remainder of the journey was slow and far less aesthetically pleasing than expected. Once we arrived at Isola Albarella, the island resort we would be staying at, there was general improvement in mood. After a quick trip to the on-site supermarket, an aperitif and the making of a simple meal of cold meats, bread, olives and pepperonata, the mood improved further.
Tuesday 22nd March
The morning was spent exploring the resort (I’ll be posting a review soon) and in the afternoon we headed for the nearby town of Chioggia. Now Choggia was recommended to me by a friend as “the little sister of Venice” and it certainly lived up to its name. There were canals, picture-perfect street scenes, cafes, bars and restaurants at every turn and we enjoyed it as much as the children let us.
The highlight for the boys was the working harbour where a crab fisherman showed them a live soft-shelled crab, a speciaity of the Venice lagoon.
On the way home we bought a net of mussels and feasted on a meal of mussels cooked in white wine, garlic and onions.
Wednesday 23rd March
In an effort to be a good parent, I decided to stay on site with the children for the day and do what they wanted to do rather than what I wanted to do. Early in the morming we went for a long walk to the marina, the playground and to the cafe, where they practiced their Italian. “Gelato per favore”. On the walk back we collected sticks and pine cones. Back at the holiday home, they played sword fighting with sticks in the garden while I played around with my crochet.
Cabin fever struck us all in the afternoon, so once The Bavarian returned from his fishing trip we drove to a beach in a closed up summer resort and braved the wind that lashed sand into our eyes, ears, shoes and hair. But it was fun and bracing and saved what could have become a grumpy afternoon.
Thursday 24th March
Taking a massive risk, we decided to venture into Venice with the children. The weather was great – sunny and about 14°C. The boys were great company and found Venice enthralling. We snacked on pizza as we sat on the edge of a canal, bought food for dinner at the Rialto market and rode the vaporetto up and down the Grand Canal. We wandered the streets around St. Mark’s Square, ate ice cream, bought souvenirs and marvelled at the value we got for our money. (I will defintely be writing a separate post on Venice with children).
Friday 25th March
We tried another child-centered day and hired bikes on Albarella. The flat, wide-roaded island was perfect for cycling on with children. Mid-morning we took a break for prosecco, lemonade and beer in the sun. Things were idyllic until, at some point, the day turned into a nightmare day with the boys. By the time evening came I was all set to pack up and drive home. Thanksfully The Bavarian talked me down. I threw myself into cooking a lovely dinner of baked goats cheese on lamb’s lettuce with pepperonata followed by spinach and ricotta tortellini with smoked salmon caper sauce calmed me further. By bedtime I had forgiven the children and was making plans for the weekend.
Saturday 26th March
The morning saw me headed for the on-site fish shop. Sunshine, a walk and coffee followed by buying fresh sardines, prawns and monkfish – what more can a girl ask for on holiday? Before heading back into Chioggia for the afternoon, I make a batch of bread dough. We planned on having a barbecue in the evening and the boys had asked for Stockbrot (bread dough wrapped round a stick and cooked over a fire). That evening was the best of the entire holiday, with us all in the garden, wrapped up well and huddled round the fire, baking our bread and grilling our sardines.
Sunday 27th March
Despite the time change, the boys woke early and rushed downstairs to peer into the garden and make sure the Easter Bunny had been. Their naughtiness on Friday seems to have shaken them a bit. They were so relieved that there was chocolate in the garden, they didn’t even nag to be allowed out and hunt.
After a quick breakfast of croissants and coffee, we set off for mass in Chioggia Cathedral. Three priests and a bishop said mass and we did our best to pick out words we recognised in Italian. The choir was excellent and the children behaved perfectly. On the way back to the house we stopped for an aperitif before our late lunch of monkfish with courgette risotto.
We put off the packing in favour of a lazy afternoon in the sun in the garden before taking a walk and stopping for coffee at the beach bar. Our final dinner on Albarella was a simple meal of prawns in garlic oil. Packing and bed followed.
Monday 28th March
The epic drive home began. 15 hours. Four countries. Two currencies. Mountains, valleys, ravines and waterfalls. Sun, snow and driving rain. From 5m below sea level to 1640m above sea level. It is a journey we won’t forget for a while. A fitting end to a memorable holiday.