ONE HOLIDAY, TWO PARKS, LOTS OF FUN
July 2018, and for the first time since 1995, temperatures have soared to 27°C across the tiny island of Ireland. As a direct result of the excessive heat, there’s a hosepipe ban in place. Almost makes us want to stay home and camp in the garden, not! Knowing our tiny little country as we do, the weather could change in the blink of an eye. In all seriousness, you could get frostbite before brunch and sunburn by midday…very unpredictable indeed! I must point out, for Ireland, 27°C is excessively hot! Hot or not, we still booked a Eurocamp holiday to Marina Julia Camping Village in Monfalcone, Province of Gorizia, and Park Albatros Village in San Vincenzo, Province of Livorno, Italy.
For the second time this year we are taking ourselves off to the country that we love so much, meravigliosa Italia. With sweeping coastlines, tranquil blue waters, beautifully crafted architecture and mouth-watering cuisine, what’s not to love about Italia? Italy is fast becoming one of our favourite European holiday destinations. For the very first time our holiday was split between two Eurocamp sites, hence our catchy heading; One Holiday, Two Parks, Lots of Fun.
Week 1 at Marina Julia Camping Village
Marina Julia Camping Village – in the Province of Gorizia; lies on the northeast coast where the rugged land meets with the warm clear waters of the Adriatic Sea.
Week 2 at Park Albatros Village (blog post coming very soon)
Park Albatros Village – in the Province of Livorno; is nestled along the Etruscan Coast where waves creep gently and silently onto the soft white sandy beaches.
Did you know? If a beach is white it means the sand consists almost entirely of fish poo and broken down coral….no, neither did we! Still…it feels nice underfoot doesn’t it! Thank you Wikipedia.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Another first in our holidaying history was that we didn’t begin this holiday as a family of four. I (Daddy) was away on a trip and once finished, would be flying from Prague to Milan to meet up with the ladies. The trip was planned so that the ladies would be arriving from Manchester at roughly the same time that I arrived from Prague. Unfortunately my flight was delayed for just under 3 hours! The girls used their time well and visited an exhibition within the airport and got free colouring books from AVIS. Daddy finally arrived at Malpensa Airport, Milan just after midnight. Exhausted and we still had a 5 hour drive to get to Marina Julia Camping Village…the joys (and pitfalls) of travel!
IF YOUR NAME’S NOT DOWN
With three sleeping (snoring) ladies and just the radio for company, our arrival to Marina Julia Camping Village came just before 5.30am. Unfortunately the security barrier was down and we were unable to take the car through until 7am. So with just the bare essentials grabbed out of our LeanPac® JamPac travel holdall, the Security Guard kindly checked us in and handed over a key. A very quiet trundle (so as not to wake the natives) past lush green shrubs and tall trees to Eurocamp Classic Mobile #150. The only sound was from the dawn chorus of birds as they signalled the start of a brand new day. Peaceful!
BEAUTY SLEEP ISN’T NEEDED BUT DEFINITELY WELCOME
At 7am we made our way back to the Marina Julia Camping Village reception to check in properly. By ‘we’ I actually mean Mummy and the girls. Daddy was beat, so I flopped into the first bed I came across and slept for several hours. After all, it had been a very long two days of travelling. As I slept, the girls familiarised themselves with the facilities on camp. Then a chance to try out the play park before the sleeping holidaymakers roused from their slumber. As for me, I much prefer to find ‘things’ as I stumble upon them.
COSY ON CAMP
Marina Julia Camping Village, which is new to Eurocamp for 2018; had just been taken over by Club Del Sole, so we’re expecting to see a few changes made in the coming years. The small 36 acre site houses 138 masonry bungalows and 200 pitches for tents and caravans. Small certainly doesn’t mean lacking and the mobile was perfectly suited to our needs. Within, there were two bedrooms (double and one single bed + two bunks), shower, separate toilet (always a bonus), small kitchenette with essentials such as kettle, plates, cutlery etc and a lounge/dining area with a drop leaf table. Each mobile is fitted with a smoke detector and a fire blanket. Just to say that we always take our own Carbon Monoxide detector (and spare batteries) on trips. There was also a large decked area for chilling and BBQ’s. Mobile #150 was cosy and perfectly adequate for The Callaghan Posse.
