On the GR-65. Day 1

Day 1. Conques to Livinhac-le-Haut.

That day started early with great anticipation of our walk on the trail. After a quick breakfast, we left the “gite” , passing on the Roman bridge. It  was a moment  I wanted to capture as best as I could.  I did not want to spend too much time taking pictures  but  I needed to do it. John , from South Korea was also taking pictures. We can see him here  ahead of my husband.

So, quickly after a few photos, we were going up on the trail and up it went until we reached the Chapelle Sainte-Foy.  We were not the only one  as  most “pilgrims” are eager to start the day as soon as possible.

I remember not being sure if we were going in the right direction as there was 2 options. A German man ( Thomas)  talked with us and told us the right way. We were walking  fairly fast even with our backpack. Mine was around 8 kg and my husband a little more , 10 kg or more. We needed to get use to it. We  were mostly in the countryside   which was nice. Fall can be such a great time to walk.

When the hunger started to bother me. We found a picnic table to eat some of the food  we had  bought in Conques. I was hungry  but not too much. And we did not want to waist too much time. I wanted to arrive as early as possible  in our next gite.

Weather was good. Spirit was good also. 23 km is not too long  but we were  quite happy when we reached the village of Livinhac-le-Haut.  We found our CH (meaning chambre d’hôtes); the lady was not there  but she kindly left for us 2 beers and a delicious piece of pie. We  had a shower and a little rest and then ventured to see  the small village.

We  saw our 3 new French friends  that had dinner with us in  Conques.  I did not know  they were going to spend the night in the same village. We had a beer  and a chat  with them . We reserved a table at the only restaurant of the village after they told us  they were also going to eat there. We met our lovely lady at our CH and then returned to have  our dinner. Finally my Fit-bit was showing 26 km. I was happy with this first day and was looking forward for the continuation. All we needed  was a good sleep and we would be ready for another day on the trail .

Zabriskie Point and Mosaic Canyon. (DVNP)

Zabriskie Point, the golden badlands. Deathly silent and still . Result of often violent action of water and earthquake.  Another amazing area of this splendid park. Enjoy the photos I brought back.

Time for another hike… in Golden Canyon.

I have great memories of this day.  Blue sky  and fantastic landscapes to capture. We still had some time the next morning to explore Mosaic  Canyon, a showcase of geologic features. Out and back hike within polished marble narrow filled with unique color pattern. Many times I felt the need to touch the soft walls of the canyon. It was early in the morning and just perfect weather.

Goodbye  Death Valley.   A very unique  and special place it is.

Thank you for visit and comments. Always very appreciated.

 

 

 

 

More on Death Valley National Park

The story of our visit in Death Valley continues here…

Now , we will go  for a short hike to see the Natural bridge. We hiked up the dramatic canyon to see this formation. It was  very hot. We did not know yet that  we were getting one of the warmest day of our trip !

Death Valley’s dramatic relief is the result of fracturing and tilting of the Earth’s  surface which transformed the regions’ once featureless terrain to the spectacular landscape present today.

Another  interesting  place to see was the Devils Golf Course. We were not going to play golf  but have a look at the crystallized salt. It was named after a line in the 1934  National Park Service   guide book to Death Valley National Monument, which stated that “Only the devil could play golf” on its surface, due to a rough texture from the large halite salt crystal  formations.

One more  short hike on that day to see the Golden Canyon. One of the most popular hike in the park. Narrow passageway beneath high colorful hills  that ends at sculpted canyon head wall.

Very  important to drink as much water as possible on those very hot days.

DVNP, the hottest place on earth. It holds the record : 134 F/ 57C.

Thanks to all for  reading and/or commenting .  More on DVNP  with my next post.

 

 

 

Cinque Terre (part 3)

In “real time” it is February 2017    but the events of this post happened in September 2016. It is part 3 of  4 of our time in Cinque Terre.  I  hope you enjoy reading my story.

Another good day for a hike in Cinque Terre. While we waited for our new friends, I could observe”the locals”, the people who live in Vernazza.  I watched workers bringing goods on trolley,  old ladies sitting  on a bench to have a chat and a young mom walking down the main street with  her baby carriage. Of course, we also noticed the tourists with their back packs or suitcases heading to the train station.  As soon as our  friends arrived  by train,  we started our hike .  Again, we appreciated  the views on Vernazza .It was wonderful to see the village from above. The color of the water was just fantastic. We saw some guys working on the trail.

