A Travellerspoint blog

Verona. A Beautiful City.

Advance warning: Post contains lots of words. Feel free to just look at the pictures.

sunny 26 °C
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Now that we’ve settled in and had a chance to explore the place, we thought perhaps we should update you on life in Verona. Yes, despite any impressions from my last post it seems there is more to Italy than crazy roads.

What an amazing place. You can’t go two steps anywhere in the town centre without stumbling over something beautiful or ancient or both. The entire town centre is alive with history.

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The town is surrounded by a river acting as a kind of moat and fortified walls remain in many places. Some partially rebuilt after earthquakes, wars and age took their toll.

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The pavement is even interesting (maybe just to me)? It is either cobbles or pink and white marble – often with prehistoric fossils visible in its surface. The marble is lovely to roll on and despite all the warnings the cobbles have been mostly a breeze in the chair as they are so close together. The pebble cobbles suck but thankfully they are very rare.

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The melding of the old with the new is seen all around. Above you can see a block from a some old Roman building blocked into the corner of a shop front, as well as an old Roman archway that bridges one of the city streets. Every now and then you can see four metres below the current level of the city to old Roman baths etc.

In the Piazza Erbe you can see in one view over 2000 years of history from a Roman fountain to a 12th C clock tower to 14th C buildings, Gothic and everything in between with a brand new development currently underway.

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There are churches everywhere. One per family I think. The one above is St Anastasia. Below is a blurry shot of its clock tower;

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This kind of detail is on every square inch of Duomo Church (sorry – blurry again);

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Inside the churches (more blurry images – I’m letting Clare take the photos from now on);

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It seems that ancient beauty is such a common commodity over here that it doesn’t get quite the same respect that it might if it were found in Australia (where a two hundred year old building is worthy of a plaque and a viewing platform). Below is a photo of the ‘ancient’ Teatro Romano;

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I think I’ve talked enough now so here are the rest of the images;

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(gardens)

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(Castelveccio – 14th Century castle)

Apart from all that we are both well. Both our bumps are still getting bigger. We are looking forward to some new English speaking company and are planning a few upcoming trips. We both have Italian mobiles now so call us any time, it’s your dime and we’d love to hear from you.

Simon

Posted by fishitaly 08:20 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Italia

We have arrived in Verona! A greater feat than we realised…

sunny 26 °C
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Our first few hours in Italy were lost under a shadow of mad drivers, driving on the wrong side of the road, driving in a car with hand controls that allow me to brake and accelerate at the same time, no map, no petrol stations that sold maps, and no idea how to get out of Milan and to Verona.

After driving around Milan for almost an hour and getting nowhere, we headed off on a motorway following a sign to Venice and hoping for the best. At the first petrol station, Clare managed to ascertain from the guys there that we were indeed heading towards Verona.

So I’m trying to learn how to drive with weird hand controls in a crap box that doesn’t like to accelerate very quickly, whilst facing 3 or 4 lanes of traffic (depending on the mood of the drivers) determined to run me off the road. Apparently the speed limits are a rough guide of what a grandma might drive. Indicators seem to be implied by the fact that you are about to be squished into the side barrier by a truck. Compound all this by the fact that our hire car has German numberplates. Does anyone like the Germans? Even off the motorways it seems that driving in Italy is an extreme sport. Try driving round a blind bend at 60km only to have some fwit almost take you head on because he attempted the same corner from the other direction at 120km only to find that he wasn’t able to round it at that speed so he just swung wide into the oncoming lane. This happens daily. We tend to limit our driving to a bare minimum these days.

Still, miraculously we made it to Verona safely and found our apartment really easily.

Enjoying a 'home cooked meal' in our lovely little apartment;
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Clare was very excited by the amount of pre-prepared Italian meals in the supermercato - we spent about 3 hours in there buying some amazing ingredients including this lasagne which was better than most we've had in Sydney restaurants, and a 2L bottle of Merlot which cost less than $3! (and actually tasted pretty good!)

Verona is full of beautiful scenery - but we have not gotten around to finding out what it all is yet. This is some old church at night;
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And now for a few randoms of the Arena.
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Finding internet over here has been fun...
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That little bush scene above was some old Roman Ruin as far as we could tell. Lost in the middle of some hospital grounds with no plaque or sign. It seems Roman ruins grow on trees over here.

I have managed to find time to join a local protest. Not sure what I was protesting. Probably the legalisation of cannabis judging by those in attendance.
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As promised, here is the first of the belly updates; (15 weeks)
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Baby or gelato? You be the judge. (Clare is trying to get through every available flavour of gelato in her time here).

And a balloon.
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More to come soon. Hope all are well.

