Family Travel

Campervan Catastrophes (and avoiding tourists) in Italy

19 September, 2013

We didn’t mean to stop in Italy, we were going to crawl along the bottom of Germany, down to Croatia through Austria. But we had a last minute change of heart and decided to explore Lake Como on our way through. (Yes, we are having the least well planned trip in the whole History of Trips, organising our destinations solely through the use of Google Images.)

Sadly, it was at Lake Como, perhaps through a mixture of too many Italian carbs and red wine, that Betty (our camper, in case any newcomers think I am flippantly talking about my alcoholic, pasta loving gran’s demise) breathed her last, for this trip at least.

It was almost certainly the turbo, many conversations with our London mechanic made it quite apparent, but the local one who towed it away declared it to be a £900 clutch problem. We were out of our depth; facing a huge bill (and still leaving us with a smoking engine and no turbo power) and very little means to communicate properly. We were also gutted that we’d use up all our AA benefits only one third of the way in to our trip.

Pretty reluctantly we took up the AA’s offer of shipping Betty home to fix her up. We are now finishing off this leg with a tent, a rental car and some flights home. Then we’ll be able to pick Betty up and head to Spain for the last leg.

We were so sad to say Bye to Betty but no way on earth are we letting a little old thing like not having a Campervan stop our Campervan Roadtrip! *sings* Don’t stop us now… We’re having such a good tiiiime…

So, we hung around Lake Como for a week sorting this out. So blinking beautiful. We found the local gelato dealer pretty pronto, scoops of LITERALLY THE BEST ICE CREAM I’ve ever tasted for One Measley Euro. The warmest lake, we swam every day.


Then we hooned (you can hoon in a zippy little car, it’s a definite benefit) down to Venice. Venice really appealed to me, the history and mystery of this funny little place. I wanted to be charmed by it in real life, not just through films (and google images.) We stayed at Camp Fusina, you get the ferry over to Venice, makes it much cheaper.

The first hour, from 9am, was lovely; just as enchanting as it was meant to be. It was peaceful and quiet and we meandered about a pretty empty, beautiful town.
20130919-083819.jpg Then gradually it filled up with cruise ship tours and, like, tourists and things and it was hard to enjoy it as much.

We are clearly tourists, touring around, doing touristy things, but tourists WELL ruin a place! I think it’s a kind of “I’ve come to CONSUME this city, to GRAB it and take it home” kind of attitude. Like a massively cynical version of that song from Oliver “Who will buy this wonderful morning… Me, oh my! I don’t want to lose it! Who will tie it up in a ribbon? And put put it in a box for meeee…” and very much without the Victorian nannies dancing with prams and chimney sweeps prancing with brooms and little orphan trying to make his fortune (to my utter disappointment… hello, Venice? Next time, jiving chimney sweeps, right?)

People were taking pictures of the actual mankiest pigeons, the homeless people and MY CHILDREN. Literally, just snapping away, at Ramona walking along, Juno and I sitting down eating crisp sandwiches (Venice on a shoestring, folks!) and Ramona asleep in her buggy. As if every sight was one for them to scoff in their faces.

(It was nearly as bad as Luzern, Switzerland, an absolutely stunning town but our view of it tainted by people taking photos of us and one guy actually coming up, seriously, get this, while we were chilling on a bench, and asking if we were “An act? A publicity act, of some kind?!” ERRR?!!! We reckoned it was a mixture of babywearing and having a toddler with half a face painted like a cat and half naked from splashing in the lake, but still, Shiver my Timbers, leave a family alone, peeps!)


We spent a bit of time discussing how you can visit places without being a tourist. We don’t really have many answers but I think a lot of it is about attitude.

While we were in Venice, I pulled out a cross-stitch my friend from the Craftivist Collective did and tied it on a bridge. I thought the words, about a kind of global citizenship, would click in a place so jammed with visitors from across the world.


And now, after 5 weeks of travelling, our sanity mostly in tact and with only one member of the party down, we’ve made it to Croatia!! We’ve only been here for 3 days but am already overawed with the beauty- will post again soon. (Yep, free wifi at this campsite, they love wifi here. And meat.)

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  • Anna 19 September, 2013 at 9:40 am

    I love your updates! I am vicariously living my dreams via your blog. When we were in Ayuttaya in Thailand some Koreans came and asked if we were “backpackers” and could they have their photos taken with us… being sans bebe at the time we thought it was dead funny and went along with the whole sleb factor shenanigans, but random peoples taking photos of the little un’s is just wrong-diddley.
    As for low-tourist holiday destination? Having travelled a fair bit I can honestly say the good old Yorkshire Dales is our favourite and the food is always top drawer!
    Keep on truckin’!

  • Rosealys 19 September, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Ooo I envy you that quiet hour in Venice, I’ve never been, always put off by the touristy-ness of it, sadly, because I think it must be a very beautiful city.
    I live in Switzerland (expat), and although I don’t now Luzern very well, it’s not one of the places I’m really inclined to visit for much the same reason. And in Switzerland you tend to stand out if you don’t look “normal”. It’s one of the things I don’t like about it, which is a shame, because generally it’s a very beautiful (o, slightly twee) country.
    Loving your updates, and I’ve found your blog very inspiring since I “discovered” it, all of a couple of weeks ago. 😀

  • Charis 19 September, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Well I hope poor Betty is fixed up quick!

    I’ve not been to Venice but have heard that unfortunately it is somewhat ruined by the tourists! The irony.

  • Libs 19 September, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Poor Betty,

    But so glad to hear you are still taking the travels by the balls and showing them what’s what.

    Have fun and a Get Well Soon wish for Betty

  • Valerie 20 September, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Jealous lol We went to Venice on our honeymoon, in December 2005. Going in December does eliminate a lot of tourists, but it was pretty cold, not really camping weather lol.

  • Karina 20 September, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Wee bit envious that you are in beautiful Croatia!

    Lovely photos:-)


  • Molly 21 September, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    I know what you mean about the hordes and the cameras and the way it can spoil a place. We’ve just come back from Northern Spain (Cantabria) and it was BEAUTIFUL in the lack of cameras or frenzied “country consumerism”!

  • Lally Jane young 25 September, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Ahh hunny. But what a beautiful area to breakdown in ! We are in Dubai whilst hubby is beavering away, whilst I plan our next destination. Alaska is calling. We have to try and work, well at least one of us is ! Hope u get sorted out soon

  • jenna 29 September, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    I have followed you blog since my boy was born in December 2011. Breastfeeding on demand allowed me to catch up on most of your posts since you started writing your blog. I still wait in anticipation of new posts. I envy your family so much right now. You are living your dreams. Keep going xxx