Subject: Back from Istria - Hotel reports
Hello everybody,

we spent the first two weeks in July on a driving holiday from Bilbao to the slovenian coast and return, more or less 5500 kms, and we had a really great time.

Our itinerary was as follows :

3rd of July - Bilbao - Arles ( ETAPHotel Arles Fourchon) 4th of July - Arles - Milano ( UNA Hotel Mediterraneo ) 5th of July - Milano - Padova ( Albergo al Fagiano ) 6th of July - Padova - Trieste ( Riviera & Maximilian) 7th of July to 13th of July - Muggia ( Albergo Sole ) 14th of July - Muggia - Oberammergau ( Pension Dedler ) 15th of July - Oberammergau - Besanšon ( ETAPHotel Besanšon ) 16th of July - Besanšon - Perigueux ( Hotel Altica Perigueux ) 17th of July - Perigueux - Bilbao

I had only booked the first 4 nights.

The ETAP Hotel in Arles has a decent price, and it has AC (very important in this time of the year). Fine if you are simply travelling around, and want a clean and decent place to sleep. Also, the cancellation policy of the Accor group is very good.

I booked the hotel in Milano using Bancotel checks, and we were really surprised with the hotel. Nice triple room, bath slippers for the three of us, good toiletries. Great buffet breakfast. They had an agreement with a nearby garage, and we left the car there almost for the whole following day, before leaving for Padova at 18:30.

We arrived to Padova very late (traffic jams and accidents in the motorway), and they were expecting us at the hotel. It is located very near of the Saint┤s basilica, and they have their own garage. Nice, clean place, also with AC. We didn┤t have breakfast there because we wanted to walk around the city and do some shopping, so I cannot report on that.

The hotel in Trieste was a bit of a disappointment. I was offered an apartment, and I had read in Frommers that the apartments were nice, so that and the private beach sold us on the place. It was also the most expensive of all. The apartments are located in a dependence accross the main road, and you must cross it in order to get to the reception or the breakfast room. When we arrived to our apartment, we found that the kitchen was closed. We were told that they only open the kitchen for stays longer than a month, so that night I called another hotel I had contacted previously in Muggia, and I spoke to reception and told them that we weren┤t going to stay for the three days. We had done our shopping at the market in Padova, and as anyone who has been to that market will understand, we were really sorry not to be able to cook the vegetables we had bought ... On the other side, the hotel itself looks lovely, specially if you manage to stay in the main building. The breakfast was very good, although I found that the buffet in Milano was far superior.

Albergo Sole, in Muggia. Actually, it is located just by the frontier with Slovenia. Their triple rooms are located in the third floor, and don┤t have balconies, but we had plenty of windows and could even see the far, far away Dolomites mountains covered with snow. It is a sixties place, kind of shabby, but the owners and all the people working there are so nice ... They have a small sea water swimming pool, and a great terrasse covered with vine and herbs (they use them for the kitchen). We had breakfast outside every day, and a couple of times we also had lunch there (very good, simply spaghettis with seafood and salad). They didn┤t have many customers, some italians, some germans, and a couple of night we were almost alone ( a german couple and us). The owner used to stay at the balcony until the "tourists" were back safe and sane at home. We really enjoy it. It was nice to be able to walk down in slippers and sit having breakfast while mum was swimming away ...

The place in Oberammergau was found after asking in three or four places. We hadn┤t booked, thinking that it would be touristy enough. We were very lucky. A lovely wooden room, good german breakfast, completely no smoking house, and ten percent discount if you wanted to buy some souvenirs in their shop (lovely wooden boxes and figures).

We booked the Etap Hotel at an internet place in Oberammergau. Nothing to be said, standard and OK.

We had planned to stay in Brive La Gaillarde, but as it was early and there was a good motorway, we continued travelling until Perigueux, and then we looked for the shopping malls, looking for a decent hotel. We ended up at the Hotel Altica, a small chain located in the southwest of France. It didn┤t have AC, but it had a lift (discovered after we dragged our suitcases up to our room), spotless rooms and a good breakfasts with croissants and pain au chocolat. The people working there were also very nice, pointing us in the proper direction for the city center.

I will be back later with a restaurant and sights report.

Suffice to say that we drove up and down from Muggia into Slovenia and Croatia, and we really loved that area.

And a plus point was meeting Paolo in Trieste, we walked all around his city, and we ended up having dinner at a wonderful place (and I still regret not having finish my turbot ...). Thanks again, Paolo.

Covadonga Bilbao, Spain