Sunday, October 24, 2010

Arrivederci from Siena

Well, we're just about ready to wrap up this trip.

We've spent the last day and a half exploring and re-exploring Siena, a medieval town in Italy that we first visited on our honeymoon nearly five years ago. It's been slow-paced, relaxing couple of days, and a great way to wrap up our trip.

Last night we went back to one of the same restaurants we'd visited on our honeymoon, and had another great meal to go with our great memories of the place.

Today we started with a visit to the Duomo di Siena, a gigantic 13-century cathedral. The sheer scale of the place and attention to every intricate detail was really amazing.

Following that we climbed to the top of Torre del Mangia, the enormous 13th-century tower looming over the town square.

We had originally done this on our honeymoon, so it was really fun to retrace our steps. After the 400-step climb to the top, the view from the top was every bit as incredible as we remembered it.

We wrapped up the afternoon with a late lunch, some further wandering around the old parts of the city, and a quick call home to talk to our little girl (who we miss like crazy). After that we headed out for what was probably our most enjoyable dinner yet, at Antico Osteria da Divo, where we ate in old Etruscan caves under the city. On our walk back to the hotel I couldn't help but snap one final shot of the tower in Piaza del Campo:

This was the last full day of exploring and "touristy things" on our trip; from here, it's about ten hours of train rides tomorrow back to Nice, and then a flight home on the following day.

It's with mixed feelings; we've had an incredible time, and part of us doesn't want it to end. Still, another part of us is ready to sleep in our own bed again, and get a big hug from our adorable little girl. :)

That's all for now! Thanks for reading :)


Saturday, October 23, 2010

i'm moving to cinque terre

I'm not sure either words or pictures can capture the beauty of the Cinque Terre. As a national park, it's a rather peculiar juxtaposition between jagged cliffs, terraced vinyards, near-vertical villages and the mediterranean. I've never seen any place like it.

Riomaggiore, where we stayed at Casa Lorenza, takes the shape of an amphitheatre to the sea. Our first day in Cinque Terre, we decided we would start with the via dell'amore, the walking path between Riomaggiore and Manarola.

This is the most heavily travelled path, most likely because it is both relatively wide and relatively flat. Tourists were a dime a dozen on this section of the path. There is a tradition where couples leave a padlock on the via dell'amore and then throw the key into the sea, to wish for a blessing of eternal love (no, we didn't do this...both because we weren't aware, and even if we had been, I don't do superstition anyway). About halfway to Manarola (which is only a 20 minute walk anyway), we came across a cafe that had patrons nearly dangling over the Mediterranean. It looked pretty awesome, so we stopped and had a bite to eat. The food was nothing to write home about, but the setting more than made up for it. ;)

We wandered through Manarola, and then hopped aboard a train to Corniglia (the path between Manarola and Corniglia was closed due to rock slides....which you could see from the village. Yikes!

When we got to Corniglia, we were a bit surprised to discover that not only is the train station about 1/2 km outside of the town....but most of the walk is straight up (382 steps....most of which are long, upward slanting steps).

Definitely a bit of a hike to hilltop Corniglia. Again, an amazing little town. I'm still baffled that people ever decided that this would be a suitable place to live!!!!!! After seeing a bit of Corniglia, we set out on our one longer hike, the trek to Vernazza (4 km). Brad was pretty shocked I even did this, because while the via dell'Amore was both flat and wide, this particular track was neither. It had us climbing up high into the cliffs, and on a 2 foot wide path at the edge of a cliff down to the Mediterranean. Pretty awesome. This hike took us about 2 hours.

Vernazza seems bigger than the other towns, and had a great shore-side patio, where we enjoyed a couple of well-deserved grande birra.

After this, we trained back to Riomaggiore, where we enjoyed a fantastic seafood pasta dinner. Oh, and we also sat on our balcony and watched the sunset while sipping local wine. It just doesn't get better. (Here's another shot of our apartment in Riomaggiore; the bottom half was all ours):

Yesterday, our last full day in Cinque Terre, I had it in my head that I really wanted to go swimming in the Mediterranean. I've stuck my feet in a couple of times (Valencia, Nice), but given my refusal to travel during high season, I've never really been around it on a day where it made sense to actually swim. Yesterday was about 22C and sunny, which was totally good enough for me. We took the train to Monterosso al Mare (the last of the five cities, and the only one with a relatively flat, relatively sandy beach) and enjoyed our dip in the sea.

