May 2014 archive

Madness in Monaco.

Turn off the autobahn, exit Monaco. To enter the city you must first drive down a steep wavy hill all while praying that you don’t come face to face with a fancy Lamborghini or a screaming Ferrari turning the corner at 100 km/h.    

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Next you must find a parking space, an impossible task in a big camper van on the Grand Prix weekend.

 

We found a spot by the side of the road two villages away, locked up the car and hitched a ride in a new, pearl white, convertible Bentley (of course).

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There are a few ways to view the races;

  • buy a ticket
  • hangout in a common area and watch a big screen 

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  • sip on coffees at a café with a large TV

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  • buy tickets to view the cars from someone’s apartment balcony, options ranging from regular tiny French flats to luxury suites with drinks and catering included.

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  • maybe stroll down to the casino and pop your head out on the terrace, the heart of the action takes place 30 meters from the buffet.

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Sorry no cameras at the casino, you’ll have to take my word for it, we could almost touch the cars as they zoomed by.

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The best thing to do is walk around from site to site taking pictures and talking to people. 

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Watching 78 laps of the same cars going round and round is kind of repetitive so we took a break to walk up the hill into old town.

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Cats in the campervan.

I know that it seems a bit foolish to drive around Europe sleeping in your car with your husband and your 2 cats but this is my life for the next few weeks and it’s been really great so far…well almost.

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We couldn’t find a good cat sitter in time for our trip so we packed up the car and the cats and headed west. The two first days on the road were less than enjoyable.  My cats are no stranger to the camper as we’ve camped and traveled with them several times before, the first day is always hell. They are weary of all sounds and movements in and around the car and our ridiculously vocal cat Misiu likes to tell us off by meowing at the top of her lungs until I come pet her. It is to be noted that Matt is not a big fan of the cats to start off with, the added stress of the cats in the car makes for extreme tension as we drive, tainting the start of our family vacation.

 

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Misiu, the world’s most dramatic cat.

 

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We covered some good ground the first two days, driving over 800 kilometers (averaging at 80km/h) on long boring bumpy Bulgarian highways and through the Serbian flooded farmlands. By nightfall everyone was cranky, fed up, jittery, restless and bitter.  The cats would cheer up at 3 am and play “climbing gym” over and around us while we sleep.

Slovenia was our breaking point, should we leave the cats in the park? Is Matt going to leave me in the park? Should I buck up and learn how to drive the huge van and drive home, Matt can figure something out.   

That night I found the laser pointer I had pack. Trying desperately to mend my family feud, I took Matt out for a nice brisk walk  and made him a nice dinner then spent an hour playing “lasers”  with the cats until they could run no more.  All four of us slept like babies until 1 pm the next day.

 

 

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Since then everything has been great, Misiu sleeps by the door while we drive and Stotinki rests peacefully in the loft space watching the big rigs pass from time to time.  

 

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The cats love Italy, they got to run around outdoors on their leashes for two days just outside of Venice. For some crazy reason they enjoy sitting in the car looking out far more than frolicking in the grass. 

 

By the time this trip is over our cats will have visited nine countries in the last eight months, how many countries have you traveled this year?

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Scavenger hunt.

Our friends Kelly and Mat have been playing a sort of travel tag game with us.  It all started in Hanoi last month and now we’re on a search through Venice.  Kelly sent us some photos, a little map and no other details.  Needless to say, we ended up at a 5 star hotel on one of the canals holding a bottle of fancy Prosecco.  Thank you!!!!

Venice is a crazy labyrinth.

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Thank you Mat and Kelly!!!

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Car food, celebrating Italy.

First thing’s first, when driving around Italy you must always hang cured meats from your rearview mirror. Notice the lovely Italian grapes growing along the highway.

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VEGETABLES! Don’t get me wrong, I love Bulgaria and it’s food but when it comes to vegetables they have one of the smallest selections I’ve ever seen (finding broccoli can be challenging). Viva Italia and it’s lush selection of veggies, most of which are drowned in high quality olive oil before eating. Here’s some purple artichoke with a lemon, garlic, Dijon and olive oil vinaigrette.

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One more thing Italy has over Bulgaria is quality cuts of meat. Here is beef Carpaccio with onions, capers, parsley, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper.

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Major flooding in Serbia.

If you have been following the news you know that Serbia and parts of Bosnia are faced with terrible floods destroying whole towns and villages. As we drove towards Belgrade we started to notice signs of the floods; farmlands soggy with excess water, ditches filled with brown water and debris, army trucks parked by the side of the road while soldiers were busy filling bags with sand and dirt to build barriers around houses and land. At one point there was so much water in the fields it looked like we were driving beside beautiful lakes. Thankfully it has stopped raining and these poor people can try to rebuild what they once had when the water levels come down.     

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This farm is now a beautiful lake.

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