Monthly Archives: September 2017


After our epic morning at Alhambra, we headed back to the apartment, walked up to one of the nearby supermarkets to get some stuff & noticed a little stall selling churros & coffee just around the corner from us. It wasn’t open until later, so we went back intending to ‘eat dessert first’, but the serve of churros & chocolate was so huge that it ended up being dinner. These churros were cooked differently from others we’ve had, in that a continuous spiral of batter was poured into the deep fryer until the entire surface was full, then when it was cooked it was chopped into lengths of about 15cm. Every other churro we’ve had has been piped, usually through a star-shaped nozzle, and cooked individually. However they are cooked, though, they are all delicious!

Yesterday morning we packed up to leave Granada, met our Airbnb host at the apartment, then drove into the city centre to have a bit more of a look. Greg picked out a parking station not far from the cathedral and the food market but we ended up on one of those city streets that are only accessible to buses, taxis and cars with special permission between 0730 – 2230 … aargghh! So we did a few quick right turns to get away from there and found another parking station which was a bit further away, but we got to walk along more of the streets in town. We found the cathedral but didn’t go inside, then the food market which was … erm … unimpressive after Valencia’s gorgeous Central Market. At least half the stalls were closed, and most of the ones that were open were selling seafood which looked great but not what we wanted to buy. I did have a nice glass of wine which included some tapas – prawns and some kind of squid thing on bread. Cost about $2. Bargain.

Then we headed to the streets below the Alhambra, to see what it looked like perched up there on its hill. We found a tapas bar that seemed to be aimed at locals rather than tourists, wandered in and had lunch … tortilla espanol, patatas a lo pobre (poor man’s potatoes), croquettes, artichokes with anchovies. And then, just in case we hadn’t had enough potatoes, the waiter brought us a plate of chips, on the house. Plus orange juice for Greg and a fino jerez sherry for me. I’ve gotta say, that sherry didn’t taste anything like the cream sherry my nanna used to consume by the flagon. I might need to do some more ‘research’ into Spanish sherry.

Campgrounds are not all that common on the Costa del Sol, but there seems to be an over-abundance of apartments and resorts. It’s a bit early, ie hot, in the season for the major influx of tourists, most of whom come during the Northern Hemisphere winter to get away from whichever cold country they live in, for weeks or months. Greg did a Google search and found Camping Tropical at Almuñécar, on the coast about 80kms south of Granada, so we just had a short drive to get to it. Run by a German guy, it is one of the best campgrounds we’ve stayed at. As Greg pointed out – the 2 places we’ve liked the best have both been run by non-Spanish people. Anyway, this one had some extra little bonuses like a really good washing up area with scourers and dishwashing liquid, and nicely decorated bathrooms with toilet seats, toilet paper and hand towels. Most of the trees in the grounds were fruit and nut trees; I picked a pomegranate and a couple of avocadoes this morning.

And now we’re in La Linea de la Conception, which is the town on the Spanish border with Gibraltar. We can see The Rock from the front of the building. We’re spending a couple of nights in this Airbnb and will walk across to Gibraltar tomorrow. Wow, that’s another of those mythical places I never imagined I’d ever see in my lifetime.


Parking in Granada, first you drive into the car lift and take the car down 1 level
A mechanics opposite our apartment. You took a ramp up to the 3rd floor where the mechanics workshop was located
Tapas and wine at the Central Market in Granada
Tapas and fino jerez
a selection of Tapas
Fruit trees outside the Cathedral in Granada
Capella Real, the royal chapel in Granada
The road that runs downhill from La Alhambra
Camped at Camping Tropical at Almuñécar
2,000 year old roman aqueduct
The less than desirable stoney beach at Almuñécar
The view of the rock from outside the apartment in La Línea de la Concepción



Granada, Andalucia

We lobbed into town on Tuesday afternoon, met our Airbnb host, settled into the apartment and then started to figure out what to do while we’re here. Here’s where we stayed … it’s lovely!

