Happy New Year!!

So! Happy New Year to those of you who are not bored of this blog yet! We had intended to do a Christmas post but the preparations, settling into our now home, and the celebrating seemed to take up a lot of time! We write from the common room of our campsite in Kaltenbach, in the Ziller valley, nice and cozy!

In the last week we said ‘Ciao’ to Italy, grateful for a boot full of Chianti, Prosecco and basically everything we needed for Christmas! Well almost… there was still the small matter of getting some gifts for each other and where better than the Christmas markets in Salzburg. It was a little chilly but the combination of the markets and the scenery really helped to get us into the Christmas spirit.

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My multi-lingual wife

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How do you solve a problem like Maria? Dance apparently...

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Someone elses's snowmen checking out the castle!!

We arrived here on the 23rd, with a tonne of ‘vadmin’ and feast preparations to get through before Christmas day but managed a little ski on Christmas eve on some really quiet slopes. Christmas lunch was chicken-a-la-dutch-oven and was very delicious and we spent most of the evening on Skype to family…we even had a Plummer-Sweetnam conference going at one point!!

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Home sweet home

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Rusticus's Christmas Shrine!

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Disgustingly cheesy mountain pic...slightly embarrassing but hey!

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Cathy doing unspeakable things to the bird

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Trev burning stuff

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Roughing it? I think not!!

The rest of the week we’ve been checking out the different ski areas in the valley and slowly getting the ski/snowboard muscles back in shape. The snow isn’t the best & it’s quite busy for new years so we’ve only managed a few hours each day, mostly in the afternoons so we are in the right place at the right time to scout out the best apres bars for our visitors!

 

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Prost!

Very excited to have a couple groups from Ireland coming over the next few weeks and better still there’s finally a good dump of snow on the forecast! We’ll let you know how they got on in the next blog…

 

 

North East Italy

For real this time…. clearly Turin is in the west, oops!

From Cinque Terre we headed for Tuscany and spent a few days exploring Pisa, Siena and Florence and staying at vineyards in the evenings courtesy of Fattore Amico…yes a bit of a pattern is emerging here…what can we say?! At least the van is now well stocked with Chianti for Christmas!

Most of these were fairly flying visits but we, of course, made time for the obligatory leaning tower photos, a nice lunch in Siena (out of the rain) and managed to check out Dave in Florence. We also came across some hot springs just outside Siena which, let’s be frank, stunk, so we didn’t get in but they were very pretty…from a distance.

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Obligatory Leaning Tower Photos

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San Gimignano

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Siena

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Inside the Duomo, Florence

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"Big" Dave (The Replica)

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Sunrise in Tuscany

On our way back North we stopped for a couple nights in Bologna which is very lovely with lots of arcaded streets (they say portico-ed) and of course is the home of bolognese and lasagna. Not only that, it has TWO towers one is bigger than Pisa and the other is way more leany!

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Leany & Biggy (not official names)

Next up was Venice, something Trev had been dreading however, instead of stinking like last time, it was super foggy and freezing! There was something quite nice about there not being too many tourists, we even saw a Santa gondola race!

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Foggy Venice

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Umm...Santas

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Rialto

In case this all sounds too good to be true, we’ve had a couple van incidents this week…

First there was the guy on a scooter who cut across us on a roundabout and got a taste of Rusticus Maximus’ bumper for his troubles (he was fine).

Then, the day after we lost our waste water tank….definitely not a consequence of the weight of wine we’re now carrying! Luckily it came off cleanly and went on without too much trouble although the ‘neighbours’ living on the street we chose as our garage were a bit bemused!

Finally (after a lot of close calls in the last few months) we got caught out by a low bridge, on the road into a shopping centre in the middle of the Christmas rush… picture Cathy directing traffic as Trev backs the van down the wrong side of the road! In fairness to the Italians they resisted the urge to beep…for once!

After all those dramas there was only one place to go… Prosecco country. First stop, was Col Vetoraz next to Valdobbiadene and to our surprise right next to the Osteria senz’Oste and the Prosecco vending machine that all the websites rave about. We were most taken by the views (and the bubbles!). That night we stayed at another vineyard further back into the hills….Christmas shopping done!!

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Prosecco Country.....hallowed ground for many a young English lady!

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...and now Trev as well!

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The Osteria

Today we’re on our way to Austria… fingers crossed for a white Christmas!