Trip Start Apr 24, 2004
13Trip End Ongoing
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We have still managed to squeeze a couple of swims in, between downpours, not being able to find any parking, there being a strictly no dogs rule or being unable to access the beach at all (Italy seems to have loads of private beaches, horrid little places like deck chair cities or something...it's very strange looking back along a beach to see it all sectioned off with hundreds of empty deckchairs with their faithful little umbrella soldiers standing to attention ready to be called into action , pointing towards the sea as though a great performance is about to take place - sorry went off on one).
We ended up staying an extra night or two in Chamonix as we we're enjoying it so much, had a walk up the side of mont blanc which was supposed to be 2 and a half hours but ended up being about 7! We we're all so exhausted by the end of it we were asleep before nightfall! Was an amazing trek though, we went so high, the paths were really steep, we crossed bridges over spectacular icy cold waterfalls, one of which Scruff was terrified of and refused flat out to cross. Luckily further along there was a spot he could cross so Lena went over the bridge and called him over, bit of a palava but worth it to continue on, saw a glacier that seemed so close but was still so far as we couldn't see a feasible route across to it. I was absolutely delighted with myself (a few months back I was beginning to think I'd never be able to do stuff like this again because of my foot injury-which still hurts but not enough to stop me now, just slow me down a touch). Was so bizarre stopping for a picnic up there enjoying the heat from the sun, gazing at the awesome views, but still feeling the chill to the air.
The next day we took a very touristy little train up the mountain to see the sea of ice glacier. Was a fun ride up, felt like a kid, it went pretty fast but not as fast as the cable car. It was an old track and pinion train which made unnerving clonking noises as we went. When we reached the station and caught the first glimpses of the glacier I was really disappointed, it just looked like patches of melted snow, I wondered if it was the wrong season for it, the ice cave was closed until June after all. We trekked off down to get a closer look all the same, which involved a very slippery snowy slope (both the cable car and steps were closed because the cave was, much to my disgust.) that led us to a rocky ledge that ended in a tiny metal runged ladder disappearing over the side. There was no way Lena was going down there and I was sensible enough to know it wasn't a good idea on my own, although I was rather jealous of all the climbers we saw coming up. Hanging around there watching the climbers small as ants snaking their way in little troupes across the glacier towards the little blue lake and eventually the steps, we realised it wasn't patches of melting snow, the glacier was underneath, we could see huge cracks big enough for a person to fall into. It just looked all grey and rocky like that because of all the landslides off the surrounding mountain slopes.
Was really hard to leave Chamonix, think it's the best stop so far. We managed to get it together all the same and prepare ourselves for the scary tunnel. It wasn't so scary after all though. We had to listen to the radio which played us safety messages in lots of languages. "Do not drive faster than 80k nor slower than 50k" that kinda thing. Was really hard to keep the focus on the road ahead the way the lights led your eyes to the infinity point ahead, you wouldn't want to have epilepsy driving through there! Eventually we saw the light at the end of the tunnel and another overhead led sign warning us of pluie (if that's how u spell it), rain! We couldn't believe it, the weather had been grand on the other side. How could 11km make so much difference!? We drove out of the tunnel into Italy and lashing rain. Needless to say we missed the stunning scenery, not even teased by little glimpses this time.
We've not had much luck with our park ups here at all. Hmm lets see, the side of the main road, an office car park, couple of camper stop car parks, and a beautiful beachside one that ended up being really noisy with drunken teenagers and then a spectacular thunderstorm that scared the life out of poor scruff. It's not that every where's horrible here it's just that we can't park anywhere, either because of height barriers, notices or the complete lack of anywhere (little mountain villages with tiny roads and only just enough space for their own cars). The bad weather and parking led us into this campsite for a rest and to do washing and stuff. The first morning we woke up to glorious sunshine (yesterday) which by lunchtime had turned into clouds and wind, not too much to stop us enjoying an afternoon on the beach tho, where I managed to get sunburnt! A guy invaded our peace and relaxation on the beach, by coming over and trying to strike up a conversation then moved our things out of the way to put his towel down (the cheek of it!) we did discover off him that it's a big Italian bank holiday, something to do with independence I think. We made ourselves scarce when he became too much of a pest. When we got back on site we found our tranquil little haven had turned into an Italian fiesta full of huge families with huge voices that had a lot to say.
Mr Scruff doesn't seem himself again the last few days. No idea what it is, he's really sleepy but wired too, his hips seem really stiff, he didn't want to come on his walk this morning and had to be persuaded with his ball. I've given him a remedy (selenium) and hope he'll be better when we go to the beach in a minute. I'm hoping it's just a bit of stress brought on by all the excited Italians and thunderstorms. The weathers still cloudy and quite muggy with the vague threat of yet more rain.
So all in all this weeks been pretty tough. Still seen some fantastic scenery and thoroughly enjoyed those couple of swims, and you can't really complain about walking along a sandy beach in your shorts and t-shirt in the rain. Had a lovely pizza last night and great fun making a leaning tower of pizza crusts.
Lets just hope next week brings us more luck, more sunshine and more health. Maybe some more pizza too ;)