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[Entry 21] "We don't have any Franks"

21 December 201001:22AMepic-triptravel

(I'll explain the title in a minute, don't worry.)

The Cinque Terre is a beautiful part of the Italian coast. It has little villages which are encrusted on the cliff face like barnacles. It has terraced vineyards going up the hills which make it look like something out of Minecraft. The sea is an amazing shade of blue. It is in a word, picturesque.

Totally not lovers, FYI. The South Africans behind us might've been though, they seemed really happy.

The only Italian flag I've seen. On my last day in Italy. Flapping over something photo-worth. Just for me.

Encrusted, I say.

It is also, in another word, closed. The trails were closed, because it's landslide season. The shops were closed, because everyone's out of town. The restaurants were closed, because tourist season is in the summer. Just about the only thing that was open was the train, which was (as is the italian way) late. There was one part of the trail that was open, too. It's the via dell'amore - the road of love - which is hardly a hiking trek. It's a kilometre or so of steps and footpath which is famous for being where lovers go to seal their undying love by locking a lock on the rails. This is clearly not a new tradition, judging by their coral-like growth.

ENCRUSTED, I SAY!

So yes, a romantic and pretty spot, but hardly the fairly serious hike we were expecting to be able to do. We sort of gave up a bit, explored the desolate villages for a bit then caught the train back to La Spezia. Then we decided, hey what the hell, and left Italy. We got on a train to Genoa, then on another train to Ventimiglia (a town which seems to have no reason to exist other than to connect the Italian train network with the French one) and finally got on another train to Nice. It wasn't really that simple. We had to run for a couple of trains, and we accidentally got on a slow local train at La Spezia instead of a faster intercity train (luckily the conductor noticed when he checked our tickets).

(This is the part where I explain the title.)

While we were on the train to Nice, the ticket lady came up the aisle and sold all the people who got on in Italy tickets. She hadn't quite got to us when dad says, "How are we going to pay for this one then? We haven't got any Franks." I just stared at him and asked him what century this was until he said, "Oh yeah, Euros." I honestly can't tell whether or not he was serious.

We hadn't prebooked a hotel so we walked up to the first one we saw, which turned out to be a good idea. We got a room for two with 4(!) beds for 46 Euros, with breakfast and wifi included but pressure in the shower apparently an optional extra. Also, it's a smoking room, which dad reckoned would make him wake up with a headache but everything seems to make him wake up with a headache so I'm not sure it'd make much difference. We got dinner at a steak restaurant, which ended up costing more than our room. In both of these places I encountered a problem. I would go in and start the whole French thing, and then dad would come in and we'd speak english to each other, at which point the person I was trying to practise my French at would promptly switch to English too. This may be a bigger problem in bigger/more touristy towns (Nice is both) so we'll see how that plays out. I may have to institute a 'no- english-in-front-of-frenchpeople' rule.

Not sure how the walking thing will play out, with the weather and all. We might end up training it around France instead, maybe grabbing a car for a bit to hit some smaller towns (maybe for Christmas). If anyone has any good ideas about what to do in France for Christmas, let me know. And if anyone else is going to be in Paris for New Year's Eve, also let me know, cause I'll totally see you there.

Maybe.

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