Irregular Posts; Corsica 3

Thursday August 30, 2018

Hi,

HomeAgainHomeAgain JiggiddityJig.  WOW, I was not used to the humid 90F heat.  I felt like being back in Cambodia.

The last days of travel, I am focused.  Then at home, for the next day or so I have NO focus.  It’s like ALL concentration disappears and it is start something, get distracted, start something else >>>. Eventually all things kind of get “done” with my body many hours out of sync. Usually I wake up at 4AM and can not sleep. So I get up, make coffee, and go to “work”. My eyes get real dry and sleepy about 9PM and it is bed time. Over a week, I work my way back to normal. I am glad I do not have to really Go To Work upon returning home.

 

Deciding how to leave Bastia was something that I had not decided on until a couple of days before departure.  I had a hotel reservation and had to return car on Monday.  I had a reservation for Nice hotel for Tuesday evening near the train station and flights from Nice to Boston via Heathrow on Wednesday.  How to get from Bastia to Nice!

Three choices. #1 was fly; with buses, it would be cost about 110 euro.  Benefit less time transiting but twice the most expensive ferry.  #2 was Corsica Ferry for 55 euro.   It departs about 8AM, arriving Nice early afternoon.  A 5-hour transit time and 24 hours to re-explore Nice in summer.  The last time in Nice was a couple days around Christmas.  #3 was Moby Ferry for 19 euro.  It departs at 1:30PM, transit for 7 1/2 hours.   Benefit is the cost and the cool look of the ferry.

I guess I had become kind of road weary.  I didn’t really feel like exploring Bastia anymore.  After dropping off the car and checking back into my 2-star Hotel Riviera, I had a nice conversation about the ferries with the desk clerk Ayoub at my Hotel Riveria in Bastia.  Ayoub was friendly and liked using his English.  We had a couple of conversations re: places in Bastia and in Corsica.

With an afternoon to spend, I chilled in Place Ste Nicholas.  I sat at an outdoor table in the shade, ordered a Pietra Biere and Three Fromage panini and watched the world go by.

A street sweeper appeared and cleaned the paved walk ways nearby.  It then drove onto the gravel petanque courts that I had held the tournament the week before.  Petanque pistes were now empty. The truck sprayed a little water to keep the dust down and “smoothed” the gravel playing surface.  Slowly, slowly, back and forth it drove… I ordered another Pietra. The big bright yellow Corsica Ferry pulled into a berth on the other side of the harborside road and let out a deep horn blast.  Soon cars and passengers were disembarking.

Wednesday morning, I walked a bit then settled back in at Place Ste Nicholas with a lot of other morning coffee drinkers.  At 10 AM, it was too early for three fromage panini.  After an hour over a cup of coffee, I headed to my local SPAR supermarche near the hotel, bought a ham and cheese sandwich and bottle of clementine juice for the Moby ride.  I retrieved my backpack, said Merci and Au Revoir to Ayoub and headed to the ferry terminal.

Pedestrian passengers get to load early and find places on board.  I found a table near the indoor playground.  I missed seeing the grandsons at a playground.  It WAS noisy as the kids were excited.  I unplugged my hearing aids and returned to finish reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.  It was my travel reading on this trip.  I was joined by a young solo guy traveler for or 7 ½ hour passage.  He napped and listened to his phone music   most of the time.

Disembarking in Nice took time.  Foot passengers didn’t get off immediately but had to wait until some of the cars exited the ship.  Fortunately, I had programmed my Garmin GPS with the hotel coordinates.  The route it chose was for cars on one-way streets but it felt good to walk in the cool of the evening.  An Italian gelato would help the walk.  My 24 pound pack did make me sweat a little by the time I reached the hotel.  The room at Hotel Gauthard was spartan but OK and I was tired.

The next morning was a nice breakfast, some email work, and walk to the Gare Nice and the airport bus.  The hotel did advertise a shuttle service, but the desk clerk, with a frown, said that it and a taxi both cost 35 euro; the bus cost 6.  That was an easy decision.  Meg and I had used bus#99 to the airport before and it is very convenient and almost as fast as a shuttle/taxi.

The flight and transit thru Heathrow was easier than expected.  Airport shuttle that Meg had reserved dropped me beside Meg’s car at the Park and Ride.  I was in my own bed by 11P and then WIDE awake again at 4AM.  My body thought I had overslept.

