10 March 2009

The Riviera

This will have to be short.

I enjoyed the weekend in the Italian region and natural park known as the Cinque Terre. I spent the nights in a village called Riomaggiore, which was snug against the waters of the Mediterranean on steep cliffs and slopes. So steep in fact that more often than not the buildings were literally stacked on top of one another. Cars could only reach the edge of the village because past that point the streets turned into alleys and steps impossible of carrying four-wheeled vehicles.

On Saturday I took an invigorating ten-mile hike from Riomaggiore, the southern-most village of the Cinque Terre, to the northern-most village of Monterosso. Along the way the trails carried up into the seaside hills of terraced vineyards and olive groves and revealed a breath-taking landscape. At times the dirt trail was no more than a foot wide, with a sharp decent into grape vines, brush, and, eventually, the sparkling waters to my left, all of it tempting enough to plunge off into the exquiste beauty. In the villages large numbers of tourists spoiled the ambiance somewhat, but few of those day-trippers wandered off to the trails and nature. Without a doubt, the Cinque Terre was one of the most attractive areas of natural splendor that I have ever seen. Expect photographs at the end of my travels.

Sunday I left Italy for the French coast, and, yes, it's been nice in Nice. Yesterday I explored the ridiculously wealthy atmosphere of Monaco, another of Europe's curious micro-states. It's public parks were the best manicured that I had ever walked through, but with so many posted rules for behavior in them they became less of recreational places and more of three-demensional oil paintings merely for viewing. I did manage to enter the Grand Casino of Monte Carlo, but after a brief walk through its marble halls I left, feeling a tad out of place in my jeans and chewing gum in my mouth. I could have played some of the gambling machines tucked into a corner and meant for visitors like me, but perhaps one day I will return in a suit and tie to stand at the real tables and test my luck in Monte Carlo the appropriate way.

To avoid confusion, Monte Carlo is a neighborhood of the independent Principality of Monaco, which could fit into New York City's Central Park.

After a walk-around in the world famous Oceangraphic Museum and Aquarium I eventually returned to Nice in the evening.

Today I will explore more of Nice, and tonight I will board a train that, through a couple transfers, will take me to Barcelona and Spain. I'll finally be able to put some of the Spanish that I learned about two years ago in Eichstaett to practical use, or at least what I remember of it.


Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see the pictures you took of both Monte Carlo and Cinque Terra! I hope you eventually post some of them too! Hey, look at your email about the order you wanted me to check into. mc

Nick O. said...

mc: Don´t worry, pictures will definitely come at some point. Thanks again for the help with the order.