MARCH Ė JUNE 2004
INDEPENDENT TRAVEL BY SENIORS DRIVING EUROPE
To read Part 4 of the Diary and more photos Click Part 4 page.
This is the HALFWAY point of the trip.
Today we drive to Tours in the rain nearly all day and about 12C. We take the toll road in France which takes us to Le Mans in a very roundabout way but is easier than going cross country. The toll road goes near Abbeville, then Rouen and to Le Mans and rains all the way. Then we take the provincial road to Tours Ė very easy driving and this is the first time since we left Paris that we are comfortable driving on the righthand side of the road. So it has taken about 2 weeks to get used to driving in Europe. After Le Mans the rain stops. Directions to the B&B chain motel in Tours are good (from the Internet and in the B&B motel directory) and we find the motel just off a roundabout on the Tours ring route. (Note B&B is a motel chain in France and is very good and are not B&B lodgings). Nearby is the Tours Nord shopping centre and we go shopping there. We have dinner at a Quickburger which is a French version of McDonald's. (510 Kms)
We finally get to sleep in! - instead of rushing off every morning. Then we visit the Chateaus of the Loire. Denise has a list of chateaus and off we go in lovely 19C temp. Driving is very comfortable on these country roads and we have bought a very good detailed road map of France (scale 1:200,000 Ė one of the best thing we bought on the whole trip), as it makes driving in France much easier.
We visit Chateau de Langeais, Villandry Castle and Potager Garden (this is one of the best chateaus with huge gardens), Azay-le-Rideau, Castle díUsse (Sleeping Beauty display in the castle, because the castle inspired the story) with a compulsory tour in French, Chinon Castle and Fontevraud díAbbey. Then a quick trip to see some troglodyte houses in caves nearby in Turquant, really unusual.
We have dinner next to the motel at a nice family restaurant with buffet. But it is spoilt by a bus load of Spanish Tourists turning up at 9pm wanting dinner. There isnít enough food left for them and the rude tour leader argues with the waitress, who is in tears and rings the manager. The manager turns up and the only common language is English. They argue over the price and what food is available. In the meantime the tourists have sat down anywhere and started eating whatever they can lay their hands on. Our dessert which we had ordered doesnít arrive so we cancel that and pay for what we had and commiserate with the manager. (70 km)
More Chateaus today, cloudy and 13C. We visit Chenonceau Chateau (excellent Ė another highlight), Ambois, Sharmont sur Loire, Chamboard (with weird chimneys and turrets, and also the famous double helix staircase), and drive past the city of Blois back to the motel (I am still not keen on driving into cities). (200 km).
We left Tours and drove to Limoges then to Oradour Sur Glane Ė which is a village where 500 inhabitants were killed by the Germans in WW2 and has been left in its original state as a war memorial. It is very impressive and sad, a highlight. We have lunch at a small bar in the new town and sit outside, about 13C and overcast. Then we drive through lovely scenery towards Gerzat. On the way we go through Bourganeuf and see the medieaval Zizim tower. We then get to B&B motel at Gerzat near Clermont- Ferrand, which was easy to find just off the highway. We then go to dinner in the town but only one restaurant is open and we eat there and have a nice meal. (500 km).
Today we visit Le Puy en Velay where there are craters everywhere in the countryside and the town is built on a volcano. We go over a high mountain pass and drive in low cloud with little visibility for about 5 kms. We get to the town and park in a small pay and display parking lot. There is a local market there and we wander around. Then try to get directions to the Cathedral. We walk up a long narrow stairway and at the top find a sign. We go in the Cathedral of Notre Dame du Puy but cannot find the Black Madonna which should be there. Then we climb to the Statue of Notre Dame de France (huge statue of Our Lady and child Jesus made from 213 cannons from the Crimean war and 16 metres high). Really impressive. Itís a sunny day and 13C. On the way back to Gerzat we go past a speed radar, then we visit the Jardin Pour Le Terre (World garden) at Arlanc. Before going to the motel a quick visit to the Puy de Dome, an extinct volcano 1650 metres high, we drive up the steep road to the top and get a great view of Clermont-Ferrand and inspect the Roman ruins which are there. (384 km).