Granada’s top tourist attraction is La Alhambra, whose red fortress towers sit on a hill above the town, with the mountains of the Sierra Nevada behind them. Indeed, it is regarded as Spain’s most beautiful monument and one of the best examples of Islamic architecture and art anywhere in the world. There are many millions of column inches (plus the online equivalent) written about this beautiful place, so I don’t need to add anything about the history or descriptions of the buildings and gardens – you can start reading about it here. 

Getting tickets to Alhambra ranges from ‘not easy’ to ‘impossible’, depending on what you read and when you want to go. Greg had a look at the official website and discovered that the next available tickets are for November 1st. Hmm. So a bit more research yielded the information that a limited number of tickets are available ‘at the door’, on the day, but you have to be very keen and very early. Okay, we can do that, even though neither of us are natural early risers.

We got up at 5.45am, Greg programmed the GPS to take us to the parking area near the Alhambra ticket area and off we went. It still felt like the middle of the night because current sunrise here is just after 8am. The GPS took us through the middle of the city, down streets that are only accessible to buses and taxis between 0730 – 2230, and down many one-way streets. We only went the wrong way down one street, as far as we know! Eek! Reached the parking area which was already filling up. Found the queues, one for cash payments and one for credit card payments and divided our responsibilities … I joined the cash queue, Greg joined the credit card queue. The plan was that we would keep in touch via SMS and hopefully one of us would get lucky. The woman at the head of my queue had got there at 3am! As I said to her: ‘Respect!’

I’d brought my e-reader and settled in for a nice long read. No one around me spoke English, so I was glad to have something to help pass the time. Greg got talking to an American woman from Houston who had researched everything very well. She passed on lots of helpful information, in addition to telling him about her experiences with Hurricane Irma. Ticket office opened just after 8am, the queue started moving and after only a few minutes an announcement came over the loudspeakers that all the daytime tix for the star attraction, the Nazarine Palace, had sold out. But general tickets and night time tickets for the palace were still available, although the night tix also sold out fast. At some point, the queue that Greg was in just completely stopped, then started again, then stopped as all tickets had sold out.

But I kept on waiting in the queue, and was about 10 from the front when they announced that there was a final 30 general admission tickets available. I think all of us so close to the front did a head count … and probably sent up a little message to whoever they believe in as well! I was finally let into the ticket sales area, joined the wrong queue and had to join another one, but GOT TICKETS!! Yay! We also paid for audiovisual guides in English on Android phones (like an ipod, but I had to make it technically accurate because Mr Adventure might read this) and spent the next 4 or 5 hours walking around this incredible place. The gardens are magnificent, the use of water (in ponds, pools, fountains and water channels) was brilliant and the architecture was amazing. Enough superlatives, I’ll let Greg’s photos tell the rest of the story.

I should just add for anyone planning on visiting Alhambra .. it is possible to see some of the public parts of the complex for free, by entering through the Puerte de Justica, but I was really happy that we were able to get tickets and see the palaces, Generalife and Alcazaba, the original citadel.

The queue for tickets at 7am in the dark
One of the gardens in Generalife
Generalife pomegranates

part of the very detailed plaster with arabic phrases
the water staircase. The water flows down both sides of the staircase
Looking down to Granada from La Alhambra
One of the aquaducts that used to provide water to La Alhambra
The roof with holes providing lighting in the Muslim bathhouse
Wine gate


Los Baños De Fortuna

Heading south from Valencia, we thought about going to Murcia, but then got distracted by a nice-sounding campground about 20kms north at Los Baños De Fortuna. We can be easily distracted.

In fact, I probably wouldn’t even mention this place except that something happened during the night while we were (not) sleeping.

We were woken at about 1.30am by running footsteps on the gravel near our tent and someone trying to get out the locked gate nearby. Then more running and someone yelling. I needed to go to the toilet and WALKED PAST someone hiding in a bush! Gah! What to do? So I just kept on walking to the bathroom block then walked back to our tent. Apparently the person hiding had tried to steal a car (which was unlocked and had the keys in the ignition) from a guy who seems to live here permanently. He stopped it at the boom gate at the entrance to the campground and must have dragged the thief out.

