Vevey, Lake Geneva Switzerland
Vevey, Lake Geneva Switzerland

TravelKiwis Month in Review – Housesitting May 2018

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Following our wonderful month of house-sitting in Putney, London, we flew back to Nice in the south of France. With French rail choosing our day of arrival for a strike, we took the shuttle from the airport to the bus station at Saint Raphael to collect our car.  The next stop was Callas to stay with Yvonne and Bryn (her lovely border collie) for a couple of nights.

Yvonne suggested dinner out at The Cave, one of the village restaurants. The food, of course, was superb. It’s probably one of the reasons we will be back to Callas for a house sit in October and Christmas to look after Bryn, Maggie, the “laid-back” cat and Rouge, the ginger tom, a new addition to the pet family.

House Sitting

If you’re ready to go housesitting, then we have a couple of deals for you.

For a 30% membership discount for Trusted Housesitters, click here to sign up.

For Aussies Housesitters, use code 79FQ5L for $10 off your membership.

Places to Visit in Northern Italy

Our next house sit was Fontenoy-le-Chateau, France. With five nights spare before we were due to arrive, we decided we would take a trip through northern Italy, through the Tunnel del Monte Bianco to see Mont Blanc, then across Switzerland, back into France and on to Fontenoy le Chateau.

France, Italy, France, Switzerland, and France, all in 5 days.

Agritourism in Tonco, Italy

Agriturismo il Balcone sul Monferrato
Agriturismo il Balcone sul Monferrato
Moncalvo, near Tonco, Italy
Moncalvo, near Tonco, Italy

Our two-night stay in northern Italy was at Tonco, a small village staying at Agriturismo Il Balcone Sul Monferrato, which focussed on agritourism.

The owners and guests were so helpful in making sure we enjoyed our stay, enjoyed the local wine, and the places nearby to visit. Moncalvo and Santuario di Crea are only a short drive from the hotel.

Enjoying Spumante wine in Asti, Italy

Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Asti, Italy
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Asti, Italy

The drive to Tonto took us through Asti.

For us, the name brought back memories of enjoying many bottles of their finest Spumante as teenagers.

Aah, the memories.

Yes, we did buy a bottle, and we did take time to visit some of Asti’s historical sights too.


The Shroud of Turin, Italy

a person praying in front of the Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turn is kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Italy Turin

The next day, we headed to Turin, just over an hour’s drive via the motorway to get there early, returning through the countryside in the afternoon.

Turin City has a great vibrancy thanks to a younger crowd, giving the city an energetic feel.

Here is a city walking map for when you visit Turin to capture all the places of interest. Click here on

The highlight, of course, is visiting the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, where, for four centuries, it has guarded the Shroud of Turin. With video screens within the cathedral detailing the story of the shroud, when you walk to the side of the altar of the cathedral, it is here you can view the shroud.

Driving through northern Italy’s countryside

Basilica Don Bosco and Seminary, Asti, Italy
Basilica Don Bosco and Seminary, Asti, Italy

As they say, when you avoid the motorways, you do see a lot more. Besides avoiding a snake sunning itself on the road, our drive took us past Basilica Don Bosco and the seminary. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere when this majestic building appeared.

St John Bosco developed the Salesian Preventive System of teaching based on love, not punishment. John Bosco dedicated his life to helping street children, juvenile delinquents and disadvantaged youth in the 1800s.


Aosta Valley and Mont Blanc Tunnel in Italy

Mont Blanc FRANCE
Our car, KW95 (nicknamed “Kiwi”), is going well and collecting the kms. Seen here enjoying the view of Mont Blanc, FRANCE

If you find yourself in northern Italy near the French border, we recommend a drive through the Aosta Valley. Scattered with medieval castles and forts and overlooked by Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.  The drive will have you in awe of what you see.

Keep an eye out for Fort of Bard at the entrance and Castello d’Ivrea halfway through the valley.

Open your wallet for payment of Euro 44, one way to drive through the 11.6km Tunnel del Monte Bianco.



Staying in a Chalet in the French Alps

While in London at a BBQ catching up with old cricket mates, we were describing our next travel adventure between house sits to Trevor Brown. Trevor mentioned they had a chalet in the French area near Geneva, and if we happened to be going by, they had invited us to stay.  Terry & Trevor had played in the same Richmond Cricket Club side for the 1986 season.

Loading up the car with food in a nearby town, we made our way up the mountains. The day was perfect, and the chalet setting was so picturesque for our first stay in a French Alp chalet. Thanks, Trevor.


Yvoire, France, on Lake Geneva

Yvoire, France on Lake Geneva
Yvoire, France, on Lake Geneva

Trevor suggested visiting the medieval town of Yvoire on Lake Geneva.

