Saturday, November 9, 2013

Verona - Genova - Cannes - Avignon - Toulouse

Back in Finland this spring I noticed that many of my favorite bands/artists (Nick Cave, Pet Shop Boys, Rammstein, Suede...) were going to tour Europe this summer/fall. As a huge music fan I started to plan our trip according to the tour plans... but as we have noticed plans change and in the end this wasn't too easy thing to do, e.g. because I have to listen Wolfi as well (at least occasionally...), so we didn't manage to go to a single concert! :(

Well luckily when I was bound to bed in Croatia I had some time for planning and dreaming again... and then I discovered that Suede is going to be in two weeks in Toulouse! That would be possible for us to reach! I've been wanting to see Suede for almost 20 years already, so this was really a big dream come true!!!

So I started to plan our trip towards Toulouse... Back in Finland I was also dreaming to visit Venice, but after some experiences and discussions I understood that it wouldn't be much fun with bikes or with our girls. The second thing I wanted to experience in Italy was "Shakespeare's" Verona and finally after some persuasion and sweet movie (Letters to Juliet) it was fine by Wolfi as well. Yes! :D

So from Croatia we went mostly highway to Verona, because there was no nice little streets or it would be just a boring 'village to village' -drive. The day started as extremely foggy, but in the end turned out to be rather nice and warm. Highway went quite painlessly thanks to the good music in my mp3-player and my back was doing much better already!

Unfortunately it was Sunday when we arrived to Verona and all the nice vegan restaurants we had planned to go to were closed! (even though some advertised to be open...) So we ended up eating very boring and tasteless side dishes from one pizzeria. Never had so tasteless and porridge like polenta before! Yucky! At least the 'Promised Land' -movie we had for desert was great :) I recommend to watch it!
After walks we always try to wash girls feet, so they don't lick all the shit what comes e.g. from city streets. In Verona the shower hose was too short to reach the ground, so we had to use the bidet for the little ones :D
We found really delicious vegan ice cream in one coffee shop and were able to enjoy it outside in T-shirts in November! Terveiset Suomeen! :D
Southern style toilet! I had seen these in TV before and now finally in real life. Not fun at all when you have stiff back or heavy biking clothes on...
Entertainment in the downtown Verona. The middle guy is a real human also!
I got to touch Juliet's boob! :D Let's see did it bring any luck...
Juliet's balcony and so much different than in the movies. Set designers really do a good job!
This was a human trying to squeak like an unhappy doggy. If the money would've gone to charity, I could've donated some.
I got trapped by some Romans...
Finally on our second day in Verona we found a nice vegan place to have lunch/dinner. Universo Vegano was a very sweet little fast food place and we can warmly recommend it to everyone! Just be prepared to wait your order for quite some time if you come in rush hour... there was only one man working!
Happy Wolfi with a very delicious vegan burger!
My wrap was also pretty good, just unfortunately extremely salty! I'm not used to much salt anymore!
Our hotel in Verona was very close to the old city wall park and that was very nice for girls. We could enjoy some lovely walks and girls got plenty of play! Besides the park was also a good big bio-shop from where we finally found vegan kibbles for girls. Wow, we really were lucky! Just that morning we ran out of food and then in the evening found this place, fantastic! Oh and Wolfi got some more vegan ice cream...

Next day we continued to Genova in a very nasty weather. Very heavy rain and in beginning even some thunder! The last half of the way was even very nice mountain road, but unfortunately couldn't enjoy it much :(

Genova was a shocking surprise for both of us. The whole city (expect the little part of the old town) looks like one giant slum! Not much green anywhere and the little green there is, is heavily fenced! Horrible big block houses right next to each other and very narrow roads in between! We got totally lost there and had huge trouble to find our hostel... Luckily there were two nice guys who tried to help us even with their very poor English :) Finally in the already dark city we found our hostel and were very happy we booked it only for one night. Genova definitely isn't for us or for dogs! I must say that it's so far the most ugliest place I've seen on this trip!
The view from our room in Genova.
I don't understand why can't everyone use the same toilets...? Well I certainly didn't start going to downstairs every time and anyway people think quite often I'm a boy! And if somebody would start complaining, I'd just say "You want to see into my pants?" :D
After finally getting out of Genova and finding our highway towards Cannes, we were very relieved! No meaningful little roads, so again the whole leg on a boring highway, but at least the weather was very beautiful and warm.

btw. the petrol in Italy was horrible expensive, about 1.88e/l !!! So we tried to manage with very little filling until France...

For our surprise we found a rather big bio-shop in Cannes with very good selection on vegan foods. (earlier we haven't been too lucky with finding bio stuff in France) We also had a nice little apartment with pretty good kitchenette, so I decided to pamper Wolfi a bit and made some unhealthier (but of course delicious) cooked food for a change! :)
BBQ-spiced onion-paprika-couscous with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and seitan. 
The beach at Cannes, France.
I saw for the first time in my life date palms! Full of delicious looking golden dates and I was just drooling :P
Last evening in Cannes was Halloween and also Wolfi's names day, so I made some pancakes :) They turned out to be extremely delicious and I'll be blogging the recipe soon!

Cannes was pretty ok place to visit, but not really for us either. Not much green there, except just in the beach side and in the small parks and dogs are forbidden almost everywhere (and ball games!). Well locals didn't seem to care much about the signs and we of course followed their example... At least our accommodation the Kimi Residence was an excellent place to be and the Icelandic guy working there was a very helpful and kind person! There is also a nice little peaceful inner yard and girls could play there a bit :)
Making pancakes takes rather long, so I needed some entertainment :D Wolfi just didn't like too much of my idea to hold the tablet...
The leaving from Cannes didn't start too easily, because we couldn't get our tanks filled! Some French petrol machines don't except foreign credit cards!!! Well third times the charm and off we went to really beautiful and curvy roads... The Grand Canyon du Verdon was just spectacular! I had no idea there would be such place in France. Extremely wonderful 300 km on the bike, but also way too much for me! I'm not made for sitting 6 hours on bike a day, 4 hours is my maximum! So only in very needed occasions I'm willing to do this sort of legs. 300km on highway is totally different than 300km on mountain roads!!!

View from 'Route Napoleon'.

View to Grand Canyon du Verdon
Germany in Provence :D
In Avignon we stayed again in Premier Classe hotel, which we have found to be pretty ok for a short stay. Cheap and quite often they're also in some sort of industrial area, which are nice and quiet at weekends! There were also two very good bio-shops nearby and some green, so no worries :)
French tampons don't look too comfortable... I wouldn't recommend! :D
It was 3rd. of November when we arrived to Toulouse and our 6th. monthiversary of this trip! We wanted to celebrate with some nice dining out, but it was Sunday and almost everything was closed already, so we ended up in Subway.... How boring :(

The weather in Avignon was mostly wet and windy, which was pitty, because we even had some rather nice green areas around us to have proper walks. Well at least the last night brought us a great award: the Suede concert! That was amazing! Really great from beginning on and even Wolfi liked, who isn't a fan! Brett Anderson was full of energy and devotion, and my favorite song 'Flash Boy' (+many others!) he came to sing to the middle of the audience!!! Fantastic concert! Even the warm up band 'Teleman' was great and we also met them in our hotel after the concert :) They happened to live in the same place as us and we had small chat when we were taking girls out. They really seemed to like girls and took pictures of them! Let's see how famous our little stars will be one day...
Brett singing with great devotion! Almost got tears in my eyes... this was a real dream come true!!!

~ Ilta

And here are some road impressions:

Click here if you have trouble to see this video.

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