Friday, 22 May 2015

Postcards from an Italian Babymoon


Coming back down to earth with a bump after a wonderful week in Italy, on our ‘babymoon’ holiday.

Returning to grey skies and drizzle after a week of sunshine, fine dining and stunning scenery was a bit of a shock to the system, but I’m really glad that we managed to fit in our final holiday as a couple before I get too big to travel long-distances.

The place was so stunning and scenic, I thought I would share some of our snaps, so if you are thinking of visiting Venice, Verona or Lake Garda this summer, its a little taste of what to expect.

Here’s what we got up to…

We flew out on Friday at 6.10 am, which was a bit of a double-edged sword.

It didn’t sound that early when we booked it, but when you factor in check in times and a drive to Manchester airport from our home in Nottinghamshire, I found myself setting the alarm for an eye-watering 1.30am.

On the other hand, it did mean we got a full day in Italy on the first day rather than arriving in the dead of night.

Thankfully, we were super-prepared and had laid out all our travelling clothes and mugs of coffee for the morning, so leaving the house wasn’t as much of a struggle as I feared. The nasty part was the route.

I picked ‘M1’ on the sat nav, without realising that meant about 10 minutes on the actual M1 and the rest of the time winding over dark, narrow, unlit hairpin bends across the Peak District national park.

Terrible journey down because of that – I made sure I chose a different route on the way back.

We finally got to the airport with two hours to spare.


I had pictured a leisurely browse around duty free and a coffee at the airport, but Thomson’s check in queue was so long that we found ourselves literally running for the boarding gate at the end even though we were there in plenty of time.



Worse still, they had an ‘express lane’ for people that were late – talk about rewarding bad behaviour! So if we’d been late, we wouldn’t have been in the queue for two hours!

After that less than perfect start, I was more than ready for my holiday to begin. A short flight later and we had landed at Venice Marco Polo. The weather was beautifully bright and sunny.

We transferred to Jesolo, where we were staying at the Hotel Principe Palace. Very pleased to find the hotel was gorgeous, rooms immaculate and everything ready to check in. We did a quick change from our travel clothes into summer gear and headed out to explore.



Jesolo is a strange place in that it’s a purpose-built beach resort. It edges miles of golden sandy beach on one side, and inland is a host of shops, bars, cafes, ice-cream parlours and restaurants.

I was a bit concerned that this would make it slightly soul-less -  beach resorts aren’t usually my thing – but I was thankfully proved wrong. I found it clean, well run and easy to navigate. A lot of Italians seem to have weekend apartments there.



The shops included a number of smart designer boutiques (well, a girl can dream…) and it was lively without being full of awful ‘British pubs’ and other things I associate in my head with the word ‘resort’!

We spend the afternoon by the stunning rooftop pool at the hotel, feeling a world away from the office.



Also, we’d gone half-board for this holiday, so our evening meals were in the hotel. The standard of food was just amazing. You ordered a starter and a main from the menu, and there were also generous starter and dessert buffets on tap.

We had things like pan fried sea bass, handmade ravioli with rabbit ragu and confit duck throughout the week – all beautiful cuisine.

 On the Sunday, we headed to Venice. It has been an absolute dream of mine to go there for years, so I was beside myself with excitement.

We decided to make our own way there from Jesolo via bus and water taxi. Thankfully, Italian public transport is superb and very easy to navigate. You buy a ticket from the newsagents in advance to travel, and you can get one where you can get on any bus or boat all day for a fixed price (about 20 euros).



We caught the bus from the street behind our hotel which took us to the port, and from there the water taxi that calls at the lagoon islands (Murano, Burano and Torcello) and then on to Venice itself.

Approaching the beautiful city over the waves took my breath away. I actually felt like I was dreaming as we landed and the city came into view.



Venice was all the things I had dreamed and more. A city of labyrinthine, winding shady passages and sudden, wide-open squares – made for decadence, celebration and secrets.


I was blown away by the beauty of the canals and the architecture and just wanted to soak it all up. The thing I wasn’t really prepared for was how busy it would be. Perhaps that’s really naïve of me!