Simon

Posted by fishitaly 06:50 Archived in Italy Comments (1)

Oxford and the Cottswolds

Cute Cottages, Castles and Churches

sunny 23 °C
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Before leaving the UK we spent a couple of days driving through Oxford and the Cotswolds, a lovely part of the English countryside.

I (Clare) thought it would be nice to stay in a cute little country hotel with charm and character… little did I know that this usually means slightly out of date décor, and staff that really don’t care that much (think Fawlty Towers…!) So shortly after checking in to our hotel just outside Oxford we decided to duck into town to explore rather than enjoying the country ‘charm’.

We had been warned parking in Oxford was quite difficult, but given our hotel staff member’s inability to give any useful directions (she didn’t even know the name of the street we were on!) we thought we would just wing it. Eventually we found our way into town and discovered a multitude of disabled parking spots – in fact, the only free parking spots in town were disabled. So we parked in one, put Simon’s Australian permit on the windscreen, and headed up the street, only to bump into a parking inspector. We explained to him where we had parked and that we only had an Australian permit, and he said that would not be a problem. Great! Feeling confident we proceeded on our way and explored Oxford, seeing some amazing college grounds and then having a drink in the sunshine at a nice little pub on the river.

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Upon returning to the car, we were mighty pleased to see a parking fine smacked on the windscreen. Thanks parking inspector. We have since written a letter and sent in this picture so we’ll see if we can get off it…

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That night we had a meal included at our luxury hotel, which was surprisingly good although they seemed to think we could each manage a whole roast chicken to ourselves! We were told it was a baby chicken. We think perhaps they accidentally killed his parents.

The next day we spent driving through the Cotswolds, taking in the beautiful scenery and amazing old buildings.

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And last but not least...

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Enough photo's for you?...

Posted by fishitaly 06:24 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Summer in London?

We brought some lovely weather with us to the UK

sunny 25 °C
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At last another update. Sorry for the delay but we've had trouble finding internet access in Verona where we are now. First a quick catch up from our time in London...

Since we had brought some respite from the heat and humidity to Hong Kong, we thought the least we could do was bring some respite from the chill in London.

Luckily we had been prepared for warm weather in Hong Kong so we were able to bring out the summer singlets out for a few days in London that topped 25 degrees.

How beautiful is Springtime in London!

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A few highlights from London...

We made the most of our week by catching up with friends -

Having drinks outside a classic English pub in the balmy weather with GP, Em, Tara and Caius.

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Visiting the Borough markets and tasting some delicious cheeses... Clare was quite distraught when the assistant refused to serve her any more stilton after hearing she was pregnant!

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Eating lunch in the church grounds at Borough markets with Georgie, Tara, Em and Jane Don who was on a flying visit through London.

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This is Clare and Em checking out the Peacock's lovely garden.

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And visiting Daniel and Robyn in Clapham...

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We also got to explore some interesting parts of London including the gothic Camden markets - check out these boots...

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And enjoyed private box seats at a hillarious musical called Avenue Q...

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We also had a great time catching up with the rest of the gang including Jo & Tom, Tinks, Karen, Amy, and Clare's relatives and spent a couple of days driving through Oxford and the Cotswolds - more photos to come soon once we can get our internet up and running.

Verona is going really well - apartment is excellent, Simon is coping remarkably well with Italian drivers and we are slowly discovering our Italian language skills.

Hope to write more soon!

Simon and Clare

Posted by fishitaly 04:23 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

More HK pics

overcast 19 °C
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Thought we would upload a few more pictures from our time in Hong Kong.

Much to our surprise, it was quite cold in Hong Kong. Lucky we were prepared for cold English weather and got the woolies out.

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Simon thought it would be good to taste Durian, the fruit reknowned for its bad smell. We all had a try and agreed it tastes like creamy mango custard, with an onion and garlic aftertaste. Thankfully Alex took a liking to it and finished off the whole thing!

Matt and Simon were enjoying the after effects all afternoon, even after another tasty yum cha lunch!

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After checking with 3 difference sources including the HK tourist information centre, we were told the Peak tram was DEFINITELY wheelchair accessible, even to the extent of them telling us the width of the tram doorways (26 inches!). We headed there confidently, only to find the tram had 2 steps to get on and off! Simon was lifted up the steps and we climbed the peak - shocked by how steep it was, but rewarded by the great view even on such a cloudy day. (oh, and more yum cha!)

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I'm pretty sure the highlight of our visit for Matt and Simon was getting to play with Simon's new toy - a BB gun that looks like the real thing. Must admit I even had a try and it was quite fun.

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And we couldn't have been happier when we arrived at the airport to discover Simon's dad had upgraded us to "Upper Class". Here's a pic of us on Simon's seat which flipped down to a flat bed - it will be hard to ever go back to economy now!!!

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Will update again soon with some news from London where we're having a great time catching up with everyone.

Clare

Posted by fishitaly 02:50 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (1)

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