Driving from the Bavarian region of Germany, through Austria and on to Lake Garda, Italy, we got to experience some of the most stunning scenery: perfectly encapsulating everything I’d dreamt a European Road Trip would be. There really is something magical- and terrifying- about driving into a mountain, knowing that you have untold amounts of stone above you.
Despite the fact the sun was setting when we pulled into the region of Peshiera Del Garda, as soon as we opened the doors that enclosed our blissfully air-conditioned bubble, the inferno hit us. This was to be the beginning of almost three solid weeks of 40-degree heat (104-degrees Fahrenheit). Of course, we didn’t know that then and so bathed in the warmth of the evening and drank in the final rays, as the sun threw out its tangerine and fuchsia hues.
This was to be the first car-free stop-off of the trip, as we were using the scenic area as a base for visiting nearby Verona and Venice. It was the first time we wouldn’t need to have an early morning; the first time we’d be staying two nights; and the first time we wouldn’t need at least one of us to be fit to drive first thing the next day.
Which could only mean one thing: alcohol.
As we hadn’t eaten since the pretzels at Neuschwanstein, we grabbed the first restaurant we came to, due to its proximity to the lake-front where the sun was still going down. The boys wasted no time starting on the steins of beer and I ordered myself a bottle of prosecco, and a glass of orange juice: all the ingredients required to DIY my own mimosas. Lots of them.
The meal wasn’t the most authentic… Especially Will’s, which came topped with “French” fries, but it was tasty, filling and the drinks were flowing!
Despite the fact that it was a Sunday in this sleepy little town, we had a brilliant night. Heading back to the hostel, they were still serving drinks so we sat out in the little patio and got chatting with an Irish couple who were inter-railing across Europe (comparing travel times made me realise how lucky we were to have the car!) and a German girl who had recently been studying in England. Despite us being the oldest in the group, this didn’t come across, as the boys were acting like a couple of teenagers, as confirmed by the couple of 20-year olds we’d been chatting with!
Eventually, the bar closed and we were asked to head up to our rooms or out elsewhere as they didn’t want noise impacting the locals, at which point we followed their earlier directions to the local ‘club’ which was due to be open for a while longer yet.
Club was a slight overstatement.
In fact, it was a massive overstatement.
I’d almost go as far to call it an all-out lie!
I’m not convinced even a language barrier could account for the discrepancy between what this building was and what I would define a club as. It was basically a concrete box with a beer garden and an outdoor toilet.
But it had alcohol and music and we didn’t need to be quiet, so who were we to complain!
The system was also unlike anything we’d ever experienced, as it seemed to have table service and when we tried to go up to the bar, we were shooed away!
It wasn’t too long before they were shutting up shop and we were being moved on again and this time, with nowhere left to go, we headed back along the front to the water’s edge with a quick frolic onto a nearby boat by our new German acquaintance.
We seized upon the opportunity to tick of a bucket-list cliché (not for the first time) and stripped off: the more adventurous of us sped down the slipway leading to the inky water and went flying on the slick seaweed strewn slope; the more cautious of us crept slowly behind (for all the good it did. I’m fairly certain I was, miraculously, the only one of the six of us who didn’t fall).
According to How I Met Your Mother’s Ted Mosby “nothing good happens after 2am”, yet this will be something that I will remember for a long time. As a confident and passionate swimmer, I adored my opportunity to enter the water’s embrace, and glide weightless through the still-warm water (or maybe that’s the beer-jacket talking!). I lay back and took in the stars above me and the silhouettes of the mountains in the distance, spinning and swirling through the liquid as I took it all in.
The fact that we weren’t supposed to be in there only added to the exhilaration that I felt and the fact that whenever we heard footsteps or saw the luminous glare of a torch I had to stay stock still and fall silent.
Of course, we paid the price for our misdemeanour as I turned to find my husband in the most hilarious position: doing what I can only describe as a handstand beneath the water, whilst simultaneously gliding along in the current and being ‘spotted’ by Will. When he came up for air, before almost immediately submerging his face again- I turned to Will.
“What on earth is he doing?” I queried.
“Errr, nothing…” Will responded, convincingly.
When Adam next came up for air I turned on him.
“Seriously, WHAT are you doing??”
Unsurprisingly, I was not convinced.
Any guesses for what he was doing…?
He was looking for his wedding ring.
We’d attended a workshop two summers earlier to make them ourselves from recycled silver and Adam, not the most proficient DIYer had made his too big. Now having said this, he was normally the most ridiculously fastidious person you’d ever meet, but drinks had been drunk and spontaneity had kicked in and suffice to say he had not removed it before entering the water.
By this point, we had probably drifted a good few feet from where he must have lost his ring and after much pleading and the promise that he would be allowed to look again the next day, I eventually dragged him from the water.
Suffice to say, despite returning to the scene of the crime in the harsh light of day, donning his goggles and circling the area more times than I could handle with a banging head and extreme heat, the ring is still somewhere amongst the pebbles that line the floor of Lake Garda.
I guess the moral of the story, is do whatever the hell you like after 2am… It can lead to magical moments. Just make sure that your wedding ring is secure beforehand!