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27 May 2016

Today we went on our impromptu trip to Italy that we booked about a week and a half ago.

We started by taking the metro to the RER B to the OrlyVal and ending up at Orly Airport. It sounds like a lot, but it really wasn’t bad at all. Ended up taking us about an hour from door to door.

We flew Transavia (which is one of the low cost airlines) to Verona. They are very strict about their 1 handbag policy. Jer and I noticed that if you have a roll aboard, make sure it is International Travel Size (it is smaller than what a carry on is considered in the US). Also if you have a soft bag, like a duffle, it is pretty much guaranteed to get on the flight (green ticket) but with the roll aboard it is not guaranteed (red ticket). We had no issues with our bags on either leg of our flight.

Once we landed in Verona, we headed to pick up our rental car. In true Italian style, we had a Fiat with a sun roof. Riding in style.

We then drove from the Verona Airport to our hotel on Lake Garda in the town of Brenzone sul Garda, which is about half way up the eastern side of the lake. It was an absolutely stunning drive. The scenery is out of a painting with the crystal clear blue lake, light fluffy clouds and the sheer cliffs on the mountains surrounding the lake dotted with small villages with quintessential Italian style homes, hotels and businesses.

Once we got to the hotel and checked in, we went for a walk to find something for lunch. We found a small lake front bar (pretty much like your typical beach bar) called Gelato Artigionale, where we enjoyed a German beer (large German contingent vacations here), Italian blush wine, pizza and gelato. The food was amazing. The pizzas were also massive but the crust was so thin and crunchy. I’m getting hungry just writing this. Basically, we both got pizzas, looked at each other and said there was no way we were going to finish them. But we finished them.

I ate the whole thing
Hazelnut Gelato

Then we spent the rest of the afternoon at the hotel pool enjoying the view of the lake (and trying to work on my tan, which was unsuccessful). No better way to explain the view but with a picture.

View from the pool

We had dinner at the hotel, which was ok then sat out on the patio overlooking the lake with our dessert and wine. It was a perfect way to start our first Italian adventure.

28 May 2016

I think we have really bad luck with bugs. I think in the US we are just so use to having screens on everything that keeps the bugs out while in Europe there are no screens. So this morning started with bee-pocolyse 2016. One single bee in the bathroom made us very nervous. Once we over came our fears (took about 30 minutes) we got ready for breakfast.

The hotel had a continental breakfast included with the price of the room. The spread was very nice and had some homemade pastries.

We then set off to the town of Malcesine which is North of where we were staying. The reason for going was to the market (which we were told was the closest and biggest) and a castle.

I have fallen in love with European weekend markets. There are so many options of things to get. We took our time going through the market. Jer ending up a getting a new leather wallet, I got a spoon rest and we ended with some fresh strawberries for later. I would call it a success.

Walking through the cobblestone streets

We then headed to the Castello Scaligero, which is a medieval castle (dating back to the 10th century) with amazing views of the city. There was a small fee to get in (and you could buy a package to then take the tram up to the top of the mountain at Monte Baldo.

We walked around taking in the history of the Castle and then climbing up to the top of the Tower for a 360 degree view of the lake. Breath taking.

Looking towards the Northern most point of the Lake

We then stopped by a church I had read about. I can not get over how beautiful the churches are in Europe. See for yourself:

Always beautiful ceilings

Next, we headed up the tram towards the top of Monte Baldo. Keep in mind that it was like 85 degrees at the lake so we had on summer clothing. By the time we got up to the top of the mountain, it was like 60 degrees maybe in the sun. Big change. From the top of the mountain you can almost see the entire Lake. Also up there were some insane people paragliding off the side. See for yourself.

Crazies

We spent some time walking around (in my flip flops and dress when most people had on hiking boots and sweatshirts – I normally make fun of people dressed like me, never again). Spending the time up there was well worth it to see the views.

View from the top

We then came back down the tram and jumped back in the car to head to Riva del Garda which is the city on the Northern end of the Lake. We walked through town and settled on having a late lunch at Hotel Sole, which consisted of Italian meats, pizza and beer (finally some Peroni for Jer). Again, in Italian food heaven. We sat and enjoyed the view for a bit, as we had done a lot of walking so far today.

Before we headed out, we stopped by some more old churches. I just can’t get enough.

First larger church
Beautiful organ at first church
Second and much older church that I had read about

We headed back to our hotel to relax and shower before dinner. I spent some more time by the pool (the tan just wasn’t happening) while Jer went for a run along the lake shore.

We decided to head back north up the lake to Torbole to have dinner. Torbole is what I would consider a hipster town. Windsurfing is huge on the lake based off of how the winds come down off the mountains at the Northern end and onto the lake. Torbole’s location is a perfect combination for windsurfing. So the town is flooded with young people windsurfing and at night, well, partying.

We went into Torbole to find the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Athletico Madrid. We finally found it, and a seat, at Hotel Benaco. It is unbelievable hard to find places that play sporting events. Sports bars just don’t exist (except in major cities and then they are just full of American’s anyway). European business venture anyone?

We finished up dinner, and the match, then headed back to the hotel. Real Madrid won yet another Champions League Title in a very exciting match that went to penalties.

Step Count: 21,420, 15.32km

29 May 2016

Today it poured all day. We knew it was coming. We headed out after breakfast and stopped at the Olive Oil museum. It was packed (due to the rain). We decided to then just head to the airport to grab a bite to eat. Nothing very exciting.

Our flight was slightly delayed, but only about 45 minutes. We got back to our place in Paris without any issues. Overall, a very successful trip!

On an interesting note from our time in Lake Garda, there were so many German speaking tourists. From being in France for the last 6 weeks, I have started saying certain words in French out of habit. Now in Italy, I was trying to say pleasantries in Italian (which sometime came out in Spanish followed by a very dirty look from Jer), then I would switch to English but would hear German in the background. I could not keep it straight!

Looking forward to our next trip!

– Kasey

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