Okay, we may have been pretty much the only people in the water, but it certainly was no colder than an Ontario lake on May 2-4, so I paddled around for about half an hour. :)

To cap off our Cinque Terre visit, we took the ferry back to Riomaggiore, affording us a seaside vantage point of each of the five villages.

It was amazing to see where we had been, to reminisce about our hike (which from the sea looks way more insane than it seemed at the time), and to grasp, yet again, the utter unique beauty of the Cinque Terre.

Again, there's no way pictures could ever give you a true appreciation of this area. You have to come here and visit it, preferably while you still have the knees/lungs to do it.

Today was a travel day to Siena, and we're just about to go out to dinner to Medio Evo, a restaurant we visited nearly five years ago on our honeymoon, a meal we STILL talk about to this day. We'll let you know tomorrow if it lived up to our memories.

Bye Cinque Terre!


Thursday, October 21, 2010

From Sunrise to Sunset

I'm typing this while sipping my morning coffee on the private terrace of our apartment in Riomaggiore, overlooking the Mediterranean. Above the sound of the waves I can hear the church bells chime that it's 10 o'clock. This is our view:

This place is all kinds of awesome :)

Yes, we finally made it out of Corsica yesterday. We were up before the sun, walked down to the port, and were shocked to ACTUALLY SEE A FERRY THERE. Woohoo! So we got on board, walked up to the top deck, and watched the sun come up over the Mediterranean.

It was 7:30am, and the beginning of a long but ultimately successful day of travel that brought us to Riomaggiore, in the Cinque Terre of Italy.

The ferry got us into Livorno, Italy, a few hours later. This is apparently the city of no taxis, because it was impossible to find one. After walking several blocks with our luggage we managed to get on a local bus and made our way to the train station across town.

The train system in Italy is awesome. We took three different trains to get here (Livorno - Pisa, Pisa - La Spezia, La Spezia - Riomaggiore). Each one was on time, and left about 15 minutes after the previous one, so the trip was as smooth as it could have possibly been. To top it all off, by pure coincidence, Lorenza (owner of the apartment where we were staying) was waiting for us at the train station when we arrived! So we were able to load our luggage into her tiny car and get a lift to the apartment. This was great, because the streets and pedestrian paths are so steep here that (as Lorenza says), it's a five minute walk down, or a 20-minute walk up :)

I also have to say for the record that I have the utmost respect for Lorenza's driving abilities. The streets are not only steep but ridiculously narrow in places, even for a tiny car. Without exaggeration, we went through a couple of spots where it seems like I could have reached my arms out and touched both sides of the street at once. The side-mirrors of the car just lightly scraped both walls at once, and we were through. Craziness!

Anyways, enough about the travel; let me tell you about the place. We're staying for three days in the southernmost of the five villages of Cinque Terre. There are thousand-year-old hiking paths between each villages, which we plan on exploring today. Our apartment here not only has an incredible postcard view, but is about a five-minute walk from practically everywhere in town.

I say "apartment" instead of "room" because we actually have a little kitchen and dining area, on top of our terrace and garden outside. For a change of pace, we opted to buy a few groceries and have dinner here instead of going out last night. Leslie even picked some fresh rosemary from our garden to compliment her pasta sauce. It was a nice, laid-back evening that we capped off by watching the sun set over the Mediterranean.

This morning, for some inexplicable reason, I was wide awake just before 6:00am (note: this is not like me at all). I got up, threw on a coat, and walked out onto our terrace to take a look at the village at night. It was very peaceful and utterly quiet, except for the waves rolling in. And because this place is in the middle of a national park, there isn't much light pollution from nearby cities, so the sky was full of stars. I stood outside for maybe 20 minutes and saw seven shooting stars streak across the sky. Incredible experience.

So now we're off to explore the surrounding villages! Not sure when we'll check in again because the only wifi here seems to be at the train station. Ciao!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

so maybe there will still be a ferry...

So I think we might be able to leave Corsica tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

We spent most of the day on tenterhooks, but it *appears* that the ferry tomorrow will in fact be leaving from Bastia (so we are rebooked at the Bastia Best Western) and so, in theory, we should be aboard at 8Am tomorrow morning, on our way to Livorno. In a perfect world, by the time anyone actually reads this (8AM EST?) we'll be in Livorno, on a train, on our way to Riomaggiore, in the Cinque Terre.