But then he drove his car out of the campground, probably thinking the thief had left the campground. We got up and stood outside and watched the thief run past us carrying a laptop that he’d probably just pinched from the guy in the car! Sorry, senor, but I wasn’t about to risk getting beaten up to save your laptop.The guy in the car drove back and I pointed to where the ‘thief’ had run to, he wanted me to call the police, but he went to the local police station himself and they followed him back.

Everything settled down until the next morning, when of course it was the talk of the campground! I talked to our French neighbours who told me that this young man has been hanging around the campground for a while. He’s been in at least one other RV while the French occupants were asleep in it!! All these canny old French folk will get him for sure! Our neighbours have been ‘taking the waters’ and staying at that campground for over 20 years and they do not want their holiday ruined, thanks very much. It was a bit disconcerting talking to them cos Monsieur was only wearing a g-string and I had to concentrate on looking him in the eye, not … you know …. lower down!

Anyway, hopefully that was the only real excitement we have on this trip. We are always careful about locking our car and keeping our valuables with us, and it’s hard to undo tent zips quietly, but on the other hand, if someone is desperate enough, they may try hard to find a way.

camped at Los Baños De Fortuna



Valencia is an absolute treat to visit – gorgeous architecture, unlimited free parking in many of the city’s streets, delicious food, interesting Arts & Science hub on a reclaimed river bed  – but the endless huge roundabouts with multiple sets of traffic lights around them are bewildering and nerve-wracking. I guess the locals just get used to them.

We stayed at the Malcom & Barret Hotel, a couple of kms from the city centre and excellent value at 39 euros. If we wanted to camp, we would have had to be right on the outskirts of town or even further away, so the hotel was a great option. And we were lucky enough to get a free, unlimited park almost outside the hotel entrance.

We drove to the City of Arts and Science at around 6pm and got another miracle park right across the road from the Arts Centre. Apparently this precinct has been full of controversy and complaints about the expense and various design flaws requiring costly repairs, but (in the words of our Lonely Planet Guide) as it wasn’t our taxes paying for it, we thought it was all pretty good. There was a free concert of music by Brahms, Ravel and a couple of others, but we didn’t even bother to ask about tickets – from the large crowd, I’m sure all the seats were sold out months ago. We were just happy to wander around the precinct, which included an Imax theatre, an aquarium and several large pools of water. It was possible to hire rowboats, pedal boats and clear inflatable balls that one got into and self-propelled in one of the pools. Another looked like a huge wading pool, but there were only a couple of adults having a paddle. We agreed that if it was anywhere in Australia, it would be full of kids! I couldn’t work out why the local kids weren’t in there getting wet.

This morning we headed into the Central Market to find breakfast and buy food. The one and only coffee stall in the market was full, so we wandered outside and found a busy, popular cafe hidden by more market stalls. We ordered el especial de la casa the house special of bocadillos con lomo al horno, patatas y all i oli sandwiches with roast pork, potatos and mayonaisse.  Delicious! So then we went for a long walk around the city, looking at some of Valencia’s gorgeous Modernista buildings, including the incredible leadlight glass dome of the main post office. Our final stop was at a stall just outside the market which sold orxata horchata and xurros con xocolate churros with chocolate. Horchata is a cold, sweet non-dairy milky drink made from tiger nuts, a small tuber,  and served with fartons, finger buns.

It seems like the countryside around Valencia is Spain’s fruit bowl – endless kilometres of orchards, olive groves and citrus trees. Tonight we’re camping just north of Murcia,  in a village which has thermal banyos baths. According to the English guy who runs this campground, Las Palmeras, the busy time is during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, with … er … older people visiting from Northern Europe to ‘take the waters’. And to get away from sub-zero temperatures. Today it was 33C here, a bit warmer than usual for this time of the year.

