Originally, we were going to stay in Cannes. We found an apartment on the harbor with a view of the marina full of sailboats. The reviews on VRBO mentioned good restaurants a few steps from the door, and outdoor cafes for a drink. The VRBO calendar said it was vacant during the three nights we wanted to stay there. I submitted the request and assumed everything would be set, so we moved on to reservations in Pisa and Rome. After our deposit was accepted in Rome, the word came from Cannes – not available. After writing to at least seven different apartments in Cannes it was apparent that there was a big TV convention in Cannes during the weekend we expected to stay. I learned that the apartments were open but the price was three to four times the normal rate. They also wanted to charge $1,000 eur for deposit. Cannes would have worked out great because we were trying to keep driving from one place to another to a manageable four hours or less (based on the Google maps estimate).
Since we had a three day hole in our schedule and had to find a place east of Cannes, the search was on. Nice was an option but prices were high, there was no washer/dryer, or one of the kids would have had to sleep in the living room. We had never heard of Albenga, but the apartment had three beds, good reviews, and the pictures looked interesting. The expectations for Albenga as a town were low. I figured we would be nestled in a small town on the Italian Riviera. As it turned out, the apartment was a relatively new structure built behind a wall that dated to the middle ages. We were able to park the car in a reserved spot and easily unload the car next to the outer door of the apartment.
Going out very old and large wooden double doors at the back of the apartment,we entered a maze of alleyways that were too tight for a car.
Even a Smart car would have scraped mirrors. The historic passages were surrounded by three or four story residences. The ground floors were shops; restaurants, bakeries, and even a hardware store. There were a few tourist shops sprinkled in the mix. The alleyways were interconnected with small squares were a restaurants and tapas bars had outdoor tables and chairs. The whole effect was charming.
Exiting the alleyways opened up to a city street that eventually led to a boardwalk. By the time the girls finished homework it was 1:00 pm. Except for cars buzzing about, it appeared the town was closed. Even the restaurants were dark. When we reached the boardwalk, all the shops and restaurants appeared to be closed for the season. While walking the length of the boardwalk, Marcia talked to a high school, maybe college age, girl who was waiting for her friends to catch up her. She had been jogging. She explained that everything would be closed till 3:30. We had read about offices closing down from 12:30 to 3:30, but did not realize how pervasive the closures would be. Even the restaurants were closed.
It was nice to be in a town without tourists. We did not hear English, French, Spanish, or German for three days. While some of the waiters and waitresses spoke limited English, it was not like Paris where almost everyone had some command of English. We managed to catch-up on the laundry, get some homework done, and have a relaxing three days.