We ended up in Corniglia at noon. Corniglia is a quiet town-the only one of the five villages not on the water. The buildings, narrow lanes and stairways of Corniglia are strung together amid vineyards high on cliffs.  We  found a little restaurant to have lunch  and  visited the town . I liked it. It was maybe more quiet than the other villages because the tourists cannot come here by boat. We can only  get there  by the road  or the train or by  walking on the  trails.

dsc02423

Later that day,  we arrived in Manarola.   We had a good view of the village . The enchanting pastel houses of Manarola spill down a steep hill overlooking a spectacular turquoise swimming cove and a bustling harbor. The whole town is built on black rock. Above the town, ancient terraces still protect abundant vineyards and olive trees. This village is the center of the wine and olive production of the region and its streets are lined with shops selling local products.

dsc02445

dsc02462We were very  happy with our day.  Philippe ( our new friend ) went for a swim…dsc02466

while we looked for a place to  have a cold beer and relax . Then, our friends  took the train to La Spezia and us  to Vernazza . We were going to meet again the next day for the last hike  between Manarola and Riomaggiore. This will be the last and next post on CT. It might inspire you to visit and I think you should if you can.  Thanks for reading .

Ciao !!! My next post , next week-end ! Have a good week.

 

 

 

 

 

Cinque Terre ( part 2)

Happy Chinese New Year to all who celebrate this New Year…

and here is part 2 of  our story on Cinque Terre. This post is abit longer than most of my post but sometimes there is just more to say.

No need of an alarm clock. At 7 am, we heard the bells of the church. We went down      (100 steps) to Piazza Marconi for our  Italian breakfast  facing the harbor.

It was  market day in Vernazza and there was of lot of action. This market is very important not only to buy fresh fruits and vegetables but other necessities of life mostly  for people living in that village. There was a truck selling salami and cheese. People can shop for fresh herbs also.  We also did a little bit of shopping as we  had a little fridge in our room  and then, up  100 steps to get ready for the day.  You guessed ? Another  hike.

dsc02124

We had decided we would do the walk from Vernazza to Monterosso.  Only 3.3 km one way.  This is the blue trail.  We are closer to the sea. We had to buy our Trekking card for the day at a little booth on the trail. The cost was 7,50 euros.  It helps to keep up  the trails in good condition. That particular  trail goes up and soon you get a superb  view  on the village down below.  It was around 11 AM . You can see a boat bringing tourists to the village. They come and go all day long.

dsc02135

The trail has been- until the last century- the only connection between the two towns. It belongs to a trail of network that answered and still answers the needs of harvest (woods, olives, vines, vegetables and fruits). This path is wild and most rewarding. The hike leads to the perception of the Mediterranean landscape that is characterized from the juxtaposition of cultivated lands (sunny slopes-terraces of vines and olives) and maquis.

It was quite busy with people coming our way and sometimes the trail was very narrow ( maybe 40 cm) and we had to wait.  We had to be careful. There was  a railing at some places but not everywhere. The view was nice. It didn’t take long before we could have a glimpse of Monterosso.  Many  of the hikers were French.  Cinque Terre is not so far from France so it makes sense that they also want to travel there. We exchanged some “Bonjour” and kept walking. The last part  of the trail was quite steep going down.

We arrived in the Old Town of Monterosso and took time to explore the village. We passed Piazza Garibaldi. Giuseppe Garibaldi was a dashing firebrand revolutionary who, in 1870, helped unite the people of Italy into a modern nation. We saw beaches with umbrellas all lined up. Some beaches are free (where there are no umbrellas) and some are not. Those beaches are the best of Cinque Terre.

Here how we can describe  Monterosso al mare. Beautiful beaches, rugged cliffs, crystal-clear turquoise waters. It is the largest of the Cinque Terre villages. Medieval tower (Aurora) on the hills of the Cappucini separates the ancient part of the village from the more modern part. The village is encircled by hills and by forest of scrubby bushes and small trees.

dsc02150

We were in no hurry.  We walked on the narrow streets, visited the churches and went up to have a good view of the city. After a snack we went back on the trail.  An old man was making fresh orange juice and for 2 euros, we were happy to buy one. I asked the man to take his picture. He gave us a nice smile.  In the morning, when we passed his stand,  he was quite busy  but when we came back we were his only customer. I know he is there most of the time as someone else had see him ( not the same month).

dsc02240

Back in Vernazza, we went to our little beach. I went quickly into the sea to put my feet and not much !  For me it was enough to stay  a minute  (or less) as I always find the water too cold.

