We are driving a large Land Rover that my brother’s friend let him borrow indefinitely. While this car is great for off roading – I’ve heard Land Rovers seem especially prone to break downs. This vehicle is less then 10 years old – not that many kilometers on it and already its showing problems. The power randomly stops when you are driving down the highway – we are having problems with the brakes – the maintenance parking brake light is on … and the person my brother is borrowing the vehicle from just had it in the shop last month for major repairs.
The roads along much of the Italian Riviera are extremely small and narrow, large buses speed by – cars cut over the double lines when coming around the corner – pedestrians are everywhere. Trying to park a vehicle of this size in the only parking garage in the quaint town of Portofino was a major challenge. It took us about 10 minutes of negotiating the narrow spaces, trying to back in and avoid hitting the concrete pole and neighboring car. Parking here is usually quite expensive – about 6€ per hour but today we were rewarded with free parking upon exiting.
Photos: Portofino, Italy
There are many cafe’s along Portofino’s waterfront – full of very well dressed patrons. It is Italy after-all – and fashion here, can be a work of art at times! We bought lunch at a little Italian deli in a hillside village before heading down here. Fresh prosciutto, delicious cheese and foccaccia made for a cheap and relaxing lunch along the waterfront without having to hit a spendy cafe.
We arrived this afternoon in Menton – a rather large tightly packed French city – just minutes from Monaco on the French Riviera. There is great shopping here – and while the center of the city is densely packed – homes extend far up into the hills – framed by the rocky mountains in the background. We stumbled into the Royal Hotel Westminster – a very historical looking hotel with the main entrance on a very busy street and the other entrance exiting to the seaside. In the evenings lots of old ladies gather in the lounge on the first floor – enjoying what look like stiff drinks and waiting for the live music to begin.
Passing the border of Italy into France we received yet another message that has become symbolic of our whirlwind trip through this part of Europe, “Welcome abroad! To call U.S. dial: +1 followed by 10 digit number. Intl rates apply; voice rate is …”
Tomorrow we will enjoy a break from driving and take the train to Monaco!
Photos: Menton France