Monday, October 8, 2007


Well here we are in Busseto, a nice little village about 1 hour south east of Milan. That’s 1 hour as the crow flies. We took 2 hrs 40 mins to get here from Milan Railway Station.
Took nearly an hour to get out of Milan. Europcar gave us a manual, not an automatic as booked. I did not argue as we were lucky to gat a car at all he was that busy. As it was, we had to wait half an hour for a car to come in. Actually, having the gear stick on the right, nd driving on the right was not too bad. The worst thing was going to the wrong side of the car to get in. Also going for the seat belt over the right shoulder. These habits are hard to break.

The directions we downloaded from the net were GIS navigating directions and were atrocious. Instead of sending us to Busseto and them going to the Bed & Breakfast address it took us via a torturous route to towns we did not even need to be in and then on detours down side streets to bypass the town centre! It made everything so complicated. In the end we followed the road signs to Busseto and took a punt that we could find the B&B. Just when we were about to phone the proprietor (who does not speak a word of English), we came across the street we needed - much to our relief.

This is after missing our train out of Paris. We were instructed to leave the apartment key in the room and shut the door behind us when we left. We did as we were told, only to find that the door at the bottom of the stairs was deadlocked and we couldn’t get out of the building. We were trapped in the stairway! No one was home in the building and a few urgent calls to the property manager who thought we were dumb tourists who could not unlock a door, and we got some assistance from the real estate business next door. This was only after we asked him to phone them. Not until too late for our 10:30 train.

In between these tribulations that make traveling so interesting we had 2 fantastic rail journeys into and out of Switzerland. I lost count of the number of tunnels and the Gotthard tunnel was so long we were in it for seven and a half minutes.

The 36 hours we had in Lucerne were magic. We got in after 10pm due to missing the train and the town was almost deserted. The weather was fine and still and the lights reflecting off the water were gorgeous. The next day it was fine and sunny and perfect for going up a mountain. We decided to go to a big mountain with a funny name, Mount Titlis. We got the train to Engelberg at the top of the valley and then caught a series of cable cars to the top. The summit is in the snow even at the end of summer and is 10,000 feet or 3000m high. The cable cars alone took us up the height of Mt Kosciusko. The last cable car was the world’s only revolving cable car so everyone gets to see the full view. On the way back down, we shared the cable car with a Dutch woman and her dog. She gets a season pass for the cable cars for her dog at $350, same price as children!

Our stay here in Busseto thus far has included a trip into the township for two dinners and a walk around the town. We found the tourist office and got ourselves a map from a not too friendly woman. This town is famous for being the birthplace of the composer Verdi. As luck would have it, there is a Verdi Festival on in the region, and tomorrow we will be attending a free concert for “Romantic Guitar”, held at the ‘Teatro Verdi’. We have also been on a drive to the town of Cremona, in search of a new instrument for me (Kate {only joking}). This is where Amati created the violins which we still base the shape on today. There was a special exhibition of some of the instruments which he made, dating back to 1539! The other famous violin makers from this town were Stradivari and Guaneri. We visited the Stradavari Museum, and hope to see some of his instruments and others tomorrow. With a bit of luck, they will be played whilst we are there.

The lady who runs the B&B is lovely, and is trying very hard to converse with us in Italian and broken English. We are trying hard to learn some Italian whilst we are here to help her too.

We will post again when we can, either Monaco or definitely in Paris.

Mitch and Lawrie, the picture of the park is the Piazza in Cremona where we rang from with the guy cracking the whip!

Scene from the train just out of Lucerne.

Lucerne at night.

The Swiss Alps from Mt Titlis.

At the famous Lucerne bridge

Cremona Piazza

Some imitation Stratovaria violins etc. (Not allowed to take photos of the genuine ones)


Ron and Hilda said...

Well done Mummy & Daddy enjoyed the picutres and commentary very much. Love Mum Lozza & Mitch

Dad will respond later I am sure. Love Mum.

Ron and Hilda said...

G'day again,

After my dovetailed French commment on your other blog I thought I had better come clean - I can't remember all the French I was taught at Thorne Grammar School! Never mind - at least the Fench teacher was attractive at the time!
Well done everyone. We are enjoying your pix and text - I am glad we discussed that you should do it Kate (ah, ah!)
I hope that you bring that pointed hat back with you Dave! Mitch spotted it first.

Anyway, just get on with your marvellous adventure and enjoy it all while you can.
Love Dad

skinglis said...

Love the Swiss alps photo - a scene straight from the Sound of Music. Also love the pointy hat!!! xxKaylie