“Travel light and wear a smile.”  Jack Holmes

Irregular Posts; Corsica 2

Tuesday Aug 28, 2018

Bonjour,

Ajaccio is a city, a French Mediterranean city with a lot of hustle and bustle.  My GPS decided to “Lose satellites” on the way into the city!!!! Complicating the issue, my hotel, is on a pedestrian promenade and parking is off site.  Fortunately, I found it AND a small parking space on the street for my small car.  Luckily the parking allowed me as much time as needed for under 7 Euros.  Settled into Hotel Fesch, I walked around the neighborhood.  There are beaches on the north side and the port on the south side of the peninsula Ajaccio.

Old town is typical old narrow streets that I’ve become used to seeing.  A half mile from my hotel is Bonaparte’s childhood home.  A typical home for the family of some moderate means who were administrators of the city.  The line to visit Maison Bonaparte was LONG on the hot afternoon.  I decided to return next AM in the cool of the day just as it opened.  Then I would leave town.

Inside is OK but all the signs are just in French.  Documents, photos, etc were mildly interesting.  I probably should have rented the audio device but my hearing aids make them a pain.  I did get some interesting interior images, although they are not Bonaparte images.  I walked back to the car through the large Saturday street market.

Leaving the city, once again the GPS would not find a satellite.  It took several frustrating mis-directions to find my way out.  Along the route to Bonifacio in the far south the GPS cut out again.  I had intended to visit some famous megalithic sites but the signs “disappeared” and I never found them.

Bonifacio is a VERY windy place, at least the 24 hours that I was there.  There is a high perched citadelle fortress around the old town above the pleasure boat packed harbor.  Some of the modern resort occupies the surrounds the harbor. The information office is in the fortress with the very narrow cobbled streets packed with tourists.  I get a map and kind of locate my hotel. OK it was “lunch time” at 2P inside the fortress was needed. Cold and windy outside, I find a place inside to relax.

The address of the hotel is the BACK of the buildings lining the harbor on the approach to the fortress!  No reception office visible.  A helpful local suggested the restaurant of the same name on the harbor promenade!.  Four staff there and only the waitress spoke English. I do not have the French for conversation.  Check-in done I had to “wait for someone to show me to my studio.”  15 minutes later a guy shows up and walks me a hundred yards down the promenade and up three flights to a lovely one bedroom apartment overlooking the bustle of the harbor and shops.  I dropped my backpack and collapsed. “I am not liking this town.” I thought.

Bustle and wind and a lovely view from the three-room apartment.  It is really an extended stay rental not a one night-stop.  I worked on some photos and writing. After dark I went out to see the lighted fortress.  Bummer, it was not as I had seen in promo photos.  The current view is dark with scenes projected on the fortress walls; most unattractive.  I try to shoot the neighborhood.  With the darkness surrounding the BRIGHTly lit restaurants and bars, it was not attractive.  Back up the narrow three flights to my home and bed.   Above the bustle, it was not a quiet night, even with my ears on the table.

I didn’t know if I would try to ferry to Sardinia but since I was disenchanted with the town I decided to head to Corte in the central mountains.  Booking.com to the rescue and a place secured in Corte.

The extensive breakfast was nice and the helpful English speaking waitress was on duty.  Check-out was another adventure.  No one on staff spoke English or seemed to care about the “hotel” side of the business.  The free parking pass card did not work and I had to pay 19 euros.  The staff seemed to be not interested in my problem. You might say “They don’t have TheirShitTogether.”  The restaurant was fine but the hotel seemed an afterthought, with little thought.  Get the feeling that I did not like this town????

 

Sunday noon I arrived in Corte.  Driving up the river valley in the bright cool morning, I felt the resort frustrations disappear.  Corte is an old fortress town from the Genoese era and long inhabited before that.  It was the center of Corsican partisan resistance and revolution in the 1700s. It is a beautiful old French-Mediterranean hill-town with a university in the new part of the city. So the vibe is younger and less touristy.   Hotel “U Passe Tempu” was central with a nice mini-kitchen studio that could have been for a few days. It is just up the hill from a gorgeous fountain on a cobbled street leading to a small church.  Tucked away beside the church, it is a nice place.

Photographing both late afternoon and early morning was a pleasure after the touristy resort bustle of Bonifacio and Ajaccio.  There is a high perched citadelle here also but its better viewed from the outside from the town below.  Tourists and locals were out and about on the evening.

