On Garda! A Month in a Caravan at Torbole, Lake Garda, Italy.

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Lake Garda at Torbole. Spot the windsurf boards…

It was not an uneventful trip. We wouldn’t have got to Garda had Mark not delivered a Caravan Manoeuvring Masterclass!

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With a whole site to choose from…

It did look as though we were right to chase the sun to Garda. We had fled Croatia in torrential rain and thunder. Other than being evicted from Austria, adverse storm chasing (ie running away from storms) seems to have become a bit of a reason for moving on our travels! Our hasty retreat took us through three countries in thirty minutes – Croatia, Slovenia and Italy.

To my delight, in Serbo Croat, Trieste has no vowels – it just Trst!

An overnight on the empty Campsite Vicenza left us with a question about campsite etiquette.

A motorhome arrived after us and, with a whole site to choose from, parked pretty much in our bedroom!

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…is it OK to park in someone’s bedroom?

Even without our over-friendly neighbour, our experience of Vicenza was not positive! According to Wikipedia, Vicenza is “known for the elegant buildings designed by the 16th-century architect Andrea Palladio.” However, I walked the dogs from the campsite into a little town that seemed to consist of dull parades of shops and two launderettes.

A path by the river claimed temptingly that it was part of ‘The Palladian Trail.’ It looked like ‘leads off’ so we followed it, even though it was rather ugly and overgrown with horrible, stinky plants. I didn’t need dinner when I got back to the caravan. I had already had my daily protein fix from all the flies that I had swallowed along the riverbank!

I could see the campsite from the river. I couldn’t face returning via the gauntlet of flies and triffids, so I clambered off piste to get on to a road. There, The Fab Four and I enjoyed a pleasant stroll past several scrap yards and a lorry park, which were guarded by terrifying dogs, before we emerged near the toll station where we had left the Autoroute. Then, it was just a quick walk down the main road, with no footpath and back to the campsite.

Lovely!

Thunderstorms overnight left the area around our caravan step like a mud bath and I couldn’t bring myself to use the shower block. All things considered, Vicenza was not the most edifying experience!

But then we dropped into Paradise!

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We were not sorry to leave Vicenza – but then we dropped into Paradise!

The manoeuvring challenges started first thing. We had to negotiate two 90 degree bends to get off our the site in Vicenza; I had to hold back a shrubbery to facilitate one of the turns!

Then the Sat Nav sent us down the wrong side of Lake Garda, so we had to perform a U-turn on the narrow, lakeside road! There is, quite literally, nowhere to turn round on the road, which is bordered by steep mountains on one side and the lake on the other.

I thought that we were going to have to travel the full length of the lake to Desenzano before we could turn around. However, we found a café with a small car park containing few cars that gave us JUST enough room to reverse our 40 foot length into to get back on track to Torbole.

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The campsite allocated us a pitch right next to the lake. Hurrah!

The next challenge was entirely our fault. Just this once, we disobeyed our own rule about scoping out a potential pitch before trying to drive the caravan on to it. More fool us! Although they had asked our dimensions, the campsite had allocated us a pitch that was right next to the lake (hurrah) but somewhat smaller than our 7.3m caravan (booo)! Of course, we didn’t find this out until we negotiated the narrow campsite road, avoiding the protruding bike racks and expensive cars parked in such a way as to make getting round the corners unnecessarily difficult.

So when we looked doubtfully at the pitch, paced it out and realised that there was absolutely NO WAY we could get on it, we had to do exactly the same route in reverse – the full length of the campsite. There was also a nifty backward wiggle into a blind dog leg thrown in before we could park somewhere sensible and ask Reception to give us a pitch that was actually large enough to accommodate us!

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But the pitch was too small. Here you can see the route via which we had to reverse all the way back up the campsite – past the shower block on the left, in the distance!

They did, but even that had its challenges.

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This pitch did fit us, although it did have its challenges…

With all this faffing, it took us a record 5 hours to get pitched. That’s worse than on our Maiden Voyage, when we had never, ever pitched a caravan before!

We were glad that we arrived the day after they stopped charging for dogs. What, with a charge of €4 per dog per night…! That said, this is the first site with a dog charge which actually does offer something for dogs. They had a doggy spa bathroom with Italian tiles and slate steps leading up to a doggy bath with a shower over the top. It was awesome! (Yet at the same time, difficult to do justice on a photo!)

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The view is not too disappointing, however…

And we were not too disappointed with our view…

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A record five hours to pitch. I had earned that cuppa! The T Shirt & coffee table book give an inkling of what is to come…!

Join us next time when I get the BEST ANNIVERSARY PRESENT EVER!

Instead of binge-watching TV Box Sets, why not binge-read World Wide Walkies?

There is plenty of travel talk and doggie delight to catch up on – and since it is compatible with all devices, you can read it on the bus, on the train or in your coffee break. Click ‘Follow’ or enter your email address and you won’t miss any future episodes! The story so far is all there, in order, in the After Dog Archive.

Review of Campsite Maroadi

We stayed at Campsite Maroadi in Torbole, right on the shores of Lake Garda. This is our review;

A great place for cycling and watersports enthusiasts and there is also lots of pretty hiking and some climbing and via ferrata in the area. The outdoors appeal helps to create a nice relaxed and cool atmosphere. If you want a very quiet atmosphere to read without activity going on around you then maybe it would suit you less and another part of the lake would be better. The facilities are the best in over 100 sites we have used and of a health club standard. There is even a doggie bath/shower which is a welcome change given the charges for dogs at most EU sites but no facilities for that charge. Nice restaurant/bar and a well stocked small shop on site with Lidl only 100 yards to walk from the campsite. Great surroundings with cliffs rising from the water and a nice pebble beach to sit and watch all the water activity. If you have dogs then they must be kept on a lead in all areas along the water until 16th September which would be a pain and the site also charges e4 per dog which is very steep but no charge after the same date.* The pitches are a little small but there is a separate on site parking area at no extra charge for the first vehicle which negates that single criticism. I would still have to grade the pitches 5* as they have personal water and waste and are kept in exemplary condition. Prices are a little above average but worth it for location and quality.
The staff are also very nice and couldn’t have been more accommodating when we needed a delivery accepted.

*Since we wrote this review, the date for charging for dogs has changed and is now in October, so do check!

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