Cuban President Raul Castro recently announced the abolishment of the country’s two tiered monetary system over the next 18 months. The currency used by tourists, peso convertibles (CUC) will be phased out allowing the country to go with a single currency, the Cubano Peso.
Day Five of our Mediterranean Cruise with Crystal Cruise Lines brings us to St.Tropez. Like Monte Carlo, this is another playground for the rich and famous! St.Tropez is another beautiful little beach community on the French Riviera. It is not that big, at least the tourist areas. However, in the summer months this place is packed with mostly European vacationers. They say it is difficult to move in the crowds or find a street café with an empty seat. So, we were happy to arrive in late September!
St.Tropez was made famous when a young Brigitte Bardot showed up to film the movie, And God Created Women in 1956. St.Tropez has also been the host of famous painters, including Signac and Matisse.
We didn’t have a long stay in St.Tropez, just an afternoon to stroll along the boat docks and do a little window shopping. There are some fabulous boutiques with beautiful clothes with a price tag to match I am sure. We did sit and relax in the warm sun at a street café to enjoy an afternoon mocha chino.
We were fortunate to be in Monte Carlo during the yacht show. This day, we are in the midst of sailing yachts. AT 1PM, the horn sounded for the afternoon race of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez. This is a weeklong regatta with a few hundred ships participating. It was very cool to see all the crews in their matching uniforms heading out to the Bay of St.Tropez for the big race. The prize to the winner is the Rolex Cup of course!
Day three of our Crystal Cruise brings us to La Spezia. This is a smaller city on the west coast of Italy. More importantly, it is the starting point of our journey into Cinque Terre!
Cinque Terre, or five villages, is situated on the rugged west coast of the Italian Riviera. The five villages, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso have been declared world UNESCO cites and as such attract a lot of world travellers. Each of these villages is absolutely gorgeous. Similar in size, these picturesque hamlets all sit along the shores of the Mediterranean.
The villages of Cinque Terre are relatively close together so getting to each is not too difficult. You can easily travel by ferry or you can travel by train. A third option for those with a little more energy is to hike to all five. This journey usually takes about six hours and ranges in degree of difficulty from easy to challenging. Most people we spoke to, and a varied age group it was, said it was fantastic! All raved of the splendid views and wonderful scenery they enjoyed as they traversed the well groomed hiking paths.
Our choice was to travel by train. A twelve Euro ticket allowed you to hop on and off the train as you wished. The trains were fairly frequent so you never had to wait too long for the next one. However, at times the train was quite full and on occasion, things got very cramped! Fortunately, the time between most villages was only 5 to 7 minutes.
Certainly each village was beautiful and quaint with lovely cafes and shops. Each had splendidly bright coloured homes perched on the cliffs. Monterosso had a lovely beach and Corniglia sat above the coast with gorgeous views of the aquamarine waters. Our favourite was Vernazza. A little beach as well as Mediterranean waves rolling up against some rocks added to the magical ambiance of Vernazza. Sitting in a wonderful little street café enjoying the sun and local wines certainly added to this wonderful oasis in our world.
We are sailing in the Mediterranean on the beautiful Crystal Serenity. Our cruise began in Monte Carlo and will conclude in Barcelona.
What can I tell you about Monte Carlo! Not only is it beautiful but it is an incredibly wealthy place. I have never seen so many Rolls Royces, Bentleys and Ferarris in a city square. Of course, they are all parked outside the stunning Monte Carlo Casino. A contributing factor to the oppulence was that this past weekend was the annual Monte Carlo Yacht Show. There were more huge yachts than there were expensive cars! At the conclusion of the yacht show, all the vessels sounded their horns. While you would think that would be incredibly annoying, it was actually quite symphonic as it resounded through the bay. I have attached a video of this which really doesn't capture the true beauty of the variety of ships' horns.
Ixtapa Travel Staff