|The Meerkat nic name has gained a life of its own.|
Here's Marc's Xmas present from his nephew ready for sea.
|Alexander Palace - London|
Minutes later we got our first glimpses of Venice from the air. Seen from above, this remarkable city steeped in history, seemingly rises out of the sea on not much more than a sand bar yet it has stood proudly as a centre of culture for thousands of years. The airport is located on the mainland so we caught a water bus to our stop just next to the famous Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal. From there it was just a short walk to our budget hotel. There are no cars of any sort on Venice so your choice is walk or hail one of the absolutely beautiful but exorbitantly priced water taxis.
|St Marks Square and Cathedral in the background|
It was amazing visiting St Mark’s Cathedral and Square, wandering around the Dogue’s Palace and through the prison cells that once held Casanova. A tour of the Opera House was an absolute highlight as it is definitely the most impressive interior design and decorating we have ever seen anywhere in the world but best of all was just wandering around the lanes and alleys discovering something different around every corner. The little cafes and restaurants were fantastic and we enjoyed a couple of long lunches featuring some excellent wines as we sheltered from the cold.
|The Grand Canal|
|Our first view of Moksha. What a monster compared to all we'd sailed before.|
Our first impressions of Moksha were that she was far bigger and more impressive in the flesh than all of the photos we’d seen. On boarding her we couldn’t believe the small army of technicians and tradesmen working above and below decks. With much of her interior finish, upholstery, inspection panels etc removed she was far from dressed in her best finery but we were still awed by her lines and state of the art approach to sailing.
|Yes that is ice hanging off the stern|
On Sunday Tim was driving over the border into Slovenia to visit a friend in the capital Ljubljana, and we happily took the opportunity to go for the ride. The Bora was still blowing so we got our first taste of European motorways in the snow as we climbed through the mountains. By the time Tim dropped us off in Ljubljana’s main square we were happy to head straight to a nice café we spotted and had a fantastic lunch and bottle of local wine.
|Phil's birthday bash|
|The castle at Sirmione on Lake Garda|
It was dark by the time we reached the pretty town of Limone and found a modest hotel that was actually open. The bar downstairs was filled with locals and being the only guests in the place we enjoyed a couple of pre dinner vino rosso (red wines) with them. After a huge breakfast included in the price, we left with fond memories of Limone and continued on our odyssey of the lake.
If you want to go looking for Julliette’s balcony you will find it shown on most of the tourist maps. What they may not tell you is the balcony was actually tacked onto to an old building in 1936 specifically to satisfy the number of tourists looking for the fictional structure. Although we spent most of the day wandering the streets of Verona, funnily enough neither of us were that interested in walking a block out of our way to see it.
Phil came along for the drive and our first stop was at the Castle on the cliff tops of Duino overlooking the northern end of the Adriatic Sea. What we saw wasn’t all that encouraging as the Bora wind seemed stronger and colder than ever whipping the sea into huge fields of white spray. Were we really going to sail in this?
|Wonder why this yacht was a bit low in the stern?|
|Piran is a beautiful spot on the Slovenian Coast|
|On the waterfront at Trieste|
|We said the wind was strong|
|We also said it was cold.|