Hemisphere (the Imax theatre)
The Opera house
The science musuem
A suspension bridge next to the science museum

Science museum
opera house
bocadillos con lomo al horno, patatas y all i oli sandwich
lead-light stained glass dome in the roof at the post office
another market
Dragons outside the dragon house
Walking back to the Central market
Central Market
buying fresh orange juice
Chocolate Churros for morning tea
getting dinner
our cheapest white wine yet, 1 litre for 68 euro cents about $1AU at Aldi Valencia


The Delta de L’Ebre

A quick one, which I’ll add to later. We’re heading out to find breakfast at Valencia’s Central Market.

Following on from our afternoon of watching human tower-building, we once again pointed the car in the direction of Valencia, and once again found something else to distract us along the way. The delta of the River Ebre is about 90kms south of Tarragona and looked like an interesting place to visit. Lots of birds especially in autumn. We found a campground near the delta and headed there. Along the way we noticed fields full of stubble that also had a lot of groundwater. But why? It hadn’t rained much in the last few days. Took us a while to realised that this is a rice-growing area and what we were seeing were the remains of the last crop. As we got further along, we also saw newly planted areas and crops that looked almost ready to harvest.

We camped under eucalyptus trees, which went against a lifetime of not camping under them at home in case one dropped a limb on the tent, but these trees weren’t all that big and there were no big limbs over our tent. It was lovely to see a little piece of home, though.

As we drove down to the beach the next morning, we stopped at another festival of some sort. Lots of cars, marquees, people. We didn’t realise what it was until we got to the main entrance – the last day of the 3-day Delta birding Festival. Not having the slightest clue about birds, we decided against going in, but it all looked very well organised and from the lengths of some of the camera lenses, I’m sure a lot of excellent bird pics were taken.

And then on to Valencia.

Camped under eucalyptus trees on the Delta
Rice paddies on the delta

Tarragona, Catalonia

We went to a supermarket just before we left Andorra. There were more cigarettes there than I’ve ever seen before! Some brands had special offers – buy 3 cartons, get a free bottle of booze, or free lighters. And there was even one brand that was sold by the bucket – approx 198 cigs in it. Yuck! I guess the prices were good, I have no idea how much a packet of cigs is at home. Anyway, we got some food and a tetrapak of wine ‘cos we are complete philistines (and they fit in our fridge better than glass wine bottles) and headed south towards Valencia.

One of the towns along the way is Tarragona, which is on the coast about 100km south of Barcelona. I consulted our Lonely Planet guide and it sounded like we should stop there and have a look. Originally founded by the Romans in 200-something BC, it is Spain’s second-most important Roman site. In 27BC Augustus made it the capital of his new Tarraconesis province, which is now roughly all of modern Spain. In its heyday, it had a population of over 200,000. Current population is around 132,000. It was abandoned in AD714 when the Muslims arrived, then reborn as the seat of a Christian archbishopric in the 11th Century.

We parked just outside the old city walls, which now have apartments built into and on top of them. Walked through the old town to the cathedral, whose spire is the highest point of the town and can be seen for miles. Along the way, there were posters everywhere advertising the Festival of Santa Tecla Saint Thecla (a saint of the early Christian Church and reported follower of Paul the Apostle), which was happening while we were there. And we found out after a bit more research that one of the highlights of the festival – the human tower display – was happening the next day, Saturday. More on that later.

There are some excellent historical Roman sites in Tarragona – the amphitheatre near the beach, which also contains the remains of a couple of 6th and 12th century churches. The original stone from the amphitheatre was used to build the nearby port, so what is now there is a partial reconstruction. Right near one part of the city walls is the ruins of the Roman circus,  the ancient chariot racetrack. If you follow the modern road up to the right of the circus,  you can see the apartments built above the city wall.

We stayed at a campground on the beach just north of the town. First one we tried had shut for the season, and the one we stayed at seemed to be closing the morning we left. Everyone around us was packing up their caravans, chucking out huge rolls of lino, rolling up fake grass, putting fridges and freezers into storage and trying to cram months of accumulated crap into either their caravans or the huge dumpsters that were already overflowing.