20160928_023929

I looked for special rocks on the beach. We met a couple from France.  After our little chat, we decided we would hike together the following day.  What a nice day ! More to come on Cinque Terre  on my next post. Thanks for reading. Grazie !!!

 

 

 

 

 

Cinque Terre ( part 1)

Time to go and explore Cinque Terre.  Will you come  with me ?

Cinque Terre means “five lands” which are the five villages of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. But just think of the region as a spider web of trails, towns, and villages. This stretch of coastline is a mix of tiny hamlets. Cinque Terre is clinging to the cliffs along gorgeous stretch of the Ligurian coast.  Each town has maintained its own distinct charm and views from the trails in between are as breathtaking as ever.
The Cinque Terre is recognized by UNESCO as a place of worldwide importance to cultural and natural heritage. As of July 2014, Italy has 50 total sites inscribed on UNESCO’s list, making it the country with most World Heritage Sites.  The terrain is so steep that for centuries foot paths were the only way to get from place to place. Backpackers discovered the CT in the 1970s. It is very easy to travel from one village to another one. You buy a ticket in a machine for 4 euros and you wait for the train. It comes by often. The tourists, who are not hiking, come by boat all day long . They eat gelato, do shopping and take pictures. They usually sleep in La Spezia ( south) or Levanto (north).

The first reason why we wanted to visit Cinque Terre was for hiking between the villages.  The very first afternoon, we explored a trail that led us to a sanctuary.  High above each of the five villages is a religious sanctuary, a small chapel that is an integrated part of the communities’ life and is connected by a stone path to the village.  Those hikes are challenging but allow us to have great views.  As soon as we were up a little, we could admire Vernazza and the harbor, the dome of the church, the castle and its tower. dsc01966

Sactuary of the Madonna di Reggio.

dsc02009

We were on Via della Coasta. There was a sign with a shell and since we have walked on the Camino in Spain, we noticed the shells here and there.  There was no fear of getting lost, plenty of signs with the markers white and red. There were nice little flowers along the trail. Really it was a trail just for us.

dsc02019

dsc02020

dsc02022

We only met two people later that afternoon. A real paradise. What could we ask for more? Good exercise, good weather, great views. It was a long hike but we always enjoy our walks.  Maybe it was not many km but as it was up hill. I was happy we had a good training before coming to Italy.

Before dinner we had time to explore a little bit of Vernazza. On the next photo you see the church , the beach and piazza Marconi with its colorful umbrellas.

With its narrow streets and small squares, Vernazza is arguably the most charming of the five towns. With best access to the sea, it became wealthier than its neighbors (shown by the elaborate arcades, loggias and marble work). The village’s pink slate-roof houses and colorful squares contrast with the remains of the medieval fort and castle.

dsc02071
We were happy to stay in Vernazza for a few nights and have time to explore all the 5 villages while hiking between them.

More on  our time in Cinque Terre and more photos  next week. Thanks – as always- for reading and your comment.

Ciao e grazie.

 

 

Walking in Italy (part 4)

dsc01134

It is now our last day of walking in Alba/Le Langhe.  On that day, we were going to reach Alba where we started 6 days earlier.

We left Neive and walked by vineyards and the town of Barbaresco that is famous for its wine production of the same name.  Many find this wine easier on the palate than Barolo and more consistent in type and quality. It has even been called Italy’s finest classified wine. The slopes around the village of Barbaresco are the most intensely cultivated of the Langhe.

dsc01174

A solar clock in the village of Barbaresco.

dsc01146

“Da laborem, dabo fructus.” Give your labor, give fruit.

Not much sun all day long but still a pleasant walk with nice landscapes. How not to like to be right there in the middle of all this nature that will produce  great wine.  Our day was not so long as we arrived early enough in Alba to have lunch outside.  We had done more than 13 km that morning and we wanted to celebrate a little. A good lunch in a piazza followed  by  gelato. I love Italy. The food is good and the wine excellent.

dsc01238

We already visited Alba. We knew very well where to go for our apero time. It came again with some food to nibble.  The next morning , we would be going back to Turin and from there we took the train to go to Genova. This will be my story in the next post.

Only a few days before the New Year so it is my chance to wish you the best in 2017. More on my European travel in 2017. The next story should be posted on  January 8,2017.

Happy New Year. Bonne Année. Felice Anno Nuovo. Feliz Año Nuevo.