Pig's Ear Park and Other Adventures

Month: May 2016 (page 1 of 3)

Hobbit references

Are made by David as he inserts the pikkies, he takes liberties with the descriptions even though I send hobbit less write ups.

Got my days wrong, tomorrow is the Industrialised area so going to wherever on the train.

Left Camaiore about 8.30 am thinking it would be a bit of an easy day-wrong!  At least it was fine and sunny,  now and again.

Staggered into a village called Montegiano (I think) around 11.30, coffee and pastry, and off again.  Missed the turn off mentioned in both maps and decided to follow the next Vf sign…..

I ended up close to the sky in a village called G??? Straight up and up and up, but a recent path, none of your cycle wrecked Roman stuff, even steps at times, some had to be negotiated on hands and knees but it was OK.

Then of course I had to come down, a few skids, a bit scary but eventually made it to the correct village.  Waited and waited for a bus, timetables are indicative only…

Lucca is a tourist trap pure and simple.

In a nice hotel but ate at the restaurant opposite last night.  Manky bits of steak and bone on hot rocks…no mention of hot rocks when I ordered, waiter could speak Itlish.

Moaned at the checkout said it was disgusting it was, spic young man looked disdainfully at me and said nobody had ever complained before.  Suggested he was telling a porky and stamped out; 35e for bits of stewing steak and dog bone and half a bottle of cheap plonk!

Checked my phone, today’s walk was 300feet higher than the nasty one…amazing.


Chucked it down with rain this am so came through to Camaoire with my bag.

Interesting corpus christi festival display made by locals from coloured sawdust.

Supposed to have been a parade but rain stopped play. Rain forecast for tomorrow as well.  Never had so much rain on a walk.
Went to a great organ recital last night, organist called Bernard Marx.Damp again this am but not raining ….yet



After the last really high part of the Apennines for this trip.

It started out all very nice and green and a bit steep out of Aulla.  I was going reasonably well when a man appeared beside me limping badly.   A swiss with tendinitis, but I think really it was just bad boots and socks and a badly adjusted pack.

Anyway he went at about my speed UNTIL WE HIT THE WORST OF IT.

It went up 500m and down 200m and it was steep and it did this twice.  Second time down 800m.  Swissy was very good he would wait for me to catch up then off we would go again.

It took over four hours to beat it and at times I thought I might cry,everything ached..stood with my head on my poles for a time….

Originally this was to be day one, just as well it was not, I would be on my way to Rome by train by now. Still there was wild holly and ivy loads of hellebores and the first cistus I have seen…they like rocky height obviously. Oh yes, lots of Roman road remains on the way into Aulla and again high up yesterday..they are not that easy to walk on nowadays…

[Jan,have a look at the hills to the left and behind La Spezia, thems the ones.]

Eventually made it to Saranza a very affluent town of about 600,000. No idea what supports it but golly there are some yummy old houses.  Found my way to the B&B, swissy still following..

I was hoping he would disappear, very kind on the hills but sod off.  B&B man was puzzled by his presence and in the end I said ‘go’ but he said you have a big bed… Yes and it is all for me…

We agreed to meet for dinner, difficult language wise so a quietish meal.

Then he met me again this morning . By the time we got to Carrara I suggested he would be much better going on a bit further as rain is predicted for the next four days.

We had a coffee in Carrara and thankfully of he went.. Think he may have been a bit ‘special’.

So Carrara and Carrara Marina have improved so much since we here about 15 years ago. The latter did not exist and now they are both quite upmarket.

I am in a funny B&B up the top of Carrara.  Seems OK but will be the second time the sheet sleeping bag has come out. Polyester sheets to match the white vinyl headboard.

The guides suggest using the train tomorrow as the next bit to Camiora is quite industrialised. Some fab marble sculpture around..

Act of kindness

Yesterday I moaned about my hips aching, 800m downhill will do that.  Today I have a 1000m straight up.   I was hobbling badly so went downtown Aulla , think Te Awamutu, looking for a Doctor sign.

Finally found one, but it was a paediatrician and a gynaecologist, never mind they would tell me where to go(!!).  Knocked on the first ones door, yes she could speak English, no she could not give me a cortisone jab, said I needed emergency.  So she took me there!!!

