The Historic Dockyards in Portsmouth are best thought of as a kind of British naval history theme park. There are half a dozen ships of different vintages and states of repair, ranging from the half-hulk of Henry VIII's Mary Rose, all the way up to a submarine that was running missions in the Cold War. It's huge. We spent two days exploring the dockyard's multiple museums, and could easily have spent a third. The highlight was probably the Mary Rose exhibit, which was opened in 2016, 33 years after the ship was retrieved from the bottom of the sea. The
The kids were very keen to visit Loch Ness to search for its famed monster, so we all bundled into the car to make the 45-minute trip up the road to Fort Augustus at the south end of the loch. Because we had someone in sick bay yesterday, it was all a bit spur-of-the-moment. Just as we arrived, there happened to be a boat departing that very minute for a scenic cruise around the lake, so we hopped aboard. We lucked into a gloriously sunny day and had a lovely, informative tour. Amongst other tidbits, we learned that Loch Ness
Bristol is an easy drive from Bath, but the weather conspired so that we only spent a single day in the city. It started off as a rainy morning in a museum, and then blossomed into a beautiful Saturday afternoon in a bustling port. The M Shed in Bristol was an eclectic mix of exhibits A highlight for the kids was the riding the water bus across the river. Brunel's SS Great Britain is a famed Bristol attraction, but one we only admired from the outside. We climbed to the to of Cabot Tower on Brandon Hill to admire the
One way to escape the crowds Venice is to head out to the islands. We set our sights for Murano, famed for its glass making. Firing glass in the kiln Shaping hot glass into a glass. While we were there, we were blessed with our first properly sunny day in Venice. The canals came alive in a whole new way with the sunshine dancing off the water. And, of course, the thrill of an extra-long boat ride out into the lagoon. Leaving Murano on the Water Bus
Capri is the most famous island in the Bay of Naples, but we opted instead to take a day trip to the island of Ischia. It takes about an hour on a fast catamaran (definitely a feature for the small boys in the party) Watching the ferry pull out of the port. We picked a perfect day for a trip to the island — clear blue skies, brilliant sunshine, and the warmest day of the trip thus far, with temperatures climbing up over 15 degrees. That is still not quite swimming weather, and we didn't think to bring togs. Foolish parents.
As we planned our drive from Bologna down to Rome, we chose Orvieto as a lunch stop, more-or-less at random: about 2/3 of the way along, some recommended restaurants for lunch, guide book says it has a good cathedral. (The guidebook seems to sing the praises of most cathedrals, to be honest.) The meal was nothing special, but what a place to stop. Orvieto is a walled medieval town on a hill, and to judge by the acres of parking garages, clearly handles major crowds in peak season. But on a Tuesday in February, even if it was beautifully sunny, we
On one of our days in Bologna, we took a day trip to Modena. The highlight for the boys was surely the 30-minute train journey. Catching the train at Bologna Centrale. Train buffs (hi, Dad) will want to know that we didn't actually ride this high-speed train, since it was 5x the price and only saved 10 minutes. Plus regular Italian trains feel plenty fast for our Canadian boys. Modena's laneways were very similar to Bologna, and indeed the whole town feels like a smaller, quainter version of its neighbour. The steeple of Modena's Duomo through the lanes We visited on a Saturday,