Today was pretty interesting. We slept in, knowing that nothing would be solved this morning, and then tentatively checked out of the hotel, stowed our bags, and wandered to the Old Port to kill a couple of hours over a Coca Light (Diet Coke) and a book or two.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch of lebanese food, and then returned to the hotel. On our way, we dodged the 'jeunes casseurs' (young hooligans), avoided the fireworks, rock throwing and tear gas. Nowhere but in France can this sort of unified mobilization happen.

Our hotel is right next to one of the only gas stations in Bastia that still has any fuel, and has been dealing with roadblocking line-ups all day.

At 2 pm we started calling Corsica Ferries, hoping they would have made some sort of executive decision. My 2 p.m. call brought me the news that even if the ferry was to leave from Ile Rousse (instead of Bastia), there would be a bus going from Bastia at 6 a.m. to make the 8 a.m. ferry. So we decided to rebook a room at the Best Western and stay there.

When I called again at 7, I was informed that the ferry was almost certainly leaving from Bastia. I am not ashamed to admit that I pulled my best impression of a wronged frenchwoman and called again at 7:30 and 7:45 just to make sure. I think we will be out of this merde tomorrow and belle et bien on an actual ferry at 8 a.m. Again, still fingers crossed.

After this encouraging news, Brad and I strolled down to the port and enjoyed another deeeelicious meal at Les Zephyrs -, a Corsican/Italian restaurant near the Old Port. As with our first visit (two nights ago), the welcome was warm and the food delicious. We even left with wishes for a 'corsican baby' ringing in our ears, after showing off pictures of little miss Z. LOL.

Anyway, the only complaint we could possibly have about this restaurant is the incredibly generous portions. And even then, the proprietaire assured us that she feeds all the leftovers to her farm animals. Thank goodness, because despite our best efforts, there was no consuming the sheer portion size we were served.

Anyway, I'm about to snooze and get ready for an early AM departure on the a bright yellow ferry. We shall see.....

Tomorrow (in theory): Riomaggiore.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Good news and bad news...

So first the bad news: our outbound ferry was cancelled tomorrow, so for the time being we're stranded in Corsica.

The good news: we're stranded on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean!! I mean, it's hard to be upset about that. Look at this place:

So let's backtrack... it's been a day of surprises. We left our hotel in Bastia this morning intending on taking the train to Corte - a scenic student town in the heart of Corsica. We soon found out that the regular train was out of service; we'd be taking a bus.

The trip took about two hours and consisted mainly of a trip through the wilderness of Corsica; endless jagged peaks and lush vegetation, punctuated by the occasional village along the way. We lucked out with the weather; it rained for most of the trip, but cleared up just as we were arriving.

From the moment we arrived at the train station at the foot of Corte, our eyes were fixed on the citadel immediately visible high above the town. And of course, we had to climb up to see it. :) But first, lunch...

We enjoyed a nice wild-boar lasagna, and again got lucky with the weather; it rained most of the time while we were inside eating, but cleared up just as we finished lunch.

So after a bite to eat, we headed off to climb this...

...or at least, we tried. As it turns out, the citadel can only be accessed via a museum, and that museum is closed every Monday! Not to worry though; we found another lookout, and made the best of it.

Mid-afternoon we took a break for a beer near the center of town. As it turns out, this was very fortunate because
a) it had free wireless internet
b) Leslie discovered (via said wireless internet) that our ferry to Italy tomorrow was cancelled

So, thanks to the wonders of iPhones, wireless internet, and Skype, Leslie got on the phone with the ferry company and tuned them up. Who cancels a ferry with less than 24 hours notice?? Still, nothing could be done. More on that later.

After an afternoon of wandering the town we headed back to the train station. There, the were informed that it would indeed be a bus taking us back to Bastia. Then a train showed up. Then we were told we were taking a train back to Bastia. Ok then!

The train trip back was fun... there were a couple spots where we went over rickety old train bridges that had us both holding our breath and thinking "whoa..." :)

So anyways, now we're back at our hotel, and wondering what tomorrow has in store for us. From what we're able to find out on the news, it seems that the dock workers here in Bastia are continuing their strike tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. So we're tentatively thinking that we're going to be heading across the island to Ile Rousse (about an hour away by bus), and hopefully catching the ferry from there the next morning. We'll see I guess!


