Category Archives: Holidays

3rd day in Paris

Mona Lisa

Today we went to the Louvre, but first we had to collect the tickets that we bought over the internet. We had to wait 20 minutes to get them, because there were only two staff members at the tourist information on a day where Paris is flooded with tourists. Well in the end we got there and had to queue again for the security check. Still it was rather quick to get in. Without Ticket you wait ages.. just as a recommendation… buy them before and … even better, get them sent to you by post. It really saves time.

Like probably ninety percent of the people we directly went to see the Mona Lisa and I was shocked how crowded it was. You basically have to fight your way through to see the painting properly. Look at a copy in a book and you will have more time

Crowd infront of the Mona Lisa

and quiet to enjoy it. The masses of people are really stressful and nothing for old or disabled people, as the crowd is really pushing forward.

Frau mit Skorpion

There are so many fantastic pieces of art, and most people rush through the rooms and do not take the time to really appreciate the exhibits. I really liked the angle like victory statue in the staircase to the Greek execution.

After the louvre we went shopping in the area around the Hôtel de Ville. It rained a lot and therefore it was the best alternative if you did not have the time to go to another museum.

We went to a small gallery “59rivoli” though that had new artists in there. It was their workplace and you could either just look at the pieces or even buy them directly from them. Most of the time there were two artists per floor and the whole house had five floors. It was all modern art, and some nice and interesting pieces. I especially liked an artist who did pictures with rust.

In the evening our legs were hurting, also because of our trip yesterday and we had diner in a small Turkish grill. The second full day really made us tired. So, if you do the trip… take it at a slower pace unless you are really fit…

2nd Day in Paris

Sacré-Cœur

First some statistics and if you stay longer than we do I don not recommend this… We walked 23,5km and were totally exhausted at the end of the day. Because of the bad weather forecast we tried to do the outdoor activities first and then the indoor sights like the Louvre.

Starting from our hotel we went for a French breakfast, which is, by the way, and unusual for Germans who love big breakfasts, not more than a coffee and a croissant. Up the hill we reached Sacré-Cœur which is already nice from the outside but really nice from the inside. All the impressive mosaics make this church worth the while. Many people, especially in Summer, have breakfast on the steps down to the city, where you have a nice view over the town.

Moulin Rouge

We then went down, through the quartier, to the moulin rouge. The area is a bit like the Reeperbahn in Hamburg and then again no. A lot of sex shops and bars, shows… The Reeperbahn is more intense and concentrated than the area along the moulin rouge.

We walked down to the opera and passed the “Galleries Lafayette”. Like many old big shops like Harrods and the KDW in Berlin Lafayette has a nice architecture. The belle epoch style in the middle of the building is worth having a look.

We passed by the opera which is a really nice and impressive building. I would have loved to have seen an opera there, but I’m not a fan of Wagner and therefore I skipped that. If you walk straight on, then you reach the Louvre, and that is what we did. We Walked through the Tuileries to the place de la concord. There you have a nice view to the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower

As midday was approaching we walked across the bridge and walked to the area next to the chaps de mars and bought a baguette, by the way, the best baguette we had in Paris, and some wine. We walked to the Eiffel Tower and ate and drank on a bench in the sun. Watching the people was interesting and better than any TV show. Yes, there are some street merchants that want to sell copies of the Eiffel Tower, but it is not as bad as if you came from the side of the seine. It was really nice. We had not bought tickets for the Tower in advance and therefore did not go up. The queue was really long and only moving very slowly. After the view from Sacré-Cœur we thought it cannot be that much better.

Continue reading 2nd Day in Paris

Trip to Paris

We went from our home town to Cologne to finally enter the Thalys to Paris. Before that we had something to eat at “Dean & David” which was ok but not the best food to my opinion. I had far better curries in the past. We also went to get a car too expensive coffee at Starbucks… which was a mistake. We really lost time though that. On the train platform we had the usual Cologne train station chaos. At one time I had the feeling three trains were on the same platform and I was kind of annoyed with the uncertainty whether the train would really leave from that platform. In the end it all worked and we were finally in the train.
The TGV or Thalys is kind of old fashioned but it was still comfortable and fast.
We reached Paris and walked to the hotel. If you reach Gard de Nord like we did, then Montmartre is a good choice to stay. Unfortunately, it was too late to go out for the evening.

Monte Baldo

monte_baldo1We felt like going into the mountains a bit. As we thought it was too much for the kids and we were not well equipped enough we decided to go for a cable car ride to the top of Monte Baldo. With only 40 minute car ride it was not too far away from Costermano and we were early enough to get into the first car park.

The prices were rather expensive. The tickets are 20 € for adults and 8 € monte_baldo2for our older daughter (5 years). So all in all not a cheap trip, but…well we’re on holidays… We got the tickets quite fast, but then the rather small queue to the cable car turned out to be a slow one. After several turns of “I spy with my little eye” and already annoyed kids we finally got onto the cable car. Even though I do not know why there needs to be middle station, there is one. There are some houses but no one really leaves the way uphill. The second part of the cable car ride was really nice as we could look over a huge part of the Lago di Garda. The small one of our two girls did not like it as she thought it was much too high. The car turns 360 degrees on it’s way up the hill, so even she did not have to bear the deep view all the way of the ride.

monte_baldo3On the mountaintop you have nice view into the Dolomite Alps and over the Lake. We only walked a short round to the chairlift, which comes up from the other side of the mountain.

If you like mountain biking or love to hike, than this a trip worth taking. After the mandatory ice cream for the older daughter, the younger daughter was sleeping in the monte_baldo4backpack for carrying children, we headed back down the mountain with the cable car.
Reaching the bottom we saw that the queue was really long by now and I really petty the ones who were still standing in line. It must have taken then hours to get up the mountain.

