Finally called Mum and Dad in London. All OK. Walked to San Petro XXXX at the Vatican City. Refused entry because of our shorts even though we had taken t-shirts with us. Staggered back in the heat. Collected our film then met Marina and co. in Piazza Navona. Spent the day with them sightseeing and shopping. Saw Villa de Medici and gardens. Bought another top. Very hot. Lots of walking in the sun. At least 37 – 40 deg C yesterday. Mark got burnt. Saw a big gay and lesbian parade going through the street outside.
Incredibly hot night. Airless in room. Headed off to the Vatican City after changing rooms to a smaller, not so nice but hopefully cooler and quieter room with a small bathroom that costs more.
Tried to ring Mum and Dad a few times. Not answering. Saw the Vatican City in very hot conditions. Very nice. Shouldn’t have bothered with the Louvre.
Staggered back to the hotel in extreme heat. Then went out to ring Mum and Dad. Monique answered. They left this morning, not tomorrow. Very upset as Monique told me that Mum has been sick for 2 months and thought she might have had cancer. She only got the all clear on Wednesday. All this time that we had been talking by phone she might not have even been coming over. Lucky all OK. Hope she is feeling better. In the air somewhere.
Walked to see the Colosseum after a snooze. Got lost on the way back.
Then went for dinner at Insalata again. Very nice. Goulash and salad.
Slept for a few hours (due to XXXX), was awake for a few hours then slept for a few hours. Got up early. Out of our room by 7.30. Had a coffee on XXXX around and then drove to Roma. Orvieto very nice, especially in the sunshine this morning. Short trip to Roma.
Heavy traffic just outside, then fine. Stopped, got some money and a map and phoned around for accommodation. Found some. Very hot. 35 dec C at 1.00pm. Drove to accommodation and found a car park with no problems. Very nice. We are staying just off Piazza Navona!
Walked and walked. Saw the Pantheon.
Met two American ladies. Had dinner at Insalata Ricci. Excellent salad and Riso Pesto and another bottle of wine. So warm outside, perspiration running down my forehead. Walked and walked afterwards. Pooped and hot. Heaps of people about. Lots happening in Piazza Navona.
Trouble getting to sleep last night but then slept well. Someone was playing a guitar beautifully outside in the courtyard. Drove to Siena. Passed by a market on the way in. Had trouble finding a car park then couldn’t find the market for ages. Walked miles and then the market was mainly clothes. Bought some knickers and a singlet top for Mark. Didn’t like Siena. Was going to drive out then decided that we should try to find the old area. We did and saw the end of a horse parade. Big races coming (Palio). Huge Piazza del Campo with lots of people but nowhere near full. Much shouting and singing for particular horses.
Got lost again while trying to find the car. Drove to Chiusi, Citta della Pieve then through to Orvieto. Beautiful countryside. Full of sunflowers. Towns best viewed from a distance.
Orvieto seems nice. Good clean room for 40 000L. Tiny bathroom but cleaner than last night. Had a meal by ourselves in a huge restaurant with a great view. Good wine – Orvieto Classic Secco San Patrizio for 10 000L.
View from the hilltop lookout Pizzale Michelangeo.
A rather noisy night last night, until I shut the door. Those bloody buzz box bikes – I hate them!
Had brekkie back at the main house. Nice little rolls, jams and weakfish cappuccino. Man was very friendly. He didn’t have a room for us tonight so we packed up and looked for one. Walked to a couple but full tonight.
Rang up all reasonably priced ones from the tourist book but all full tonight. Finally got one at Rapallo called Portofino. Then tried to walk over the hill to Portafino to the beach. No sign posts. Walked up hill and down but didn’t get very far. Had a coffee.
Drove to Rapallo but couldn’t find the hotel or a car park. Noise shattered us and we decided to leave despite our booking. Sheer heaven getting out of that noise.
Drove on the autostrade to La Spezia (cost 8000L). Drove through La Spezia to Portovenere as recommenced by Camillo. Drove in and out. Couldn’t find a car park. Looked nice but chock a block full of tourists. Unbelievable!
Wall to wall cars. Hordes of people crammed onto grotty, rocky beaches and swimming in water nowhere near as good as the French Riviera. On our way out stopped at La Grazie to get some lunch. Heavenly quiet little fishing port. Quite attractive, especially the silence but hard to find something to eat.
In the end we stopped at a bar and got some coffee and focaccia bread soaked in olive oil. Not bad but salty.
Any other time there are food places everywhere. Drove back through La Spezia to Lerici as recommended by Camillo. Once again chock a block and no car parks. Drove out again and headed for Pisa.