We marched, well me scurrying in a hobbling fashion, to the medical centre which deals with all sorts of things, general practice stuff and emergencies, no hospital here.

She knocked on doors and found two obviously emergency female medicos in their hi-vis gear. Out came my Doctors note with hip x-ray results plus general background.

Child doctor leaves.

Initially I thought I was going to get a jab in the buttocks but the date on the x-ray was a bit recent for another jab so I was prescribed cortisone pills, 2 for 2 days then down to half.

We smiled and waved in communication, they had a little English, a Doctor and a Nurse.  Gave me my prescription, no charge.  Most difficult thing was finding a Farmacia, usually they are all over the place, finally found one, total cost 8e…

So took my first two at 4 am today hoping they will kick in by about 8 am.  My only other experience with cortisone apart from the jab was prednisone (same family???) when I had chemo, made me into energiser bunny.

I felt very well treated.

PS: the emergency doctor’s daughter had recently spent a year in Melbourne

Men’s Hostel or Truckie Stop

I am in Aulla with four weeks and three days to go, not that I am counting…

Have a day off here thank heavens as my hips are killing me. Going to see if I can find a doctor for another magic jab.

The hotel I am staying in is family run, spot the disgruntled son in law, and caters by the look of it for truckies and wire salesmen, plus two old men who snarl at the staff…

But it is clean and tidy, food is mediocre.

Hopped into bed last night and there was a mini strobe light in the corner, heating control on the blink.   I am just four from reception so put my dressing gown on and stormed down there, reception full of truckies watching TV, night porter appeared to mutters of Inglese, me saying no New Zealand and stamped off with porter who proceeded to tie a black plastic bag over offending flashing light.

Asked the disgruntled son in law to look this morning, he took the bag off, twiddled and put it back on again!  Such are the joys of travelling.

Yesterday was actually a lovely walk, best since day one.   Very up and down though, up 300m down 300m but very pretty though woods.

Saw a snake, brown and moving about a metre long but skinny not like the brute we saw in india…i let this one have my side of the path.

Lovely village, Virgoletta, but nay coffee!!

Helebores growing in the wild and loads of primroses and violets but both had finished flowering.

Aulla was flattened in WW2 so is quite bland, suspect it is a Service centre…

Flashing time…

Have made myself terribly unpopular with the travel agent as I demanded some changes and I was not paying for them…
I mooched about Berceto for three days and two nights enough..

Set out yesterday for Montelungo and think I spent the night in a gothic movie: mad old man and even madder daughter.   Montelungo is purgatory…nothing there but a church, the Adams family, a farrier and no internet.

No internet today either in Pontremoli, except in a cafe, so I am drinking wine and using their internet and it is bloody cold.

Came down 800m in altitude this morning. On the road, not busy thank heavens.  Some lovely mountain scenery but my knees protested a bit…

Got lost getting into Pontremoli. Eventually found the B&B, another dreary one about one km out in the country.

So I decided that I would eat at lunchtime… found a neat restaurant “Da Busse”.  Lots of yummy nibbly things full of veggies and a pancake with herbs, water, one glass plonk. Cost: 20e.

However nice couple there, she British, him German. Of course the via Francigena is German!  Well, damn me, poor old Archbishop Sigric in 1100AD walking from Canterbury… Nah, foolish Margaret, it was Frankish knights in 800AD.

Another German in same restaurant…knew everything…silly me…he walked from Germany..

The flashing? Well, sitting have breakfast, mean and poor this morning, I looked up to see Mine decrepit Host open up his pants and flash a poor wee thing at me.  I never registered till later what had happened, just went on eating my breakfast.

Gosh I will be glad to be out of bandit and banjo country

Rain halts play…

Because of the rain, the creeks, etc, on the north side of the Cisa Pass were awash so I came with my luggage thru to the small mountain town of Berceto.

Rain again so stayed there two nights but planning on heading out today to Montelungo, only about 13km on the downward side of the pass.  Had made quite a fuss to get things changed! Never!
Anyway more rain so now the south side of the pass is awash.

So am going with my luggage this pm and hopefully will be able to walk the 18 ks to Pontremoil tomorrow.  No way was I going to walk on wet Italian roads again. Plus my legs were very sore after teetering on the edge of the asphalt for 18 odd kms on Friday.

