Tag Archives: camping

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

4 countries in 4 days!

I think it’s some kind of personal record that I haven’t accessed the internet since we arrived in Barcelona last Wednesday, and it’s now Monday. I can’t think of the last time I went so long without at least checking my emails. Sometime last century, maybe? More than 10 years ago, anyway. The world hasn’t ended, and my online business is still up and running, and most things seem to be pretty much as they were 5 days ago.

So, we got into Barcelona late on Wednesday night, picked up our rental car and drove 30kms east to grab a night’s sleep at a hotel. Since then, we’ve been camping but it’s the end of the season and there haven’t been many campers around.

This list of places is just so we remember where we’ve been – Camping Vell Emporada, Garriguella, Costa Brava; Camping de la Chapelette, Saint-Martin de Crau, Provence; Camping de Rossignol, Antibes, Cote d’Azur; Parco Vacanze Ali Baba, Ceriale, Liguria; Parco Vacanze Camping Casone, Marina di Massa, Tuscany.

We’ve mostly driven along the coast, from Barcelona to Massa. We’ll head inland tomorrow to go towards Florence, and aim to reach Greve early tomorrow afternoon. We spent a few hours in Monaco yesterday, just to see what was there. Greg had picked out a parking station near the Casino after reading various comments on Trip Advisor about how inexpensive it was compared with paying for parking in Australia. We got a bit lost and ended up at the far west of Monaco, at a metered car park near what appears to be the only public beach in the principality. We put 1 euro in the meter and got back a ticket that said we had paid until Monday morning! Seemed too good to be true, and after copping a huge parking fine for mis-reading a parking meter in Norway, we were a bit suspicious, but it all seemed legit, so we walked to the main marina and the Casino and a few other places along the way.

It’s good to be back in our tent. I counted up and worked out that by the end of this trip, we’ll have spent nearly 6 months in it, since we got it in mid-2014. We forgot the front part of it, which gives us extra shelter and protects the main front ‘door’ of the tent from getting wet when it rains, but we found a decent-sized white tarp at Leroy Merlin, a hardware chain, and Greg has rigged it up a couple of times when it looks like it might rain. The night we spent at Antibes, it rained a lot but we stayed dry. However, I was talking to someone at the campground we stayed at last night and she told me that there had been bad flooding at the Tuscan port of Livorno, and Pisa, and 6 people died. You can read more here. 



Walking up the hill to the Basilica in Marseilles
The poorly parked car that stopped a bus getting around the corner in the narrow streets downhill from the Basilica in Marseilles. There were another 30 vehicles and buses stuck behind this one.
Walking on the beach at Monaco
Looking uphill to the apartments in Monaco
One of the many many super-yachts moored in Monaco harbor
and the cruise ships were there as well, one in port, and one ferrying passengers via launch from outside the harbor
Our first camp in Italy amongst the olive trees

A Rough Guide

If there’s some kind of a travel planning spectrum, we tend to be at the ‘vague idea’ end, rather than at the itinerary-with-every-spare-minute-accounted-for end.

This trip started out with a chat with a friend at lunch one day late last year. At an Old and Ex-Midwives’ Christmas Catch-Up lunch, Liz mentioned that she didn’t want a 60th birthday party to mark reaching that milestone in January. Instead, she wanted to go to Italy during the Northern Hemisphere summer, and if anyone wanted to help celebrate, she would be at Greve-in-Chianti in the second week of September. Great, we’ll be there.

So our trip is arranged around a few days in Greve-in-Chianti next week. Eek, next week! We’ve been looking forward to this since late last year!

We’re flying in and out of Barcelona with Qatar Airlines, hiring a car at the airport, then plan on driving through southern France and heading straight to Greve-in Chianti which is about 15kms from Florence. Liz and her husband Sean are spending next week in Greve, and various family members and friends will be there for varying amounts of time. We have booked an Airbnb apartment for 4 days, it’s a street away from the former-farmhouse-now-upmarket-hotel where Liz, Sean and many other attendees are staying.

After the birthday festivities, we’ll spend a few days in Cinque Terre, either camping or staying in an Airbnb apartment and do a couple of days’ walking. Then back to Spain, and we’ll probably spend some time in France on the way. When we walked the Camino Frances in 2010 and the Camino Portugues in 2012, we spent a lot of time in northern Spain, plus a few days in Barcelona and Madrid, but we haven’t seen any of the country south of Barclona, so that’s where we’re going to explore. We’ll spend a few days in Barcelona at the end of the trip and head home in mid-October.

60kg of camping gear in 2 dufflebags, including fridge, tent, mats, stove and more
We hope to see you bags again in Barcelona…