Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Love may be blind but marriage is a real eye-opener!

"You're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off of you, you'd be like heaven to touch, I wanna hold you so much; At long last love has arrived, and I thank God I'm alive, you're just too good to be true, can't take my eyes off of you!"
Soul mate and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary this week, so in an attempt to commemorate the occasion, (and to make an excuse for another holiday,) we booked two nights away at Lake Garda. Lake Garda is the largest lake in Northern Italy, and as with any of the lakes, is a very popular destination during the summer months.

We arrived at Relais Du Lac, Desenzano on Friday night, after about an hour and a half drive north west of Milan. We had a lovely 2 bedroom self contained apartment, with plenty of old cupboards with skeleton keys to keep daughter amused (or to hide) for an hour or so. Greeted by heavy rain on Saturday morning, our plans of a bike ride with the kids and relaxing by the water fountained pool were quickly drowned. The children were both under the weather themselves, trying to fight off the cold and flu, (effects of princesses new childcare enrolment and germ gathering expedition). So with chesty coughs and runny noses, we decided it would best for the children to nap in and out of episodes of Dora the Explorer and Bananas in Pyjamas in the back seat, while we took in the sights out of the car window. (I am beginning to think daughter is only excited when we go on holidays because she gets to watch movies.)

I envisioned the drive around the lake only taking a couple of hours, but it was 9 hours after departure that we arrived back at the apartment. (This did include a lunch stop, 3 random photo stops and a quick grocery shop visit.) Heavy rain and little vision of distant scenery gave the lake an eerie feel and stretched our imagination of the "summer wonderland" that we had been hearing about. Inflatable crocodiles and li-los were being sold on every corner and we could only imagine them to be used as flood safety devises not luxury in the sun. Our photos were taken mostly out of the window of a moving car, or timed dodging the wipers thru the front windscreen. (Needless to say, did not get too many clear photos, hubby and I have decided to call them 'arty' shots!.)

We definitely found the scenery more picturesque the further north that we drove. The mountains peaked above the rain clouds and the lake was littered with windsurfers and kite surfers braving the rainy conditions. There were less towns to drive through on the eastern side of the lake and the journey was mostly via open tunnel cut into the mountain. The southern end is definitely pretty rolling hills and little towns, perhaps just a bit more populated therefor lost some appeal for me?

We stopped at a little town called Salo for lunch. 'Tip Tap' served us a yummy vegetarian antipasto and a pesto pasta while we watched the boats bop up and down on the lake. Salo was the birthplace of Gasparo De Salo, 1540 to 1609, the inventor of the violin. As with all of the towns along the lake side, it was riddled with restaurants, gelati bars and boutiques; but the promenade ran along the waters edges making for a nice after lunch stroll in between rain sets. Nice to stretch the legs after 4 hours in the car. Salo was pretty and had many little alleyways to explore, for princess anyway! (Maybe we also had some more gelati...)

A quick return trip to the restaurant to collect our forgotten umbrellas and we headed for southern end of the lake, (after a quick gelati of course, we are on holidays). We decided that we would avoid the stress of pretending we are a civilised family eating in a restaurant this evening, so opted for ravioli, tomato pasta sauce and bread for a cheats meal back at the apartment. The hotel had a great undercover area and playground for the children (infested with spiders, I am sure they were harmless), so with wine in hand, we headed down for a kick of the soccer ball, a game of table football, a turn on the merry-go-round and some wet slide climbing.

Soul mate did a quick return trip to the supermarket to replace the smashed bottle of pasta sauce, (daughter was trying to put it too sleep on the big table with a face washer when it accidentally jumped to the floor), then dinner plans were back on track.

Ok, I know I always comment on breakfast buffet, but to me it is how I judge the quality of accommodation; just like rating a good Aussie restaurant by their ceaser salad, or a good bar by its Bloody Mary. This is one of the few European buffets we have been offered that has had more than croissants, french stick, ham and cheese. Much to my children's delight sausage was on offer, many pastries, and eggs, fruit and salad for the oldies. After filling our bellies we had a quick play by the pool and then hoped to do the bike ride that we missed day prior. Unfortunately they only had one baby seat on the hire bikes (I knew we should of stopped at one child), so instead we decided to take princess to see a castle in Sirmione. The Scaliger Castle (13th century), included a rare example of medieval port fortification, which was used by the Scaliger fleet. (The noble family of the Scaliger were Lords of Verona.)

We chose Desenzano as our lunch destination and enjoyed a brushetta, pizza and mixed seafood, with a splash of wine and an apèritif. Apèritif is an orange bitter drink that is supposed to be served to stimulate the appetite before a meal, can't say whether it worked, have never seemed to have a problem with my appetite, drink was refreshing non the less. Desenzano was pretty and more of a little boat harbour than a lake side village; it seemed quite popular and a bit more modern than some of the other towns we have visited. The children had a play at the park by the water. Son is really starting to get around on his feet now, and shows a great similarity to a flapping chicken and a Bill Cosby dance. Unfortunately, it was time to face reality, and get home to unpack and do some washing. We had a lovely weekend away, deep down I am startinmg to panic that I am running out of lakes to explore.

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