The Italian lakes sound like a holiday for Nan and Granddad, but the reality is far from it. Streets are lined with honey coloured walls and decked with faultlessly glamourous Italians bathing in the warmth of the Dolce Vita (and it’s not difficult to see why this is truly an Italian phrase once you’ve consumed your third ice cream cone of the day).

Garda Icecream

More often than not ‘the biggest’ turns out to be the worst – think of chain restaurants and hotels, where giant price tags affix themselves to familiar names, all for a taste of roasted disappointment. This is not the case with Italy’s largest lake however, as the towns surrounding Lake Garda are small and authentic, still offering you the chance to find those teeny, backstreet restaurants with space for 8, whose chequered table cloths will recall quieter days.

The plan of attack for Lake Garda should involve a visit to the prettiest towns surrounding the lake, many a boat trip atop the pristine, aquamarine water and as much gelato, gnocchi and pasta as one can acceptable consume in polite society.

The most convenient airports for getting to the lake are Verona or Brescia, and from there you can take a short train ride on to one of the lakeside towns.

Ideally, it is better to choose one lakeside hotel and stat put, rather than lugging your belongings back and forth across the lake. From your base point, it’s easy to access any of the towns by catching a lake ferry – though be careful to give those jetty timetables a thorough once-over, as the timetables aren’t always suited to the zippy, cram-it-all-in traveller. This is Italy, after all; the land where they appreciate “dolce far niente’ – the pleasure of idleness.

rocca_scaligeraEvery trip should include a visit to the town of Sirmione on the southern shore. The town’s moated, 13th century castle “Rocca Scaligera” (try pronouncing that one with Italian flair!) provides fantastic views across the lake, if you have the energy or motivation to make it up to the top. For those in it for the relaxation, a visit to the hot springs, such as Terme di Sirmione, is in order. Hot springs have been used over the centuries for their healing properties, and whilst the sceptic might find this notion a questionable tourism ploy, the waters will undoubtedly leave your skin softer and your mind refreshed after a good soak.

Next up on the agenda is Gardaland. You don’t need to be with kids to enjoy this fantastic theme park and, after all, not the entire getaway can’t be spent sighing over views of the lake and sipping wine.

castle_malcesineThe second town of interest is Malcesine, with the stunning Scaligero Castle, perched high on a cliff overlooking the lake. This is a popular wedding spot, so don’t be surprised if you see dozens of well-dressed, good-looking Italians skirting around. Literary lovers will also enjoy indulging in extracts of Goethe’s writing, and accounts of his castle visits.

Forgetting fears of heights will also allow you to take a cable car up Mount Baldo to visit the restaurant and shop at the top, as well as providing you with one of the best photo opps of the trip. Finally, after a tiring day of sight-seeing, the well-regarded Ristorante Al Gondoliere is the place to be for the best homemade gnocci around. This restaurant serves the kind of food that has you Googling local house rental prices.

Finally, top off your trip with a visit to Riva Del Garda. At the very north of the lake, the scenery here transforms from towns and medieval alleyways to glorious mountain backdrops and fjords. This part of the island is much less built up, and is also considered the best ice cream stop off point (a well-loved favourite is the Gelateria Flora whose sundaes will make you come back for round two). The more adventurous travellers will also delight in the treks into the mountains, which will bring you to waterfalls, Bronze Age settlements and castle ruins.

So what do you think? Have you packed yet? Let us know about your experience of Lake Garda below!

 

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Where is Point Nepean?

Point Nepean marks the southern point of the beautiful Mornington Peninsula and the eastern entrance to Port Phillip Bay. It has a rich history and played an important role in shaping the early settlement, quarantine and defence of Victoria.

My family and I had a recent power-break weekend away where we stayed at the very comfortable Oceanic Apartments in Sorrento and spent the Sunday exploring Point Nepean. We were extremely fortunate with the weather given it is still winter but the sun did shine and only a gentle breeze meant it was very pleasant walking weather.

Point Nepean, Mornington Peninsula

We parked the car near Gunners Cottage and walked from Point Nepean Cemetery, Observation Point, Cheviot Hill Stop to Fort Pearce where we boarded the bus to the Fort Nepean. (Our feet had had enough walking!). We passed pristine beaches (above) and reminders of the war history of the area (below). The sign on the gate is a warning for unexploded bombs beyond!

War history reminders at Point Nepean

We spent a good hour at Fort Nepean exploring the military forts and tunnels and the photo below is showing the very tip of the peninsula, the heads (opening to Port Phillip Bay) out to Point Lonsdale in the distance.

The Heads at Point Nepean

Lonely Planet East Coast Australia (Travel Guide)

Map

TravelTipsPlus Google Map of Point Nepean

One Great Reason to Visit Point Nepean

One great reason to visit this travel destination is for the stunning views across the bay to Queenscliff, Point Lonsdale and the heads.

Point Nepean by Cycle Atlas

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Where is Karumba?

Karumba is a small community 70km north from Normanton, Queensland and lies on the Gulf of Carpentaria at the mangrove-fringed mouth of the Norman River. It’s main attraction is fishing for barramundi, prawns and crab-fishing. The Barramundi Discovery Centre is well worth a visit. It breeds barramundi fingerlings through each wet season which are then released to restock Gulf waterways and rivers which is critical if we are to have ‘Fish for a fishing Future’. With fishing tourism being the main attraction there are plenty of opportunities to hire your own boat (boat licence required) or catch a fishing charter.

Karumba is also known for its spectacular sunsets which can be viewed from boat or Karumba Point Beach. These photos below were taken from Travel Tips Plus reader Jane. Jane and her husband are currently on a great adventure trooping around Australia with their gorgeous dog Mac.

Sunset at Karumba

 

Karumba sunset

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TravelTipsPlus Google Map of Karumba

Karumba, Australian Travel Video Guide

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Argos Hotel – A hidden gem

Back during 1996 I found myself travelling to Turkey, alone. I was away for a period of 3 weeks. After arriving in Istanbul, I headed south through Ankara and down to the coast. I spent a few days longer than I wished to in Antalya after getting caught up in a bus strike and I couldn’t get out. Well, that’s a whole other story – full of adventure!

During my meanderings through the streets and laneways of Antalya, I came across the hidden, boutique Argos Hotel. The afternoon sun was getting hot and I longed for a little bit of comfort – I had been staying at a cheaper pension. I decided to be cheeky and ask if I could, for a small fee, spend the afternoon by their pool and promised I’d buy a couple of drinks. :)

They kindly allowed this and after settling on a poolside lounge I settled in for the most gorgeous afternoon. There were few others around probably opting for local tours. So it’s nearly 20 years since I’ve been there and I wondered if it was still operating. A little Google search quickly confirmed it is!

The Argos Hotel, Antalya, Turkey

A scanned business card I kept

 

poolside at the Argos Hotel

I had the pool almost all to myself!

 

Antalya door

A typical door – Antalya, Turkey

Argos Hotel, Antalya

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