Drove back into town just before midday and parked at a parking station so we could go to the Plaza de la Font to watch the human tower building. The Municipal building is at one end of the square, and it had a stage set up in front of it. When we got there, there was a group of people in costume reciting pieces of poetry, with the occasional display of fireworks and loud bangs. We had no idea what was going on, but clapped along with everyone else. There was a very enthusiastic rendition of what we thought was the Catalonian anthem (Catalonia is currently trying to gain independence from the rest of Spain, there are many pro-Catalonia posters everywhere). And then the 4 teams of tower-builders marched into the square, each heralded by its own band. The teams took turns to build towers of up to 9 people high, in various configurations ranging from 3 people on each level, to just one person supporting another one on his or her shoulders, going up and up … all with little kids wearing helmets at the very top. For anyone who has a child who is a climber, send ’em to Human Tower Building classes at Tarragona. They will either love it, or decide they’re not so keen on climbing after all.

We spent a few hours at the square, watching the poetry recital and then the tower building, and one thing that really struck me was how amiable the crowd was. Everyone was happy, there was no tension or crying kids or irritable people, it all just flowed beautifully. Over the course of our time there, we ended up getting closer to the front as the crowd ebbed and flowed. It was just one of those lucky occasions of us being in the right place at the right time.

Tax free Andorra
Many yes posters for the “illegal” Catalonia independence referendum
Outside the Tarragona Cathedral
More independence banners
Roman Circus
Roman Amphitheatre
The beach with all the Caravan parks north of Tarragona
Camped north of Tarragona

The tower climbers matching into the square
One of the Human Towers
They built the tower with human scaffolding then they climbed down leaving these balanced all alone
We sometimes don’t have much room so the car bonnet does well for drying dishes (don’t tell Avis!)


We like visiting tiny countries. Swaziland, Lesotho, Monaco and now Andorra. Oh, and Greg and Sam went to Luxembourg to buy fuel on a Sunday when they couldn’t find any servos open in France. I guess they appeal because it’s such a novelty to get from one side of a country in a day or two, or even less. In the case of Andorra, we could have zapped in and out in an hour or two, but we decided to stay for a while, go for a walk and spend a night at a campground.

The walk was up to a lake in the mountains at 2745 metres above sea level. We started at around 1800 metres altitude and climbed almost vertically for the first part. I’m not sure how far I got, with plenty of rest stops to allow my lungs to recover, but I eventually gave up and headed back down the mountain. Greg made it all the way .. and all the way back too! Stunning views of the surrounding mountains & farmland, and I was delighted to see lots of Colchicum Autumn Crocus with their purple flowers dotting the fields.

We found a campground on the main road as we drove south. Nice set-up but it was a cold night – down to 3C. We’re heading south now and hoping for warmer weather. Andorra gets 80% of its GDP from tourism, and I’d say most of that happens in the winter. The towns and villages seemed quiet, but I’m sure they’re all full of skiers, snowboarders and holiday-makers as soon as it snows. There was actually a dusting of snow on the higher peaks, but not on any of the ski slopes that we saw.

Many of the buildings in Andorra are build of local stone, and they sit beautifully along the sides of mountains, really lovely use of readily available building materials.

The climb up to the Col on the edge of Andorra
Stopped for lunch at 2000m on the Col Andorra
judy climbing up the Valle de Incles on the Cabana Sorda trail
Valle de Incles
Cabana Sorda trail
the lake at the top of the Cabana Sorda trail
looking back down the Cabana Sorda trail
camped in Andorra



Ciao Italia, Bonjour France

In all the excitement of getting to Cinque Terre last Saturday, I completely forgot that we had visited Pisa on the way. Yep, the tower is still leaning, but gosh it’s beautiful. I think I’m a sucker for marble buildings. They seem so rich and opulent and other-worldly.

The tower has undergone major stabilisation & reconstruction and apparently now for the first time in its history, it has stopped moving and engineers reckon it should be stable for 2000 years. It looks very clean and sparkling, and there are lovely areas of lawn around it and the nearby buildings.

We wandered around the old part of Pisa for a while and then headed on to Cinque Terre. I regret not indulging in a porchetta sandwich ‘cos we didn’t see any after we left Tuscany. That will be at the top of my ‘must’do’ list next time we’re in Italy.

