Beaker giving me a hair cut underway
As usual, Iâ€™ve left a huge space to write about and I canâ€™t remember anythingâ€¦ I think our last couple days in Spain were pretty uneventful. We got all ready to leave on the third morning and pulled up at the drawbridgeâ€¦ just in time to learn that it was broken. So we had to go back to the dock for a few hours until they could fix it. Oh, I just remembered what we did one of those other days in Barcelona- we went on a daysail.
It wasnâ€™t terribly exciting, not that much wind. Leaving for our three day passage we knew that there could be some rough weather ahead, but we decided to go anyway. It turned out to be beautiful sailing, but rolly enough that a lot of shipmates got sick, which was too bad for their first real sail. But in the end they all liked it. Our watches were fine, our midnight one had a few crossing situations, so there were always things to do and boats to look out for. We arrived to St. Tropez a little later than we expected but not by much. The afternoon we arrived I went ashore with two shipmates to provision. It was only going to be for a few days, so I wasnâ€™t that worried about what I would find there.
The guy who provisioned this summer left me some notes on where the shops were and he said that the ones there werenâ€™t that great. I tried following his directions but Iâ€™m not sure I ended up at the same place, because it was a great little store! Iâ€™m glad I wasnâ€™t provisioning for longer because of the prices, but they had a huge variety and I could have gotten a lot of cool things there. Getting the food back to the boat was a little trickier though. It was five (small) carts, not too much for the three of us and definitely not enough for a taxi. But the sidewalks were really narrow and on a slant so wheeling them around proved to be quite challenging. We were in the middle of getting them across the street when the ambulance came from just down the road, so we scrambled to get most over before all the cars started moving out of the way and through the light.
Finally we got them on the sidewalk I had a particularly hard time keeping them both from sliding downhill uncontrollably as I pushed/pulled them. More than once one spun out of control and tipped over in the street, spilling vegetables everywhere. I also ran over my toes a couple times and have a little blood blister on the tip as a reminder. The next day we moved to Cannes, and the most exciting thing there was happening in the anchorage around us. It was a regatta time, so first there were all sorts of little boats around us, then the big classic ones put their sails up in the harbor and set out. They were beautiful to watch, even with the backdrop of some cloudy skies and a couple big cruise ships.
That day we picked Travis up and then headed to Villefranche, which is where I spent a couple weeks in May at the end of the spring program. The day after we got there I went provisioning again, this time at a big Carrefour in Monaco. Itâ€™s probably good I didnâ€™t write this that day, because it would have been a bit overly dramatic considering my mood when I finally returned to the boat. Iâ€™ll try to give the shortened version here, but Iâ€™m not sure thatâ€™s possible. That morning, on my way out in the dinghy, I asked Kate where the Carrefour was once I got off the train. I had only taken the bus to Monaco before, and had seen some signs for the store, but never the actual building.
me at the fort
And she had been there before so I figured she could tell me where. So she gave me some instructions involving train tunnels, going the opposite direction as Mike when he got off to go to the museum, and seeing big buildings when we got outside and looking for McDonaldâ€™s signs. So Philip, the shipmate that came with me (and luckily one that happens to be fluent in French), Mike, and I got off the train but first had to go to the ticket office to sort out our return tickets. So already I wasnâ€™t sure where I was positioned, but Philip and I went outside and asked the first person we saw. I figured we couldnâ€™t have gotten off at the wrong place when they guy nodded and pointed off in a direction away from the station. If it was easier to get to another way, surely he would have pointed back into the station.
view from the fort at Porto Venere
So we start off along the path, and Philip translates that we need to go up some stairs. So we start going up, and up, and upâ€¦ and just when I think that we canâ€™t possibly go up anymore, we turn a corner and there about a hundred more steps still going up. At the top we arrive in a residential area, so we ask (well, Philip asks) again, and they point down the street. So we go, and arrive in a busier looking commercial area. In a few minutes we ask again, then walk for a while, then ask again, and about a half hour after we got off the train we finally find it. Ironically enough the entrance is right outside one of the bus stops that I remember when I took the bus. So we have lost a good chunk of time already, and Philip has to catch a 1:30 train in order to be back in time for class, so we are in a bit of a hurry.