I photographed some people descending a narrow street. “That is MY daughter.” He said in English. I showed him my set of a half dozen images of the street, including the one with his daughter. We had an extended talk about street photography and telling a story with the image. He called his daughter back to be a “natural” in his shot of the street.

When traveling solo, there are few opportunities to have conversation with people. I welcomed the chance to talk to him even thought it began sort of by challenge. I had another long conversation with a young (English speaking) French couple in the Calanches that I really enjoyed. Typically, conversations with the desk clerk at a hotel are interesting; they are often bored and welcome diversion.

Corte and the local mountains are a “GoBackTo” place.  It could use a few days of exploring/experiencing.  There is fine hiking and mountain scenery in the area.

 

Back in Bastia.  The AVIS was car turned in and I checked into the hotel I used last time.  I have my reservation for the Tuesday PM Moby ferry to Nice.  This ferry sports massive Looney-Tune characters painted all over the ship.  It is cheap without the cabin and car.  The ride is 7 ½ hours to Nice.  The downside is about a 10PM docking and then the 1 mile walk to my hotel near the train station.  I had entered the hotel’s coordinates into the GPS.  It made me walk the one-way streets for cars! If it didn’t connect to satellites, I would have taken a taxi.

Irregular Posts; Corsica

Saturday August 25, 2018

Bonjour

“Bastia?  What’s exciting there?”

“Exciting is not the word to describe Bastia.”  It is a laid back small working city with a few hot spots.

Vieux Port (Old Port) and the Terre Vecchia (Old Town) have been there for a couple thousand years in one form or another. It has strong ties to the Genoese empire and would be Italian except Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica and when he took over France, he made Corse a French Department.  Bastia doesn’t look French and doesn’t especially look Genovese either; I would say it looks Mediterranean.

The Genoese citadelle and Terra Nova neighborhood occupies a craggy hilltop above the bowl shaped Old Port.  The pleasure and fishing boat packed harbor is surrounded by open and outdoor seating restaurants.  Fish is a local food draw. The restaurants are busy from noon to 2P and then 7P to 10P.   The harbor is guarded by two small lighthouses, fue, on either side of the narrow mouth.   Big ferries actually stop outside and BACK into their berth if their cargo door is in the stern so cars can exit.  Front loaders must back out of the harbor!!!  I saw no cruise ships the two days I was in town.

I walked about 8 miles each day.  Multiple trips to the Old Part for different light.  Even so, it begins to look much the same … but slightly different light.  The last time was for dinner at one of the best restaurants, Chez Huguette, overlooking the harbor and all the activity.  I made reservation for their opening at 7PM and then sat by the waterfront watching the comings and goings for an hour until the opened.

An aperitif and then grilled vegetables for a starter.  I ordered the traditional octopus with tomato sauce.  The octopus arrived on a bed of roasted vegetables; the WHOLE OCTOPUS.  Yum, but it was the first time I ever got the WHOLE thing!!!

Returning home to the Hotel Riveria, I stopped at an event that I have never witnessed before.  The Place St Nicholas along the harbor was set up for a Petanque tournament.  Two teams of three, each player with two steel balls the size of a baseball, one tiny colored target ball.  The strategy looked like curling except you can loft the balls and knock another competitor away. Amazing to see balls launched in an arch to bomb another ball 10 yards away.  Some players seem to be the designated bomber.

 

“Exciting” is for Gulfe de Porto and Les Calanches de Piana is a UNESCO place.  Located on the northwest coast (Bastia is in the northeast) it is a beautiful gulf and the geology is fantastic with amazing red porphyry rock formations.  Most of Haute Corse is sparse and underpopulated.  Very eroded and mountainous with roads along the ravine sides.  I was continually shifting from 2nd to 3rd to second with an occasional stretch in 4th.  I never got to 5th in my little Ford Fiesta.  The northwest is a “GoBackTo” place.  There is fine hiking in the Calanches and the Gorges de Spelunka to be done.  Arizona’s Redrock Sedona is rounded and massive wind formed, Calanches are spiky, deeply eroded by rain and wind.  The road, D81, is often 1 1/4 lanes wide and hanging close to the cliff face.  Traffic is scary and slow, kind of like narrow lane roads in Ireland/Scotland. but here it on a cliff face.  It is a good idea to sound your horn when approaching a tight bend. Signs do indicate which direction has the right of way, but a bus is NOT going to back up. It is best to travel the road in the early AM but. You do what you have to do.