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Good to be leaving France soon...

Just a quick update - latest headline news in France:

"Gas stations across France were reported to be running out of fuel on Sunday as strikes at refineries and oil depots threatened to cause widespread shortages."

Glad it wasn't an issue when we were driving around in the rental car! :)

Things I Want to Eat

Greetings from Corsica!

This morning we were up bright and early to leave our amazing hotel in Saint-Laurent du Verdon, where we've had some of the best food on our trip thus far. Fantastic place.

So we jumped in our rental car and enjoyed another hour or so of hairpin turns through the hills and valleys of Provence, passing by vineyard after vineyard on our way. Eventually we joined the main highway and took it straight into the Nice airport to return our car. Thankfully, despite all of the protests, blockades, and fuel shortages going on in France right now, we were on our way without incident.

After a quick lunch we flew out of the Nice airport to Bastia, which was about a 40-minute flight on a small plane. A shuttle bus (we were the only passengers!) took us right to the train station, which was just a short walk from our hotel.

We headed out from the hotel in the late afternoon and explored the old port, which was beautiful. We spent quite a while wandering out along the piers, checking out little side streets, and hiking up to the top of town for the best view.

P.S. for the record, that's not some weird mark on Leslie's forehead; it's just dust on our lens.

After a long hike we grabbed a seat on a patio and enjoyed a well-deserved Kronenbourg 1664 as the sun went down.

When the temperature got a little chilly we headed out in search of a restaurant, and didn't have to look far. We settled on a little place near the port; Leslie had a pizza (a local specialty, no doubt an influence of nearby Italy) and I had wild boar. Cross another animal off the list of "Things I Want to Eat." :)

After that we headed back to our hotel, where we continued with our habit of sipping local French wines from little plastic hotel cups. :)

Tomorrow promises to be another interesting day; we're taking a little train which travels very slowly through the mountains to Corte (which is nearly smack in the middle of Corsica) and spending the afternoon there. Sadly the forecast is calling for a bit of rain, but to be fair, we've had near-perfect weather up until now, so I guess we're due for a bit of rain. We'll just break out the jackets and umbrella if necessary and make the best of it.

That's all for now!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

the verdon has its ups and its downs

We spent today exploring the Park naturel du Verdon, a region of France we really weren't familiar with, and one that we visited only because Brad happened to come across a photo of a town so breathtaking, we decided we had to go see it (Moustiers-Sainte-Marie). So we're here.

So, on Friday, we left Gordes, and headed for the switch-back filled 200 km trip (give or take) to Saint Laurent du Verdon. Verdon is a huge natural park region featuring a plateau, canyons, valleys and mountains. It's pretty awesome. Our hotel is a 17th century olive mill that has been transformed into a 'hotel au naturel' which means that they have a commitment to the environment and to supporting local industry. The village of Saint Laurent du Verdon is a bit of a ghost town (only sign of life was three older gentlemen engrossed in an intense match of petanques). No commerce whatsoever this time of year, aside from the hotel and an adjacent B&B.

Being a little trepidatious of night-time travel through the narrow switchback roads, we opted to have dinner at the hotel last night. We were absolutely not disappointed - the meal was amazing, starting with a pissaladiere tart, then with roasted veal, local cheeses and a delicious apple cake for dessert. I won't enumerate the bottles of wine we consumed, but I will say we weren't up terribly early this morning.

Our mission for the day today was to find Moustiers Sainte Marie (the town that brought us to the Verdon region in the first place), but we also figured it would be good to see what else we could explore. Now, this region really is known for its outdoor activities, and neither Brad nor I are terribly outdoorsy (not so big on hiking, fishing, mountain biking, etc.).

We ended up starting our day in Riez, a town about 10 km or so from our hotel, because today was market day. This was definitely a market to behold - local products of every description, just begging to be tasted and purchased. I resisted most of them, only because for the rest of the trip, I'm going to have to carry my backpack everywhere (no more car after tomorrow!) and I didn't want to haul around an extra 10 pounds of goodies. Sigh. I wonder if I could have shipped them.

