Wow, so much to catch up on. Saturday, I got online a bit while the kids swam in the pool, then it was off to the beach for the afternoon. The boys got their first topless sun bather exposure, and seemed quite pleased about it. Saturday evening the boys and I made friends with a nice Italian family camped next to us. They had 2 boys, Mario 15 and L-something 11 and a girl Valerie 13. They were down to compete in the Italian nationals for olympic wrestling. The daughter took 3rd in her age group. The kids all hit it off as soon as I threw out the Frisbee, and played for several hours. Michael and Mario talked about video games, Invader Zim cartoons on his iPod and the funny looking American money. Kids seem to just figure out how to communicate without us. I love it. They gave the boys some Teramesue (sp) dessert. I sat with the folks at common picnic table between the campers and talked about wrestling, my artwork (photos on the laptop) and music. Turns out my iTunes is full of the parents favorite music from their younger days too (they were in their 40's as well). They spoke very little english and I speak no Italian but we managed to have a very wonderful evening regardless.
The next day, Sunday we headed into Rome once more. I focused on kid friendly stuff. I let Michael do the Shuttle, Train and subway navigation. He took this job very seriously and did a wonderful job getting us all over Rome and back home. I was very proud of him. Our first stop was the Capuchin Crypts a very fantastic collection of skeletons of monks arranged in amazing decorations. Needless to say they loved it. Next we were off to the zoo which was another hit. I forget how much kids enjoy a zoo. We then walked down to the Trevi Fountain
and each tossed in a coin to ensure our return to Rome one day. Then it was on to the Pantheon and again there is just not words to describe the scale of the architecture. The boys thought a hole in the ceiling of a church was pretty cool. Since it was sprinkling rain, they got the whole effect. I must admit that it was seriously cool. Then it was back to camp where I cooked dinner.
Monday was a travel day, and we packed up and headed to Monaco. A long drive but one of the most beautiful I have ever driven, even on the highway. Driving for hours along the Mediterranean up the Italian and then French coast is stunning. Driving a large (by European standards) camping in Monaco however is not fun. I might ever suggest the most stressful driving I have done. The GPS apparently does not take into account either the width of the road or the grade. I wound up on switchback so tight I had to take two approaches. Cars park all along the road and I was squeezing between rock cliffs and parked cars with four inches of clearance on either side. Once we arrived at the camp ground we discovered it was closed, for good it appeared. So we had to find another spot. The next spot was only 40 kilometers away, but due to the roads and traffic, and my dependance on the $(%*(# GPS, it took three hours, and we arrived too late. We spent our first night free camping. Thats code for, finding a well lit parking lot, locking up, pulling the curtains and pretending your not in a train station parking lot. The boys slept fine (the same can not be said for me;-)
Tuesday I made the mistake of driving back into Monaco. I followed the P signs for Camper parking which there are exactly one of in all of Monaco. My camper it 3.5 meters tall, and the parking garage for campers turns out to be 3.4 meters. I asked a friendly polizia were I could park, and his response was "Not in Monaco." We winded our way down the coast until we found street parking, and took the train back to Monaco. The train was perfect and we should have taken in from where we camped. We are such beginners. We walked up to the Palace and over to the Aquarium. It was very nice and the kids enjoyed it a lot. Then it was down to the Marina for lunch. This is in the middle of Monaco Grand Prix race course. Very neat place to lunch. The drive to Nice for camping turned out to be yet another adventure. The GPS took us back up alleys and back roads that a motorcycle would find difficult. The road we were on narrowed and became lease travelled and more grassy until it finally petered out into a dead end. I had to walk back down to a hairpin turn, move the large rocks marking the edge, so I could back the camper over the edge to turn around. Then with Michael standing on the edge of the road guiding me, I backed down the 2000 yards, and then did four back and forth turns over the edge and we were once more headed back down the mountain. Did I mention the kids were fighting too. All in all a somewhat stressful afternoon, but a great day never the less.
Wednesday is a down day at a real camp ground just outside of Nice, France still on the Riviera. The boys asked for two nights, and I was ready to relax a bit myself. Having had a hot shower and coffee and a cresaunt I am feeling wonderfully refreshed and looking forward to the rest of the day by the pool.