Mental note…”it is not so bad that your kids are early birds”.

Venice

Venice1Venice is about two hours away from Costermano, so it is a nice opportunity to go there at least for a day. Obviously it can be just a first impression, but never the less we tried a trip with the kids. It is a dream for a lot of people to once have visited Venice in their lifetime. A dream city it is, if you can block out the tourists who are everywhere. If you want to save some money you should park your car in the Via dei petroli. The parking costs 4.50 € per day which is a good price. You pay 26 € for a day at the Piazza le roma. Form the main road you take a bus for 1.50 € the bus to the piazza le roma. From there you can start exploring Venice.

We decided to walk via the Mercarto di Rialto, the Ponte di Rialto to the Piazza di San Marco.Venice3

If you need to refill your water supplies there is a good COOP Supermarket on the square around the Church San Giacomo dell’ Orio. Supermarkets are hard to find in the town which consists only of tourists or tourist related businesses. It must be hard for the real Venetians. If you like fruits or sea food, the Mercato di Rialto is your place to go. Our kids loved to see some of the Sea food as originals (without being cooked). On the market the dustmen and the respective ship were an interesting thing, too. In the end our kids called Venice “the wrong way round city” as everything is different here. An other highlight was an ambulance that speeded though the Canale Grande.
Venice2The Rialto Bridge is a bottleneck in the tourist flow through the city. It was so crouded that nearly nothing was moving anymore. An annoyed Venitian shouted “keep walking, keep walking” and the sluggish mass of tourists started to move and nagged about being advised to move.

The place in front of the Basilica of San Marco is incredible. One can really imagine how rich and powerful the city must have been. If you have the time spend a week there. It is worth it.

On our way back we used the water bus. We took the rout number one as it took us all the way along the Canale Grande and we got to see the city another time from the waterside. If you are in a hurry, then take number two, which is faster as it has fewer stops. The trip with route number one took us at least half an hour.

Venice is truly magical and we will come again when the kids are bigger and appreciate the cultural facets of Venice.

Sirmione

Sirmione_castle
Castle of Sirmione

An other “not at the pool day” for us and we decided to only have a short trip… so we went to Sirmione the tourist magnet on the southern side of the “Lago die Garda”.
In the part of Sirmione, which dates back to the middle ages, is located to the south of the island. We entered just like everyone over the drawbridge. Directly to the right there is the castle, which can be visited but is probably boring for children. We went through the narrow alleys and looked at the village. Unfortunately not only the visitors but also the cars need to go through these alleys which makes it stressful sometimes to walk with kids.

Sirmione_wineWe had a very good ice cream and you have at least tree ice cream spots around you when you walk the first few hundred meters. A lot of tourists try to make a challenge out of getting the biggest ice cream. Two guys we saw had ice cream cones that were over 30 cm high. I’d think that was more than half a litre ice cream. One of the two was at least seventy and I had the strong feeling that he just fulfilled his childhood dream of the biggest ice cream ever.

Also this time being early was a good decision. The small village was flooded with tourists and at the entrance to the town a traffic chaos started as there were not enough parking spaces close to the town.

SirmioneTake my advice and try to be there until ten o’clock. Then you should be save in getting a reasonable parking spot and also the temperatures are still o.k.! Then use the afternoon for swimming.

 

Verona

Verona_uhr2
Piazza de Bra

If you have children who love to get up at half past fife in the morning, then you will probably also reach Verona at nine o’clock in the morning. The disadvantage is that you have to get up early, but the advantage is that you reach the town before all the tourist masses reach it. Another advantage is that the heat is not so strong then if you go in summer.

Verona Arena
Verona Arena

Verona is a really nice place in the west of the “Lago die Garda” and it is home to Romeo and Julia. Besides being the scene for Shakespeare’s play it has a huge roman Arena that is the home of fabulous opera stagings. If you have the time and money then you should see one.

We managed to get one or two selfies with Julia and did not have too many other visitors around.

Visiting the Castelveccio is a good thing if you do not have small kids with you like ourselves. The famous renaissance writer “Dante” lived here and on the “Piazza de Erbe“ you get the feeling on how it must have been in those times.
On our small trip there we also found a small group on the “Piazza Imperio” that tried to go on strike or demonstrate. The group was either too small or they went on strike for so long that most of the supporters lost interest. Our kids liked their flags though.
Leaving at two in the afternoon was the best thing to do as all tourists seamed to reach Verona at this time. The kids were tired and we were glad to leave the masses of people behind. By then the temperatures were at 35 Celsius.

Southbound

Starting a blog during holidays is probably a common thing and that is what I do.
Our family holidays have started and we decided to go to the “Lago die Garda”. With the hope for hot weather we got into the car and headed out for the south. Coming from Cologne we thought we’d reach the destination “Costermano” in roughly nine hours. Well… do not head out on Saturdays, as we needed fourteen hours in total. A nightmare with kids, but we made it. A big thank you to our kids who really pulled themselves together. They were real darlings and made the tour bearable. Over the “Brenner” and through the Alps we finally reached “Costermano”. The village has not too much to offer, but our small flat, we rented for the two weeks is located there. “La Filanda” is the place we chose as it sounded very nice in the ad form the travel agent.

We encountered a nice place with a historic atmosphere. It once was a textile company and it was redesigned to a holiday home place with restaurant and pool. They really did a nice job on the exterior and our kids love the pool. The interior is very simple and the beds should be better.

The place is definitively a good base to explore the region.

http://www.lafilandacostermano.com