Friday, October 28, 2016

Up Into The Mountains or Trial By Y Turn On Single Lane Mountain Road

Ah yes, another day, another driving challenge. There is a lot Wife and I are growing to like about the Mediterranean coast as a place to come to which I will write about in more depth at a later date. However, what we are NOT growing to like is dealing with the ever present challenges of negotiating the driving and parking in this extremely mountainous part of the Med. Actually if you look at a contour map of the Med you will see that there the vast majority of the Mediterranean coast is fairly mountainous (with the exception of Libya and Egypt which are not high on our list of places we want to hang out in long-term).

Today we decided to try to go inland. There are all kinds of mountain towns in the areas inland of us...mainly because there are all kinds of mountains inland of us. Our research identified the French village of Saorge as one of the '40 prettiest villages of France'. As a bonus on our way back we stopped at another village, Briel sur Roya.

The actual drive to Saorge was not all that bad. It mostly followed the valley of the Roya river up from Ventimiglia. It was only the last couple of kilometers that went up the winding one lane (But Two Way Traffic!) road until you got to an place you could go no further. You had to park on the road (much as we did in Bussana Vecchia) and if you were smart you did the turning around to go downhill when you arrived so you were pointing downhill on the way out. I should note that this requires that you do a Y turn with exceedingly little space to maneuver and then parallel park with your standard transmission car going in reverse uphill.

I would like to take a brief interlude here to talk about 'old towns'. I'm sure you've noticed that we have been visiting a lot of 'old towns'. It took us a little while to realize this but in this part of the world there are a heck of a lot of people, I mean a heck of a lot, who live in 'old towns. These are usually not like St-Paul-de-Vence that have been made attractions unto themselves. These are just places where people live. As we've gone up and down these narrow streets and watched life, I've wondered, how do people get furniture in and out of them? Where do they park? How do they shop? What is the lifestyle like? It has to be very different from what is true for a lot of the rest of France and Italy. Both of the towns visited today are like that. They're living towns that get some tourism but tourism is not there reason for being.

So on to...

...Les Photos

Taking pictures in these old hill towns is a real challenge. The high narrow walls combined with the bright sunny skies mean you have this juxtaposition of deep shadow and bright areas that are murder to get exposed right. In the old days when I only took pictures with my cell phone, I generally didn't give a rip. But NOW that I am following the way of the Photo Yoda (Wife), I have learned to pay much more attention to these things.

On the way, there were some neat rock formations but the light was tough and only a few pictures were salvageable 

After our experience getting to the town and getting parked we were ready to go to this town which touts itself as being 'Between Sky and Land'
Also evidently 'Cherry Season'?
The view of the town as you look across from where we parked

We entered through one of the old town wall gates

There is a lot of climbing wandering through this town. 
It is noted because of the multiple levels and the way their are bridges across that will give access to an upper floor of a building from a road higher than the one the building is built on.

As with all these old towns we've visited there are the narrow streets, color, and combination of old and new.

And this town is definitely 'vertical' 
Here we are looking down at the town from one of its highest levels

Yes we are up in mountain territory

There were not a lot of lunch options in Saorge so we decided to head back and stop at the small town of Briel-sur-Roya for lunch (no food post - lunch was okay but nothing worth writing about)
After lunch we decided to walk around and were totally surprised to find ourselves in another old town because there is nothing written about this in any of the things we've researched about the area. 

But like so many of the towns there are interesting buildings and colors in small plazas and narrow streets. It's just however a place where people live.

And there was this nice shot across the Roya River to the new part of town

1 comment:

alexis said...

I was definitely wondering the same thing myself, I would love to know how people sustain themselves in those little towns. They are cute but cute don't pay for electricity and food.