At the very heart of Marina Julia Camping Village is the ‘small square’, or as it’s known locally, ‘il piazzetta’. This square is pretty much the hub of the park. The square gives you access to the restaurant, pizzeria, bar (with a small wall mounted TV), gelateria (ice cream), a well stocked supermarket and a video games room. For the sporty among you, there are plenty of activities available. To mention a few there’s volleyball, table tennis, mini golf, five-a-side football, tennis and basketball. Feeling lazy, no problem, simply relax at the pool area. Il piazzetta is also where you will find the entertainment staff and Kids Club, as well as the main stage for the evening entertainment which varies from day-to-day.
FINDING OUR FEET, IF WIFI WOULD LET US
It didn’t take us long to ‘find our feet‘ and figure out where everything was. But…it also didn’t take long to figure out that the WiFi at Marina Julia Camping Village is very poor. There is a WiFi ‘hotspot’ right at the heart of camp, but it’s packed with teens and speeds are sooooo slow. It doesn’t help that 3g/4g is really intermittent across the whole of the camp. A minor issue, but an issue nonetheless. In our opinion, the WiFi needs to be improved significantly.
LIFE’S A PEACH WHEN THE POOL’S IN REACH
Marina Julia Camping Village has 4 pools; olympic, diving, splash pool and slide pool. All of which are excellent. There’s also also a swirling Lazy River which was a firm favourite with The Callaghan Posse. If you’re not familiar with a Lazy River, I’ll enlighten you. Basically you sit on a large inflatable ring and allow the slow water current to drag you around effortlessly…bliss. Poolside you can hire sun loungers with shades for just €3 per day. If you’re not wishing to part with any cash there are a couple of grassy areas for you to lie out on beach towels. These areas have no shade but are free! Be warned, you need to be down at the pool early in the morning to ensure you secure your sunlounger or free spot.
Lily-Belle was a little adventurous and jumped off the first diving board. Day 1 was the one and only time Lily-Belle got the courage and jumped off the board! The older children on site were launching themselves off the high dive board…fearless or bonkers, make your own mind up! The pools weren’t too busy and the fact that the sun loungers are so close gives you a real peace of mind for allowing the children to go and gain their water-wings (all under a parents watchful eye). Lily-Belle and Matilda loved the smaller splash pool and the huge mound in the centre; great for sliding down into the shallow water.
Our second morning was spent by the pool but clouds soon began to form above Marina Julia Camping Village. The sky was overcast and and a few spots of rain had fallen. Perfect opportunity to leave camp and explore nearby Trieste. A short drive took us over the mountains and gave us astonishing views of the city and seaport of Trieste. The scenic drive led us right down to the waters edge which overlooked the Gulf of Trieste. Our parking space was within the shadow of Piazza Unità d’Italia which is the main square in Trieste. It didn’t take long for Lily-Belle and Matilda to spot a Gelateria. Ice cream before sightseeing…always!
Trieste is brimming with little cafés, not surprising really as it is known as ‘la città del caffè’ (the city of coffee). This pleases Daddy…I love coffee! Gelato and coffee consumed…we are all happy! The main square faces the Adriatic Sea and, unlike Piazza San Marco Square in Venice; it’s relatively quiet which is perfect for taking a few snaps. Looking around at the opulent buildings it is very clear to see that Trieste is steeped in history. There are monuments of all shapes, sizes and the architecture is nothing short of majestic!
Our afternoon trip to Trieste was cut short as the rain began to fall. No problem for Lily-Belle and Matilda as they had packable raincoats…Mummy and Daddy on the other hand didn’t! Back to the car and back to Marina Julia Camping Village. Upon our return the rain was coming down hard so we decided to stay indoors. DVD’s, board games and yummy snacks! The Animazione at ‘il piazetta‘ would have to wait for a dry night.
POSTOJNA CAVES (day trip)
The following day and a quick look outside showed dark clouds on the horizon…rain clouds! Not wanting to waste a day indoors we took ourselves off for a day trip. First on the agenda was Park Postojnska Jama which was just over the border in Slovenia. Park Postojnska Jama is home to one of the most captivating caves in the world, Postojna Cave. Inside the magical underground labyrinth live baby dragons and the world’s most elusive troglobite; the slenderneck beetle. Our tour of the 24-kilometre-long cave system began with a one-of-a-kind ride on an underground train.