Anyway, we were wandering through this quaint little town when we spotted a suspiciously brand-new looking staircase. And Brad, being a guy, wanted to climb it. So we climbed to the top. And then there was another staircase. So we climbed that one to the top. And then it became a narrow winding path (still going up at a steep pitch). So we climbed it too (why not, right?). Eventually, we found ourselves at the top of a small mountain (Mont Saint Maxime - Riez is a valley village, unlike the hilltop villages we were visiting in the Luberon). At the top, there was a beautiful park, giant trees, benches and (surprise!) a nunnery attached to a XVIe century church. Pretty cool. And not what we were expecting. Totally worth the climb.

We picked our way back down the mountain/hill and back through the village. We decided that we would head to Sainte-Croix du Verdon for lunch. It is perched above the edge of a manmade lake, Lac de Sainte Croix. Our trip to Sainte Crois was not without its bit of adventure. While gingerly working our way down the switchbacks into the village, we managed to be witness to a car accident. Coming up the hill was a porsche club, and one of the drivers took the corner a bit too wide and slammed into the tow truck directly in front of us. French macho culture being what it is, both drivers immediately jumped out and immediately starting decrying the other's driving skills. And of course all of the Porsche driver's friends immediately starting yelling at the poor tow truck driver. We saw it all clearly though. The Porsche jumped the line and the mess of broken glass and crumpled porsche (which crumples like tin, btw) was clearly on the left side of the road. Sorry buddy. We stayed long enough for Brad to give a signed statement (while the Porsche drivers were glaring at us...eeek!) and then made our way down to the Lac de Sainte Croix.

For all that the lake is manufactured, the beauty is still quite arresting. We enjoyed a casual lunch of sandwiches and beer while on a patio perched hundreds of feet directly above the shore. The colour of the lake was reminiscent of the bright blue of a glacial lake...not sure how that came about, but it is really pretty. So of course we had to climb down to the lake.

The trip down was pretty quick, and we enjoyed a nice walk along the rocky shore, and enjoyed the incredible mountain vistas. The trip up was definitely a good workout though. Ooof. I think I'll probably be sore tomorrow.

Winding our way even MORE carefully up the switchback roads, we continued to Moustiers Sainte Marie. WOW. We got an incredible view of the town from across the valley and the way it clings to a barren cliff just makes your jaw drop.

Woah. Pictures can't even do it justice. It's awesome.

We climbed the roads into Moustiers Sainte Marie, wove our way through the narrow streets to find a parking spot. Of course, like all places, our mission was to climb, and we wanted to climb to a chapel that stood most of the way up the mountain that houses Moustiers. And we, uh....well, we kinda took a wrong turn.

There IS a nice path with railings, etc., that goes up to the chapel. Still a lot of climbing, but nothing near the vertigo inducing trip we had.

Nope, we took the alternate route, via the 'grotto'. Instead of railings, we had amazing views and stomach curdling drops. Okay, maybe just *my* stomach. This route is not for the faint of heart. It did, however, eventually get us to Notre Dame de Beauvoir, but I have to admit to more than a few moments of gut-wrenching fear on the way there. *Note to parents - it wasn't ACTUALLY dangerous. I'm just a weenie who is terrified of heights. The path was plenty wide.

Anyway, the view was utterly worth it and really put us in awe of the people who founded the town in the 5th century and who built an entire church halfway up a mountain. That takes an incredible amount of dedication and faith and it's really quite humbling.

Now we are back to our hotel, waiting for dinner to start (not until 8!), so we thought we would update our blog. :) Again, we thought it best to eat at our hotel's amazing restaurant, and avoid all the late night switchbacks. Our hostess here also tells us that wild boars are a bit of a danger too. So we're glad to sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the night.

Tomorrow: Flight to Bastia, Corsica. :)


Thursday, October 14, 2010

bathroom in a cave

Well, I'll be honest; today was pretty spectacular. We were up with the sun but had no firm plans for the day, so we asked the hotel manager for some recommendations. Out came a map and a pen, and he described a handful of nearby villages that we might find interesting. So off we went.

