Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
Trip End Feb 28, 2007

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Sunday, June 4, 2006

SUNDAY, 4th June
Another bad night, regrettably. I knew I shouldn't have eaten that chocolate drink. I even had chocolate mousse for dinner the previous night. The dinner was awful but the service was excellent. Of special mention was the attention given us by Fabio who made every effort to please our tastes and chase up our orders. It was an enormous, mirrored restaurant with several coach tours plus a wedding reception. I think the staff coped admirably.
I slept in that morning. Anne went to breakfast on her own and then joined the others on a boat trip out to the Isola Bella...island home of the wealthy Borromean Princes who still own much of the property around the lake. Napoleon once spent a night there with Josephine. There were over a hundred rooms in this house of which their guide conducted them through 25 of them mostly unfurnished except for one bedroom. Many were underground and therefore cool with rock and shell walls. Artworks...mostly portraits...were everywhere. It was a bit like an empty museum. Best of all were the beautiful formal gardens laid out on three tiers facing the lake. Roses in abundance, black bamboo and white peacocks strutting along the paths. There were some market stalls on the way back to the jetty which were very unusual in the type of merchandise they were carrying. Not the usual touristy stuff.
I arose from my bed later and strolled down to the empty restaurant to find myself something to eat and drink. Fabio was very considerate and directed me to a table and fetched me a jug of coffee to drink with that godawful excuse for bread they have in this country. I then went for a stroll along the lake front. It was wonderful. Straight out of a 1930's movie set. The promenade was scattered with formal gardens, statues and memorials. Occasionally there would be an area of the shoreline reserved for an hotel. A beach it was not. More like road fill. Certainly not pebbles and not a grain of sand in sight of course. But there were bodies sprawled on towels and their view was magnificent. Across the road from the lake were many similar hotels to the Bristol. Some even grander. These picture book European hotels all had three common features. The simplicity of their rectangular outline, the protruding balconies and the red flowers in baskets that decorated them. I could just picture Judy Dench and Maggie Smith strolling out arm in arm as they took the airs. Those mountain peaks were still outlined perfectly in the morning sunshine.
The Astoria Hotel was a mass of colour as I passed by...roses everywhere...adorning its so picture perfect fašade overlooking a glass enclosed dining room and fountain. Also the Regina Palace Hotel. Six floors of Riviera splendour.
I entered the town and wandered around the backstreets. Not a lot was open (it is Sunday) but I did find a Farmacia. I had another medical problem. My lower right leg had broken out in a fierce red rash and would not go away. I bought some very expensive skin cream which I applied during the next few days. It seemed to have no effect. [It was two weeks before a change did occur. It turned a deep brown and then started to peel just as if I had fallen asleep in the sun. Three weeks later I have a fine tanned right calf and it is still peeling. Maybe I have been exposed to a radiation burn?]
On my return to the hotel I found Marco taking a break in the garden. I asked him to write out a brief description of my belly ailment in case I was forced to visit a doctor...a doc who spoke no English.
My return coincided exactly with the island group's return and after a tidy up Anne and I met up with P&B and went for a walk. We headed in the direction of a cable car that they had noticed from the boat ride. The gondola took groups of twenty up the side of the mountains behind us but there was a queue of lycra clad bicyclists in front of us with their bikes!! We could not see us making a cable car for ages so we headed back to town where I did a conducted tour of the places I had been.
We stopped in the main square and had some lunch. I had a 'funghi' ommelette  whilst the others tucked in to salads.
I found myself a suitable key case at long last.
Back to the hotel where B and I decide to go poolside. Needless to say I did not go in. Even B admitted that his plunge into the icy waters took his breath away.
Dinner was average and in my case light. We took an evening stroll along the front as the lights were coming on. Back at the hotel the kids introduced us to what they called the 'sideways elevator'. [Ten year old J. by the way is an excellent artist. Often while we were being given a lecture he would be seated to one side sketching. He drew a terrific picture of the tower of Pisa with all the tiers in perfect perspective.]The hotel seemed to extend way back into the hills underground. A long irregular passage way led to the aforementioned pool and gym. However, an alternate way to reach same was to ride in this elevator that travelled sideways and up into the bowels of the hotel. Very like a funicular. There seemed to be no point to it. It only traveled about 50 metres. The novelty value maybe!
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