Left at 8.30am for the hardest drive of the trip through the Gorges du Tarn. First we take the free toll road A75 to Aguessac where it ends, thatís why itís free. (It has since been continued across the Valley of Tarn with the worldís 2nd biggest suspension bridge.) We drive over mountain passes where there is low cloud and temperature drops to 4C. We get to Le Rozier and enter the Gorges du Tarn and drive along the river Tarn. This is hair-raising stuff, a narrow road along the river just wide enough for one car in places, several archways hewn from the rockface wide enough for one car and a thousand S-bends. This drive really hones my skill in driving in Europe. Several times we have to stop in a pull-over spot for another car to pass going the opposite way. The drive is about 100km through the mountains, lovely scenery and high mountains, but the drive itself is flat and at river level. We travel through Les Vignes to La Malene, to Ste Enimie to Florac. The weather was excellent sunny 16C. Then we head through Ales for Avignon (another B&B chain hotel in the suburb of Le Pontet).
At Avignon we strike trouble finding the motel. We have good directions to the hotel but we canít find the beginning of the Avignon ring route. So we drive into Avignon across the large Bridge coming from Ales, at the end swing right to where the ring route should be but donít see anything that looks like a highway. We go round in a circle and back up the road we came on and back across the bridge. We canít get back onto the other side of the road until there is a roundabout about 5 kms away. We then try again and same thing, donít see anything that looks like a ringroute and back up the other side across the bridge. We check our map of Avignon and try the 3rd time, I decide to take another road after we swing right, and yes! it is the ring route, a tiny street with a small sign that said Rocade Charles the Gaule Ė did I know Ďrocadeí meant ring route? After that we follow the ring route for about 9kms looking for Le Pontet (the suburb where the hotel actually is). It was quite funny but frustrating when we think back and luckily we didnít get into a fight. Avignon is very windy and we are very tired. (480 km).
At Avignon it is time for another sleep-in. We don't have a big agenda. We drive into the city and find a parking station near the Old City. We walk around just quietly to relax and we visit the Palace of the Popes, walk along the City Walls, and check out the Bridge at Avignon. We also walk into the city centre and the main shopping street. It is 22C when we leave Avignon for a drive to Arles and parking is easy (Pay and Display). We look at the Roman Amphitheatre which is now used as a bullring. Also the remnants of a Roman Theatre and the Notre Dame Cathedral and walk along the river where there are tourist cruise ships. From there we drive to Aiges-Mortes a dead town (which has been preserved) in the Camargue. It is full of tourists and we walk the town and city walls. From there we drive to the Aqueduct at Pont du Gard. The sun is nearly setting and we walk across the Aquaduct to the other side then back again, a magnificent structure. (203 km).
Today we are going to visit another 2 towns of the Provence and check out the Roman structures. First to Orange which is an easy drive. We go to a patisserie for a bite of breakfast and then we check out the Ancient Roman Theatre which is excellent Ė still used for performances today. Then in 26C temp we drive to Nimes and park underground. Then exit is near McDonald's and a large indoor market. After lunch we go to Roman Amphitheatre now a bullring. Huge building and in good condition - a highlight. Then visit La Maison Carre a Roman temple and up the street look at a church. I really like Nimes and have visions of living here. In the evening back in Avignon we have dinner at a nearby Camponile Hotel restaurant. This street has about 4 hotel chains and a variety of restaurants and the Camponile restaurant is open to other tourists. Then in our motel room we watch the European Song Contest on TV.
Another big drive through mountains today with 26C temp. We leave Avignon but canít find the right road. However we go in the right direction and we do find Fountaine-de-Vaucluse using our good map book and check out the source of the river. Then to Digne les Bains and we then follow Napoleonís route (in reverse) when he went from Elba to France. It's a nice drive through the mountains and we go through an 1148m mountain pass and there are lots of S-bends and switchbacks. Then we drive to Grasse and to another B&B chain motel at Villeneuf-Loubet near Nice. This is the 4th B&B we used in France and the quality has been excellent. We check in at 3.30pm and have a ground floor room with back door so we easily carry our luggage inside from the car. We then drive to the town of Villeneuf-Loubet to look for somewhere to eat but nothing is there. So we follow the signs to Nice and look at the beach south of Nice. The beach is very stony and no sand. On the way back we get lost and I didnít bring a map in the car (we were just going for a little drive!). So we look at a directory board along the street and ask a passerby and finally get back. (290 km).