Off to Ajaccio and the resorty Sud Corse…

“travel light and wear a smile.”

Irregular Posts; North Atlantic, Iceland 2018

Tuesday July 3,2018

G’Morning,

Reykjavik; after 2 decades, the old part of the city looks much the same.  Old places visited are still there doing the same thing.  The city is expanding outward into the lava fields to the east.  I must say the short blocky condo buildings look drab compared to the colorful old style. 

Prices have continued to climb, especially for hotels.  For our overnight, we booked into Hostel International Downtown.  It is a couple blocks up from the harbor and where we disembarked from the ship.  Even this hostel wanted $75 EACH for a bunk in a ten bed dormitory, including breakfast and wifi.  We upgraded to a private for room for a another $25 each.  It did have kitchen privileges but we weren’t staying long enough to take advantage.. 

The cliental is not “youth” any longer.  People in the lounge area were the full spectrum of ages from 20-somes to gray haired oldsters.  I don’t know about the other new HI hostel in town but this old ones was cheaper, nice, comfortable, and convenient to old town and harbor.

Did I mention that the persistent low pressure weather stayed with us?  It did.  We did have a short break on arrival but drizzle and spotty light rain returned and stayed through our departure to the airport on Tuesday afternoon.  No rain pants but the waterproof jackets were welcome.

We had two meals in town. One in the plaza that had the LARGE outdoor TV screen for World Cup games (Spain lost to Russia while we ate).  A typical meal of fresh fish and a pint each cost $65.  “Tax and tip” is included.  Next day we ate at a harbor side place.  Same kind of cost.  This one did not have paper menus.  They had their selection of large fish kabobs for grilling were on display in the cold space. Arctic char or salmon or cod or …  and lobster soup.  Having had PROPER lobster from New England, lobster from ANYWHERE else is second rate at best.   The soup, while tasty, was a far second place to NE lobster bisque.  Two big kabobs and bread and a soup and a pint of Gull beer = $61. 

Airport check-in at Keflavik/Reykjavik is now self-service.  You go to a kiosk to enter information and scan passport and print baggage tags as well and then drop-off bags at the old empty ticket counter.  There were some people around to help  but no people working the check-in!!!!  We had frequent flyer tickets seats that were far apart as they had to be done separately.  Meg asked the gate agent at the gate if there were seats closer together.  She had my passport/boarding pass in her hand.  I got bumped up to business but not Meg!!!  Economy class only has beverage and purchase food.  She has some nibbles with her and we ate a sandwich before boarding.  So into Business I go.  Welcoming drink and then wine with dinner, thank you very much.  I feel guilty BUT…  On another flight on another airline she got to business on frequent flyer and I was economy.  Fair turn around?

We left Iceland before 7PM and landied in Boston at 9PM!   It was an easy exit through passport with Global Entry as others without it got into the long twisting line.  It was HOT outside. Jetlagged, 5 hour difference, and realfeel temperature lagged, 50F, we headed through the tunnel and up the expressway.

Home again, Home again Jiggiddity Jig! 

 

Irregular Posts

Irregular Posts are experiential writings from the road.  They reflect what I am seeing and experiencing as I travel and photograph.  My travels are irregularly spaced to places all over the world.  Writings happen as I find time and the subjects to reflect upon …

“travel light and wear a smile.”  jack holmes

Irregular Post; Cinque Terra, Italy

Tuesday, April 25 2017  Riomaggiore, Italy

Buongiorno,

Well, that was a FINE visit. Some places are “GoBackTo”, Cinque Terre especially Riomaggiore is one. I had been here in June 2015 while Meg was hiking in Spain. I knew she would like it, so I brought her here. Last time I was in Riomaggiore, I had a single small room up the hill of the village. beyond the restaurants and shops and harbor. This time for our 47th anniversary, we had a sea view upscale “top floor” room on the harbor. We overlooked the narrow protected harbor the small boat launch, restaurant, and out towards the sunset. ;~}We arrived on Thursday afternoon on the local train. It stops at all of the villages; Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and my favorite Riomaggiore. A long tunnel through the hillside leads into the village. A musician was playing; the songs echoed greeting thru the tunnel.

The village has a long street leading up the ravine. Buildings are brightly colored, tall and not wide, sharing common dividing walls. Narrow walk-alleys separate some of the buildings with stairs that ascend the ravine slope to other tall narrows above.

