I don’t know what it is about spring this year but the blossoms on the trees are ‘Out of this world’. Is it because it has been a long drawn out winter or is it just the sheer longing for some colour in the world? Either way, I am really enjoying the burst of vibrant colours at the moment and hope it lasts for a while. Which season do you have at the moment, some of our followers on Instagram are just going into Autumn and Winter?
When we were planning our trip to Italy, I really wanted to visit some of the famous and beautiful, touristy towns of the Italian Riviera. We chose to stay in Loano because it was in between two of the towns/countries I wanted to visit. I had always wanted to visit Monaco with its extravagant style and all the millionaire yachts and Portofino was to be on the list too. I first heard of Portifino when Wayne Rooney married there and I fell in love with the photos I had seen. First I will take you on a fascinating journey to Monaco.
The journey there was very easy, although the satellite navigation system didn’t seem to work too well near Monaco. Once we drove off the motorway the ascending road became narrower and very curvy. There are several viewing places to stop and take in the breathtaking scenery. Once we had driven up to the top of the road to Monaco, we passed border control, where several men in uniform stood by the side of the road. I was amazed at how small Monaco was, considering the amount of money it has. I had imagined it to be bigger. We parked in a multi storey car park and walked into the centre of Monaco. It was quite breathtaking, this small sovereign country set in a bay with cliffs as its backdrop. Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse and we decided to purchase a couple of umbrellas on the way to Monaco castle, to see the changing of the guards.
Being so compact, Monaco is very easy to navigate and we had no problems finding the places we wanted to visit. My mother in law said the changing of the guard at The Prince’s Palace was a must see. To get to the palace we walked up a long, steep narrow pathway right to the top. It was such a fantastic view of Monaco, it was well worth the walk up to the top. Lotta loved the ascent with plenty of new smells and a few places to stop and relieve herself. She wasn’t however very pleased to see all the people also waiting to watch the changing of the guard. We waited patiently in the ‘Place de Palais’ with anticipation admiring the view of the yachts below and the stationary canons that once guarded the palace. At five minutes to twelve the action started. If you have seen the changing guard of Buckingham palace, this is of no comparison, but never the less a must see if you are visiting the country.
The palace village is very quaint with its own narrow pedestrianized streets and touristy shops and cafes. The architecture is beautiful with vibrant colours, I particularly liked the mirrored windows of some of the palace buildings in the courtyard. Lotta seemed to enjoy the spectacular views from the top as well. From here we walked through the quaint little streets and made our way down to the main city. We walked through the harbour to see the spectacular yachts on show. I knew the yachts were big but some of them were so ridiculously huge, they had another smaller yacht inside them! I was in awe of what I saw but at the same time quite sickened to see such absurd riches when we have so much poverty and hunger in the world.
Next on the agenda was the famous ‘Casino Monte Carlo’ that once featured in the 1995 James Bond movie ‘Golden Eye’ with Pierce Brosnan. We made our way through the harbour up to the Casino, walking through the tunnel where the formula 1 drivers have a chance to over take and up the steep windy hill to the casino. Walking the track you can fully appreciate the skill of the formula 1 drivers who have to navigate their way through a pretty treacherous track. Once there you are greeted with the most expensive and extravagant cars imaginable from Porsches to Mercedes to Lamborghinis, you can see them all parked in and around the casino. In the centre is a huge mirror centered in a park with a grassy area. Here you can find a hotel and restaurants and cafes but be sure to take enough money with you or your credit card!
We had a fantastic day out, luckily we chose a day where it was a little bit cooler otherwise I think it would have been too hot for Lotta. Dogs are very welcome in Monaco although some of the gardens, dogs are prohibited. Would I go back? At the time I said no but I may be tempted back again someday and visit the casino and some of the museums. If I won the lottery I would definitely visit with my yacht!
This week’s photo challenge is Beloved and of course this is a very fitting theme for my blog about our rescue dog Lotta, who came into our lives four and half years ago. I can’t believe how the time has flown by. She has changed our family life in so many positive ways and even my husband is besotted with her. We have been very busy on Instagram and if you are also on there please pass by our profile and say hi!
While we were on holiday in Italy I received some exciting news that I’d won a hardness and lead set from the finnish company Hurtta. I follow them on Facebook and have entered many of the competitions to win some of their accessories, this year in August was to be my lucky moment. I really couldn’t believe my luck! I was messaged by one of their team to ask if we would prefer the collar, lead combo or a harness and lead, as you can see from the photo above we chose the harness and lead combination.
Due to popular demand, I didn’t receive the items until 10th November. These colours are so popular that they ran out of stock, so that’s why we had to wait for ours. We have been using the lead and harness for a while now so I thought it was time to write my honest review about them. I was so delighted with the colours and the quality of the products that I instantly went online and bought the collar to match. I mostly use the collar and lead as she is better on the lead with the collar. I use the harness in the car (with a seatbelt attachment) and also when I know she may get a little nervous eg. new places or where there are more people around. I love the attention to detail like the finnish flag and the embossed Hurtta logo on the items but most of all I love the fact that they are padded and Lotta doesn’t suffer from any chaffing or fur loss. The photo below shows fur loss under the collar where it was rubbed off by the predecessor. After using the padded Hurtta collar her fur has now grown back.