Today we visit the famous French Riviera beaches of the Mediterranean. We drive the toll road to Ste Maxime and then the local road along the sea to St Tropez. The traffic is enormous and we go walking pace for about 8 km. We finally get to St Tropez and park in a huge parking lot. We walk into the town and discover it is the local Saintís day and at 11 am there is a big parade with men and women and children dressed up in costumes and they carry the statues of saints. We then buy some filled rolls and drinks and leave the town and drive a few kilometres and stop at an empty part of the beach which is sandy (not stones). The Mediterranean Sea is wonderful - deep azure blue! Matching the blue sky. We then drive on and the traffic is very heavy, we stop at Juan les Pins and inspect the Marina with hundreds of million-dollar yachts.
Then drive to Cannes where the film festival is on this very week! There are 3 lanes of traffic and we cannot get a park anywhere, canít even stop to look for a park! So we forgo Cannes and drive to Nice, it is now about 5pm and rush hour traffic. We just follow the hundreds of cars in front of us while I check out the map. We follow the Nice coast around the harbour and Denise suddenly turns into a vacant kerbside park! Amazing. I walk into Nice to find a chemist to get some anti-inflammatory cream for her shoulder. We then walk to the Nice market square for a romantic dinner (40 Euros). After the market closes at 6pm, the stalls are removed and the square hosed down and about 20 restaurants set out their tables outside in the square. On the way back to Villeneuf-Loubet we get lost (again!) when I take a wrong turn in the dark, but we get back on the N7 highway and back to the hotel. (205km).
This morning we left the hotel and drove the toll road for a while then turned off for Monte Carlo (Monaco). In Monte Carlo we visited the Garden Of Exotic Plants. We then took off on the toll road again to Italy and drove over about 50 bridges and tunnels. Luckily the Renault has automatic headlights so we didn't need to turn the lights on and off manually. This was quite tiring driving through all the tunnels. We exited the toll road (paid 20 Euros) and easily found the winding road to Monterosso del Mare on the Cinque Terre (five earths) which is part of the Italien Riviera. The last 500 metres into the village was extremely slow as it is very narrow and steep and we often had to stop to let cars pass. At the Hotel Punta Mesca they locked up the car for 2 days (no visitors cars allowed) and we booked into our really lovely room. Then went for a walk on the beach and had pasta dinner with local white wine, excllent! (cheap meal at 22 Euros)(220 km).
Today is the day of the Cinque Terre Trail!
This is the 11 kms goat track between the 5 villages and takes a full day to walk, a big effort. The weather was warm (24C) and at about 9.30am we took the slow train from Monterosso to Riamaggiore. The train was 25 minutes late which is normal for Italy. At Riamaggiore we bought our pass for the walk and set off at 10.45am. There were about 500 people leaving at the same time but very few made it to the end. Some people walk 1 or 2 villages and then take the train.
The first part of the walk from Riamaggiore is very flat and easy, then after Manarola the walk goes up the hills 400 metres and down again to sea level - repeated many times. We then walked to Corniglia along the track which at times was 30 cm wide, continued onto Vernazza where we stopped for an hour for a nice lunch under the umbrellas on the foreshore.
The last track back to Monterosso del Mare was difficult but from the high vantage points on the trail you get tremendous views of the whole coast and all the villages. We managed to get back to the hotel at 5pm and flaked out. As a reward we had a big dinner at the local fish restaurant Ristorante Belvedere. We had fried stuffed anchovies (which are just excellent) and fried prawns also with other fried fillets of fish. The local white wine from Cinque Terre is really first class and we had lots. (45 Euros).
Today we had a quiet day. It was the local market day, so we walked through the tunnel to the Old town and looked at all the fabulous local produce and sampled some. We also spent lots of money on souvenirs to take home. The first time we have done any souvenir shopping. Then took the noon fast ferry to Riomaggiore which takes 30 mins. There we explored the village and took the ferry back to Monterosso in the afternoon. After that we had another excellent fish dinner at the Restorante Miky, recommended in the travel guides (booking required). (85 Euros, dearest meal of the trip).
This town is just filled with young people and backpackers. The streets, beach and Esplanade is full of them. All nationalities, German, Dutch, French, Italian and American. There are 6 Aussies in our hotel. They also did the walk yesterday.
This morning I was ill with upset stomach and vomiting, possibly due to the seafood. Nevertheless we must continue. We delayed our departure about half an hour while I got a bit better, then took the car from the lock-up and drove slowly up the winding road. The Cinque Terre was certainly a highlight of the trip.