There are a lot of visitors! Holidays! Last weekend- Easter and Easter Monday, this LONG weekend – National holidays, school vacation time is USA and elsewhere. I did not see these people midweek in early June. We decided to hike the villages from Riomaggiore to Monterosso on Friday, to avoid the Saturday crush.

It was a LONG day; 9 hours on the trails. I had forgotten that I took the train between two and did not hike some land slided trails. The toughest trail is #531 from Riomaggiore to Manarola. It claims the be one kilometer (5/8th mile). It doesn’t say there is an elevation gain of 400 meters (1300ft) in a half km and then a descent of 400 km in a half km!!! The ravine slope is terraced with small vineyard and vegetable plots; stairs and stairs and stairs. Great views of the Ligurian Sea and the now small buildings far below. I had a nice long running conversation with a fellow hiker, a Policia from Turino. He wanted to speak English; he reads a lot of John Grisham but doesn’t get to converse much. He had studied to be a teacher but became a policeman in the traffic division. finally asked about “…your president.”. “Not mine. You can have him.” I replied. “NO! NO! He is crazy. You must keep him.” Meg had been conversing with a young woman from St Petersburg Russia. She was on vacation studying wine. We told her of the wines of 5Terre; assertive whites, fruity in front, tart, and the slight salt taste/aroma of the sea in the back. We talked of terroir and the emotions of the wines. I love talking with fellow travelers.

Did I mention the trail was long? The older easy coastal promenade had been closed by landslide and not yet repaired!? over the past several seasons. Trails are steep with rock “steps” at irregular intervals and heights. They pass thru little terraced vineyards, short forest, overlooks to the sea 300 meters below and then down into a village. Now the streets with the holiday visitors who do not hike, shops with local product and shops with souvenirs and small restaurants and …. Narrow stairs ascending between tall narrow colored buildings, visitors and locals in the walk-alleys; foto-heaven.

The last 1 ½ hours from Vernazza to Monterosso was WORK. Legs tired from the ascent…descent. I did remember the stride of centering work weight off your ankles forward to your balls of feet. It takes pressure off the quads and moves you more fluidly over the “flats”.

The train back home was welcome. The restaurant under our building with great food and local wine; welcome. It was 6P and they had just opened for dinner. “Reservations?” “No.” “OK we have a couple of tables available.” Immediately another young couple; same conversation. They were seated beside us. They were from Detroit; he had studied at Tufts in Medford and she at BU in Boston. She celebrating becoming a doctor!; a trip before residency.

Again the wine with the taste of the sea’s aroma. Grapes grown on terraces in the warm sun with cool nights, with reflected light off the sea, and the salt air infusing the fruit. High alcohol, 13%, because of the high sugar content of the grapes. “No, the reds are not very good.”

Saturday our quadriceps moaned; rebelled; protested the short walk/climb to the church 400 m above Riomaggiore. It is on the top of a promontory We could have walked to another coastal resort town about 5 hours away BUT….! It was good that we did not because the way home was the ferry and it had been shut down because of rough seas.Sunday we trained to all the other villages to fotograph. We had hiked in and then out on Friday, now we needed to be there for some exploring time. It had become showery and cool. I wanted the “atmospheric” shots. Really, there was no sun for the day, so it had to be the atmospherics. I must say the holiday crowds were IMPRESSIVE and not in a good way. There WAS lively crowds in and out f shops and restaurants and on the streets and on the TRAIN!!!! Still, I love this 5Terre. Best if I return some September/ October for grape harvest.

Foods? We never had a bad meal. Not high creative or gastronomical. But well done and consistently GOOD. Pesto is a local invention from up the road in Genoa. Here it is not heavy basil taste but a more even cheese/pine nut with faint basil sauce. It holds onto the pasta, coating the folds and indentations of the favored local pasta shape. Fruiti del mare; seppie (a squid relative), bream, swordfish , mussels, clams, and fresh anchovies! They will have some beef and vegetarian for those not into fish. There is ALWAYS pizza, dozens of kinds of thin crust yummy pizza! There is also some thick crust/bready single pieces for take away.