On the photo below you can see that the lead is attached to a ring on the handle of the harness. This ring is free to move along the handle which is great as I have had harnesses before where the ring is fixed which means it pulls the harness round the body of the dog causing rubbing and uncomfort to the dog. The metal hardware is a lovely metallic brown colour which appeals to me more than the original black they used to use on their products. Both collar and harness have a protective mechanism to avoid the dog’s skin/fur getting trapped in the clasp which closes both of them.
All the products featured have 3m reflectors woven into the material which are very efficient for visibility in the dark. The collar and harness are really easy to adjust and fit perfectly. Even though the buckle of the harness is right next to her elbow it doesn’t seem to bother her or cause any discomfort. The only thing missing for me on the collar is another separate place for the tags, so that they don’t knock against the clasp of the lead. I read somebody elses review of the harness and they said some dogs may be able to escape from the harness, this has not proven to be true for Lotta yet and she can sometimes be difficult when she gets nervous. She did however escape from another harness I once had when she was younger but the Hurtta harness seems to fit so well that she hasn’t been able to escape from it. It is essential that you follow the measuring guide on the Hurtta website to avoid buying the wrong size and disappointment.
I have always been a fan of this company, their customer service is fantastic and the products are durable and of a very high standard. I first discovered them when I was looking for a winter jacket for Lotta and their jackets were the only ones that a) had an attachment for a harness and b) were long enough at the back to cover the biggest muscle on the back leg. The products are great value for money because of their durability.
I hope you found this review helpful. If you have any questions, please ask.
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The first beach we drove to was, as it turned out, to be the Ritz of all the dog beaches of our holiday but it came at a price. The beach is at Albissola Marina Liguria which is a good 40 min. drive from Loano, if not more. We were so excited to find it as my husband had been raving about it during the count down to our Italian holiday. We finally arrived at our destination and started to look for a parking space, first problem, there was hardly any street parking, as it was extremely busy but we managed to find a pay and display parking lot just before the Bau Bau Village beach, which meant a short walk to it. We walked into a hallway area and unsure of where to go and speaking no Italian we were quickly greeted by one of the employees and ushered to the check-in point. My husband nearly had a heart attack when she issued us with a bill of 70 Euros for the four of us plus dog for the day. We were quite tempted to bid them good day but we had travelled so far to be there, that we decided to treat ourselves.
As you can see from the photo above it was very spacious and everyone had their own beach hut type sun umbrella. We also had a lot of space between each of the other sun loungers which in Italy is pure luxury. The beach area was clean and it wasn’t too overcrowded with dogs. Lotta wasn’t convinced that she needed to swim in the sea. I tried throwing a toy in for her but the neighbouring Golden Retriever decided to swim for it. She loved meeting the other dogs but one dog was particularly annoying and she had to warn him off. There is an exercise area as you walk on to the beach which is fenced off and has covering, so there is plenty of shade (on the tour below this area doesn’t look like it has much shade). This is great, so that you can exercise your dog off the lead. There is an agility course which can be fun if the weather isn’t too scorchingly hot. As you walk in there is a restaurant to the left and a kiosk on the right where you can buy drinks and snacks which are reasonably priced. At the back of the beach are changing cubicles and showers and toilets for the dog owners. On the way out there is a dog shower area where you can shower off the salt and the sand from your dog’s fur. There is also a shaded picnic area where you can eat your food outside.
The next dog beach we drove to was at Finale Ligure. It was a lovely town with lots of cafes and restaurants. In order to get to the seafront you had to drive through the town, so parking here was also a little tricky. We were very lucky and found a parking space directly in front of the promenade, it was also a pay and display parking space. I laughed as my husband tried to haggle with the man renting the sun loungers. My husband being as frugal as he is wanted to pay for just two sun loungers and one umbrella but wasn’t successful and ended up paying for the four sun loungers and one umbrella. We had been spoilt with the Bau Bau dog beach, so this was no comparison. However there was a really long promenade with many restaurants and kiosks to buy food and ice-cream. I walked Lotta up and down the promenade a few times as the weather wasn’t great that day and it was a lovely walk through the palm trees and little garden areas. The dog beach itself was not as big as the first one but still quite spacious with dog water bowls and toilets for the owners.
Last but no least was the dog beach in Loano itself. This was the cheapest one yet (11 Euros, I think) but not the best one by far. We arrived a little late so most of the loungers had been taken. There was hardly any space between the loungers and too many dogs. Lotta spent the few hours we were there, hidden under the sun lounger. There were the same facilities as on all the dog beaches but it was just too small. Lotta has a shoulder height of 50cm, a medium sized dog. Most of the other dogs here were little lap dogs.
To summarise the Bau Bau dog beach is a great day out if you want a luxurious beach day and to be able to completely relax. The dog beach at Finale Ligure is great if you want a family day out with diversity ie. shopping, eating out and lots of walking. The beach in the Loano town itself is great for small dogs if you only want to spend an hour or two at the beach.
Lotta also has an Instagram account which is linked below on my wordpress site. Yesterday we spent the morning in Munich by the ‘Brudermühlbrücke’, it’s famous for its street art aka graffiti, shooting photos for my Instagram account. We were very lucky to win a harness and lead (leash) from Hurtta which is a finnish company specialising in dog accessories. In the photo you can just about see a sneek peek of the street art on the walls of the bridge. I had forgotten how lovely it is to walk along the river Isar in Munich. The paths and cycle lanes stretch for miles along the river banks of the Isar, making it a very popular place for young and old, especially people with dogs. If you would like to see more of the street art on the bridge you can visit us on Instagram.
Featured is the casual harness and collar in the colour River and the Lingon/River casual lead from Hurtta.