Alice Dryden (huskyteer) wrote,
Alice Dryden

Day 5: 290 Miles

"Morning coffee in Monaco, then?" said Howard.

In fact we had it in Èze, pronounced 'Airs', but we were in Monaco soon afterwards.

We went mostly so I could say I'd been (thanks slemslempike for the notion of visiting city-states), and left the hectic roads behind as soon as we could, but it was very wonderful to crest a hill and see the casino with its sparkling fountains at the bottom - and also to spot red and white stripes at the side of the road and realise we were on part of the race circuit.

We had two options for the day's route: the fast but expensive toll motorway, the péage, or the coastal road, several hours slower but more interesting. We plumped for coast, of course.

We'd left finding somewhere for lunch pretty late, and were getting a little desperate when we followed signs in Ospedaletti for a waterfront restaurant, which turned out to be a posh affair with crisp white tablecloths.

Now, I knew how this worked because I've been there many times before. Not to the restaurant, in the situation. We would feel we had to eat here because it was so late and we'd wasted so much time; we would pay too much for a substandard meal and leave feeling cross with ourselves, the restaurant and the entire country.

Except it didn't happen like that, because I had probably the most delicious meal of the holiday and was very glad we'd stopped.

I ordered mixed fish, expecting some chunks of white fish and rubbery squid rings in batter. What I got was four different kinds of fish, one white and three dark, three langoustines and several tender, egg-shaped little squid, all grilled to perfection.

And a lettuce leaf, which I left.

The coast road was slow. It was much more built-up than we were expecting, with traffic and speed limits holding us back in the many towns.

"If it gets to three o'clock and we're only in San Remo, we'll get on the motorway," Howard had said, poring over his map, and we chuckled at such an absurd idea.

Three o'clock came and went and we weren't even close to San Remo. It was time to admit defeat and leave the pretty roads behind. As consolation, there were impressive views from the motorway.

It was one of those days when everything conspires to make you later and later. We stopped at a service area, where Howard pointed out that my headlight bulb had blown. This is such a common occurrence (especially abroad, for some reason) that I've got changing it down to a ten-minute operation, but it was gone nine o'clock and dark by the time we reached Pontedera.

This was the first night we hadn't booked, and when the first hotel claimed to be full we were a little anxious.

We tried down the street, where the man behind the desk couldn't have been more helpful. Yes, we have a double room. Parking? You have motos? You can put them in the garage. You want dinner at 10:30 at night? Go next door to the restaurant and see what they have (they had penne with ragu and lasagne, both delicious).

The first thing I saw when we arrived in Pontedera was this tower. If you recognise the symbol on it, you might be able to guess why we were here and why I was looking forward to the next day.


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