Monday was leaving day. ;~{ But the good thing was that the ferry was running again. “Cash Only” said the ticket window sign. One way for two to Monterosso; stops at Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso. No stop at Corniglia which is on top of a 200 m cliff over the sea. Trains to Genoa and our hotel near the airport? We find a couple of OK alternatives that give us time for a last lunch in 5Terre. Up a side street away from the resorty beach and shops. For me; panasotta (like a triangle ravioli) with walnut cream sauce for the pasta and then grilled swordfish for secondi. Meg pesto on local shaped pasta and salad for secondi. OH! and wine as well. Taste the fruit and the sea before the train back.
Our business 4 star hotel was, by local bus, inconveniently located near the airport in an industrial area. BUT near enough to a neighborhood with a fine pizza menu! 6 pages of pizza varieties. 6 PAGES; life is tough. “Not too much to eat since we have an early flight and we do need to get some sleep.” I have a tough time sleeping with a very full stomach. Must be the age!

Cinque Terre, I am returning. It might be a couple of years but I am going back.

“Travel light and wear a smile.”

Irregular Post; Genova2

Thursday, April 20,2017

Buongiorno,

After walking the “same” narrow alley-streets and piazzas it was time to see other parts of the city. Porto Antico is on the semi-circular harbor The Old city hugs the harbor and then expands away. Away up the amphitheater hill that surrounds and overlooks the port. Old town is poorer than the terraces up the hill. There are stores that are old school; internet cafes with phone center, laundry stores, tailors etc. Up the hill the are satellite dishes on apartment buildings. Small market stores are fewer and more upscale in product and clientele Public elevators, funiculars, and long stairs lead you up up up the “rows of the amphitheater”. Nicer homes appear in the apartment building mix. Way up is a “Castle” built by some rich one in the 20th century; very eclectic architecture because he could. It looks out over the lower rooftops with narrow streets between, and down to the harbor, the cruise ships in their berths, the refurbished docks where local and tourist alike enjoy the Porto Antico. Far out is La Lanterna, the lighthouse guarding the port entrance.

In a small upscale mercado, a few dozen people are sitting at tables; empty wine glasses and plate settings. They are watching three cooking demonstrators doing their thing while a guy with a microphone walks and talks. WE could stay but it is too soon to eat.

We take a funicular down toward the Stazione Principe. Surprise! It exits onto an alley that ends across from our hotel. “I don’t want to eat beside the hotel.” So we are back on the narrow alley-streets that we have been on so often before. Now we can’t find any of the ubiquitous small ristorantes. Pizza? Pannini? No. We want lunch. Finally we are down in Porto Antico. Here we enter “Eately”. There is one in New York where it is a Mario Batali owned spot. A modern mercado-restaurant. There is a supermarket of high end products and meats and fish and wine and bread and… In the “supermarket”, there are sections where the restaurant food is a certain type. Panninis, burgers beer in one, seafood in an other, typical genovese in another.

OK. Genovese! A good glass of wine, SUPER bread (coarse sourdough), a pesto for Meg and a vegetarian cream sauce pasta for me. Bread in Italy is always brought (you pay for it) and it is usually awful (think scali bread in the USA)! This Eately bread was well worth eating and mopping up the sauce that the pasta did not catch.

The last walk/tasks for our Genova stay; post cards and the proper stamps to Hong Kong for the Grandboys, writing the cards while having an afternoon cafe, money from secure ATM, and walking the mosaic sidewalks of the newer part of Genoa. This walk takes us past the site of Christopher Columbus’s childhood home (reconstructed in 1800s) just outside of the old city gate. Past the FANCY shopping stores of VERY high end names. Beside fancy folks with tiny dogs in their arms, a lady with two large white greyhounds, past kids with loaded backpacks, past folks looking like they are from the 1950s. This is a city waiting to be on the tourist map.

BUT, We are tired. “There is more to see but I’m done.” says I. This part of Genoa is a 30 minute walk back across the old town to our neighborhood by the train station and University of Genova. It is time to repack for the train leg to Cinque Terre. Paulo, of our next home-hotel, will meet us at the train stop in Riomaggiore.

“Travel light and wear a smile.”

Irregular Post; Genova, Italy

 Tuesday, April 18,2017

Irregular Post; Bagnols2

Friday April 14, 2017

Bagnols en Foret

Bonjour,

            Noisy-quiet here.  The boys run and scrum and follow and jump and climb or chase laughing and occasionally voice significant displeasure with each other.  As you might expect, sharing is not yet  high on their list of behaviors.  Sometimes they sit and read with Meg or Alice or Francoise (Alice’s mother) who joined us from Paris mid-week or play with Daddy and the legos or Papy with long balloons.