Because all the streets are so narrow, the crowding and jostling was quite intense – think Oxford Street on Christmas Eve – if you slow down or stop, basically you get pulled under! Especially not nice when you’re pregnant, a bit uncomfortable.

But with a bit of ingenuity there’s always another side street to duck down for a breather, and Seb was amazing at telling when I was getting stressed and overheated and steering me away from the crowds.




We managed to find some quiet corners and a bit of ‘our own’ Venice by coming off the beaten track slightly at certain points and just relying on instinct to guide us away from the crowds.

St Mark’s was awesome, but after joining a long queue to go round, we got told at the end of it that you aren’t allowed to take any bags inside, and the bag drop-off was in a completely different building down another street! Not the best organisation!


In the end I couldn’t be bothered to queue up a second time, and didn’t like the idea of leaving my bag unattended anyway, so we skipped that in favour of wandering along one of the canals with a gelato.

I was amazed by the city, but in some ways it felt a bit too self-aware  -almost like it was a parody of itself in places. Still, the rich history of the port jumps out at you, and I now have a dream to go back and see an opera there as the theatres looked magical.

The next place we visited was Verona. This city should be dear in the heart of any English Literature student (or 90’s tween with a Leo DiCaprio obsession) as the original setting of Romeo and Juliet – and the spiritual home of romantic tragedy.



And what we found there was a city it’s too easy to fall in love with. I actually preferred Verona to Venice as the pace was much easier and the city so beautiful.



We did a tour of the all main sites on foot, including the famous ‘Juliet’s balcony’. I was amazed by the amount of wannabe Romeo's who'd added their graffiti to the arches around the building.


There's a statue of Juliet and its supposed to be good luck if you rub her right breast, but we didn't want to wade through the sea of visiting schoolkids to do that, so I just snapped a quick picture instead.



The city was extremely atmospheric. We stopped off in a pavement cafe for a macchiato and later, treated ourselves to slabs of the most delicious pizza for lunch. Verona was full of stylish shops, Roman ruins and cute little cafes.

Next stop on our Italian dream tour was Lake Garda.


Seb and his family used to go there a lot as children, as his parents lived near Rome for a while, so he was keen to see the place again. I think I'd managed to somehow underestimate how beautiful it would be in all my excitement about Venice, but I was absolutely blown away when we got there.



The first thing that hit me was just how utterly peaceful the place was - so quite and tranquil. The beautiful scenery with the turquoise lakes and soaring mountains in the background made my heart flutter.



We based ourselves in the gorgeous little village of Sirmione - bursting with tiny boutiques and amazing gelaterias - those ice creams were out of this world.

We did lots of paddling in the lake and there was a classic car rally starting as well. I felt so happy there. Just spending time with Seb and getting to chill out together and spend some quality time together was amazing. Definitely want to take the baby back there when he's born. It would be the ideal place for family holidays as its so tranquil.


Of course, as well as seeing some of Italy, we did lots of strolling on the beach, and lounging by the pool. I managed to get through quite a few books as well, which was heaven as I don't expect I'll have much time for that when the baby comes.

It was with sad hearts that we said 'Ciao bella!' to Italy and flew back on Friday. The flight back was at a much better time in early evening and the drive home smoother as we went a different route, across to Stoke. Why on earth we didn't go down that way I can only blame my sleep-addled baby brain for.


And when we came back, my lovely mother in law, who'd been coming to ours to feed the cat had made sure the fridge was stocked with bread and milk, left flowers to welcome us home and even mowed the lawn for us - what an amazing lady! We were glad to be back home as we're both being homebirds at the moment and really wanting to nest up.

We had the most fabulous 'babymoon' and are much more rested and relaxed now. Italy stole my heart!
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3 comments

  1. Gorgeous photos and so glad you had a lovely time! Love the one of the cat on the balcony!

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  2. Ah it sounds like you both has an amazing time! What a lovely idea, to have a holiday before the baby comes. You look so radiant :)) xx

    Gemma ♥ Miss Makeup Magpie

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  3. Looks like you had a lovely time!! Stylin' the bump!!

    Charlie x

    daintybride1.blogspot.com

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