First stop was Roussillon, which was maybe a 15 minute drive from Gordes. Amazing place. Like Gordes, it's essentially a town built into the side one of a rocky hill, with an expansive valley of farms and vineyards below it. Roussillon is known as an 'ochre' town, so the entire town takes its palette from the red earth of the surrounding hilltops. And no joke, we even saw an ochre 'swatch' wall on a building under construction. Narrow, uneven roads cut through the town randomly, barely wide enough for a vehicle most of the time. Occasionally we came across a set of steep stone steps providing a shortcut straight up to a higher level of the village. The roots of these places go back hundreds and hundreds of years, so it's pretty amazing to experience. We checked out the market and Leslie got herself a scarf so she could fit in better with the locals. :)

After taking in Roussillon for a couple of hours, we made our way to Bonnieux, which is officially one of the "most beautiful villages in all of France." It did not disappoint. Much like Roussillon, it offered stunning views of the surrounding countryside, and many points of interest within the city walls.

We had a nice late lunch here, and then headed out to find a vinyard.

Ten minutes later, we were in Chateau la Canorgue, tasting wines. It is located just outside of
Bonniex, and its estates included a castle where the owners lived. How cool is that? (Leslie thought it was tres cool)

Last, we hit Menerbes, which again was similar to Roussillon/Bonnieux, but unique in its own way. We soaked in the views from the top of the village, but our feet were starting to get sore from the climbs so we headed back to Gordes.

On our way back, we made one final detour; we stopped at an old (11th-century) Abbey (Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire). It may have been isolated, but man it had one spectacular view. And P.S. Leslie found a bathroom in a cave. Yes, a flush toilet built into the side of a cliff. But no toilet paper. That's another story.

Now we're back at the hotel, which doubles as a restaurant, having dinner and resting our feet.

Tomorrow: St-Laurent de Verdon.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

holy crap. Gordes is awesome.

This morning, we dragged our sorry jet lagged carcasses out of bed in Nice, had a great breakfast at our hotel (Hotel Star - totally recommend it for the budget traveller). Then we wandered our way through vieux Nice to the car rental location. It was really nostalgic for us, as we were revisiting many of the places we saw and remembered from our honeymoon in 2006. Very cool.

It was a little hairy getting out of Nice as the roads are a bit of a maze, and our supposed GPS was not working at all (it would work long enough to 'reroute' us and then shut down...soooo not helpful). Anyway, through grit, determination, and no small amount of foul language, we managed to get ourselves on the A8 and en route to Gordes.

The trip to Gordes was relatively uneventful, but the arrival was fabulous. Brad has been basically counting down the arrival to Cinque Terre and had essentially dismissed the proven├žal portion of our trip.

Arriving in Gordes stopped him short, however. The spectacular vista over the Luberon, and the panoramic view of the Gordes' hilltop is enough to impress even the most blase traveller. It is so incredible to see homes built right into the hill top, and remparts and rows of houses clinging to a medieval fortress. Very cool. I'm going to try to upload one photo, but I have so many others that I can't wait to share.

Once we arrived to our hotel (the Domaine de L'Enclos), we checked in, wandered through the fabulous grounds (with the proprietaire pointing out fig, olive and almond trees on the way in). We then wandered to the old city, meandering through near-vertical cobblestone streets, and enjoying cliff top patio beers (including two daily memberships to the Cercle de la Republique) and enjoyed a phenomenal provencal feast at Le Clos de Gustave. I'm so full. And I'm feeling a food coma coming on.

Hope you enjoy the photo. Wish I could share more, because this is some of the most incredible scenery I've ever seen.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We're Here!

Well, we've made it. After killing a couple of hours in the Montreal airport bar we had an uneventful KLM flight from Montreal to Amsterdam (on the "Moeder Theresa").

We had a slight delay with our connecting flight to Nice. As it happens, there's a nation-wide strike in France today (great timing), which includes all buses, electric rail, and even some airspace flying restrictions. Fortunately the folks at KLM were quick to adapt, and we ended up taking a slightly longer route through Germany and Italy before circling around and approaching the Nice airport from the south. It was actually a really scenic trip as we got an amazing view of the Alps stretching up through the thick clouds.

(I'll admit, it pains me to upload any photos straight from the camera without cleaning them up in Photoshop first... so in this blog you're just going to see photos from our point-and-shoot and our iPhones).

Even with the strike we had no trouble getting a cab to our hotel, which is pretty much what we expected - small, simple, and clean. Despite the sounds from the protest outside we were able to squeeze in a few hours of sleep in the afternoon. We're just about to head out and stretch our legs and find a place for dinner.

Tomorrow we rent a car and head towards Gordes, France! Not sure what the free-wifi situation is out there, so this might be the last update for a couple days. Hope everyone is doing well back home!