Antibes & Parking

Our next destination was a town called Antibes.

We left Aix-en-Provence after breakfast and took A8. The sky was a little overcast but we were grateful because it was not raining.

As I mentioned before, the general weather in France during our holiday last year was volatile to say the least. In Northern France especially, they had lots of flooding and also sudden hails brought about lots of damage to the vineyards in Southern France. During our last night at Aix-en-Provence, we heard through an open window, the rain drops hitting the leaves of the lime trees lining the street while watching an evening news. ‘Oh god! Look mom!!’ The scene on TV was extraordinary – the flash flooding causing havoc to Paris metro! The murky water was gushing into the entrance of the station and some of the unfortunate passengers who caught up in the event were taking off their shoes and trudging up the stairs. Mom and I both agreed that we were very lucky regarding the weather so far.

As we got nearer to Saint-Tropez, the passing vegetation changed to palm trees…

We came off A8 at Les Moulins and followed D35 towards Antibes. At one of the roundabouts along the route, we saw a rotunda-like apartment building…

It’s so 60’s like, don’t you agree? A very groovy looking building. I liked it very much.

Locating the entrance to a public car park was a little troublesome. We ended up driving around aimlessly along maze-like streets…

Eventually, we managed to untangle ourselves from the labyrinth and found the approach to the underground car park.

The car was parked at a bay number, 2082!

Mom and I were very happy to be out of the maze…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Le Castellet

This Brexit business is really eating me up. The past two years, I have been have been wrenched and depressed because of the mess. When will this status quo end? And what will happen next? I have had enough of this nonsense!

BTW, I am a firm Remainer, Ok? And I LOVE EUROPE!! All the Europeans I have come across in & out of the U.K are dismayed by those Brexiteers. While the world faces much bigger threats, such as the climate change, why do we allow those small-minded politicians to manipulate us in order to satisfy their selfish ambitions?

During the present uncertainty, what can I help me to lessen the anxiety over the impending global doom? Focusing on what I can protect and nurture and staying positive. I should be thankful for my ordinary happiness and be kind to my fellow living creatures. And of course, I should keep up with my blog! Recalling what a fabulous time mom and I had in France will be a great remedy for my present pessimism.

After our lunch at Cassis, we headed to our next destination, Le Castellet.

The village was about 27km away from Cassis and it took us about 40 minutes to drive.

When we arrived at a visitor’s carpark, it was empty. ‘It’s so quiet, isn’t it?’ Mom looked around as she put on a hat. As we stepped out of the carpark, we saw a group of appeared to be German tourists, climbing back into a coach with a German numberplate.

‘So where is the village?’ There was no obvious signage to the place. Still, I reckoned it must have been at the end of ascending road we were on.

So I was right! We reached the outskirt of the village.

We got slightly sweaty because the sun was strong and the climb was rather steep.

A light breeze and the beauty of scenery around us was a reward for the effort…

The entrance to the village…

The village has a long history – it is more than 2000 years old. The first settlers were the Celts, then invading Romans and barbarians, and the next settlers were the Saracens. Eventually, the old settlement on the hill was officially recorded as Castellarium in 1030.

The location of Castellet was important for defending and communication throughout its long existence. It became a part of the Gallo-Roman empire, and during the Medieval times, it became a protected township which belonged to the Baux and King René of Anjou…

Mom and I walked towards a village centre…

Looking back the entrance…

What is the meaning of those plants hung upside down? We wondered. Are they some sort of talismans?

Streets of the mediaeval villages are narrow and the ones in Le Castellet were no exception. Most of the streets we walked on were barely wide enough for a van. It would be a huge logistic headache for any builder who worked on building projects around here, I thought.

As we got closer to the village centre, we started to see more gift shops…

One thing I found rather disappointing was a lack of originality in the merchandise they sold. So far, we saw nearly identical gifts, especially, tea towels and soft furnishings, at every village and town we visited.

Cafes and restaurants were closed until dinner time…

Ice cream shops were open though.

A church was the tallest building in the village…

The inside was comfortably cool.

Spotlessly clean cobbled street. How civilised! I wished if the streets around Shoreditch were free from litter like Le Castellet…

Lush blooms and green were everywhere to be seen. Unlike me, who is not interested in gardening, Mom loves looking after flowers and plants. So she was happy to see those well-tended hanging baskets and flower beds.

We decided to head back to our car…

Ahhh, a Chihuahua!

Are you enjoying a quiet afternoon? My late Chihuahua, Mr.B, loved chilling out on a pavement during summer days too…

Then, we met two Yorkies! Oh, how I missed my Bella in London…

So, our visit to Le Castellet was over…

There was a souvenir shop outside of the village wall and a large dog was chilling out by the door…

Postcards and fridge magnets on sale. Even though their style wasn’t my cup of tea but they looked cute en masse.

