Day Trip from Loano to Monaco

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.

Changing of the guards at the Prince’s palace Monaco.
Look at those beautiful windows!
Monaco castle from a different perspective.

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.

Lotta enjoying the view of the harbour from the Prince’s Palace village.
The descent to the harbour.
Monte Carlo harbour as seen from the castle.
Millionaire’s yachts.

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!

Casino Monte-Carlo.
It was quite hot outside the casino!
The gardens in front of the casino. No dogs allowed unfortunately!

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!


Josie & Lotta







How not to go camping with pooch and Co.

Chiemsee at sunset with Lotta.

If you follow my blog you will have seen from a recent weekly photo challenge that I had a very spontaneous camping trip with Lotta and my boys. I wanted to get my kids away from their addictive screens and experience camping first hand. When I mentioned it to them I was expecting a huge stand off but they took it in their stride and were actually quite willing to come along for the ride.

On the Thursday before, we went to see the musical ‘Cats’ which was playing in Munich at the ‘Deutsches Theatre’, it was fantastic! We sat up in the ‘gods’ and had lots of space and a wonderful view of the stage, it was also in English much to our surprise. By Friday I thought maybe I should buy a new tent as the one we had was a very simple dome tent with room for three. It would have been very cosy with two very tall boys and a dog but not impossible. I thought it would be wise to make the camping trip as comfortable as possible. We bought the tent online and it was due to arrive on Monday, my husband paid a little extra to ensure it would arrive in the morning. Plan B would have been to buy a tent from a local shop, not as nice, but as I said that was plan B. So tent bought I went online to reserve a space for our tent on a campsite.

Home for a few nights ⛺ @Vaudetent

The campsite I had in mind is a very small family run site which allows dogs and advertises as having a dog beach not too far away. Once the online form had been filled in I decided to enquire about another campsite just in case the other one didn’t have enough space for us. I received an email very late Saturday night asking for my credit card details because I had to pay a deposit due to such short notice. The other campsite also allows dogs and is in an area of Chiemsee I know well. The lake is enormous and has several areas where you can stay. The other site is in the Prien part of Chiemsee and has lots of activities for families to do, cycling, swimming, climbing and you can also take a boat trip to Herren Chiemsee to see one of King Ludwig’s palaces, inspired by the Versailles Palace.

Herren Chiemsee Link.

So Monday arrived, at 10am the tent came and by 12 midday we were packed and ready to go. Lotta is used to us travelling now and seems to take it in her stride when the car is being packed. We headed towards Wasserburg and then on to Chiemsee to the small family run campsite. It took us just under an hour to get there. We arrived at the reception and I explained who I was and that I’d booked a few nights camping with them. I was met with a look of confusion which made me feel slightly uneasy. She looked at the list of names and said that she was very sorry but they don’t make reservations for tents, you just turn up and they decide on the day if they have space for you. My heart started pounding and I could feel the panic starting to wash over me. My boys were not amused with a look of disbelief on their faces, I scrambled to find my mobile to have a look at the confirmation I had received per email and realised my mistake, the second choice campsite had been quicker to take the booking.

Panorama Camping Harras

So off we drove again with a confused dog and two disgruntled teenagers. After 20min. we finally arrived at our camping site and this time everything went smoothly, well sort of. Seeing as I’d never actually pitched the new tent before, it took a while to understand how everything worked. After working out how to erect the tent I realised I had forgotten a very important tool………..the hammer! The nice thing I find about camping is the social aspect of it. There’s always someone who is willing to help. I heard someone hammering in his tent pegs and followed the noise. It lead me to a young man and his son who had just finished pitching his tent. After asking very nicely if he wouldn’t mind lending me his hammer he dutifully agreed, thank goodness! My other neighbour gave me his spare tent pegs as the tent came with only just enough but not enough for the storm guy ropes.

The surf school next to the campsite.

Once we’d pitched our tent we decided to go out to eat. The kids wanted Italian so we drove into town. I know we were more glamping than camping. My eldest son found an Italian using his mobile phone and navigated us to the restaurant. They fortunately allow dogs so it was perfect. Lotta is really well behaved when we go out to eat. She just makes herself comfortable under the table or somewhere near my chair.