Back onto the toll road to Pisa where we had to get a parking disc (disco orario). This is a blue clock-like disc where you set the time of arrival and put it on the dashboard for the parking inspector to view. I visited a nearby service station to get one and the guy searched high and low and finally found one. He gave it to me free although they usually cost about 5 Euros. Most European countries use these parking discs in designated Blue zones for limited stay parking (check the sign). We then walked over and saw the famous Pisa Tower and Cathedral and Baptistry and a huge display of market stalls selling souvenirs.
Then to Florence and to our hotel which is actually a convent (Di Sante Elizabetta). The nuns have put en suite bathrooms in the rooms and let them out to tourists. It took 2 hours to find our accommodation because the streets are all one way and buzzing with motor scooters! We had to ask directions twice and finally drove happily along Vialle Michelangelo, however the traffic was heavy and we couldn't see any house numbers from the car. So we kept driving to the top and parked at the Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking Florence. Denise stayed with the car and I walked 2 km back down the road until I found the convent and booked in. Then back uphill 2 km in 26C heat where Denise had just about given up seeing me again. We drove the car back and parked. Then a quick walk to the Florence city centre to see the wonderful Duomo, Bell Tower and Baptistry. The Bell Tower (Campanile) is a magnificent building, a highlight! What a day we've had. (240 km).
On Saturday we started at 8am at the Galleria Uffizi (which we had booked on the Internet). On the Friday there was a Museum strike so that when we scouted out the queues yesterday for getting into the Uffizi there were no queues or signs since everything was shut. So in the morning we didn't know which queue was for ticket holders and which for the public when we arrived because the signs were not out. So we queued at one door with about 500 people and then Denise looked around. After about 15 minutes she spied a queue on the other side of the road! That was where we were supposed to be! So we crossed over and entered the Museum in about 30 seconds.
After the Museum we had lunch in a wonderful fast pizza shop right on the Duomo square, where a cold piece of pizza (pay by weight) is warmed up and we could eat in a large downstairs room. Then walked to the Capelle Medicee where the famous statues of Dawn and Dusk are. Then to the Musea de San Marco where Fra Angelica frescoes are.
At 4 pm we had a booking for the Galleria Accademia where we saw Michelangelo's statue of David - absolutely magnificent! A highlight. Then went back to the Duomo to admire the Bell tower by Giotto again - it's excellent. And at 5pm went to Mass (in English) at the Florence Cathedral (Santa Maria del Fiori). After Mass a walk to the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge filled with crowds and souvenir shops and then back to our Convent (with separate beds).
Sunday walked up the hill to the Piazzale Michelangelo to look at the view over Florence and the copy of Michelangelo's David statue. Lots of tourists there! Then to the Santa Croce Basilica where Michelangelo is buried, then went into the Cathedral Baptistry to see the bronze doors (copies however), and after that checked out the Duomo Musuem where the real bronze panels of the doors are and many original statues (the ones in the Cathedral are copies). After that walked to a Rose garden and an Iris garden and then to the Fort (Belvedere) but nothing much to see there. We probably walked about 100 km in Florence to do all this but at least no driving! We did a lot of walking but we didn't know then that Rome would be worse!
This is another hectic day driving to Rome. After a sparse breakfast, we say goodbye to the Nuns and start off to visit San Gimignano. We have some trouble finding the right road but find the village ok and there is a large parking lot. We check out the 13 towers and the central square and then go to Siena. The Tuscany countryside is beautiful and we enjoy the drive in 24C weather. We have good directions to the parking in Sienna from a travel book (Rick Steve's) and follow the signs to the Football Arena. However it is full already so we keep on driving for another kilometre and turn into a sidestreet and Denise finds a park and for free. A perfect spot as we can easily walk into town from there. We check out the huge Piazza del Campo full of tourists and the Siena Cathedral. Also have lunch eating take-away pizzas, 2.50 Euro per piece - our staple diet in Italy.
After Siena we continue on the highway (but not the tollway) towards Rome. It is very narrow and we are behind a truck for many kilometres. Denise wants to visit the Park of Monsters in Bomarzo but I think it is too late for that - she wins. We drive throug many small villages and past the Lake at Bolsena. We then look for the turnoff for Bomarzo but have a problem finding it. I finally turn up a road in the general direction which doesn't look like Denise's map at all! At an exit we go right for several kms which is the wrong way. A quick U-turn and back the other way and we see a sign for the Park of Monsters. This was Denise highlight but it is disappointing.
