End of the line?

Day 8, 26 Aug 2001

Ahhh, it's the end of the holiday. Well for some it is, but not us. While others had to get packed and ready for a 7:15am departure to Marco Polo airport in Venice, we readied ourselves for a transfer down to our next destination: Riva del Garda, a town on Lake Garda. We had extended the stay in this resort, as had three other couples. We said our goodbyes at the airport then had a two and a half hour journey to the lake, the last 45 minutes of which took us through some stunning green and hilly scenery.

When we arrived at about 2pm, the heat hit us immediately as we got off the minibus. The air conditioning must have been working VERY well - this heat was a real shocker! The hotel itself - La Perla - was worth the wait, and more than made up for the previous hotel disappointments. No traces of rising damp here. Everything was shiny and the whole place had been decorated with a kind of modern art feel. There was a good pool out back and the view from the balcony was pretty darn impressive too.

Baking on the balcony

The view fromn the balcony at Hotel La Perla. Excuse the hideous object in the foreground While Manda flaked out in the room, I decided to make up for some of the rainy days and to catch a tan on the balcony. As I sat there, reading a novel, the factor 25 sun cream appeared to be melting off me like butter. Every few minutes I'd have to shake my hand to stop me dripping on to the book. Things were looking up!

Having baked for a good period of time, I decided to marinade myself instead, trying out the pool out back. I guessed they didn't get too many English-speaking visitors, based on the warning that was by the pool. It was in quite a few languages - German, Italian, Dutch and something else I couldn't identify - but not in English. The warning could have been about anything, say: "Swimming in this pool is strictly forbidden without the following: obscenely tight Speedos, a bushy moustache and oversized gut." I was one of few who would be disobeying that one then.

Welcome to Germany ...

Later, we took a walk down to the centre of Riva. We appeared to have landed in some kind of fantasy land. A land that seemed to be somewhere in Germany judging by the oompah-oompah bands and Brottwurst sausage stalls. There were mini fairground rides for the kids and all sorts of sideshows. It turned out that the weekend had been hosting a Mary Poppins festival (?), and we'd got there right at the end of the silly season.

We had a brief look at some of the souvenir shops before heading back to the hotel for the evening meal. There we found that the hotel staff had set a place for us already, and we would be dining with Jim and Susan, one of the couples who had extended their stay in Riva and were also staying at the hotel. Once again, I felt like I was in Germany - the waitress who served us had a Claudia Schiffer kind of look about her and like most of her colleagues seemed to be talking German. Italian was not the first language in these parts!