I remember when we first took her out with us we tried taking a bed for her or something to chew and so it went on, until one day I decided enough was enough and she should just sit quietly somewhere near to us, preferably under the table. Lotta has calmed down a lot over the three years we’ve had her and trusts me enough now to go with the flow.


Once we’d eaten we headed back to our tent for the night. I had seen a nice spot not too far away to take a sunset photo of Lotta and I. My eldest son agreed to come with me and take the photo. Off we set to a little jetty around the corner. It’s a place where the boats are moored with a little stoney beach where the dogs can bathe. It’s not nice enough to sit all day and sunbathe but it’s good enough for a quick dip to cool down the dogs during a walk. It was also very tranquil sitting on the wooden jetty looking through the moored boats at the mountains. This is where the featured photo was taken.

We walked back to the tent to where my youngest son was waiting for us. Lotta obviously thought this was a day trip as she insisted on going to the car which was parked in front of our tent. Once she had realised we were staying for the night she settled on a padded beach mat in the middle of the tent. She was so settled in fact that I didn’t need to have her on the lead. The only times she became unsettled was when I left the tent.

Lotta settled but alert inside the tent.

The tent has two separate sleeping compartments where two people (four in total) can sleep. So I suggested that my eldest son slept with Lotta and my youngest and I would sleep in the other one. That way everyone would have ample space. For Lotta I took the padded beach mat we use in Croatia and an old sleeping bag. The beach mat has waterproof material on the underside so was perfect for this trip. She slept well and was kept warm by the sleeping bag. The tent is well ventilated so the air inside doesn’t become too stuffy.

Lotta chilled out at the Chiemsee Beach.

The next day came, we had breakfast in the tent after my youngest bought bread rolls from the kiosk (I took Nutella with me) and set off to the ‘Chiemsee beach’ which is where you can sunbathe on a grassy area in front of the lake. Here you can hire out stand up paddles and kayaks at Kayak and SUP hire  . I thought it would be fun for the boys to do but by the time they had decided to have a try, there was nothing left to hire out. Both boys then spent an hour or so swimming and playing in the lake. They were braver than me, I got in up to my knees and that’s as far as I got, the water was ice cold! Next to the hire place is a little café and bar where the boys bought themselves something to eat. After having a relaxing time swimming and sunbathing it was time to go home. The sky had started to look rather ominous.


I should have realised from the on coming mass of traffic (exiting the touristy area) when we arrived back in Prien, what would be in store for us that night. Luckily I had pitched the storm guy ropes and had hammered in the tent pegs well. We were also fortunate enough to have gone to bed early that evening because at 9pm the most tremendous thunder storm started and didn’t stop until 6am. I don’t think Lotta slept a wink all night, neither did I. The next morning weary eyed and a little wet we decided to leave a day earlier than we had planned. Everyone was exhausted and I needed to get the tent dry and clean. The tent had remained stable during the storm and the only reason we got a little wet was because our camping neighbour’s awning roof was so close to our tent, that when the owner knocked the water off his awning roof it all landed on our tent.

The morning after.

The next trip will be better planned but I think being spontaneous sometimes keeps life a little more exciting, don’t you?

Lotta snoozing in the car on the way home 💤

The Day the Music Died 2

So February came and went. We started preparing for our imminent ski trip to Kaprun, Austria. We usually go ski-ing once a year with my sister-in-law and her family. It was our first time ski-ing with Lotta. My brother-in-law had managed to find an apartment with a garden that accepted dogs. It was fabulous, huge garden, whirlpool, infra-red cabin, spacious living room come dining room and kitchen, four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, there was also a shared ski-boot room with the apartment above. We made ourselves at home. It’s so popular you have to book two years in advance.

My husband and I had decided to take it in turns ski-ing. The first day was Sunday and I told my husband he could go first as my youngest wasn’t keen on ski-ing again, he’d already been on a weeks ski trip with school. My sister-in-law and her family left at around 8am as usual and were followed a bit later by my husband and my eldest son. Oli and I decided we would take it easy and I would have a short walk with Lotta in the morning and later we would go on a longer one. I like to keep the walks fairly short in the winter because it’s soooo cold here and Lotta doesn’t have an undercoat. She gets walked three times a day in the winter and summer.

