Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cinque Terre

Sunday May 29, 2011

After class on Friday Shep and I hurried back to our apartment to pack up and leave for the train station.  Erica, Liz, and Becca were leaving at a later time because Becca had class (plus and exam) until 5:30!

The train left around 1:30 PM (or should I say 13:30… I still haven’t gotten the whole military time thing down yet.).  Shep, Audrey, Missy, Lacey, Laura and I were off to our first destination in Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore.  As the train approached our final stop the sea appeared off to the window on my right hand side.  We all gasped with excitement!  The water was so blue and incredible as waves crashed against the rocks.

As we got off the train we were welcomed by a cool breeze—something we were not used to in Florence and the 90-degree humid weather the city has had over the past week.  It was overcast, but it did not phase us one bit!! We were too excited to be in a place so beautiful as this.

First look of Cinque Terre

Our hostel, Cinque Terre Holiday, was only a five-minute walk from the train station.  After paying and getting our keys we were taken up A LOT of stairs.  Huffing and puffing the entire 5 to 10 minute walk up, we finally made it to a building that looked like an apartment complex.  We did not know what to expect from the hostel.  The hostel employee walked us into an awkwardly and extremely decorated orange apartment!  We got extremely lucky, especially for only 30 euro each for the night!! The apartment had 2 bedrooms, one with room for 5, the other for 4.  Both of the bedrooms looked out to the sea.  It also had a kitchen, fully equipped, a dining room, one bathroom, and a balcony!!

Happy with our hostel we were hungry and ready to make our way back down the millions of stairs to find a place to eat.  Audrey had Rick Steve’s Cinque Terre book which we have been using many of his suggestions throughout the trip.  The book led us to La Lampara.  To start off, we ordered a bottle of the White House wine since Cinque Terre is known for their white wine instead of red.  We were very impressed with the choice of wine we ordered another bottle!!

In Audrey’s guidebook, Rick recommends the Seafood Pasta in Tin Foil.  I decided to go with the recommendation and was very pleased with it!  It had mussels, clams, shrimp, and crab.  We also ordered some dessert. I decided to go with the Tirmasu!

Calamari Appetizer

Seafood Spaghetti

After dinner we went over to Bar Centrale for a drink as we waited for the other girls.  We saw a few other girls from the ISA program walk by and told them to join us at our apartment after they were finished with dinner.  The remainder of the night we played “Dings” which we all defined as Kings with a dice, since no one had brought cards and we had found an orange fuzzy dice in our apartment.  Erica, Liz, and Becca finally showed up and it was soon time for a good nights sleep before our long hike!!!

My last “This is one of the best days/moments of my life” occurred near my departure date for Italy.  It was my defense presentation for my Master’s Project.  This meant I was so much closer to being done with Grad School! And I also didn’t have to worry about it my last Fall semester.  I only bring this “one of the best day/moment” up because Saturday was just that.  And it was way better than any relief of completing a project presentation!!

We all awoke Saturday morning (which was also Liz’s 25th birthday!!!) around 8:00 to being our day.   I immediately looked out the bedroom window to see the sun shining and clear blue skies over the sea.  We checked out and began our day with a hearty breakfast to give us the energy we would need for our hike.  We finally began around 10:00 to bein our hike from Riomagiorre to Manarola.  We hike way up high on hillside where we were able to have view of the water.

Once we got to Manarola, we had to catch a train to the next town, due to a landslide.  With an hour to kill before the next train we walked through what seemed to be an agricultural tour path.  The path went upwards which allowed the view to get better and better with each steps.  The colorful buildings were bright and stuck out with the crystal blue water surrounding.  The site was breath taking.

The train took us into Corniglia, the third town, where we immediately had to climb steps to the top to the center of town.  Rick Steve recommended we stop to have wine at Il Pirun in cà dà Nita where it claimed that we were ablt to get a glass of wine for only 3 euro!  The owner Leo was there and he gave us his house white wine (the bottle had a picture of him!!) He gave us olives and garlic chips to snack on.

He also allowed us to taste two other whites as well as drink red wine from a decanter in which he gave us bibs to use in case we were to spill. 

Around 12:30 we made our way to the fourth town, a 90-minute hike away.  The path started to become more difficult.  There were long stretched of going upward as well as rocky and uneven pathways going down.  The sun was beaming down and we all began to sweat.  The cool breeze from the sea allowed us to keep cool.  Also, the site and view of the sea and the next town made us eager to continue.  We finally arrived in the fourth city, Vernazza!  Taking Rick’s suggestion, once again, we stopped for lunch.  We found a group of restaurants by the bay area that was filled with colorful umbrellas.  We all sat down and immediately asked for 4 bottles og “aqua natuerelle.”  Cinque terre is known for their delicious pesto sauce, so I went with Alfolie (a pasta they are known for—not quite sure how to spell it) and pesto.  Once again I was very pleased and satisfied with my decision!!

After lunch we continue to the final town, Monterosso. It was another 90-minute hike, and the most difficult one.  With our bellies filled with food, we began going up and up and up, which went on for a good hour.  This part of the hike was definitely good for the glutes!! Still, no complaints came from anyone’s mouth.  We were all in awe of the view, still taking pictures every chance that we got! 

Finally around 4:30 PM (16:30) we made it to Monterosso.  We scurried around for a facility to change into our suits and made our way to the beach!  After setting my towel and bag down I walked towards the water, which was quite painful since the beach is not made up of sand.  The water was ice cold, but refreshing.  I went into the sea up past my stomach and quickly went closer to the shore.  I could not handle the ice cold water!!

me and Laura

I went back to my towel where we all rest for about an hour before we had to go to the train station to buy our ticket to head back to Florence.  As I laid there I played back the entire hike in my head, thinking about the most breathtaking and gorgeous scenery I had every scene in my entire life.   I wish that I had words to describe it, but I lack in my writing capabilities.  You will just have to see it for yourself! (or just look at the pictures).

We left Cinque Terre around 7:00 and arrived in Florence around 9:30 PM.  We grabbed a “Kebab” for dinner (similar to a Gyro, but with turkey/chicken meat).  I ended the night grabbing some gelato with Liz for her birthday over at Perché-No!  By midnight everyone was exhausted and passed out. 

It was our first morning to sleep in since we all had arrived in Italy, and it was much needed after a long day of hiking.  Becca and I woke around 10:00 AM and dressed to go to Mass at Santa Croatia Cathedral.  The entire mass was in Italian, but some how was able to understand what was going on. 

I just returned from The Diner, which is exactly what you can find in America!! It was perfect.  My eggs benedict and fruit definitely hit the spot! Now I'm off to the Leather Market-- hopefully my last time-- for some last minute gifts!


Molly Jean

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