It’s been a while, and although whenever I’m writing this it does feel as if I’m starting with an excuse, really it is necessary. I know some of you at home look at this as if it was a direct link with our wellbeing on our travels, but please, if there’s no post for a few days, don’t despair! I’m sure if we were ravaged by bears or abducted by aliens it’d be on the news far faster than I could ever type it out and then get to the nearest McDonalds for free wi-fi to upload it! No news is good news and all that!
When I last posted we were heading South, we had left L’Argentiere and were travelling to our inbetween campsite. We left there the very next morning, heading to Antibes, which is pretty much halfway between Cannes, and the principality of Monaco. After setting up camp, we took a walk down into Antibes, and saw our first beach and coastline since crossing into Calais over 2 weeks ago! The coastline was nice but Antibes was slightly less than amazing, we headed back to the site and bunked down for the night.
Heading South again, on the road to Antibes:
2 up from Ireland anyone?:
Timmy looking pretty at 1400m:
Me and the Hanster:
Han giving Timmy some love:
The Antibes coastline, facing East:
.... and West:
More photos will have to come later, in a McDonalds again and it just took me half an hour (literally) to upload those eight!
The next morning we were up fairly early as we planned to do both Cannes and Monaco/Monte Carlo in the same day. First up was Cannes, after working our way through the traffic, and finally finding somewhere to park, we set about exploring the city that has been made so famous by it’s annual film festival and high-end high-street. So what did we find? Money. Money, money and more money. Of course it’s not essential to live in this place without being a billionaire, there are plenty of fast food chains and relevant work, but to really stand out in Cannes, especially as an outsider, you need to be rolling in it. Walking down the high street there is no cheaper branded shops than Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Armani, Prada… You get the idea. There was a Levi’s shop though, I had a browse inside although quickly left when I found that even a bog standard pair of 501’s was over 120 euros!
Fancy schmancy shops:
We saw Jack Sparrow:
In case I hadn't mentioned it!:
Hanster and the red carpet:
A very cool Fiat 500:
I became more enthusiastic when we reached the marina though, boat after yacht after cruiser after speedboat all lined up. When not boarded by their rightful owners they were being scrubbed clean by the deck-hands. Literally everything was being cleaned and inspected, we saw the underneath of staircases being scrubbed, curtains being pulled out to air and even scuba gear being pulled out and tested. The boats were phenomenal, they had automated sliding doors, hammocks on the back viewing platform, outside sofas and TV’s, and even their own launching platform for diving sessions should the scuba gear ever come into use! It almost seemed as though wealth here was not judged by the size of your wallet, but by the length of your yacht.
After Cannes we jumped back onto the autoroute and headed towards the Principality of Monaco. Seeing Monaco was something I was particularly excited about, perhaps because of the renowned exclusivity of the place, perhaps it was because of the stories of 20 euro bottles of water. Either way I was interested to see what was in store.
Yes, there was yet more influence of money in Monaco, and in some ways on an even grander scale than of what was found in Cannes, Armani was replaced by Lamborghini, Gucci by Aston Martin. However I found no 20 euro bottles of water, it cost me and Han 25 euros to have lunch and 6 euros to park for four hours, whilst not cheap it was hardly worth telling my bank manager about as some people would make you believe! Marina was again stunning, and I could’ve stood for hours in the tunnel that ran under the casino listening to the Maserati’s and Ferraris burble on by! One thing that stood out to me despite all the wealth, fast cars, fast boats and fast women, was that the people of Monaco seemed immensely proud, proud to be a part of not just France, but part of the ‘Principaute de Monaco’, there was pictures of the prince himself everywhere, from crepe stands to gift shops. I respected that, and could only ever partly understand why they felt so proud to be a part of one of the few remaining principalities in the world.
One of many Ferraris seen, don't like it in white though:
Very cool tunnel heading into Monaco, the walls were bare stone and rock:
McLaren Garage, with one of my favourite supercars inside:
Ferrari and Renault F1 engines found in the automobile club d'Monaco:
458 Italia, pretty car:
The coastline from Monaco:
The next few days all happened pretty quickly, the next day we left our campsite in Antibes for our entry into Italy. The drive out of France was nice and easy, getting into Italy and things quickly changed. The Italians have a common reputation for driving erm, eratically, but this was something else. Cutting up is a regular happening, roundabouts seem to be a free for all, lorries bully you into the side of the road, seemingly, unless your the fastest thing on the road (speed limits seem to be more speed targets) your not welcome. So as you can tell, i wasn't a massive fan of the roads in Italy! Eventually though, 300 miles later, we arrived at a campsite. My satnav was playing up, so that alone was a challenge! Campsite was pretty though, and was the cheapest we could find, at 20 euros a night.
The next day wasn't the best that we had, waking up the original plan was head to/through Florence and head to Rome on the other side. Whilst doing morning 'spanner and fluids' checks on Tim though, i found that the Radiator bracket had snapped, bugger. I managed to bodge (sorry, field fix!) it back together using an oversized washer and clamping it in place. I'd noticed the day before that there was an excessive amount of engine movement when pulling away, when looking for the cause i found that a pair of engine steady bushes were knackered! They were new 2 weeks ago! Luckily i'd brought a spare set, although i'm not holding my breath on them lasting that much longer, but it should be long enough.
Broken rad bracket and my "field fix" in place:
Minispares 'competition' engine steady bushes, and how they look after 2000 miles:
Me and Han had a chat, after the few little niggles with Tim, and with Italy being much more expensive than either of us had anticipated, the latter being far more significant! Petrol out here was varying from between 1.80 a litre up to 2 euros! Nearly all campsites wanted over 40 euros a night, and basically, we just couldn't afford it. Plus our plans for driving into Florence were buggered when we discovered that you couldn't, since it's a ZTL zone. So we decided to turn around, and head back north!
I got very excited when i found a 308 GTS in Italy, my favourite Ferrari:
Plus this bridge was pretty too:
And very steep, that's Han up ahead!:
View from the top:
Me, Han and the bear:
Somewhere in Italy:
A long story short, 2 days and over 1000 miles later, and after my first time driving on through the night, we are now just outside Bordeaux, in the south-west-ish of France. We are en-route to my uncles place in Lezay about 150 miles from where we are now. The pre-made plans are all up in the air at the moment as according to them we should be in Rome! Aaah well, these things happen.
Updates when we know whats happening!