We arrived in Cinque Terre yesterday at 4pm via train from Nice. While it was sad to say goodbye to Nice after such a short time it was definitely time to go. The city doesn’t have that much to do when you’re traveling with your sister (vs. a significant other). Sunset walks by the beach are just a bit akward and I think we have the unwritten agreement that we want to downplay any opportunity for continuing assumptions that we’re a couple 🙂 It was almost funny for the first 2 days, but now we manage to work in the words “my brother” or “my sister” in every conversation to clarify our relationship. Remember my goal was to find a wife in Europe right? 🙂
Cinque Terre is absolutely gorgeous. upon arriving off the Train, we ended up right in Monterosso wwhere we tok an immediate train to Vernazza. We opted for Vernazza to find accommodations based on recommendation by a few people saying it was the most charming and low key. They were definitely right! Vernazza is tiny compared to the other towns, but definitely a great place to stay. No soone rthan 2 mins after getting off the train in Vernazza, we were approached by an unshaven Italian man who tried to convince us he was a close personal friend of Rick Steves and was offering accommodations for the bargain basement price of 75 Euros a night. We kindly refused, walked around for 5 mins and found a 50 euro a night room. The room has no sea view, but we agreed it wasn’t the extra 25 euros a night since we’d barely spend anytime inside.
While negotiating and finding out about the room, it was seriously eye opening how difficult the remainder of the trip might be compared to France. Although I’ve lost my fluency in French, I can still read relatively well and get by on spoken word. Time in Nice was a breeze since I was able to make out signs and menus, and actually have a reasonable conversations with locals. In Italy, this is a tourist nightmare, in Cinque Terre especially. The man offering the accommodations to us barely spoke a word of English, and thank goodness for our “Europe Phrase bok” that we got as a freebie when we bought our railpass. I was able to negotiate the room with extremely poor Italian with book in hand. It was straight out of a bad TV sitcom, but hey, it’s the end result that counts 🙂 Even the train ticket machine is completely in iItalian, which you are forced to use after 7pm when the manned ticket counter closes. I had to get a local to buy tickets for us, but I think we’re safe since I’ve learned a few more italian words and memorized the menu sequence 🙂
We spent the remainder of the day checking out Monterosso and having wood fired thin crust pizza at an outdoor restaurant in Vernazza. Let me tell you, pizza hasn’t tasted better 🙂
This morning, we woke up bright and early and hiked from Vernazza all the way to the remaining 3 towns — Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. We picked the trails rated as “slight” and “easy” but wow, I can’t imagine was “difficult” would be. The trails were pretty rocky and had a fair amount of elevation. We were shocked to see so many people on the trail wearing fliip flops and some women even in bikinis. However, later on we realized that the other trails between Manarola nad Riomaggiore were MUCH easier, being mostly flat and paved, wich explained the footwear and clothing choices of the people going in the opposite direction. These people were in for a rude awakening on the later trails!
The views on the hike were amazing, despite it being a bit hazy and overcast today. It made for great hiking weather, but not ideal for photos. Damn!
After getting to Riomaggiore at the end of the hike, we took a train up to Monterosso where I got to swim on the beach. This was definnitly the highlight of the trip so far! There’s nothing like the sun shining down, the Liguiran coast at your back and breathing in warm salty air. Yes, it sounds corny but it was really breathtaking. After I first jumped in, I suddenly realized that this was teh first time I’ve swum in the ocean since I was a kid, probably 10 years old. The salty water in my mouth brought back so many memories from my childhood. Crazy how smells and tastes can bring back so many memories.
We’re at an internet kiosk now in Monterosso figuring out our next stop in the trip. It’s either goi to be Rome directly, or perhaps Lucca or Pisa.
Let the adventure continue…