On Tuesday morning we got packed up and drove back up the scary, winding, narrow road out of Corniglia. We were lucky that when we did meet oncoming traffic, it was at places where we were able to pass each other without any major reversing and negotiating. We zapped along the autostrada and crossed the border back into France, then drove back to the campground we had stayed at on the second night of our trip, Camping de la Chapelette at Saint-Martin de Crau. Not that it’s a particulary flash place (no toilet seats … ugh!), but we knew it and knew where it was so putting in a long day’s drive to get there was okay.

Now we’re in the Oriental (Eastern) Pyrenees, heading to Andorra. We spent last night in a very nice municipal campground in Fontpedrouse, about 100kms south east of Andorra. As we were driving here yesterday, I spotted a signpost for the Camino de Santiago – there must be a route which goes through here. It brought back memories of us crossing the Western Pyrenees when we did our first Camino 7 years ago.

Camped in the campground at Fontpedrouse
Judy cooking dinner with Fontpedrouse up above us
The crazy crowds (like the rest of Italy) at the leaning tower of Pisa
Fresh sprouts that Judy has been growing (many times) for us to eat along our journey

Walking in Cinque Terre

Lovely sunny day on Sunday, so we figured we’d better seize it and go for a walk. Cinque Terre is a very popular place for walkers, with walking tracks between each village plus a few more challenging, higher tracks which visit other nearby villages away from the coast. Our guidebook noted that some of the paths might be closed. Oh yes indeed, we were warned.

We thought we’d do the walk from Corniglia to Vernazza, which was written up as a 1.5 hour walk and one of the nicest in Cinque Terre. There’s an information booth at the start of the path, but the woman there told us that the walk was closed, we couldn’t purchase the necessary pass for it, but that we could do it at our own risk. Um, right. And then the young man at the information place in the village told us that all the walks except the long trail to Manarola were closed and that if we did any of the closed walks, we would be fined 500 euros. O-kay. And then when we were catching the train back from Vernazza to Corniglia, there was a notice at the station advising that all walks are closed. Hmm. So who really knows what’s going on? Nobody, I suspect.

We did do the walk from Corniglia to Vernazza, along with lots of other people walking in both directions. Took us 2 hours including a few stops along the way. It was lovely. Mostly on well-maintained paths through olive groves and other vegetation, with a cafe/bar about 2/3 of the way along, then a steep drop down into Vernazza. We ate lunch at the beach, which was closed due to rough seas. There were no boats out on the water on Sunday or Monday, but on Tuesday the sea was calm again. We caught the train back to Corniglia, and then there are a couple of options for getting back up to the village. There’s a shuttle bus which looks like it seats about 12 people, there’s a set of 385 steps up, or you can just walk up the same road as the minibus drives, but  we only worked that out after we’d done the 385 steps. I watched one woman drag her wheelie suitcase down the steps, bumping it on every single step, and wondered  if it still had all its wheels by the end.

After a gelati each – chocolate for Greg, basil with olive oil drizzled over it for me – and while we were in a walking mood, we also went down and up several hundred more steps to get to the ‘harbour’. There are houses almost all the way down to the water, and the one right down the bottom even had its own letterbox – it would be quite the trek down and back for the postie to deliver letters there!

On Monday it rained on and off all day. We thought about doing one of the longer, higher walks, but decided against it because of slippery paths. So then we thought we’d have a go at the short walk which goes from Corniglia railway station around he coast to Manarola. Our guidebook advised that it had closed due to a landslide in 2012, but that was 5 years ago and it should be open again by now, right? Well, no. But we didn’t actually find out until we’d walked about 500metres along the track and came to what looked like an enormous sinkhole. There were 2 young, fit German guys who had climbed the stone wall and even they couldn’t find any way around, so we conceded defeat, walked back to the station and took the train to the first or last village, Riomaggiore. There’s a nice walk , Via Dell’Amore, from there to the next village, Manarola, but I’m sure you can guess what I’m going to write next. Yep, it was closed too. So we  had a walk around Riomaggiore – much larger and even steeper than Corniglia, then caught the train back ‘home’.

