Alastair's Blog

Venice to Monaco Classic Rally - September 2017

Alastair Caldwell - Tuesday, October 31, 2017



This was a lovely 2-week drive through Italy, Croatia, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Montenegro and France, including the islands of Sicily, Sardinia & Corsica. I was going to take the Alfa but wimped out and decided to take my trusty Mercedes 280SL on this trip. The SL has a roof so I thought it might suit the non-summer we were having at the time!

Here we are on the Eurotunnel on the way to Venice for the start of the rally. There were lots of balloons over Metz on the way down there.




Stopped off at the lovely Cafe Flo in Nancy. Over a hundred years old and still stunning and great food as well.



Stayed the night in the Grand on the fantasy Place Stanislaus in Nancy. It was built by a Polish rent-a-King who made Nancy the capital of France for a while!






From there we went up into the mountains, here's the SL on St Gotthard Pass, where we had hot chocolate, goulash soup and some local meats and cheeses.



Then we arrived in Venice, it always looks fantastic. There was a lovely Porsche tractor on the Kempinski front lawn. Here it is plus some other snaps of Venice.







So up to now we were just getting to the starting point. Now it was the first day of the Venice Monaco Rally proper. We bopped through Trieste and Slovenia and then on into Croatia. We 
spent the night in Rovinj, which is a lovely old town with lots of wonderful shops, bars, restaurants and buildings, too much to take in in one night but we tried our best!



This guy was jumping off Mostar bridge for cash - it's a big jump!







Having gone through Slovenie and Croatia, we then arrived in Mostar, Bosnia. We'd had good roads so far, good weather and food so it was all looking good - and the yellow peril Merc was fine! Here's a video of some blowholes in Croatia.


Here we are at the cathedral in Split.






This is a lovely river flowing out of the mountain at Blagaj, Bosnia. It's a national monument.








We saw a big water wheel, sadly it wasn't in service, and this lovely old fortified town.



Singing waiters in a very good restaurant in Dubrovnik, there was a big storm outside while we were there.







We spent an evening in Dubrovnik in a lovely restaurant, the Kopun. Had a bit of a hard day today, with a puncture and blown exhaust but still all good. Off to Albania and Montenegro tomorrow.







We had a very busy few days, through Croatia then Bosnia Mostar bridge, then back to Croatia to see Dubrovnik and then a quick drive through Montenegro and Albania. Now we're on a ferry heading for Bari in Italy. The Yellow Peril is going well apart from a flat tyre and noisy exhaust.








Then we were back to Italy again, all great as normal - roadside prostitution, lovely food, mad traffic and the Trulli houses in the deep South. Here we are in Alberobello, a world heritage site.







Next stop was Sicily, where we stayed in a lovely hotel with a pool then had a great drive across the island to the ferry to Sardinia. We saw the Enna circuit and drove on lots of the Targa Florio track, sadly it is in very bad shape these days. Sardinia! Never been before.

Driving the course at Targa Florio


At the pits on the course













We spent a very nice day and evening in the town of Matera. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apparently it was originally a troglodyte settlement and has all these houses built on top of each other carved out of the rock face. Fascinating to see.


 



Then it was across the ferry to Sicily, had a nice drive to Taormina. The locals are quick to point out that Sicily is in Italy! Even if you do have to take a ferry to get there from the mainland!



Lovely view over Taormina from our hotel.



From Taormina the next stop was Palermo, where we had a drink and bruschetta on the waterfront before boarding the overnight ferry to Sardinia. 



Sardinian cows and calves, they've all got bells on. There's one errant one at the end - there's always one troublemaker!


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We had lunch in a lovely restaurant on Sardinia. Now we're about to board a ferry to Corsica which is in the background of the shot.




After Corsica came Nice, we we arrived to beautiful weather and fantastic views on top of the mountain.







On one night we had the glamour of Monte Carlo and the Hermitage hotel, the next we were in a simple pension on top of a Col in the Alps. Both good ?? Also lots of sheep!












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