Wednesday, 29 July 2015

European Road Trip Part 2

European Road Trip 2015

Missed one?.

After sleeping for an epic 12 hours, Mike and I set of early at we had to arrive in Genoa, Italy, where our next hotel was booked but we had decided we would go to Nice and Monaco along the way.

Dijon to Nice was almost 6 hours long. We made our way through a lot of new CDs; Bruno Mars, Walk the Moon, Nina Nesbitt, Jason Derulo and my infamous "mix tape" CDs featured heavily. 

Some of my favourite moments of the trip were when Mike and I were singing our hearts out and dancing in traffic queues - Lord knows what others thought of our jigging car and frequent air grabbing.

We arrived on the Nice coast in a 32 degree heat, it was gorgeous! We had a stroll along the sea front, taking obligatory selfies and sipping on ice cold colas. We had a wander through a market in the centre of town and saw a lovely paddling pool for local kids, many fountains and sculptures. I was feeling very continental.

Nice, France

In Europe, dinner time is 7-9pm, so we decided to head to Monaco for dinner. We were feeling very excited of the thought of dining in such a prolific city; home of the Monaco Grand Prix and play ground of the rich and famous... except we didn't get out of the car! Monaco is a winding maze of thin roads and expensive cars, after more than half an hour trying to find a parking spot we decided to leave the beautiful and albeit confusing city for the 2 1/2hour drive to Genoa.

We hit traffic jams, a lot of traffic jams! The drive took closer to four hours and we'd consumed a diet of cereal bars and French fries crisps, so as we approached Genoa we planned on room service in bed - oh so very indulgent!

10 Minutes away from our hotel, loyally following our Sat Nav Sabrina, we somehow ended up in the industrial port, meeting security guards who couldn't speak English. We  finally made it our hotel but Genoa wasn't lending itself to us. The town was a dirty, run down town and to be honest I didn't feel very safe. Luckily Mike is 6ft and big built, which puts any dodgy people off approaching us.

We got to our hotel and it looked like a lovely place, clean and modern, but our room was run down and had evidently flooded from the bathroom to the communal hall way via the disabled shower. We were so tired we ordered pizzas with room service (the food was nice but the staff were stroppy and rude) and went to bed.

My morning shower of course flooded our room, they'd not leveled the disabled wash room towards the plug and when we told reception, they simply shrugged and said that's what happened in disabled bathrooms. Funny how the other 6 hotels we stayed in didn't flood!

I wouldn't recommend Genoa at all, we'd booked it on a whim and our guide to Italy said of the town; "When you get tired of the dirt and rats in Genoa move on" - my advice, avoid it entirely!

Happily leaving Genoa, I was especially excited as we were heading to Pisa, home of the leaning tower. 

Travelling tip; if you're driving into Pisa, be very careful! There is a restricted driving area which includes where the Tower is situated. Make sure you check this restriction as you'll be sent a fine for excess of €100. We parked 5 mins from town and if you are disabled, make sure you show parking attendants you UK Blue Parking badge you'll get a reduced parking fee.

Doing a European road trip in the first instance was a tick off my bucket list, seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa was another. When you first see the monument you cannot believe firstly how tall and wide it is, and secondly how it can lean to such a degree without toppling.

Mike and I in Pisa

Amongst a sea of tourist, doing exactly the same, Mike and I posed as though we were holding up the tower. Although you know what everyone else is doing it, it still looks incredibly odd and ridiculous but very funny.

If you are disabled in Italy, you do not pay or queue to get into their major tourist attractions. Mike and I joked that because Italy is such an old country and has many cobble streets, free entry to attractions is the Italian apology to us and those pushing our wheelchairs.

Obviously I couldn't manage walking into and up the Leaning Tower, despite desperately wanting to. I told Mike to leave me at the bottom, and climb the tower, for the sake of our photo collection but he was too much of a Gentleman. 

However the Pisa Cathedral was beautiful inside, constructed in 1064 it was a breath taking mixture of old and new, the staff almost didn't let me in as my shoulders were uncovered - so beware, take a cardigan or wear something long sleeved!

Outside Pisa Cathedral
Inside Pisa Catherdral

The Pisa Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles) includes the Leaning Tower, the Cathedral, Baptistery and the Piazza dei Miracoli but the area is world renowned for its medieval art and architecture - it is truly a lovely place and apart from the Tower the attractions are made wheelchair accessible with ramped entrances and levels within the buildings.

We spent the rest of the day wandering through Piazzi Cairoli where there are lots of bars and most importantly; gelateries! We stopped for a mezze platter lunch of cheeses, salad and fresh meats then a humongous cone of Gelato - our first of many! Before we headed to the madness of Rome!

L x 

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