READ ALL ABOUT POSTOJNA CAVE, A MAGICAL SUBTERRANEAN LABYRINTH
PREDJAMA CASTLE (day trip)
Predjama Castle lies to the Northwest of Park Postojnska Jama and takes around 15 minutes to reach by car. From the Dragons of Postojna Cave to a fairytale of Knights and medieval conquests at Predjama Castle, and all in just one day! Predjama Castle is recognised by Guinness World Records as being the world’s largest Renaissance Castle built within a cave mouth. Located in the historical region of Inner Carniola; Predjama Castle is a striking piece of 12th century architecture. Overlooking the beautiful Slovenian countryside, Predjama Castle is one of the country’s largest tourist attractions and comes under the umbrella of Park Postojnska Jama.
READ ALL ABOUT PREDJAMA CASTLE, THE WORLD’S LARGEST CAVE CASTLE
DINING WITH THE LOCALS
And the rain did fall, and fall some more! The drive home from Predjama Castle encountered some of the worst rain we have ever seen on our travels, and we live in Northern Ireland! It was horrendous, visibility almost nil and flash floods on the mountain roads. Debris everywhere! A quick stop for a Google search to find nearby restaurants and cover was taken at Cuk Gostilna Pizzeria. A quiet venue and definitely a place where the locals themselves would dine. The staff were excellent and made us feel very, very welcome, and the food was exceptional. The girls were more than happy as our waitress gave them each a Unikatoy craft box to keep them entertained. Well worth a visit should you find yourself visiting Predjama Castle or Postojna Cave.
SLIP SLOP SLAP
After such a long day in Postojna and Predjama yesterday, not to mention the long drive home; a relaxing day poolside at Marina Julia Camping Village was needed. As always, Mummy was up at the crack of dawn to purchase fresh croissants for breakfast. The sun was shining brightly and the temperature was already 23º C at 10am. Slip-slop-slap with Calypso Kids and the girls made their way to the pool to secure the sunloungers beside the splash pool. In the main pool there was a group of sychronised swimmers meticulously practicing their moves over and over! Poolside there was an exercise class being given by a member of the Animazione Team. As is normal in the Italian camp sites, there wasn’t many English speaking children. Language is no barrier when children and water come together; and the girls soon made friends with a little girl from Hungary.
LIFE IS BETTER ON A BEACH
Although we loved that there was no siesta at Marina Julia Camping Village, our pale white skin does not bode well with the hot midday sun. The sun was harsh so we retreated back to the static for a spot of lunch and an ice lolly. We hadn’t really explored the local area so after lunch we took a short stroll to the shingle beach which is beside Marina Julia Camping Village. The beach was largely inhabited by locals, and as it was the weekend, as you can probably imagine; it was quite busy! On the beach there’s a little café which is the perfect spot for, you guessed it; Gelato! The girls also enjoyed the small but adequate play park located on the beach and away from the water.
STAYING PUT IS SOMETIMES THE BETTER OPTION
Last year we never missed an evening of entertainment at Spiaggia e Mare Holiday Park in Porto Garibaldi, Italy. So far we’ve spent a lot more time sightseeing than we normally would. Quite often it’s been a case of getting back late evening (or early hours of the morning) and going straight to bed. Not wanting to venture out of camp we decided to enjoy dinner at Marina Julia Camping Village. The restaurant on site offers both À La Carte and buffet; there is also a takeaway in the ‘il piazzetta. As is the norm when we dine Italian, mussels and pizza for Daddy and the girls, and spag-bol for Mummy. After our meal the girls enjoyed the children’s min-disco. Daddy and Mummy tortured ourselves by watching the MATCH, you know, the one where Croatia dumped England out of the World Cup! Shhhhhh, at least nobody mentioned ’66!
READ ALL ABOUT OUR 2017 HOLIDAY TO SPIAGGIA E MARE HOLIDAY PARK
ROMANTIC OLD VENICE
The day we had been waiting for had finally arrived! Venice is famed as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and who are we to disagree. Built on an archipelago (a cluster) of small islands which are all joined together by bridges; Venice is a real tourist hotspot. The resplendent buildings in the old town, many of which are in desperate need of repair; still have a desirable beauty whilst offering a huge amount of character to this romantic city. Sadly, romance wasn’t on the cards and our day trip to Venice was with a purpose, to experience one of the biggest firework displays in Europe, the Festa del Rendentore (Feast of the Redeemer).
