Yes Mister, we want some candy.

Trip Start Jul 02, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Italy  , Liguria,
Wednesday, October 2, 2013

EM_TY make it to Italia in a very unconventional manner:

Actually tent-life was not a certainty, in fact nothing was a certainty after Cotignac. Sometimes in life we take the easy road, expecting the same rewarding result. In our case, the road was literally the motorway and the rewarding result should have been a lone red camping arrow on the map heading into the mountains.

The Italian couple had recommended a series of gorges to the North East, which were to be a swirly and stunning entrance into Italy. But we decided to take the easy road aiming to get closer, quicker. It took us inland of Nice, where the view was stacked orange roofs aligned with glowing blue ocean as far as the eye could see. We grumbled and stumbled through toll-booths, looping exits and entrances, divided roads, correct lanes, layers of signage and copious impatient fast cars. Our admiring and tranquil attitudes, which we had grown over the last week, were quickly drained from us and replaced with automation and agitation.

We followed a road towards the 'red arrow' like Indiana Jones searched for his chalice thing (Tracey tells me it’s the Holy Grail, but I don’t talk religion or politics). It took us through a horrid and lengthy industrial section of crumbling deteriorated concrete buildings covered in graffiti, road-side dark bars and a lone cheap hotel with flickering neon sign in much the same condition; and like Indiana Jones, we were not sure if we would come out alive. We were delighted to see our exit and began the winding climb up the mountain; the relief evident when we started to pass cute terraced houses and tomato plants. At the top (and with the camping arrow near) we deserved a coffee, stopping briefly to rejoice in our survival of the last few hours…It was very short lived.

There was no campsite there. In fact, there were not only no campsites, but also no hotels; and not only none in this town but none the whole way back towards Nice, or in the towns in the vicinity. With my petrol on reserve, the sun going down and being frustratingly caught on looping one-way roads back towards Nice with no services, there was only one thing left: THAT scary dodgy hotel back there. With a big gulp we pulled in next to the banged up cars and workers trucks and got ourselves a tiny dirty room.

Our night was filled with conspiracy theories, paranoia, bad pizza with pips on it and a Friends marathon. As the gentleman checked us in I saw something run under my bed (bugs in my sheets?), the bathroom was basic with holes in the roof and walls (peep holes?), the bath covered in dust and hair (whose hair?), our neighbors loudly drinking to the end of their laborious workday (lonely workers?) which only drowned out other non-descriptive sounds (motorbike stealing? murder?).. and the cleaning lady was not wearing many clothes (servicing more than just the rooms?). We were out of there as early as possible feeling tired and dirty, but were faced again with needing petrol, a plan and some enthusiasm.

Dirty, tired and lacking enthusiasm is not a good recipe for mountain riding, so again we took the easy option – Motorway to coastal road, the transition being smack bang in the middle of Nice. We nervously joined the chaos of Nice looking like stunned rabbits in the headlights. Again, our grunting loud bikes and the helmet cam fascinated everyone on the sidewalk, even truck drivers spoke to us out their windows while driving, scooters zoomed past waving and at one traffic light another rider enquired about our plans. Muffled through our helmet visor we heard "Where are you going to?".. “Greece” and we took off following the signs to Monaco just to get out of there.

Later at a quick photo stop the other side of town, the man from the traffic lights randomly pulled next to us on his fancy BMW bike. He kindly offered to escort us along a quieter more scenic route that looked over Monaco rather than in it. We were chuffed to have a personal tour guide, who even stopped to point out significant buildings and the best photo points. At one, he asked where we planned to stay that evening. “No idea yet”. And with that he said “I take you to the perfect place, it is an old old village in Italy with a community who eat vegetarian food” –  “Ah, OK, sure”. He called them, booked us in and offered to drive us there. In this split moment, some people might be cautious or shy, but we are like curious excitable children – we basically said, “Yes mister, we want some candy and we will get in your van”.

We went over Monaco, through a tunnel into Italy and headed away from the coast where mountains got high, the roads got skinny and the buildings got old and stacked. We had not at all digested where we were going; but walked into a massive stone building, onto a balcony filled with people eating and drinking wine, joined the line for a delicious buffet lunch and sat with our new friend and two older strangers. Our new friend was Pierre, a recently retired Frenchman whose previous life was (from what we could gather from his coy responses) as a global geo-political researcher. And so began the most bizarre lunch conversation – serious worldly topics and conspiracies, including fuel and oil, world enemies and alliances, and potential future outcomes. I was left with a feeling of doom, and like we might be bombed at any minute or that I should start collecting tin food immediately.

When lunch finished and they left, we were escorted to our dorm-like room. I had a fleeting thought that maybe we had just been plucked off the street and recruited for some group with a cause, and now we were going to be locked in a dungeon ready for our weapons training the next day. We just stared at each other in confused amazement. Seriously, what the hell just happened? That morning we had madly washed the sense of filth off our bodies after a night in a dirty cheap roadside trucker hotel in France; and by the afternoon we had seen the riches of Monte Carlo from the cliffs above, driven into the Italian mountains following a stranger we met at the traffic lights, to an eco-village community full of hippies and listened to passionate talk about why the world is in it’s current diabolical state. We really didn’t know yet whether to call it luck or stupidity. 
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Hel on

This one cracked me up, I'm giggling away reading in bed.

Tracey on

Hello, is that you my special Aunty? Have you gotten into the blog and figured it all out?

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