Hard to even find a working phone box on the way to cancel our reservation. Drove through huge touristy areas – carnival or something. Finally made it to Lucca via the autostrade. Booked a room in a huge old house via the tourist office.
Were on about the 4th floor. Huge room, no bathroom. 58 000L including breakfast. Sore feet, tired and crabby. Staggered around Lucca. No shops selling bread or cheese or anything like that. Crapped off and sick of pizza and pasta!
A rather noisy night last night. We were on the 4th floor and it was stifling. had windows open for a while, risking the mozzies but had to shut it to get some quiet.
Went out for brekkie. Walked and walked through last night’s touristy area then around towards the old area. Mark got sick of walking so had to stop at a rather boring looking cafe near the park but it had a reasonable breakfast – croissant, baguette, chocolate croissant, yoghurt, coffee for 35F. Not bad.
Was going to leave Nice then but saw a sign to a flower market. Got the car and parked it near there and found the lovely old area and a huge market. Flowers, fruit, vegetables etc. All surrounded by the lovely old streets.
Lots of backpackers coming out of our hotel as we were near the train station. Mopeds everywhere. Did some washing before brekkie and chatted to a nice old Spanish guy.
Drove towards Italy via Monaco and Monte Carlo. Spectacular coastline around St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
Stopped at Monaco. Very small, clean, nice town. Went through the palace. Lavish but smallish rooms. Very nice. Well worth a look.
Whizzed through Monte Carlo, then spotted the beach there and decided to have a swim. Very pebbly. No sand. Bit uncomfortable to walk on but not bad to lie on and better than sand. Water was slightly chilly but quite bearable.
Nice little beach near the Casino. Quite a few people but not too crowded. Sunbaked topless like 50% of others. Drove on and crossed the border into Italy!
Italian Riviera is not as nice as the French Riviera so far. Deteriorated to grittiness in some areas. Noisy scooters and bikes everywhere. Deafening.
Traffic jams in some towns along the coast. People casually slung on motor bikes everywhere with children on the front and back. No helmet sometimes and no protective gear. Was 25 deg C at 7.00pm. A beautiful haze on the horizon that blended sea with sky so you couldn’t tell the difference.
Money difficult to comprehend. So many 000s. Stopped to get out some Lire from the bank, buy a dictionary and go to the loo. Cafe/Bar was cheap for cafe at $3.00 for 2.
Drove and drove and drove through various coastal towns, traffic jams, horrendous noise etc. Had a destination in mind but it got to 8.00pm and we were sick of it, so we stopped at Hotel Tre Torri that cost 80 000 life ($75) but has a fridge and space. Sick of driving. Had a shower.
Drove into town a bit looking for dinner. Hard to find. Ended up in an extremely noisy ristorante (Pizzeria – Ristorante – Pub ‘Eco Del Mare’ with about 30 young military guys having a great time, watching soccer, drinking heaps and singing. Food was good and cheap. Had gnocchi with tomato sauce and Mark had cheese pizza. Waitress spoke English so it wasn’t too bad ordering. 23000L.
Asked for a salad at dinner and was given a bowl of lettuce, tomato, carrot and separate bottles of oil and rose coloured vinegar to mis our own dressing on it. Yum!
Bought some constipation tablets today. Got sick of it. Was great going!
Hard to face another language and currency. Got used to French.
Not a bad night at the hotel last night. Found our way out of Cannes and onto the coast road heading back west, keen to see some more of the French Riveria and St Tropez.
Stopped just out of Cannes at Théoule for brekkie. Magnificent tiny little village centred around a small beach. Had muesli, banana, apricots and yoghurt.
Sun already very hot at 9.30. People on the beach sun baking (topless) and swimming. Fantastic view over the Mediterranean. Sat on a rock wall at the beach and ate brekkie in the sunshine. Yum!
Drove a bit further past wonderful coastline, magic blue water, orangey red, rocky coastline. Still a lot of bush and undeveloped land.
Stopped at a seaside hotel/restaurant at Antheor and managed to get a cup of coffee and Perrier overlooking the sea. Only ones there. Got long blacks from ‘deux cafe’ this time!
Drove on to Agay outside of St Raphael and stopped in a free car park! Walked along a very busy beach promenade. Found a market! Bought some beach mats for 12F each.
Stripped back another notch with the clothes. Have been wearing singelet tops and shorts since we left Paris as well as socks and shoes. Now bathers, shorts and thongs.
Drove nearly all the way to St Tropez but got sick of winding bends, slow traffic and noise along the coastline.
Turned around and made our way to Antibes. About 6 hours all up. Got very boring. Was in the car most of the day. Lucky not too hot with the window down.