The day was drawing to an end, after having taken Lotta out together with Oli. We had trouble getting Lotta past the scary people who were carrying strange things on their shoulders (skis). My husband and Flo arrived home at around 3:30pm, which is unusual as the slopes are open until 4pm and then there’s the drive home. The mood was somber and too quiet so I quickly asked if everything was ok. I was answered with a groan from my husband who was having difficulty taking off his shoes. I immediately thought the worst and was right.

They had decided to try a new slope/trail called the Westside Story, where it is a bit quieter than the main slopes. Unfortunately my husband told my son to speed up, otherwise they wouldn’t get up the slope the other side but hadn’t realised there was quite a drop before hand. Needless to say Florian lost his balance and fell, with my husband in tow, who also lost his balance but luckily managed not to land on Flo. He did however land on his bottom (ouch).

Never the less he tried ski-ing once after that event and decided it would be best to stay in the flat with Lotta the rest of the week. After a week of ski-ing it was time to go home, my husband was in agony and took painkillers to drive home (he insisted on driving!). Once home I sent him to hospital expecting him to be home in time for tea. They kept him in. I got a phone call to say that he’d broken a vertebrae in his lower back and he was to be operated on the next week and had been told he was not to leave his bed. He was in hospital for two weeks and then in a rehabilitation clinic for three weeks.

My grandmother had fallen ill in January and was being cared for by my auntie. I phoned my grandmother like I often did and told her about our ski-ing trip and my husband’s accident, to which she replied, “What a silly thing to do!” Still makes me laugh now! Unfortunately my grandmother’s health continued to deteriorate. She was in and out of hospital for a while and had a course of antibiotics which didn’t seem to help that much. It was decided in the end she would return home with carers visiting twice a day. Home is where she had longed to be for months. She was also only to receive treatment for pain. Doctor’s orders were to make her as comfortable as possible. Once finally home my mother and my auntie took it in turns to fill in when the carers were off duty. My auntie used to stay overnight as my grandmother was prone to falls. As you can imagine this was a very stressful time for everyone particularly for my mum and auntie who both still work.

Summer arrived and in June came the Brexit. This came as a huge shock to those of us living in Europe and probably many others too. There was some anger, confusion and tears. I’ll just leave it there I think, I don’t want this to be about politics. August followed soon after. We drove to England via the Channel Tunnel which is great for people with dogs, although it does mean a two day trip for us. My main priority was to visit my grandmother, as it would possibly be my last time. When we finally arrived she was sat in her high backed chair looking better than I had envisaged. I have to admit though, it was a bit of a shock how frail she’d become, due to eating and drinking very little. “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day”, she would randomly start singing at the top of her voice. She loved life, birds and particularly dogs. “What a beautiful dog you are “, she would say to Lotta. “Such a pretty face, I could fall for you!” We tried to visit as often as possible during our time in England but the inevitable time came when we had to say our goodbyes, this was hard. I told her we would try to come over for Christmas, to which she replied, ” I might be dead by then!”

October I got the dreaded message that my grandmother had indeed passed away peacefully at home at the age of 93yr with both her daughters at her bedside. This was the day the music died for me, even if it was to be temporary. Lotta has been my therapist, I’m pretty sure I would have slipped into a deep depression if I didn’t have her. Life goes on as they say! Chris Evans on BBC 2 plays ” Oh what a beautiful morning ” as a jingle, I had to turn it off every time I heard it, as I’d well up with tears. Grief is a funny thing, you think you’re over the worst and then it hits you again. I’d like to finish with a poem my step-dad wrote about my wonderful grandmother Dilys for the funeral.

Many a pathway we’ve walked side by side 

through countryside, woodland and town.

A wise word to guide us, a laugh and a joke,

she could banish dark moods or a frown.

Hand in hand through life’s many byways,

Mum was always more than a friend,

Yes, all of those pathways were pleasant for us.

So sad that our journeys must end.

We’ll walk, not without our dear Dilys,

for we’ll walk on, with her strong in our mind;

and remember her laughing and happy.

She was good; she was loving and kind.

We miss you Gran, so much!😞