The day had started off overcast and drizzling with rain, but by the time we arrived, the mist had cleared.

We kept saying, “the highlight was”, but once again, we were amazed by the festival of a Venetian Parade. The procession through the village of people dressed in costumes and masks was magnificent.

Stopping at Lancelot Maitre Chocolatier in the next village for a Hot Chocolate was delicious.


Discovering Evian and Vevey on Lake Geneva

Evian Lake Geneva, France
Evian Lake Geneva, France

If you have ever drunk bottled water named Evian, then Lake Geneva is the small village where the spring water is located.

The village appeared to have an older crowd and, at 11.30 am, was empty of people. Perhaps an early lunch! Or a nap! There is a fountain where the original spring water was discovered, and you can fill your bottler there.

Vevey, Switzerland

Charlie Chaplin, Vevey, Lake Geneva, Switzerland
Charlie Chaplin, Vevey, Lake Geneva, Switzerland

A recommendation from Daniel and Jess was to visit Vevey, Switzerland, on Lake Geneva. The gem of information about Vevey is Charlie Chaplin was a resident here from the 1940s and is buried in the local cemetery.

You can visit Chaplin’s World, a museum honouring his life and work in the film industry in Corsier-sur-Vevey, just up the hill from the Vevey promenade.

The lake promenade and the small old town running parallel to Lake Geneva make Vevey a quaint town to visit.

Tip: So when the French Border Patrol Police ask where you have come from today, take a moment before speaking.  Maura said France. Technically correct, as we had started off in France in the morning, driven through Switzerland, and were now returning to France. Luckily, Terry was the quick thinker today, saying Switzerland.

PS Usually, we are stopped because the car looks like “Step Toe” (living out of the car can look a bit chaotic)

Salines-Les-Bains, France

A quick overnight stay in the village of Salines-Les-Bains, known for its early centuries of salt production. From here, we had a short drive to our housesit in Fontenoy le Chateau in France to once again catch up with Marion and Monk.

After a quick bite to eat, Misty and Miki were eager for their afternoon walk along the canal.

Fontenoy le Chateau, France
Fontenoy le Chateau, France

On the Road Again

As our house sit was only for a few days, covering a long weekend, we were again on the road, with a difference. Instead of finding another house sit before returning to Fontenoy le Chateau at the end of June, we decided to take some time to work on our new website.

So where do we go?

Finding accommodation at an affordable price is the key factor, but also great Wifi. Luckily for us, Terry located a new Airbnb in Starigrad-Paklenica in Croatia for only Eur 9.21 per night. We decided we would take three days / two nights to get there and stop off on the way.

A Night at Lake Como, Italy

Valbrona, Lake Como

Lake Como ITALY
Lake Como Italy

Lake Como was an overnight stop with a hotel in the area. It took us from late afternoon to early evening to enjoy this beautiful lake and surrounding towns. Relaxing with a drink and dinner at the water’s edge. Perfect.

And no, we didn’t see George Clooney sipping his Nespresso coffee! Maura would have loved to have seen James Bond, aka Daniel Craig, in his blue togs, though!

The next day was to be Verona, but with the rain pelting down, we kept driving. We were planning to use the tent and camp again in Trieste, but as it was still raining, we kept going.

So, we fuelled up and loaded up with scrumptious Italian egg pasta before once again paying a Euro 15 Vignette (toll) to drive for 10 minutes into and out of Slovenia to get to Croatia.

Tip: there are ways to avoid paying a toll (vignette) for a short trip through Slovenia. Check this out: Avoiding the Road Toll Through Slovenia


Overnight Stay in Selce, Croatia

Selce, Croatia
Selce, Croatia

By 5 pm, we were busy searching the Airbnb and app for a night’s accommodation. A hotel room with a promenade view at Euro80. I don’t think so.

Petar’s Airbnb for Euro 26 per night in Selece was perfect for us. With the car parked, we strolled down the narrow streets to the waterfront to enjoy a beer and pizza with a fabulous view.

One Month in Starigrad-Paklenica, Croatia

Starigrad-Paklenica, Croatia
Starigrad-Paklenica, Croatia

We recommend putting Croatia on your travel itinerary when you next visit Europe.

Last year, our 3-week road trip to Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania showcased the beauty of Croatia and why it is a popular travel destination.

We are here for a month to write and get our fitness back on track with runs, walks and swims along the coastal promenade. And as the entrance to Paklenica National Park is only 2 kms away and Zadar is only a 45-minute drive from Starigrad, there is plenty on offer to experience here.