Back onto the tollway for the final run to Rome Airport. We find the exit off the tollway to the Airport tollway about 20 kms outside Rome and drive quickly to the airport. Directions to the longterm parking are excellent and we park and get a parking ticket from the machine. We leave our large luggage in the car (hopefully it is still there when we return) and have our 2 cabin bags with wheels with us. The longterm carpark is huge with about 6000 cars parked there. We wait for the free shuttle bus to take us to the airport terminal where the railway station is also. Of course we get off at the wrong stop and look for the railway station. After 10 minutes I figure out where it should be and we walk to find it. Someone helps us find the correct platform and to buy tickets from the newsagent and then to cancel them in the orange machine on the platform. We hop onto the train which is very comfortable with airconditioning and in 30 minutes are at the Rome Termini Station. We catch a taxi to take us to the Campo de Fiori near where our hotel is. We book into the Albergo Del Sole a Biscione - a nice room but up very narrow stairs then right around a central sitting area to the back.
It's about 7.30pm but now that we are in Rome we want to see St Peter's Basilica immediately and we walk to it and admire it. Then walk back to the hotel and have a nice pizza dinner with beer and sit outside in the narrow street. (400 km today).
ROME - Chaotic transport, sirens on ambulances blaring all day long, motor cycles, aching feet, stress, depression, tears, buses being cancelled, terrible shower.
However, there are some good points. The hotel is on Campo de Biscione right next to the Campo de Fiori in the middle of Rome with lots of good restaurants. The hotel is actually on the site where Julius Caesar was murdered. There is a statue of Giordano Bruno since he was burnt at the stake there. So there is history in every street in Rome.
This morning at 8am we had booked a Sistine Chapel guided tour. However last night we couldn't find the instructions where to meet the tour. So a few frantic phone calls home to Adelaide to our son to look on the computer for the relevant emails, but he cannot find the instructions. I insist on going to the Sistine Chapel anyway to see if I can spot the relevant tour. We get up at 7 am and walk to the Sistine Chapel but there are thousands of people already there for different tours from different companies. I look around and ask around but it is an impossibble task! So at 8.15am when the tours are all going into the Chapel we are on the outside looking in. We give up and walk back to St Peter's Basilica and sit there on the steps both very disappointed!
But we are now really early for a visit to St Peter's so we have a good time looking at all the wonders of St Peter's Basilica, the hugeness impresses me and also statues and sights. After that we walk to St Ignatius church and St Ambrogio & Carlo church, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. There is a a Cat Sanctuary where hundreds of cats live in the Area Sacra dell' Argentina which is a large Roman ruin in the centre of Rome. We then take as Bus tour for 2 hours and drive past all the famous sights. After that we walk back to the hotel and then have dinner in a small restaurant off the Campo de Fiori.
After our disapointment of yesterday things can only get better. We have a Tiber River cruise booked for 10 am and get on it. It is ok but not much to see along the river. We then walk to the Piazza Navone and the Pantheon (again) and then the palace of Montecitorio. Rome is like Florence in that we do everything by walking which is tiring. However trying to discover the bus routes to all the different sites is probably more difficult. The gelati is excellent with flavours I have never seen, so I indulge often.
We are fortunate that we managed to book a tour of the 'Scavi'. These tickets are hard to get and we booked months ago on the Internet. The Scavi are the excavations found under St Peter's Basilica and is an ancient Christian burial ground. The remains of St Peter himself are said to have been discovered. In the afternoon at 3.15pm we walk to the side of St Peter's and have a wonderful tour of the underground passages and treasures discovered there and we are very happy at the end of it. We go for a walk to the Piazza Venezia and have dinner back at the pizza cafe near the hotel.
We then walk to the Piazza Aracoeli where the special tourist bus for the Appian Way and Catacombs leaves tomorrow morning to check out the bus stop. Back at the hotel we discover that we have the worst shower of the trip here. It is in a bath but with one of those metal snake shower attachments. So we struggle with this contraption and wet the whole bathroom floor and walls. After that trial Denise goes down the hall to use the public shower and finds a perfectly good shower there.
Obviously we must see the Sistine Chapel before leaving Rome, and having seen the entry process on Tuesday, we decide to go this morning at 8am and to join the public queue. The public opening is at 9am after the tours have entered, but the queue is not excessively long. This works out very well and we get in the Vatican Museum about 9.15am. We walk through all the rooms and finally get to the actual Sistine Chapel which is packed with people and guards warning you not to take photos. We stand and stare in awe at the famous ceiling for ages, and then get a seat along the wall and read through the guidebook and identify the various parts of the painting on the ceiling.