            Since David can not drive with his foot injury, I drive us in my tiny rented Fiat Panda to the big Carrefore in Frejus to do the shopping.  Unbelievable the variety of meats and cheeses and pastry and prepared dishes and wines there.  Want a whole fresh rabbit (skinned and gutted for sure) for roasting?  Varied fresh lamb and veal cuts?  Assorted fresh terraines or pates? Got it.  They had a wine special earlier in the week; 50 euro store credit when you buy 150 euros of wine.  Got it. 

            Tuesday we visited the beach in Ste Maxime (Turkish kabab for lunch), historical centre Frejus on Thursday (Lebanese take away for lunch).  David’s foot injury limits the kind of places we walk and visit.  Francoise saw Meg take a foto of a rotisserie roasted lapine (rabbit) beside the roast chicken.  She bought it for dinner. 

            Frejus was called Forum Juli when founded by Julius Caesar in 44AD.  There is a large ancient forum, aqueduct, and a fine  archaeological museum (not yet visited by us) there. It is a “go back to” when the kids are not with us.  

Irregular Post; Bagnols Again

Monday April 10, 2017

Bagnols en Foret

Bonjour,

            Quietly eventful.

            KLM flights to Gena via Amsterdam began last Thursday with hard rains in Boston. Storms in the south and midwest screwed up air-traffic so that there were bad lines at terminals in BOS. After 90 minutes in one line we were hailed “Anyone for Amsterdam?  Follow me.”  Four couples left the LONG line and started a short expedited line for check-in.

            “OhOh!  Your reserved seats do not exist!  I’ll have to find new ones.”  said the agent.  “OK.  I have two near each other but not together; #26J and 27H”.  It turned out 26 and 27 are separated by toilets.  I am in an exit row with “extra leg room”.  Our new Global Entry card allowed us quick easy TSA pass through; very nice! 

            The plane was not at the gate when were supposed to load. “It is being towed over here (Terminal A) from terminal E.”  Through the rain, and occasional lightening, it appeared and carefully avoided the wings touching any other plane.  We did take off after only 100 minutes delay.  Not a problem as we had a four hour layover in Amsterdam. 

            Genoa is a small airport, easily negotiated for baggage, passport check, car rental, and exit on a Friday afternoon.  We have a Fiat Panda!  A “cute” little diesel manual shift car.  The trunk is only large enough for our two backpacks.  Out and onto the autostrada heading for a night stay in Finale Ligure, Italy, an hour from Genoa and three more hours from Bagnols. 

Finale Ligure

Destination an agritourissmo specializing in fruits wine and honey, Il Pernambucco del Contessa,  for the night. 

Il Pernambucco

The area is well known and visited for off road biking and rock climbing.  There is some hiking as well.  We did go up to a five century old church and peek into the obviously used space; no benches/seats in the quiet small stone chiesa.  

            At dinner there were 7 bikers from Milan, three more didn’t make dinner “Too tired.”  No menu, we were served the meal of the day. Four courses with local wine, cooked by the wife and son, served by the owner Rafael.  He had fine English.  Antipasto, pasta with mushroom sauce, milanese pork with roast potatoes, chocolate custard with amaretto, and a small glass of his orange liquor like limoncello.  And yes we did drink the whole bottle of local rose.  We did sleep well.  Breakfast was breads, his fruit juice, his marmalades, his honey, ham and cheese and italian coffee.  Total cost for room and board and a bottle of his orange liquor 150E. !!.

 

            Bagnols for lunch.  The driveway is under construction so we park on the hill above the house and walk down.  This walk down is tough for David as he has a foot injury that requires he not walk on the right foot and he must use crutches.  He was walking barefoot at Alice’s grandmother’s in Paris.  A lost sewing NEEDLE was in the carpet and found his foot.  Deep and buried near the ball; minor surgery with anesthesia. 

            The family fly to Nice from Paris to continue the vacation.!. Wrapped and crutched he became a passenger.  A visiting nurse comes to the house to check his progress and change his bandages three times a week.  He hops about on his left leg and occasionally uses one crutch in the house and supermarket.  It does take two crutches for driveway etc.  “The feeling in your toes should return gradually in the next couple of months.” said the nurse. “It is normal after that probing for and extraction of the needle.”

            Tristan, almost 3, and Gabriel, 16 months, are BOYS and Brothers.  Tristan is tri-lingual and Gabriel, has a few words.  They are both napping this afternoon after running and playing all morning.  I am napable now as well. 

“travel light and wear a smile.”