Realizing this, I immediately feel a sense of doom come over me when I enter the store and find out that half of Monaco and France have decided to go shopping at the same time as us. There is nothing I hate more than being rushed while shopping, but I realize that I have no other choice given the amount of time I have. I can stay longer than Philip and take a later train, but I will need his help for as long as possible and would rather just take the same train back to make things easier. The reason I went to this store is because Kate told me that they will deliver the food to the dock later that day, like the Carrefour in Singapore did.
So I start speed shopping, racing as fast as I can around the other shoppers up and down every aisle trying to fill my cart as full as humanly possible. Getting new carts is a huge pain because you have to leave the store completely and feed each one euro coins, which I donâ€™t have many of. And also it took me about ten minutes to find someone who understood that I wanted to leave my already full carts somewhere safe while I shopped. The whole time I was worried someone would find my cart and think it abandoned and put all the food away. So I spent a couple hours rushing around, crashing into other shoppers, cutting people off at intersections, having food fall off the cart every time I went around the corner, and just generally being an obnoxious shopper. But I donâ€™t care.
Argo on the dock
I was so close to getting it done in time, but at one when we were still checking out I told Philip that he should go and get the one thirty train so he wouldnâ€™t miss class. Considering our troubles in finding the place I wanted to make sure that he could find the station again. As we were on the last cart and I was finally beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel, the store people told me that the bananas hadnâ€™t been weighed. In the US, I feel like they would call someone over who would take the bananas where they needed to go, but here they were making it pretty clear that I had to go do it myself. So I had to back up my cart and that of the woman behind me, who was getting pretty impatient by this time, and wheel the bananas to the complete opposite side of the store, wait in line to get them weighed, then run back to the line.
a pesto vending machine!!
Thankfully the checkout people were still unloading my cart, so that was at least nice. Just before we started checking out the store people told us that they would not in fact be able to deliver in the three hours promised on their sign, but within 48. I told them no way, and Philip managed to get them to say tomorrow, or so we thought. So during the checkout I had to separate the food that I wanted for that night and put them in bags to carry back on the train. It looked like I was going to have three bags, not unmanageable for one person, but at the last minute they added another to my pile. After protesting I realized that it couldnâ€™t be sent with the rest of the food to the cold storage area because it was the frozen beef that I had bought. They had neglected to tell me, when I had tried to confirm that all the food would be kept cold overnight, that this in fact did not include anything frozen.
So now I had three bags of vegetables and fresh chicken, and one of frozen beef. It was now about a quarter after one, and with absolutely no ceremony, I was left with a cart of my food. I wasnâ€™t expecting a full salute sendoff, but I figured that I had spent so much money that the grateful employees would be thanking me and helping me on my way (or at least returning my coin deposit when they took away my carts), as I have found in almost every other country. Not so. I was trying to catch the two thirty train, so I figured that I had time to get a bite to eat before trying to find the train station. I never have time to eat when I am shopping and I always pass so much good food, that by the time I am done I am exhausted and hungry. Normally I have enough time to pick up a few things for myself during checkout, but since there was only one of me doing it I couldnâ€™t leave.
me petting the dog
So I decided to go back and get some ingredients for my favorite sandwich. As I walked through the store entrance with my cart the woman standing there watching people, someone who I had no successful or positive communication with the whole time I was shopping even though I tried to nicely ask her many things, grabbed my cart, looked in it, started jabbering away in French, and then pushed my cart back out of the store. At this point Iâ€™d had enough and had to stand outside the store and compose myself before I could think clearly again. I was so angry at her- I had just spent thousands of dollars in her store and all I wanted to do was go in and buy a few more things! I was so hungry! Iâ€™m assuming from her pointing that my problem was the cart full of already purchased food, but what she thought I was going to do with it, Iâ€™m not sure.
he was so cute!
I sure wasnâ€™t going to leave it outside the entrance and hope it was there when I came back. So I walked around trying to find more food, and eventually found a panini place just next door. My next project was to find the train station. I knew it couldnâ€™t be that far from where I was, given Kateâ€™s directions, but I just didnâ€™t know where. I was too stubborn to take my shopping cart as far as I could go with it, I wanted my two euros back dammit, and besides, I didnâ€™t even know which way to start. So I started walking back the way I came and found a map outside then entrance with a â€śyou are hereâ€ť mark and a sticker for the train entrance. The only problem was the map itself didnâ€™t make any sense and I couldnâ€™t figure out what street I was on.
