Saturday, November 21, 2009

Welcome to France - Not a Great Start

To be able to get anywhere quickly in Italy or France, one must take the Autostrada or Autoroute (freeway to us). Its pretty straightforward until you are west of Genoa. Then the spines of the Alps go right to the Mediterranean, causing a real problem for road builders, as the road intersects the ridges at a right angle. But they have taken it in stride and built an amazing series of tunnels and bridges that barge their way across and through the landscape. You had better not want to gaze at the view cause you rarely get to see it!

All this comes at a price, meaning, a price to those who take these roads. Gary worked it out to cost ten cents a kilometer. So if you drive for an hour (about 100 km), then expect to pay $10. Its user-pay in France, Italy and Spain (though not in Germany nor the UK).

Entering France
We had a reservation at a hostel, just barely inside France, right on the Med in Menton. Finding the hostel was a huge challenge. You would think that not having recording the address would be the biggest obstacle to finding it, but in fact it was the lack of signage. We found one sign, proceeded along the road, finally went into a campground, it didn't look right so we turned around and paced up and down the road looking for a sign that said Auberge or showed the icon for hostels. No such luck. Finally it was found, at the campground, in a building at the back. We looked for that place for over an hour. No wonder we were almost the only people there!!

The best feature of the hostel

The guy running the place had a major case of 'tude, so there was no point in telling him there needed to be better signage. After setting up our room we wanted to prepare some food in the big commercial kitchen, but the hostel-master was true to our first impression of him, and informed us that it was not for our use. We went to bed that night feeling confident that our morning breakfast would be something special with such a marvelous kitchen for the cook to work in.

So with eager anticipation we went out to the eating area. Hmmm... A container of corn flake-type things and baguette slices that must have been at least a day old. Nothing was produced in that kitchen.

But there was an upside. We sat with a wonderful couple from Austria. They were on a cycling trip for a couple of weeks. So we left with good memories of the place.

Buildings were beautiful in Nice

This looked like an automatic bike rental in Nice. Looked like it was well-used too.

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