(written by Nancy)
First night in the tent in many months and it wasn’t too bad even with the hard brick ground. We were pretty close to the road so there was a bit of traffic noise that kept us awake for a bit. Actually, I think the group of worker guys who came in with a big truck and unloaded a bunch of wood and other construction materials about three sites down from us at 9:30 were a lot louder than the traffic noise! It was kind of funny – it sounded like there were about 10 of them the way they were talking at each other but I think it was only a couple of guys. When Italian men speak, it seems like all of them speak and none of them listen, quite funny actually.
We finally got out of the tent just after 7 this morning and packed up, pausing for our usual camping breakfast of oatmeal. A bit of a treat this morning as we got to mix in some of those instant flavoured Quaker Oats oatmeal packs that Dave’s mom brought over on her visit – haven’t had those in a long time (your life is reduced to the small pleasures when on a self-supported bike tour)! Thanks Alice!!
We left the campground around 9 and took a bike path into San Remo, just a couple of kilometers. The bike path is a rail-to-trail conversion of the old railway line and is paved. It’s a great path, appears to be well-used, and is nice and wide with a separate pedestrian lane so there isn’t any of that winding around people that you often have with those mixed-use paths. Of course, it may be different in the summer when the tourist crowd is larger.
Before leaving the campground we asked the lady in reception about where we might buy a sim for the phone. She recommended TIM, one of the network providers in Italy and gave us a San Remo city map with the TIM store and the Vodaphone store marked on it. Local advice is always such a help. We headed off the bike path at San Remo and with only one turnaround Dave found the TIM store and was successful in getting a sim that should allow us access to the internet. It was only €10 and is supposed to give us 250mb per week and last for a month, which almost seems too good to be true. We’ll see how it goes – we can apparently top up at other TIM stores.
By the time we left San Remo it was just after 10. We hopped back on the bike path and rode it for another 25k – it was lovely. Quiet with great views as it hugs the water’s edge. There are lots of tunnels on the bike path – fun to go through them and not have to worry about the cars going one way or the other. Even the racer guys were using it – lots of them going past us.
We stopped for an early lunch in the town of Imperia. We didn’t want to have a big sit down lunch as we needed to keep moving but we found a great little café right next to a great bakery – what more could you ask for? We had some kind of pizza things – almost like tarts and of course a couple of cups of great coffee to tide us over. I ran into the bakery before we left to buy some bread and snacks for later on – hard to pick as there were lots of great choices.
While I was in the bakery Dave was adjusting his map and was accosted by two old Italian gentlemen that were bound and determined to help him plan the route. When I came out one of the guys was clearly telling Dave to listen to him (while the other one was speaking as well) They both explained in great detail which way to go to avoid the big hills. All in Italian of course, but we eventually got the gist of what they was saying – that there was a lower road that we could take on the bikes but that was closed to cars and that it would avoid a really big hill. They were very friendly and their advice turned out to be spot on – we found the road marked a dead end and actually saw a racer guy heading that way so followed him. Well, not really followed him as in keeping him in sight, but we went the way we saw him go as he went by in a flash. It was a great road/path, right on the edge of the cliff, that took us around the hill and we met up with the main road on the other side.
For the rest of the day we followed the coast road (SS1 or SP1, depending on who’s map you read) as it went up and down and in and out of villages and towns. It’s not a very wide road and does seem to get a lot of traffic but the cars (and even the trucks) all seemed pretty polite. We did get lots of waves from the racer guys riding by, which was fun.
We made a quick stop in the town of Ceriale at a nice old plaza surrounded by a church and other old buildings. I was going to say historical buildings, but everything here is so old that it is all probably of some historical significance.
We finally made our way into Pietra Ligure and saw the signs for the campground that we had found on line. It seemed to be the only campground in the area that was open at this time of year – we are a bit early for the real tourist season and many do not seem to open until April. The campground is not super but there are warm showers and we have a little pitch for our tent that is off on its own so will hopefully be quiet tonight. The bar/restaurant is not open until April so we are cooking our own dinner tonight – lots of leftovers that we brought after cleaning out the refrigerator in our Nice apartment and some, you guessed it, pasta. Unfortunately, so far Italian campgrounds do not seem to have the camp kitchens that we had in Australia but we have commandeered a table that was sitting off on its own so at least we have a place to eat. Thankfully we are carrying our nice little Walkstools that Dave mocked so much – beats sitting on the ground all the time!
The weather is not great – we had really low grey clouds the whole day today and the temperature seemed pretty cold. I don’t think it got much above 12 degrees. Makes for a bit of a melancholy day notwithstanding the great views along the ride, especially when there is nowhere warm to go at the end of the day. We had a tiny bit of sprinkles just after we set up the tent but hopefully that will not turn into anything serious. The cold weather makes it a bit tricky to get our wet clothes and towels dry. The things we had tied onto the back of the bikes today didn’t quite get dry so we may have to sleep with them tonight to see if our body warmth can get them dry – or maybe not! Actually, Dave is very hot when he sleeps (I mean that in the nicest way) so perhaps I can convince him to tuck them into his sleeping bag…. I think I will be getting out my warm gear to wear to bed and perhaps even a hat. With no way to dry my wet hair it makes it seem even colder.
There is internet here (1 hour for €1.50 so we will be spending the evening in the tent posting this and checking out the route ahead. We may try for Genova (or Genoa, depending on your map) tomorrow and splurge on a hotel if we can find something relatively inexpensive. Or maybe the sun will come out and it will be a brilliant day – we can always hope for the best.
Noodles are just about done so I better go help. Stay tuned for more excitement tomorrow.