A Travellerspoint blog

Day 15-16

Venice to Arabba

semi-overcast 2 °C
View JT's 60th Anniversary World Tour on EMTHOMSON's travel map.

So nothing happens quickly in Italy – be ready for a 10.30am pick up means you might be on the transfer at 11.15am. Then a departure from the airport bus depot at 12noon – yes, you’ve guessed it try 1pm!!!!! No one was concerned as we weren’t going to get skiing anyway today, so we all just sat back and enjoyed the scenery.
Checked into Hotel Garni Serena – and we have great corner room. Got the ski gear sorted for the morning then off out to dinner, and an early night.
Up and away at 8.45am this morning. Great breakfast – fresh fruit and cereal, coffee and pastry (yummy), then hit the slopes. There are a 200 lifts in the Sella region (500kms of slopes) and we have a Dolomiti Superski ticket that allows us access to all this!
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Up the Arabba lifts towards the Passo Compoi Ongo – and a first run back down again to stretch our legs and for our guides (Diego and Alexi) to check us all out. We’re pretty much of a muchness which is great. So we head off towards the Corvara ski area, then up and over to the La Villa fields – quick coffee then up the Alto Badia. Stopped at an amazing church at the top – 2,043m. Then back down to a little restaurant for lunch – Utia Nagler Rifugio-Hutte. Then had to make our way back to Arabba.
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I forgot to put my ski trace app on for the first few runs – and then again after lunch for a run, but even so we did 15 runs, covered 23.9km and 4.5km of vertical. Great day, and the hot bath was well earned.

Posted by EMTHOMSON 12:41 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Day 13-14

Gatwick to Venice

overcast
View JT's 60th Anniversary World Tour on EMTHOMSON's travel map.

Early start to the day, and a quick flight and we’re in Venice. Unbelievable really – check out the floor of the baggage hall in Venice Marco Polo airport! Stunning.
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Quick check-in at the hotel, then caught the bus into Venice proper. And then just walked – with open mouths I’m sure. It was slightly foggy still, and not too many other tourists, so we had an amazing afternoon strolling around the San Polo and San Croce regions. Found the fish market! Saw some amazing buildings, and everywhere masks, capes and costumes for sale for the carnival. Unfortunately we’re going to miss it – but I think being able to walk around without the crowds had been fabulous.
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Back to the hotel to meet up with the Ski tour group. It’s a mixture of NZ and Aussies – and everyone seems to be keen to have a good time.
After breakfast on Friday, we all piled into vans to head into Venice to get a water taxi out to Murano for a glass blowing demonstration and tour. It was another foggy start to the day – but warmer than yesterday and the sun was trying to come out. The trip through the canals and out to Murano Island in one of those fabulous wooden launches was stunning. I know I’m going to run out of superlatives for Venice, but never mind. The factory we visited was family run, and specialised in chandeliers. The host was and ex-rugby player, and archer - so he and JT had a great chat. There were some stunning examples of their wares on display, as well as some amazing glassware, jewellery, vases, & sculptures. So glad we went out there.
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Another ride on a water taxi later we were back into the main islands again. Wandered through some side streets, checking out cafés to have a coffee with two other couples. Finding some really good espresso here, then onto San Marco & Palazzo Ducale – now I really have run out of superlatives! I’m not sure the pictures do it proud, but you get the idea.
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There are lots more photos of Venice in the photo gallery - check them out if you have the time.
Found our way back to the bus depot around 5pm (just on dark) and then back to the hotel. Off to Arrabba tomorrow, and the skiing begins.

Posted by EMTHOMSON 15:04 Archived in Italy Comments (2)

Day 11-12

Lots of race car stuff

overcast 4 °C
View JT's 60th Anniversary World Tour on EMTHOMSON's travel map.