So I waited at the map for about ten minutes, stopping people as they went by, and eventually found someone who wasnâ€™t a tourist and spoke English. This nice woman pointed me in the right direction and off I went. Let me remind you again of the four bags I was carrying. I transferred most of the onions into my purse to take the load off the bags themselves, so they werenâ€™t as heavy anymore. And you might get sick of my whining about carrying four bags of food, which is not that much. But let me point out here that the bags I was carrying were not designed for long distances. Two of them were slightly sturdier than your average plastic grocery bag, and two of them were insulated bags with square plastic handles large enough to only fit your hand through.
this dog was HUGE!!!
If I had had some canvas shoulder bags like our other food had been packed in, or the large half cloth half plastic bags that you get at other stores I probably would have been fine. But after a few minutes the handles started to dig into my palms and I found I could only carry them for a few hundred feet at a time. So slowly I made my way to the train, which turned out to be only a couple blocks away. I entered a seemingly endless hallway but sighed in relief when I saw a couple riding a moving walkway towards me. Oh bless those moving walkways just when you need them the most! Except when I looked a little closer I realized that the one going in my direction wasnâ€™t workingâ€¦ of course. Eventually I got to the second and third set, which were, thank god.
So finally, I was at the train! I read the screen to find out my track, saw a couple trains for Nice ville, and headed for the track. On a side note, apparently if you are going down you donâ€™t require an escalator. Note to architects and builders- put escalators in for everyone!!! By this time the skin was starting to flake off my hand where the bags were rubbing, and Iâ€™d tried every conceivable position to carry them in. So I got to the track, which must have been a mile long, and saw that the train would not stop at this end but somewhere in the middle. And that it was not going to Nice ville, but arriving from there. But in order to find this out I had to walk to the very center of the track. And then to get to the other side where this nice French man told me I needed to be, I had to walk the other half of the length to get to the area where you go underneath.
Kate and Beaker
Again, no down escalator. So after I finally got onto the right track with about fifteen minutes to spare, I looked up at the computer and saw wait, what??? A train to Cannes at 3:30? Impossible! My schedule said that there was one at 2:30. And then 2:45, and then 3:15. I couldnâ€™t leave my bags unattended while I went to the ticket place to ask, completely in a different part of the terminal, and I sure as hell wasnâ€™t going to carry my bags there and back again. So I waited until more people showed up, who looked just as confused as I was, and together we just assumed that the next train was apparently at 3:30. The only thing that worried me was that it didnâ€™t say Villefranche on the list of stations.
It listed every other station after Nice however. Finally a nice French/English couple translated the sign for me and told me that in French it said â€śall stops before Nice, as well as the following...â€ť How was I supposed to know that?!?! So at least I had time to sit and eat my sandwich and drink my coke. Eventually the train came and I got back to the boat. It was quite the challenging afternoon though, and I think everyone thought I was really lame to have complained about the weight of the bags I was carrying. They were so heavy though!! And now I have bruises up and down my arms from where I tried to carry them. Anyways, the food came the next day at around ten and Kate, Mike and I spent a few hours putting it all away.
At least that worked out. Jim and Jason joined us for dinner, and that night we departed for Italy. We were supposed to go to Corsica but a mistral was coming through so we headed for Porto Venere instead. Our weather ranged that night from pretty calm motoring to reefed sail and then full sail broad reaching in huge wind and waves, pretty much a little bit of everything. I helped the chefs cook lunch underway and Iâ€™m quite proud of how our French bread pizza turned out, thank you very much. It was everyoneâ€™s first real taste of eating under any sort of weather conditions, and I think they sort of assumed that we either werenâ€™t going to eat or were just going to have sandwiches.
