Uber-rich in Monaco, Skint & Hungry in Levanto

We left towards Monaco, not having quite had our fill of uber-rich filth, and zoomed through, stopping for long enough to photograph the bike and Adam next to some millionaire toy-boat, and riding on a short section of the Grand Prix track, where they were setting up all the start flags etc. I got humiliated by a very swanked up postcard seller in a bow-tie and breeches. It was a very full-up place, with hotels with swimming pools on the roof, and garage attendants who sneered at you. The Barclays branches looked like 5-star restaurants, and Lambourghinis were as common as Fords would be anywhere else.

It was small though, a little bay of mentalness, and we passed through and into Italy without noticing. We didn’t realize we’d crossed over until the service station man was speaking a funny type of French we couldn’t understand.

There were espresso bars in the garages, and Estonians in tiny cramped vans with their babies swaddled up so much they couldn’t see out.

The motorways were all on giant rods in the sky, and instead of circumnavigating any mountains, they just go through them!! We were miles above the actual countryside, racing enormous speeds with all the other traffic. Below it was beautiful, but we couldn’t seem to get off the motorway- whenever we tried it we ended up looping back onto the main road again. Having said that the roads were perfect for riding and we zoomed along. For the pillion, fairly dull though!!

The service stations had nothing for us to eat and eventually it was evening and we had to come off somewhere very rural and off-the-beaten track to find a supermarket for our stove-dinner. We went through beautiful hills that smelled of garlic trying to find a wild-camping spot, but everywhere was too hilly, or too owned. We got hungry.

We ended up in Levanto, with 7 Euros left and no clue where to stay, and ended up watching the surfers on the amazing blue waves at sunset, and wondering what to do. We found a supermarket eventually and got dinner with the last 7 Euros (Fresh pesto, spaghetti and 1 Euro Chianti!! Hallelujah!!) and managed to locate a cashpoint and a campsite! Flushed with success we drank our Chianti and got merry.

We had a pleasant night being trampled on by a drunk young Kiwi in a bivi-bag, and got up in the middle of the night at the sound of a massively loud Crunch, to discover a large, worried German advising us it was all ‘Not a problem’. Less than persuaded, we raced through the pitch-black thinking the bike had had it and was on its side and crumpled etc etc thanks to the friendly German’s camper-vanning mishaps, possibly slightly too enthusiastically thanks to the wine… Adam let him know somewhat directly that it was very likely to be a very big problem, and had to backtrack fairly rapidly when it transpired that he’d just mildly scraped one of the boxes with his truck. Disaster allayed, apologies all round, ‘no harm done’ etc etc, we went back to the tent.

I harboured bizarre, unfounded desires to see Siena, and so we went for a massive detour to spend the night there the next day. It took us off the main roads and through some incredible countryside, with storm clouds and sunshine at once, and sheep in vertical fields. Stunning though it was, the actual detour was completely pointless as we saw Siena only by night, which left me with the impression that far from being a Gothic, beautiful city, it was basically a traffic jam with a nice city wall that it was too dark to see. Maybe one day I will get to revise my opinion of it though. The roads were worth it from the coast inland, and we saw an enormous field with a flock of sheep being guarded only by two sheepdogs and no-one else to be seen. Trusting shepherds, or very stupid sheep…

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