Not a lot else quite frankly I am bored to tears, have read three books on my phone but only Italian TV, have not bothered to turn it on.

This Thursday I finally arrive, hopefully at Aulla which was going to be my original starting point.  Perhaps there will be more signs around…
Have walked over 250km and have five weeks to go… Let us hope the next five weeks are an improvement in more ways than one.

Cold as, wearing layers of merino.


Has a nice braided river and at least two middle aged women who do not like people who do not speak Italian.

First time I have ever had anyone abuse me for coming to a country without their language.  The other one was just dis-paring…  Guess it shows how very parochial they are up in this neck of the woods…

Today was supposed to be 33ks, like stink… I decided to start at Cella,  supposedly about 17km ended up doing 22km and all of that on a busy highway.

First creek I came to just out of Cella tried to drown my pole when I did an exploratory test.  I suspected it was deep as all the temporary bits people use to get across had been swept away. Dirty brown as well…  So walked on the road, think of between Te Puna and town with no verge and you get the idea, very scary.

I screeched in rage at one point when for the third time this trip I had a car head straight for me, not only that but the hoon of a passenger made a lunge at me.  Little turd…

Plodded on and on… got to Fornovo and rang the hotel 2km away to collect me, pretended he did not speak English.  Another family run hotel, pretty untidy.

Made a decision after reading the next two guides to flag the pass, too many streams and fording plus part of the track is a favourite spot for high speed motorbikes. Forget it!

Just hope the signage is better over the Apennines… I admit I am disappointed as the Cisa pass was one if my challenges, but fording waist high streams is not…

Oh yes, the taxi driver got more than he bargained for this morning.  Madam had to do a dive into the ditch on the side of the road… too wet for snakes I thought.. Not sure what brought it on, the roads are very rough with snow damage.

Castel Arquato to Fidenza

Nice day off yesterday, trotted up the equivalent of 9 flights to the old castle.  Does not matter from what angle you take the pikkie, they all look the same, well, old square brick castles look the same anyway.

The communications flew thick and fast regarding the guides to walking… I know one foot in front of the other…

Up and out into the rain this morning, climbed up and up…20 flights, if it had been sunny would have had lovely views.. Instead thunder and lots of forked lightning.

Two and half hours of it and I spied a restaurant…had a bar too, so coffee and a question re buses ….none…
Taxi? I squeaked…yes!!!! So 30e later I was in soggy Fidenza.

No TIM (phone people) in town so another 10e.  Girl in the TIM/vodafone shop was useless!  Was contemplating suicide or murder when Joan face timed me…
Could not hear her of course…she is going to rark up eol tomorrow.

Absolutely panic stricken at the thought of a mountain pass with dodgy guides to follow.

BUT I did see three actual Via Francigena signs on the way in to this quite dreary town….my room has a mauve nylon quilted bedspread..but it is warm and clean even if I am writing this sitting in bed with my down jacket on…yes v chilly out there…

Tomorrow is going to be wet again.  May just taxi some of it…

Culture, well I would say what I an seeing is everyday happenings, the coffee stops, the working in the fields, the slightly boring food and people just going about their daily lives as unremarkedly as we do, but our coffee is better.

Towns have the same sort of jobs and I bet the same, probably more so, pecking order that we have.   White haired old ducks get treated just as shabbily…till they snarl….

They drive faster and lots more of the older people ride bikes…


Am having technical and walking guide trouble!

My phone is still refusing to pick up eol and is also saying to people my mail box is full [David: because it was, but it is OK now].   I have sat for ages over the last few weeks deleting just did so again and think that probably no messages have been deleted.   Cannot even use the email just keeps saying message cannot be deleted while I am trying to write a new message..Hopefully David can help [David: I took a chainsaw to it :)].  I am days away now from a TIM office.

The walking guides for the last two days have been hopeless, walked 11 extra kms today because the dumbkopf guide twice said go right not left…  Think I will use the Lightfoot guidebook.

Joan could you email Sue to tell Theresa her guides for this bit are bad. There is absolutely no signage, this area dies not want stinky pilgrims!

Some nice scenery, getting hilly so do not want to get lost…weather is quite pleasant too
Sorry people no emails. Joan I wonder if you could try emailing me again and see if it bounces back…


« Older posts

© 2020 Manatu

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