They have to realize that a) weâ€™re always going to make the meals and eat them no matter what, and b) the weather was really not that bad. We anchored in a pretty spot but the weather picked up again so it started to rain and get pretty windy. The next morning we tried to start the confined water dives, but during equipment setup it started to hail. Did I mention that itâ€™s freezing here?!?! After it cleared some they tried getting in the water but it was just too cold and there was no visibility. So they had some shore time instead in the afternoon. Our anchor picked then to start dragging, and we spent the next couple hours trying to reset it, or a combination of the two. Every time we thought we had it ok they would drag again, and weâ€™d pull them up to find the anchors tangled in wraps of chain, wire, and other debris picked up from the bottom.
the weather kept getting bad and then clearing up
Finally we were able to get a spot in the local marina and we docked for the night, away from the worst of the wind and the horrible anchorage. Today I spent the morning shammying away all the rain from last night, after it finally cleared, and then Beaker and I took a walk through the cute little town. This town, or area in general, is known for its fresh pesto. After walking up to the little fort and taking some pictures we stopped and picked up some fresh pesto and some bread with pesto on it from a local cafĂ©. So for lunch I had the fresh bread with pesto, plus some of my own fresh stuff, and then smoked salmon and fresh mozzarella that I had picked up from the grocery store earlier. Back on the boat I stuffed myself full and had a diet coke. It was heaven.
Tonight Iâ€™m going to have leftover pasta and pesto, I canâ€™t wait!!!!!!
Ok so now itâ€™s a few days later, and I guess a lot has happened. The day after I wrote, which probably was only like the day before yesterday, we got up early and took the bus to the city of La Spezia, and then the train to the town of Manerolo or something, I canâ€™t remember. The point was to hike the trails of the Cinqueterre, or â€śfive cities.â€ť We crammed in the train along with several hundred other people, and I mean crammed like to the point of the doors pinching people when they shut. I was sandwiched in between a few shipmates and about twenty elderly members of a Scottish group traveling around Italy by bus. We all split up at the first town, and Beaker, Kate and I started exploring and hiking. The views were pretty spectacular, but somehow we had gotten it in our heads that the hikes were along a road that was by the water. Surely it had to be fairly easy, how else would all these elderly tourists make it? Ha! The hike between the first two villages was about two hours, first of mostly uphill through hundreds of steps through vineyards, and then a bit of downhill back to sea level. Donâ€™t get me wrong, it was very pretty and good to get the exercise, but not what we expected! At the second village we ate lunch at a cute little cafĂ© on a crowded street. I had minestrone soup with pesto, mmmmâ€¦. Then we hiked to the next village, which was only slightly shorter than the first and only slightly less uphill. We got frozen yogurts there, which was fun. Earlier that morning the trail between the second and third villages had been closed due to a landslide the day before in the crappy weather (two people actually died), so we took the train to the fourth village. And then it was suddenly made clear to me how all the tourists do it- from the fourth to the fifth village the â€śtrailâ€ť is actually a covered stone walkway that takes about twenty minutes at a light stroll. Kate, Beaker and I were in no mood to stroll though, but to avoid the dozens of other people walking with umbrellas at our eye level we had to practically run through the pack, finding holes in the group to dodge through. At the last village we sat down and had some crepes, which was much welcome after the afternoon rain. At the end of the day we felt pretty accomplished, as we had seen all the five villages and hiked what we could. Our train was delayed on the way back and when it arrived it became pretty clear why; once again it was packed like sardines, only this time it was clear there wasnâ€™t enough room for all the people waiting on the platform. Beaker and Kate and I had front row spots to get on the train and luckily the door stopped right next to us, but even then we had to literally fight off people that were trying to push us aside. One older guy pretty much shoved me out of the way to get on, and then once I was finally inside tried to push me farther inside, separating me from the others. I sort of held on to the door so I could stay near Kate and Beaker, and we were only going one stop, but this guy spent the entire ten minute ride shouting and arguing at everyone in the car. Every time when I thought he and the conductor were going to come to blows, the whole car would erupt into laughter, and then they would go back at it again. It was the longest ten minutes of my life. Well, ok, not really, but it was a bit scary. We finally got back to the boat it was about eight, so we ate and cleaned up quickly, had a scheduling meeting, and then set sail for Rome. It was hard to have the first watch, as it had been such a long day and I had gotten a cold again after thinking I had finally gotten rid of it, but it was really nice to be able to sleep afterwards and I think I slept for nine hours. The rest of the day we had a beautiful, sunny motorsail along the coast and arrived at midnight to Civitavechia. This morning I went provisioning again, this time at a much smaller store. We walked there, shopped, and then walked the shopping carts to the boat. It was pretty easy.