Friday, September 24, 2004
Breakfast at the hotel was standard (good) European–cereal, yogurt, granola, pastries, mild cheeses, prosciutto and salame. We got the kids fed and then Mark went to retrieve the car while I checked us out. Charlotte was still sleepy and disoriented so she kept crying in the lobby, which was unfortunate because there were a lot of people waiting to check in / out. They were glad when we left! Once outside, Genevieve took one look at this bustling European city and said “I’ve never seen a place like this before!”. And people wonder why you travel with children….
We got on the Autostrada in probably the least efficient way possible (going halfway round the city on regular roads) but at least we did get on it. We’d already decided to spend the night in Sirmione based on a recommendation from a friend. On the drive it was nice to see the rolling green hills and little towns with their beautiful old buildings perched on top. Once in Sirmione, it was siesta time so we found a pizzeria for lunch. There was another family there from Germany and the woman and I were dressed virtually alike. Nice to know that “mom style” is universal! After lunch we went to a little playground close by and when we were done there the tourist office was open so we got a hotel for the night. Sirmione is a little resort town on a peninsula at one end of Lake Garda. At the end of September, it was largely deserted and thus it was easy to find a vacancy. The hotel was a small family-run place that had it’s own private beach and was right on the road that leads up the peninsula to the old town. Once we got our stuff settled (a lot of stuff to put in those small European hotel rooms) we walked to the old town. On the way we saw wild swans and ducks in the lake. The town is surrounded by water and the only approach is across a bridge. A few cars are allowed but mostly it’s a pedestrian town. It’s very cute–there is a fort to tour and climb, narrow medieval streets and buildings, tourist shops and gelato row (Mark commented that many towns have a financial district but Sirmione had instead a Gelato District). We picked a store and chose our flavors and had our first gelato of the trip. Yum! By now it was getting downright cold and ominous clouds were filling the sky and the wind was getting gusty to say the least. We decided to save the fort for the next day and headed back to our hotel, beating most of the rain. Man, that was quite a storm! Wind that would bring down trees in San Jose, and lots of rain. I heard later that it was being called a hurricane in other parts of the country, but it’s intensity had diminished by the time it got to where we were.
Obviously with a storm like that we couldn’t walk to dinner, so we drove to find another restaurant. On the way I stopped by a store to get snacks and stuff for the car, a must when you travel with kids (never, ever, be caught without food!). Fortunately, I had read the advice on the Slow Travel site so I knew that I would be paying for my own bag and bagging my stuff myself. I picked out some cereal bars, chips, and a big bag of individual packets of breadsticks. The latter was a big hit with the kids, I sure wish they sold them like that here! We found a place that didn’t seem to fancy and had dinner. There was nobody else in the place, but as we were finishing people started to arrive so I guess we were just eating too early. Hey, we’ve got kids, we can’t dine fashionably late! But at least this way there was nobody in the restaurant for them to bother. And on to bed….