Walked around Antibes. Not a bad town. Found one sign to Musee Picasso then lost it.
Headed straight for coffee to use a loo. Finally chose a little cafe which turned out to have one of those loos. Fortunately cleaner than the last one.
Headed for Nice. Pulled into a Formule 1 but it was full. Traffic was dreadful into Nice as with all of the Riviera. Slow and noisy. Parked then looked for a hotel. Took ages to find one. Not bad though.
Headed out for dinner which was 8.30pm by then and walked towards the water. Found heaps of cafes. Finally chose one. Very ordinary and a waste of money. Pizzas everywhere. Walked along the promenade. Beautiful night. Was dark by 10.00.
Rang Justin and Delia. Around 6.00am there. Heaps of people around.
Quite a good night’s sleep. Got bitten by mozzies again.
Found a fruit market that was not as big as Lyon but the fruit was excellent. Had cherries, nectarines and croissants for breakfast. Amazing flowers too.
Then had 2 coffees at Les Deux Garcons . So nice sitting outside that we could hardly move.
After all the dreadful stand up toilets we had had to use, we found the Queen Mother of toilets – electronic with multiple buttons. One to lower the seat, one to put the disposable toilet seat cover down, one to wash etc. Probably one to heat the seat…
Looked around Aix. Lovely town. Had another sit down and drink and finally left.
Saw a cat on a lead. Bought delicious little strawberries that we had for lunch on the way to Nice. Drove into Cannes over green hills.
Took ages to crawl out through traffic to get to Grasse. Found accommodation out of Cannes at the Etap Hotel. It is like the Formula 1 but 195F and you have your own facilities and it doesn’t smell.
Drove into Grasse. Got lost due to road works and deviations but got there. On a hill. Lots of crowded buildings and hair pin bends. Toured a perfume factory. Surprised at how much is done by hand. Could buy perfumes cheap but they did not have my Oscar de la Rente.
There were two other factories but couldn’t be bothered going to them. They all make various well known perfumes – Poison, Opium etc. and can sell it at their factory under their own name e.g. Fragonard.
Don’t know if Oscar is made at Grasse. Drove into the town centre but couldn’t really find anything so we left.
Drove into Cannes. Walked along Boulevard de Croissette.
Weather a bit overcast and drizzly but still warm. Cleared as we walked.
Checked out all the huge yachts etc. Wealth beyond belief.
Walked back along shopping street. Stopped at a cafe. Mark had lasagne and I had an omelette for teach with Rose wine. Very nice.
Some buskers came along and were very good. Dragged ourselves away and eventually found where we had parked the car. Many streets become car parks at night time. They double park or park down the middle of the street as per last night.
Found our way back to Etap. Mark could watch World Cup on TV at a restaurant further down from our hotel and also back at the hotel. Bought him a new electric razor today. Few bands out playing. Very lively.
Last night was a lovely luxury. House we stayed in was old. It was very quiet as Les Baux is a tiny village. Apart from a snorer in one room and two loud American ladies in another… Luckily they only talked for about an hour before they went to bed.
Got up and went for an early morning walk. Nice and cool. had a lovely breakfast of croissant and baguette with real butter and strawberry (fraise) jam and huge cups of coffee with milk! Spoilt! Very nice stay.
Went back up to the castle and paid to go to the top. Well worth it. Beautiful site. Early enough to beat most of the tourists, especially buses. Mainly Americans.
Went back to St Remy. Did some washing while we walked around. Had a drink to use the loos. Bought a nice but undercooked pizza for lunch. Had a look at the asylum (St Paul Clinique) where Von Gogh spent a year. Wasn’t allowed in.
Headed to Salon de Provence where Nostradamus lived and died. He was born in St Remy. Nice little town but not a lot there.
Moved on to Aix-en-Provence through Martigny. Aix is lovely but the route there was a non-event. Industrial. Only went that way to see my first glimpse of the Mediterranean which was full of ships and surrounded by gas storage tanks. Yuck!
Had a quick look around Aix then moved out of town to look around for accommodation. Tried to find Le Tholonet to check out where Cezanne did his paintings but got terribly lost and probably added at least 100k to the day by driving, driving, driving through nothing land.
Eventually found our way back to Aix but drove in and out looking for cheap accommodation. Probably wasted about 4 hours all up.
Ended up staying in Aix city at the second hotel (Hotel de France) we tried for 286F. Not a bad room and right near the main street.
Went out for a drink and bite to eat. Chose a cafe and sat down. Big kerfuffle with the waiter. Everybody looked. One lady tried to help. Realised later that we should have moved to another table that was set for dinner. Still a good night. Had chicken salad and red wine.