Friday, 11 March 2011

38 When in Rome...

Sunday 6th March
Having dug out Lizzy from the snow the previous day the only thing left was to lift the stabilisers, disconnect the electric and drive off. The first two were easy, the last was not.
After about 30 minutes of sand and pushing we finally got Lizzy off the spot she had kept warm for 12 days. We then filled up with very cheap diesel and set off South towards the Mediterranean. The next 20 miles were very scary with narrow mountain roads and some drifted snow to drive on.

Spectacular views
And narrow streets

We drove past Milan and Genoa and finally found our campsite near the sea at about 9pm. That was the good news. The bad news was that it was shut, despite what our guide book said. We drove on and stopped at a motorway service area for the night. As it turns out this was not a bad thing as it was free and allowed us a quick getaway the next day.
Monday 7th March
Following the usual Ray early start we set off for Rome. This turned out to be an expensive day. I was driving and Karen supplying me with continuous food and drink. I had a bottle of Lucozade with a flip top squirty style lid and when it was finished I asked Karen to fill it with sprite from a normal twist top bottle as it was easier for me to drink from. This she dutifully did and left the bottle on the dash. As we pulled into a toll booth the pressure of the shaking lemonade in the bottle suddenly overcome the squirty lid and let out a jet of sticky lemonade straight into my chest. Unfortunately, the force was so great that it went everywhere else too, even hitting the Kitchen area. We laughed so loud our sides hurt.
We stopped laughing when we realised that it also hit the back of the £2000 Panasonic radio/Sat nav/rear view camera, and killed it. We managed to revive it enough to act as a naff radio/cd player, but the main functions we used it for, i.e. as a reversing camera and as a rear view mirror did not work. Bugger. Fortunately I had previously installed a small one which although crap, did at least work.

All this fuss did not phase Leon. He has been taking tips from Laura

We arrived in the campsite near Rome at about 2pm.  On arrival it was apparent that the campsite had just opened for the year and we were only the second campers on it. It was a nice place with the Med only 100m away but past a fence and a road. The road turned out to be used as a night time race track for the local yobs, but if you can’t take a joke....
 We set up and decided to have a few days rest....Yeah right !
Tuesday 8th March
Having bought an Italian dongle for our internet connection, we looked up a local Yamaha dealer as Wallace had developed a faulty switch on the speedo. We also looked up camper shops to look at getting a new reversing camera. We set off on Wallace but could not find the camper shop but did find the Yamaha one. The dealer took a quick look at the speedo and sent an e-mail off to Yamaha to see if they would fix it under warranty. Bear in mind that we are in Italy and my speedo is in Miles.
We set the sat nav up and rode into the centre of Old Rome. This city is completely bonkers. About half the vehicles are scooters of all sizes and they drive like tomorrow is Armageddon.
WOW...... Rome is a living museum. It is awesome.
We started out at the central tourist office and purloined a map and some tourist gubbins so the local muggers could identify us. With Wallace duly abandoned with a thousand other abandoned vehicles we set off on foot in search of some food.  We found the most expensive restaurant in the western world and sat down to minute portions and high service charges. 2 Meals and 2 beers. 43 euro, plus 6 euro service charge = 49 euros. 50 tendered (about £43,) no change offered – nice. Anyway it was obvious we were paying for the view. The Fort of Traiano.

The view from our dinner table
The adjacent market area

We then walked further and visited the Fountains of Trevi. Built in 1629 to show off the end of a aqueduct that served Rome with water for 400 years.

Fountains of Trevi
A better view - of the fountain, not the idiot.

Karen eyeing up the local uniforms.

We then moved on towards the Pantheon. On the way I saw this in a shop selling wooden clocks and toys and had to take a picture...sorry

A wooden Harley, some say they are all like that !

But then so did Karen...

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The Pantheon was awesome. Built in 126AD as a temple to all the Gods of ancient Rome, it is now a Christian Church under catholic control. It’s a pity that after nearly 2000 years, they still have not managed to fix the hole in the roof.

Outside view of Pantheon
Just above the top of photo is a big hole in the roof - bloody Italian builders.
One of the Altars. This is a functioning chuch.

By now our legs and bladders were aching so we headed back towards the bike and came across the National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II, the first King of a unified Italy. Designed in 1885 and finished in 1935, it is often called the typewriter by Romans as they see it as too gaudy for its surroundings. It houses the tomb of the unknown soldier.

National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II
We then jumped back on Wallace and headed back towards Lizzy. On the way home we had to avoid a 70 year old woman on a large  scooter who pulled out on us whilst we were doing about 40. They are all mad but I like them.
Wednesday 9th march
We had a bit more success looking for camper dealers today. We found a street with about 6 in a row. Unfortunately, none really had what we were looking for. We did not want to spend a fortune on a new all singing and dancing system. We will probably make do till we get back to the UK and can at least speak the language.
We spent about an hour looking for a Chinese for some grub, unfortunately they all seem to open late and we were cold and grumpy so we went home. Despite the weather being glorious, the nights are quite cols and around freezing overnight.
Thursday 10th March
Had a lazy day today. I fixed a dodgy porch light and tried to fix the outside temperature sensor. In doing so, I shut down the water pump and spent 3 hours trying to fix something that was not originally broke. The thermometer still does not work !
Karen sunbathed and read her book before cooking us a lovely dinner of chops, chips and curry beans.
Yamaha rang and they have already supplied a new set of clocks to the dealer. That’s service.

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