Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cinque Terre

Jane: We left the safe confines of Piacenza and headed for the hills. Our ultimate aim was the coast and it took us 3 days to get there. Three very eventful days. The first day was a gentle climb into some stunning alpine country. We kept going around corners and getting more amazing views of green, green fields and churches nestled into hillsides - ridiculously pretty really. Much more attractive alpine scenery than I was expecting.

We camped for the first time and put some of our new kit through its paces. We used our new camping seats (thanks Mum and Dad - they're brilliant!) and folding plastic plates (nice one Marion - they've saved us heaps of room and work really well). It was pretty cool up in the hills and it rained the following morning so we set off really late. We only had about 60kms that day so weren't fazed about the late start. The beginning of the day was an 8km switchback climb. As Geoff said, these are very old roads made for low powered vehicles so the gradient is gentle. I just put it into granny gear and just pootled up. My bike computer said 8 degrees celcius at the top of the mountain but I swear it was colder than that. We heard later that it had snowed in the hills above us that day. Our kit was not warm enough and we nearly froze. We came across a beautiful little town that we decided to stay in but all the accommodation places were shut because it was Monday..... We got chatting to a lovely bus driver who said he ran a B&B in a town we hadn't heard of. After looking at a map, we realised it was a better option than where we were headed to camp. So after another 500m climb and a lovely (but cold) whizz down the other side, we arrived at the B&B in the most beautiful building in Bedonia.

The following day was another gentle 15km climb to a 1,055m pass. We descended into yet another stunning valley. We arrived at our destination quite easily only to find that the duelling banjo like locals had no idea where the campsite on our map was. So we pushed on to the next stop -that was the coast. A 1km tunnel brought us out onto the top of a mountain with the ocean in view, the start of the Cinque Terre.

We are camping with a large portion of Germany. It's doing my language brain in - I'm trying very hard to speak and listen to Italian, but now my school German keeps popping up. We are dressed like Euro tourists and so people keep speaking German to me....

The Cinque Terre is every bit as stunning as it is reputed to be. We've walked the sea side trails between the five towns in two days in beautiful weather. Very old towns set on rocky coast lines - just breath taking. It's also very busy - god forbid it gets busier than this. You hear every accent under the sun along the way - lots of Italians, Germans, Americans, Poms and loads of Aussies as well. I know that we're tourists but I hope we behave better than some of the tourists we're seeing here. It's been a bit of a shock to the system being amongst so many of them all at once. We're looking forward to hiding in some more remote villages and inflicting our dreadful Italian on them..

I'd put a photo here but can't use the USB port on the 'puter...

But now I have one:


niallniallorangepeel said...

So glad to hear you're as impressed by le CT as much as I was. Found the great clifftop baryet?
And I'm sorry, I should have warned you about the number of tourists. Still it's worth it. And I'm sure you're being more sensitive than the guy I saw at the train station in Riomaggiore saying loudly "Can I pay in American dollars?"
Keep having fun.
PS. Aren't chats with random foreign strangers the best? And sometimes they own B&Bs!

Marina said...

Ciao Jane & Geoff. The scenery, food and (most of) the encounters with locals sound like lots of fun. Good to hear you've got the fruit/fish thing sorted - now you can order both food groups with confidence!
Take care.
Un bacio: Marina (& P & C).