And then I spent the rest of the afternoon caught in front-loading washing machine hell. We feel like we’re pretty used to using different washing machines when we stay in different places, but this thing just wouldn’t play nice. It wouldn’t open at the end of a cycle, or rather, it would only open at the end of every 5th cycle, so I spent a couple of frustrating hours turning knobs and hoping that this time I’d be able to get our clothes out and start drying them.

Walking along the path to Vernazza
Trying out my new (3 year old) walking poles!
Looking back from the path to Corniglia
Looking down from the path to Vernazza
The large and old hole in the path to Manarola
main street of Riomaggiore
The closed path for 5 years from Riomaggiore
Riomaggiore from the Harbour
Catching the train at Riomaggiore
Basil with Olive Oil Gelati

Corniglia, Cinque Terre

By the time we reached La Spezia, I was missing all the beautiful picture postcard rolling green vine-covered Tuscan hills dotted with stone buildings. But just around the corner we found something else for me to gaze at – the pastel colours of the villages and the ever-changing seascapes of Cinque Terre.

We’re staying at Corniglia (‘Cornelia’), the middle of the 5 Cinque Terre villages. It was named after the wife of the Roman farmer who settled here.  Corniglia is the only village without its own beach, although it does have a fair weather dock and it is possible to hire boats and kayaks. The day we arrived, the sea looked like glass and there were lots of yachts, a few ferries and probably many other smaller vessels out on the water. Yesterday it was rough and the Corniglia dock was mostly under water. Corniglia is the smallest of the villages, with a permanent population of around 250. There’s plenty of accommodation though, and I guess the population expands by several or many multiples of that during tourist season.

We’re staying in an Airbnb apartment on the first floor of a building at the sea end of the main street … which is actually a lane that’s only the width of 2 people. Lots of shops, restaurants and eye-catching stuff along here, and dodging people trying to take their millionth selfie or stopping mid-path to look at something on one of the shops can turn a brisk walk into a frustrating dawdle. We have lovely views from our balcony over the sea, the sunsets and of Monterosso, the first or fifth village of the cinque 5. Vernazza, the village in between, is hidden behind several rocky outcrops.

The drive into Corniglia is … interesting.  Very narrow, very winding road down into the village. Greg watched a Youtube video by someone who had done it a few years ago, so he knew what to expect. Basically, it’s a road that is designed for traffic travelling in both directions, but it’s only 1.5 cars wide. So if 2 vehicles happen to meet, there’s quite a bit of reversing to let each other pass.I measure my fear whilst driving by how white my knuckles get, and they were okay during that drive … the whitest they have ever gotten was during some of the drives we did in South Africa!

Parking is very limited. I think most visitors arrive by train or bus, not private car. There are several 1-hour parks near the main street, which is good for unloading luggage, then there is paid and some free parking along the road into and out of the village and also down to the railway station. There are a couple of meters for the paid parking (2 euros for an hour, 10 euros for the day), but both of them are broken! They only accept coins, no notes or credit cards, so have probably been overloaded and not cleared. One meter has an old-looking sign stating that it is broken and it did have another sign on it, advising that there’s another meter 150 metres further up the hill, but as it is now also broken, the second sign has been removed.  We originally parked in a paid parking spot and Greg followed others’ examples of leaving a note in the car stating the meter was broken. He went and moved the car early yesterday morning to a free park and it will stay there until we leave tomorrow.

It’s lovely here and I feel like we’re in some kind of weird alternate universe where time has either sped up or slowed down, but I’m not sure which. Have we been here for ages, or did we just arrive? And what day is it today anyway? As for the date … who knows? My computer tells me it’s Monday, September 18th. Okay then.

Looking through the kitchen to the balcony of the AirBnb
Sunset from the balcony on the first night
The main street of Corniglia
Gardens on the outskirts of Corniglia
Looking across to our apartment in Corniglia
Trains (?) all over the area to help take things up and down the steep hills
The line heading down
street in Corniglia
A stormy day at the harbour down from Corniglia