Quiet early summer afternoon…

Mom, we are almost there. She was a bit tired after negotiating steep ups and downs of Le Castellet.

We returned to Aux-en-Provence after making a quick detour to stock up at Carrefour.

Next day, we were heading to Antibes!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Restaurant Angelina, Cassis

For lunch at Cassis, mom decided to treat me at Angelina which was on Avenue Victor Hugo. The restaurant was well known in the town, especially for their bouillabaisse – a traditional Provençal fish stew.

We were ushered to a terraced dining area in the back of the restaurant.

It must have been to do with the timing of our visit – during an ordinary weekday’s afternoon, there weren’t many diners, only two couples apart from us two.

A waiting staff brought us a plate of crispy breads and a jar of olive paste.

It was a hot day and mom enjoyed a glass of chilled beer and I had a glass of Evian – someone had to drive, you see?

As a starter, we shared their famed bouillabaisse.

Well, the stew did differ from our expectation. We expected it to be one of those typical bouillabaisse which would arrive laden with shellfish and fish meat in tomato based broth. However the one ladled into our bowls was all brown and very thick liquid. ‘Bon appétit!’, mom and I both looked at each other as soon as the smiley waiter left our table. ‘Is this the bouillabaisse?!’ I dipped a spoon and tasted the liquid. Mmmm, the stew was very rich and flavoursome. Mom tasted a mouthful too and agreed enthusiastically, ‘Oh dear, it is very intense, isn’t it?’

After the stew, we had tempra of sardines with red pepper purée…

Risotto of scallops…

And pan-fried swordfish…

It was a feast!

After lunch, we did some gift shopping at one of town’s confectionaries and headed back to a car park.

Now, we must hurry because we have another place of interest on our itinerary!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Cassis Calanques Cruise

Oh my god, more than a year has passed since I visited Cassis with mom! I really must continue with our chronicle or otherwise all the details will fade from my memory…

Since I came back from Japan, I plunged into my No.1 passion, hockey!

I miss my mom but I am also relieved to be back into my normality in London. 😊🏒💕

Now then, I shall jog my memory and report about our mini cruise around Cassis’s spectacular inlets.

During the peak season, cruise ships left every fifteen minutes and the tickets were bought from the ticketing office by the harbour…

There were three kinds of cruising – 45 minutes, 60 minutes and 90 minutes, depending on how many inlets the ships would visit.

We opted for the 45 minutes one.

The weather was perfect for cruising!

Despite being weekday, the harbour was busy with tourists who were also eager to visit the famous Calanques.

We managed to find seats on the upper deck.

By the way, he wasn’t a captain…

We waited about 20 minutes until all the seats were fully taken. And then, the ship started the engine and we moved out of the harbour…

The sea breeze we enjoyed while we waited under the bright sunlight in the harbour turned more like gust as soon as we were into the open sea and I was very glad that I didn’t forget to bring a jacket.

I must say we were very lucky to visit the Cassis that day because the weather went down hill from the next day.

During the 45 minutes’ cruising, we visited three inlets.

The blueness of the water was breathtaking. Where the depth of the water was deep, it was beautiful sapphire blue and it turned to shimmering turquoise blue where it was shallower…

Who wouldn’t love to spend a day on a boat, doing nothing other than picnic and chilling out?

Eventually, our time was up and the ship headed back to the harbour.

Now, we will have some nice lunch! Mom and I alighted the ship and started to walk towards the town centre…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Ohayo!

Mornin’!! Guess where I am?

I’m in Nagano, Japan! I arrived at my mum’s place 15 days ago and I have been keeping her company ever since.

Some of you may know that she had a knee replacement surgery in March and she is still recovering from it. The operation went very well and her knee is getting stronger day by day. However, discomforts, such as swelling and fatigue which are typical of post-surgery, are still there and she becomes anxious about it time to time.

‘Don’t worry, mum. What you are experiencing now is nothing unique after the surgeries like yours.’, I comfort her. I am an expert when it comes to recovering from an orthopaedics surgery because I broke my own elbow and hand in pretty messy manners on separate occasions in the past and went through laborious recovery processes.

Twice a day, mum performs a set of exercises, which was prescribed by her physiotherapist when she was discharged from the hospital. The exercises involve stretching and flexing the operated knee, using a Dyna Band and a physio ball. ‘The knee still doesn’t move like before.’, she laments as she demonstrates the routine. ‘I feel sorry for you but you mustn’t be discouraged, mum.’, I try to console her. I know how frustrating the healing process is because I went through it myself.

Now, I shall present a few Japanese sceneries I captured during my journey.

Hello, Japan! I’m home…

After picking up a mobile Wifi, I headed to Tokyo Station with my suitcase in tow via an airport monorail and JR Yamanote-line…

Looking over the station square at Shinbashi from the train…

Quintessential sceneries of Japanese bullet trains…

I realise that I am truly in Japan every time I see those futuristic trains coming and going…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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