As you probably know, there’s lots of race car talk happens when Oli and JT get together – no changes there. What happened this time is that I needed to get some gear for Targa next year so we headed up to Wrexham (south of Liverpool) to Demon Tweeks, a great on-line motor racing shop that has a big showroom there. So I tried on helmets, gloves, race suits, fire-proof undergarments – and JT and Oli looked at race seats, communications devices and other car stuff! Sarah was the chief scribe – so now we know what fits/works and hopefully can order the right gear when we get back.
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Stopped on the way back at a “Bell” inn – there are quite a number of these in England…..however, this particular one in Belbroughton, Jon-the-Pom aka Jon Tyler, actually knows! Small world! We all had a great meal, fortified for the rest of the drive back to Yate (or Chipping Sodbury for us)
Oli and JT then proceeded to do a pickup from Southampton that Oli needed to do (returning at 3am). As Sarah had to work the next day we both cried off that late expedition.
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So the last day in England began. JT and I were sad to leave the Cross Hands Hotel – it was a very comfortable, relaxing place to stay and all the staff were very welcoming. Then into Yate to say goodbye to Bill and Hazel – hope to see them later in the year on our Italy trip, they are a lovely couple who we’ll miss. A quick lunch with Sarah (sad faces all around, and lots of hugs) and then we were off to Gatwick.

Surprise side trip into Bristol to the dock area to see a bit of ‘Brunel’s England’ – a Bristol native, Brunel was an inventor from the 19th century who built the first iron clad steam ship to cross the Atlantic - SS Great Britain. When launched in 1843, she was the largest vessel afloat at the time.
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Then our driver took us to Gatwick – IBIS hotel for us tonight! It was sad to say goodbye to Oli too – we’ve had a wonderful time in the UK sightseeing together. Over 3000kms travelled, mostly at over 140kms per hour I might add, gotta love the ‘M’ roads.

Posted by EMTHOMSON 13:08 Archived in England Comments (1)

Day 10

Bath

overcast 12 °C
View JT's 60th Anniversary World Tour on EMTHOMSON's travel map.

Time for a bit of laundry today. It was good to get everything sorted as we are only here for another day and a half! Unbelievable how fast this is all going.
So headed into Bath around noon and found a Cornish Pastry shop as we hadn’t had one yet – they were a bit disappointing, but still tasty and a filling lunch. Then we found the ‘i’ site, as I’d read about a free (music to our ears) walking tour. It started at 2pm and went for 2 hours – fabulous guide, so glad we did the tour. Learnt about Bath from the beginning – Romans discovering the thermal waters, to the Medieval to the Georgians to the Edwardians.
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Laughed about the window tax imposed in 1696 by William III on the building owners – if they had over 5 windows they had to pay tax. A lot of buildings still show the changes that were made to evade the tax with blanked out windows and windows moved etc. Apparently this is the origin of the term ‘daylight robbery’. The tax was finally repealed in 1851.
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The ‘original’ Sally Lunn shop was interesting (aside from the buns apparently originating there) in that the shop was one of a few medieval buildings left – each time a new invasion happened it seemed the invaders tore down the existing structures and put up their own versions! Only a few fragments of the roman baths remain, a small stretch of the medieval wall and one or two buildings – the rest is Georgian or Edwardian. Loved the atmosphere in the old town, with the Avon flowing through.
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Bill & Hazel had given JT and I tickets to a twilight session at the Thermae Bath Spa. Sarah had a double ticket from her birthday – so we all enjoyed a 2 hr session swimming in the pools (indoor and outdoor) and the steam room, before having a meal (still in our robes & togs). Great way to finish a day in Bath.

Posted by EMTHOMSON 23:38 Archived in England Comments (1)

Day 9 (Already!)

Forest of Dean

overcast 12 °C
View JT's 60th Anniversary World Tour on EMTHOMSON's travel map.

We all felt like a good walk today, so headed towards Wales to check out the sculpture walk in the Forest of Dean in west Gloucestershire on the Welsh border.
It was an overcast day, but the powers that be said it wasn’t going to rain so we took them at their word. Two and a half hours later, lots of mud and leaves, stream crossings and sculpture picture taking we returned to the car just as the first drops of rain started to fall. Good timing that! Sarah reckons we covered about 7kms.
There were a couple of memorable sculptures on the walk – the first was the ‘Iron Road’ which was a length of railway sleepers that had been individually carved to represent an aspect of the forest. Train lines used to run through the forest carrying coal and iron ore.
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Another beauty was the ‘Cathedral’ piece. This initially reminds you of a church, but the detail is all about the forest life – wonderful to see in it hanging from the trees.
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Another one was called 'Echo' and reflected the bank behind - love to know how it was done.
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Sarah and I cooked dinner tonight for Bill and Hazel (Oli’s grandparents). It was great to have a home cooked meal after all the restaurant ones we’ve been having lately – good as they are, there’s still something about home cooking. An early night for us tonight!

Posted by EMTHOMSON 14:06 Archived in England Comments (1)

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