All bet­ter on the morn­ing af­ter


I had driven the four of us from the south of France through Monaco and into Italy. Af­ter six hours we ar­rived at the Ital­ian Riviera town of Le­vanto, start­ing point for the pic­turesque Cinque Terre, and all of us were tired, hun­gry and ready for rest.

It was dusk and we needed to find the su­per­mar­ket to pick up, as ar­ranged, the key to our ac­com­mo­da­tion. I had the de­tails of its lo­ca­tion but there was nowhere to park, so around and around we went as tem­pers were only just kept in check and frus­tra­tions grew.

Fi­nally I was able to park near the su­per­mar­ket and the daugh­ter of the owner told us to fol­low her. She was on a mo­tor­bike and we were in a big wagon. We wound around tight cor­ners, higher and higher, for­ever cir­cling to the top of the hill. Two of the cor­ners were so tight I had to do a three-point turn.

Once at our des­ti­na­tion, we had to walk, with all our lug­gage, up a steep path and flight of steps. Fi­nally we were in­side our lodg­ings. Our joy at ar­riv­ing was short­lived, how­ever, as the bed­rooms were up­stairs and the stair­case was not wide enough for us to take up our suit­cases.

I felt the re­spon­si­bil­ity of hav­ing booked ac­com­mo­da­tion that did not live up to the ex­pec­ta­tions of the group. One friend kindly told me, “It will all look bet­ter in the morn­ing.”

I woke to beau­ti­ful sun­light, the shut­ters were open and the view out­side re­vealed a world of beauty — rolling hills of green, ter­races of tiny gar­dens and olive groves with groups of houses clus­tered in the folds.

Dot­ted among the houses were churches, painted in pink, peach and yel­low, each with tow­ers. Bells at the church clos­est to us tolled out the start of a hymn at 10 min­utes to the hour.

Once they fin­ished, the bells of the church on the neigh­bour­ing hill be­gan peal­ing the next part of the tune be­fore pass­ing the ba­ton, as it were, to an­other nearby church.

All of us loved be­ing on top of that hill. We soon for­got about the drive and the walk. We de­lighted in the panorama from our home for the next few days. And yes, it did look so much bet­ter in the light of a new day. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@theaus­ Colum­nists re­ceive copies of Lisbon by Re­becca Seal and Dal­ma­tia by Ino Ku­vacic, newre­lease hard­backs fea­tur­ing sump­tu­ous pho­tog­ra­phy and recipes from the heart of Por­tu­gal and Croa­tia’s Mediter­ranean coast. $95. More: hardiegrant­

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