We finally leave the Sistine Chapel and continue our plan to visit the Catacombs and Appian Way - we take a taxi to the square which we checked out last night. It is just before 11am and we stand at the busstop and look at the handwritten notice stuck on the busstop about the bus wondering what it means. Another tourist says they have heard from friends that the bus only leaves from the Train Station bus stop today at 12 noon. They hurry off walking to the Train Station. We decide to follow the first couple and run up Via Cavour towards the Termini Station. It is 24C and uphill and it's a long way (1.6Km)and we get there at 12 noon totally exhausted and look for the special Appian Way tourist bus. There is nothing in sight and we spot the first couple we met at an enquiry desk. We hurry over and listen in, the small bus is cancelled for the day for maintenance (they only have one bus?) but a big bus will leave soon, but cannot go all the way up the Appian Way because it's too big! However the bus will get to the Catacombs at 12.45 but as they close for lunch 1pm - 3pm we have to wait there for 2 hours before seeing the Catacombs. Only in Italy!! Forget it, we go to McDonald's for a coke and burger.
Having recovered from our run through Rome, we visit the Church of St Peter in Chains with its great statue of Moses by Michelangelo, then walk to the Colosseum (where there was hardly any queue) and view it, and also see Constantine's Arch, Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, Circus Maximus, the Mouth of Truth in the Santa Maria in Cosmedin and Campidoglio on Capitoline Hill. We then take a bus to St John Lateran Basilica and admire this very beautiful Basilica which is the church of Pope John-Paul. We then take a taxi back to the hotel. We have now discovered it is best to walk to sites and then take taxis back home - quick and cheap and less tiring.
This morning we finish our 3 days in Rome and go to Frascati which is only 20km away. The reason is to see some gardens by car in the Rome district and then not having to come back to the city where there is no parking. First we take a taxi from the hotel to the Rome Termini and there catch the train back to the Airport. Then the shuttle bus to the longterm parking and there is our car safe and sound. We pay 56 Euros for 4 days to get out of the carpark. Then take the autostrada to Frascati where we find the Fast Hotel which is on the highway at a car stop (oasis) where there are restaurants and petrol and a motel.
We then drive to Hadrian's Villa which is a huge Roman ruin of a palace. The weather is excellent and warm 25C. After that we drive to Tivoli and park the car, and try to find Villa d'Este. There is a sign to it but we get lost and wander about for 20 minutes and finally get there. This is a magnificent garden on a steep hillside with hundreds of fountains. We enjoy the quiet peaceful garden with cooling fountains everywhere. We then drive back to Frascati and the motel and have dinner at the Autogrill which is major chain of restaurants at car stops throughout Italy. Very handy when driving on the autostrade for coffee, food and groceries. (140km).
We left Frascati and drove on minor roads to see Garden of Ninfa, an abandoned village (in 1281) turned into a beautiful botanic park. According to the guidebook info it should have been shut this week but was open. That's Italy! There are many visitors there and we luckily can get into the next group to tour. Entry is only by guided tour. We look at the beautiful garden and ruins of buildings. Getting back to the autostrade was a nightmare, we folllow the signs to the Autostrada up a narrow mountain road with hairpins and switchbacks. After doing this for about one hour we get lost at a town called Sezze but regain our bearings and find the tollway.
We are heading for Pompeii which is just past Naples. Approaching Naples we get hit by a thunderstorm and huge downpour. Traffic was reduced to 80kph by the heavy rain instead of the usual 140 kph. The temperature drops to 15C. We didn't know which exit to take but Denise is examining the map and works it out. We luckily found the right exit for Pompeii and also found the motel Villa Dei Misteri, after asking directions at the service station. The hotel is only 200 metres from the entrance to Pompeii ruins so we made a quick visit for a few hours (the rain had cleared). It was free to enter because this past week was Italian cultural week and all Government parks and Musuems were free, so we saved about 100 Euros on fees all up. Nearby the exit is a stall selling lemons and lemon drinks. The lemons are huge, about 13 cm in diameter. This is the lemon region of Italy. They also sell a drink Granite de Limoni in the stalls which is an ice slurry with lemon, very refreshing and very cold. This is sold everywhere in this part of Italy, (and also in Cinque Terre).
At 7pm we watch a huge procession going down the main street which turns out to be the Rosary procession going to the cathedral Sanctuary of the Holy Rosary. Then we have dinner at the hotel. After we see fireworks in the hills overlooking Pompeii. (310 km).
To read Part 4 of the Diary and more photos Click Part 4 page.
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