We were relatively well-organized in a disorganized kind of a way this morning. Getting up and having breakfast proved not impossible, if a little random, and preparing for a day’s walking only took about three times as long as it should have. Nonetheless we were in the car and on our way to Deiva Marina on time to catch the 12.01 train to the Cinque Terre. We had not however reckoned with the enormity of the task defined as “Finding a parking space.”

We parked at the station and Mary got out to read the rules which told us the spot we were in was for “autorrizati” only. A local pointed me to a car park about 200 metres away and off I drove, leaving Lady Burton to find the right platform. I drove to the car park, found a place, locked up and set off back to the station. A strange urgency then overcame me and I broke into a trot (which is much better than breaking into a house!). That trot became a jog and, as I saw the train arrive, the jog became a sprint. Sod’s Law says that if you are in a hurry then something stupid like not being able to find the main entrance to a railway station will delay you. I couldn’t and, fatally, it did. The third identical door I tried was the correct one although the man working just inside it had put me off the first time I’d tried it. I thought I was in his workshop!

The train was there still waiting. On the opposite platform! Despite jelly legs I dashed downstairs, underneath the track and back up the other side where Mary was waiting. She told me to hurry. What!? Could she not see the veins sticking out on my neck? She reached up to open the carriage door but it wouldn’t open. Someone on the inside tried to open it but they were unsuccessful too. Then the train gently pulled away. Without us. I was too out of breath to swear at it. While Mary was giving me the kiss of life (at least that was her excuse!) we decided not to go to Cinque Terre after all so returned to the car and drove off in the opposite direction towards the gem of the Italian Riviera, Portofino.

Did you know that this wee town has been THE place for the rich and famous to holiday for the past 50 or so years? We didn’t. We just chose it as the next obvious place to go and see on this coastline. A mile up the road we came to a tunnel with a red stop light showing so parked behind the car that was already waiting. We got out to admire the view while more cars and vans parked behind us. After about 10 minutes we returned to the car and not long afterwards the light changed to green and our convoy moved off into the tunnel. We quickly saw that we were in a one-lane tunnel and that the traffic alternated every 15 minutes or so. Three tunnels were entered and exited before there was a general return to two-lane carriageway although both lanes were quite tight and the Audi breathed in as it passed a local bus.

Me, checking out the first tunnel.

Me, checking out the first tunnel.

This is NOT a postcard. Mary snapped this.

This is NOT a postcard. Mary snapped this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To cut a long story a teensy bit shorter, we drove to Portofino hugging the Mediterranean coastline, sometimes feet from the waves, sometimes hundreds of feet above them. Add the excellent sunny weather to the picture and you have an almost idyllic road trip along a strip of incomparable beauty easily rivalling the wonder of the Amalfi coast road. Portofino itself was quite beautiful and we enjoyed an hour and a half of excellent walking around the harbour and up the hill where we discovered what my Mum’s late sister, Katie Brown, had really done with that pools win I mention in my book. I did not enjoy the parking at all and felt we had been told to “Stand and Deliver” when our ninety minutes cost us 11 Euro!! Ouch! The two coffees and hot ham and cheese panino we bought at the café only cost ten! Only when we got home did we discover Portofino is unusually expensive because it’s always full of millionaires.

Now we know! God bless Katie!

Now we know! God bless Katie!

Just like the Arbroath cliffs.

Just like the Arbroath cliffs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stopped at one of the other towns on the way home and had a nice stroll along the boardwalk as the sun began to set but we then headed back as I didn’t fancy driving that incredible road in the dark. Safely back on site, we had tea then spent a couple of hours sorting out our belongings for storage in the caravan, locking in the car or for bringing back to Scotland. A quick Skype call to Uncle Gerard and it was off to bed where I am writing this.

Tomorrow we will walk the Cinque Terre. Don’t hold your breath!

Portofino is the lumpy bit centre background..

Portofino is the lumpy bit centre background..

Don't you think Mary needs a haircut?

Don’t you think Mary needs a haircut?

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