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Cinque Terre, Paris, and the Alps

July 21, 2019

We spent two weeks anchored in a protected cove off the charming village of Le Grazie near La Spezia. Much of our time was spent doing boat projects and preparing for our guest Mike and Jan who arrived on the 4th of July. La Grazie is largely unspoiled by foreign tourists, catering mainly to local Italians, and we fell in love with it.

We headed north with our guests along the picturesque Cinque Terre coast with its terraced gardens and small villages that until recently could only be reached by foot or by boat. Our first stop was Monterosso al Mare where the town was holding its festival for “old timers”; we felt right at home. It was a wonderful evening with good food, entertainment, and a comfortable anchorage. But that was soon to change.

Our next stop was at the crowded anchorage in north Sestri Levante. A swell had been building that wrapped around the headland making for a rolly anchorage. We decided to tough it out and spend the night. During the night the wind died and the boat settled into the trough of the waves and we and our guest were nearly thrown from our berths. We left at first light and headed for Rapallo and the Italian Riviera.

The marina at Rapallo was destroyed in a storm last year and is currently being rebuilt so we anchored behind the breakwater at Santa Margharita. We stayed there three nights enjoying the local restaurants, the sights, and a rainy day of bridge. We took the dinghy and had lunch in the renowned village of Portofino that had been isolated for six months when its only road was destroyed in last year’s storm.

Our cruise ended in Genoa with the boat moored in a marina at the heart of the old city. We walked the streets lined with lavish homes from a bygone era and dinned at an authentic Italian restaurant where we were the only tourists and the menus were only in Italian. We were sad the next day when Mike and Jan departed for Spain. We always enjoy their company.

We decided that since the boat was in a safe marina, we should take the opportunity to fly to Paris where we have never been. We arrived the day before Bastille Day and the city was alive with preparations. We walked to the Eiffel Tower where an orchestra and opera singer were rehearsing for the next day’s performance and ascended the Tower as the late afternoon sun cast long shadows across the city.

On Sunday we headed for the Champs-Elysees to watch the Bastille Day Parade, passing through three security checkpoints and being thoroughly searched. The parade included everything in the French military arsenal, including flybys by what seemed like the entire French air force. From there we walked the 2+ miles to the Louvre since most of the streets were closed to traffic for security reasons. The best part of Bastille Day was sitting in the park by the Eiffel Tower listening to opera followed by a very grand display of fireworks. Fortunately, our hotel was within walking distance since the streets were still closed off.

Our last night in Paris we went to the Pigalle (red light district) for dinner and to see Moulin Rouge which was great fun.

During our flight over the Alps we were awed by their beauty. So, we returned to the boat, re-packed our bags with warmer clothes, rented a car and headed north. We drove along Lake Como with its celebrity estates and on into the Alps. We spent a night in Vaduz in the principality of Liechtenstein where our room looked out on the Alps. As we drove into Switzerland and Zurich we left the Alps and the scenery became boring. So, with the help of Google, we headed for the alpine village of Kandersteg where we explored Lake Oeschinensee, the alpine meadow at Klettersteig/Via Ferrata, and once again enjoyed amazing views from our hotel room. This may be our favorite place on earth!

The road ends in Kandersteg and it is necessary to put the car on a train that takes us through the mountain and disembarks at Ferden. From there we continue south and eventually out of the Alps.

We are back at the boat in Genoa preparing to continue west through Italy and into France.

Cinque Terre & the Italian Riviera

 

Paris

 

Bastille Day

 

Drive Through the Alps

 

Kandersteg, Switzerland

From → Travel

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