Monday, 13 June 2011

Cinque Terre and Pisa

Hi from Clare                                         Sunday 12th June 2011                                                                     

Chris (Andrew’s brother) and his wife Heather arrived Saturday 4th and we have had a very busy week.

   View of Le Grazie from Joan's Verandah                  Andrew, Heather and Chris

Firstly throughout our time anchored in the magnificent bay at Le Grazie we have enjoyed social gatherings with our friends from cruising yachts “Godspeed” and “Quest”.  We also had afternoon coffee with Joan and her husband Mario at their hillside villa overlooking the bay. I met Joan the previous day at the supermarket.
She is a psychologist, a photographer and author of a book about the Caribbean Island of Virgin Gorda where they also have a house. We hope to meet up with Joan and Mario when we cross to the Caribbean – so maybe it is a case of “from little things, big things grow”

                      Portoverene                                                             Portoverene Town

Eager to get some exercise we walked up over the hill and down to Portovenere. We climbed up to the castle on the hilltop and then wandered through the old city admiring the winding cobblestone streets and the narrow fronted 12th Century stone houses all joined together. Brightly coloured pot plants, pretty hanging baskets and fresh washing hanging out the windows brought the streets to life.   We purchased some locally made pasta and basil pesto for dinner that night on Eye Candy; it was delicious. We found an elevated cool veranda and rested for lunch and a well earned cool drink before our return trip up over the hill.

             Pisa Cathedral and Tower                                          Clare and Heather at Pisa

On Tuesday we set off for Pisa. We caught the bus to La Spezia and then made the hour trip by train into Pisa. I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the Cathedral, the Tower and other buildings were within the 12th century fortification. They are lavishly decorated and have been well maintained as befits a World Heritage Site. We then walked down to the river and through the city of Pisa with tourist map in hand checking out all the mentioned places of interest.  We made stops for lunch, ice creams and coffee but we certainly covered enough ground to work off the calories.

     Boat park in mainstreet of Riomaggiore                     Clare & Heather at Cinque Terre

Thursday we went by bus and train to the five towns of Cinque Terre. All the towns are dramatically beautiful hanging from the cliff face and perched high above the sea. I warned Chris and Heather that the walking we had done so far was only a warm up for Cinque Terre. We purchased an all day ticket on the train which is a get on get off system. However there is also a walking track between towns. We walked the one hour track between towns 1-2 but due to land slides the tracks between towns 2-3 and 3-4 were closed. By the time we climbed all over the first four towns we didn’t have the energy to walk the 2hr track between towns 4-5.  As you can guess hillside towns include lots of hills and many stairs. The third town Corniglia is situated on top of the hill from the railway station. The stairs zig zagged up the hill like a goat track and we climbed for about twenty minutes before reaching the township. However it was well worth the effort as the town was really pretty with great views of the coast and the steep hillside farming.  Each town is different; some have a lot of tourist accommodation, others are small villages. Some have boats parked in the main street and most have washing hanging out the windows. There isn’t much sand or beach front and so people lie on the rocks or the large launching ramps for the many small boats. It is certainly different from anything we have ever seen and it will leave a lasting impression.

                       Manarola                                                          Farming near Corniglia 

On Saturday we left La Grazie and sailed thirty miles to Santa Margherita Ligure which is only 1.5 miles from Portofino. The sea was a bit lumpy because between our sight-seeing trip last week the weather was very stormy.  We arrived around and put out two anchors (the second one at the rear of the boat) to keep us pointing into the swell.  The boat is rocking up and down a bit but we are off sight-seeing in the day and it doesn’t stop us from playing Rummy till and sleeping well at night. I guess sleep is assisted by plenty of exercise and a few red wines as a night cap.

Santa Marghertia and Portofino are just gorgeous but more on that in the next newsletter.

One of our long standing Aussie friends Bronwyn Adamson (who we have sailed with on Col’s boat in Sydney for many years) is coming to visit us today. She now lives in France and works as the Engineer on a large luxury power boat.  She has just sent an SMS to say she is close, so we are off to shore to find her. 

We will stay here for the next few days before moving further west to San Remo.

Love CANDY xx