READ ALL ABOUT THE FESTA DEL REDENTORE IN VENICE
THERE’S NOTHING MORE YUMMY THAN YUXI
It’s the penultimate day of our holiday at Marina Julia Camping Village and tomorrow will see us relocate to Park Albatros Village in Tuscany. Although Italian food is a firm favourite of ours, there are many other cuisines we like to eat and authentic Japanese is always desirable. During one of our excursions outside of camp, we noticed a sushi restaurant which wasn’t too far away in Monfalcone. Highly recommended by the Eurocamp Holiday Reps we knew we had to pay Yuxi a visit, and even more so when we learned of an afternoon special on offer…all you can eat for €11.90 each.
GREAT SERVICE, EVEN BETTER SUSHI
In typical fashion we arrived at Yuxi with less than 30 minutes until close. The staff were amazing and allowed us to sit. The decor is stylishly modern and the ambience is peaceful and tranquil. Yuxi is almost empty with just one other table with diners seated. Our waitress explained the afternoon special and gave us a few pointers. Basically order 10 dishes to begin with and then order more dishes as and when desired (which we did). The menu is extensive and thankfully in English. Knowing that we’d arrived late we didn’t take too long to make our sushi selections. From order to table was less than 10 minutes, and everything was made fresh to order. No point in taking you through each bite but the food is deliciously Japanese and every bite packed full of flavour and moreish. Probably the best Japanese food we’ve ever eaten!
PENULTIMATE POOLSIDE PADDLES
After a taste of Yuxi we took a short stroll along the marina in Monfalcone and grabbed a gelato as our post-Japanese dessert. The girls wanted to go back to the pool. Back at Marina Julia Camping Village we spent the last few hours in the pool. In the evening we watched the final Animator show at the ‘il piazzetta’ until the rain halted proceedings. Bed time and the end of week 1 of our Italian adventure. Tomorrow would be a long day as we planned on visiting friends at Spiaggia e Mare Holiday Park before driving 6 hours south-west to Park Albatros Village in Tuscany.
EUROCAMP: ONE HOLIDAY, TWO PARKS, LOTS OF FUN
Week 2 – PARK ALBATROS VILLAGE (blog post coming very soon)
WOULD WE GO BACK
In all honesty we’re a tad unsure on this one. The facilities at Marina Julia Camping Village are excellent, but the poor WiFi and mediocre entertainment would possibly put us off returning. Should these improve, then yes, we would happily return. In favour we have to say the food at Marina Julia Camping Village is of a high quality. Pools are great and perfect for children of all ages, and the cleanliness on site was nothing short of exceptional.
LILY-BELLE (age 9) SAYS
Marina Julia Camping Village is really good for children. The pools are brilliant and the lazy river was loads of fun. Matilda and I tried the kids club once but we didn’t really enjoy it. I really enjoyed visiting Postojna Cave and seeing the baby dragons, I even bought a baby dragon teddy to take home. Predjama Castle was amazing, and it was really funny when Daddy said that the knight died whilst doing a poo.
MATILDA (age 3) SAYS
The pool with the big bird was my favourite because it wasn’t too deep, but I liked the big blue and white slide as well. I didn’t want to sit on the toilet in the castle but Daddy made me do it.
Belfast to Manchester: Easyjet (mummy + 2 children) – flights £40.54 + 1 checked bag £16.99
Overnight stay at Holiday Inn Express: Booking.com – £80.00
Manchester to Milan: Easyjet (mummy + 2 children) – flights £34.48 + 1 checked bag £25.99
Car hire: Maggiore Car Rental – 15 days – Renault Megane Automatic – £328.55 (plus £2000 security deposit)
Milan to Liverpool: Ryanair (2 adults + 2 children) + 1 checked bag €25.00
Liverpool to Dublin: Ryainair (2 adults + 2 children) + 1 checked bag £15.00
Marina Julia Camping Village: Eurocamp booked via Sun Holidays – £160.00
Marina Julia Camping Village: Website
Tel: +39 0481 40561
Closest Aiport: Trieste Airport – 5.5 miles (8.8 km)
Date of stay: 9th – 16th July 2018 (inclusive)
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