A Travellerspoint blog

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How we got on in Cinque Terre

On Monday morning bright and early we set off on foot for the Cinque Terre. We had packed a few things for an overnight stop in my day bag and the sky was overcast which meant it would be cooler at least to begin with. The path we were taking from Levanto, where we are currently pitched, would take us to the first of the 5 towns. It was quite a tough walk. It took 4 hours to get to Monterosso. The sun came out and it got very hot. The path was not well maintained and although mostly in shade it was steep either up or down with very little on the level. The thing which peeved Christine most was that we arrived at Monterosso after a tough 4 hour hike and we had only reached the start of the Cinque Terre walk. We could have arrived by train at the same place in about 5 minutes! After a beer and a meal on the waterfront we took the train to the next stop, Vernazza. This was where we had decided to stay overnight. I will pass over to Christine now so she can give her own account and continue the tale of our jaunt in the Cinque Terre.

Well I did find it tough going and had a face like a beetroot by the time we got to Monterosso and so was very happy to get onto the train to the next of the five towns. All of the towns are served by train and one ticket, valid for two days, enables you to hop on and off at will. You do miss out on the views doing this though as most of the line is in tunnels. Varnazza was very pretty and very busy with lots of American tourists. After a bit of wandering up and down we found a nice room close to the harbour. Maria, the proprietor gave us good advice about where to eat etc and after a meal we went to bed quite shattered. Today we visited the remaining three towns (by train) and then took a bus up to an old monastery. To return by bus we would have to have waited 3 hours, so I found my self staggering down another steep descent with walking pole in one hand and Frank's hand in the other. But we made it! The Cinque Terre coast is extremely beautiful and the towns are all a little different from each other. At Riomaggiore we walked a little way along the famous Via dell'Amore. This is a footpath cut out of the cliff and has lovely views out to sea. It is also flat and paved! Varnazza attracts the most visitors and there is quite a buzz about the place - especially in the Blue Merlin bar in the evenings. I guess this little expedition is the closest I'm going to get to backpacking these days and whilst I liked the bits sitting in the bars and people watching, I did find the hiking a bit of a challenge (need a new pair of knees).

We will be starting our journey westwards to France tomorrow, with a couple of stopovers before we reach Montpellier for our 2 week stay in the gite.

Love F and C

Sent from my iPad

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On our way to Monterosso


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Vernazza - overnight stop


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Vernazza from above


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Frank and Christine!


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Lovers' trysts on the Via dell' Amore


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A break in the shade


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Aix en Provence, a lovely city

sunny 30 °C

We left Levanto, Italy, yesterday (Wednesday) and started to make our way towards the Mediterranean coast of France. The drive was quite a trial. The route is carved through the mountains that come down to the coast and is as much in tunnel as in the open with tight bends and steep gradients. Added to those constraints the road is a two lane dual carriageway which means that there are only two speeds possible either a kami kazi like 90mph plus with the BMWs and Mercedes in the outside lane or 50mph in the slow lane with the HGVs. It was a bit of a nightmare drive. Any way we arrived safely in Sanremo just in Italy but right on the French border and spent the night in a wonderful old style hotel. It was called the Grand Hotel di Londre and was built in the classical turn of the century (1900) style. Today much of that grandeur remains but it is rather faded. Our room had a great sea view and was very splendid. We dined in style in a grand formal dining room. Although it was a very simple meal of fish carrots and potatoes, it all came under large silver domes and was served on to our plates at the table. There seemed to be waiters everywhere all coordinated by the head waiter who looked like he had been in service since the opening of the hotel. The hotel seemed mainly empty and has probably been overtaken as a holiday choice by more modern hotels with a wider range of facilities. However even if its days are numbered we liked staying there and it was a stark contrast for us to be striking camp in the morning and then be in relatively luxurious surroundings at the end of that day.

We moved on this morning along the coastal motorway bidding "ciao" to Italy and "beinvenu" to France. The road suddenly seemed calmer and safer with 3 lanes and more modest speeds in the outside lane. We motored on to Aix en Provence. We have not been here for some years but after a quick trip around the city this afternoon we have been reminded what a beautiful city it is. We are spending 2 nights here in a Campanile hotel. Not much chance of splendour here then! Strangely the computer system controlling the doors has broken down and we have been given access to our room but no key. If we go out and stay out until after 11.00 tonight we will not be able to get back in to the room as the reception will close and they have the only key. Good job we were not planning to do a bit of clubbing!

Christine says:
We stay here until Saturday morning when we head off for St Gely du Fesc which is near Montpelier and we have a gite booked there for two weeks - fantastic we can wash all of our clothes at last! We counted up this morning that including France we have visited 11 countries on our trip. It seems ages ago now that we were feeling the cold in Sweden and getting rained out of Norway. Our thoughts are beginning to turn homeward a little bit now I think - we've even started looking at the UK weather forecast from time to time.

Posted by FandC 09:01 Archived in France Comments (1)

Slowing the pace in Montpellier

sunny 29 °C

We have not been able to post any blogs recently as we are now mostly out of range for any wifi. We arrived at our rented gite in a small town just north of Montpellier on Saturday and have been relaxing big time after our life on the road. We will be here for 2 weeks which will be fantastic as the longest stop in any place previously has been 5 days and there have not been many of those!

We will find it difficult to post blogs at the gite as there is no accessible wifi. The only way we could post this entry is to come to Gallery Lafeyette Restaurant in Montpellier for a tea and cake and use their free wifi.

Tomorrow is a big day because we are off to Marseille where we will be picking up Duncan, Julia and little Lauren. We can't wait to see them and we have been out shopping today to make sure that Lauren has plenty of toys! We hope she likes the pool which is in the garden of the gite (see pic). It's safely fenced off from the rest of the garden.

When Duncan and family leave us, Lol and Kathy will be joining us so we'll try and persuade Lauren to leave some of her toys behind for Lol!

Not sure what the weather is like at home but it's hot and sunny every day here.

Love F and C

Posted by FandC 07:53 Archived in France Comments (0)

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