Friday, September 4, 2009

A whirlwind week!...Part 2-Cinque Terre

After leaving Florence we hopped on a train that took us to Pisa and then to the little town of Levanto, Italy. I enjoyed the train ride getting lost in a book, while Catherine listened to music. Typical us. When we got to Levanto we picked up some pesto bread (they're known for it there) and went right to the beach. It was so gorgeous. The water is crystal clear and bright blue and all the people are so mellow. You can tell that it's a place that sees very little tourists. I loved that about it though. It was nice to be in a less hectic place. As Americans we did our best not to stick out like sore thumbs as we navigated ourselves through the streets and attempted communicating when ordering food. I'm not sure we were very successful though.  After enjoying the beach for a couple hours we checked into our hostel...I have to say that this turned out to be a much better experience than I was anticipating. Cath and I were put in a room with four other girls, and apart from one entirely insane lady they were all really nice and really normal. This was a huge relief to me because as Catherine will attest, I get highly paranoid and anxious about these sort of scenarios (thanks dad).  The room was quite satisfactory as well... large and open with a killer view. That night we went to a quaint little restaurant for dinner where we had the Rick Steve's recommended dish of pesto pasta and a Fanta to drink. It was delicious. We followed up our meal with some banana/nutella gelato and the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. It lit up the whole sky with a misty pink, orange, and yellow tint. Cath and I got out our trusty tripod and took one too many pictures of us jumping, spinning, pondering, smiling, and loving every minute of life. After the colors were long gone and we had talked ourselves out we decided we better get a good night's sleep for our adventure the next day...hiking Cinque Terre. We got up at about 6:30am on Monday morning, dressed in our swim suits, running clothes, and sturdy shoes, and were on our way! We took the train to Riomaggiore. It was the first of the five towns we were going to visit. The town was amazing. It just looked like a bunch of brightly colored houses shoved in the crevice of a rock, right on the edge of the coast. I loved it. After we left it behind we had a pleasant little walk to the town of Manarola. I liked this town even more than the first. It had the same colorful feel, but seemed a little more charming. We wandered around there for a little bit and then headed to the third town of Corniglia. It was another quick walk and is the only town that is not on the coast. It was pretty, but probably my least favorite of the five. After this town is when things really got exciting. Our quick walks became a full fledged hour hike to the fourth town of Vernazza. We started heading straight uphill in the blazing sun and did not stop climbing the mountain for a good 45 minutes. By this point we were wondering where in the world the town was when we came upon a "rest stop" if you will, where we bought 2 gatorades and a candy bar for 8 euros. A bit extreme we know, but think of it as a safety net for the amount of hiking we had yet to face. Luckily from there we started the downhill climb and made it to Vernazza pretty quickly. This town was definitely my favorite of the five. It was a bit larger, a bit more populated, and had a really fun and bright feel to it. We decided to stick around there for a while and grab some food, and take a little breather. Because it was so hot we thought we'd sunbathe Italian style for a minute and lay out on the rocks. All the locals were doing it and it seemed too good to pass up. After we clambered on a rock, took off our running shoes, and put all our things in a dry, safe place we began making our way toward the water. As soon as we were about ankle deep an Italian lady informed us to "be very careful because the jellyfish were out today...". Needless to say, that put an end to our "refreshing" dip in the ocean. There way no way I was going to be stung. We got out, dried off for a minute, and began our final trek for Monterosso. Overall, this hike took about 90 minutes and 75% of it was uphill...not to mention the fact that it was 1:30pm in the afternoon and at least 90 degrees outside. It was a true trek if I've ever seen one. Everytime I was sure we had reached the peak it still continued climbing. When it finally started moving downwards we knew we were close, and when we saw the beach we beelined it straight for it. I was in that water in a flash and nothing has ever felt more refreshing. I think it was a combination of the fact that we were in Italy, had just hiked 5 hours, and were in the prettiest, clearest, bluest water I have ever seen. We just swam around for a bit soaking it all in and then spent a couple well deserved hours laying on the beach. It was the perfect way to end the hike through Cinque Terre. That night we returned to Levanto, ate some pizza and gelato for dinner, and sat out on the pier for a couple hours. Our last night in the hostel was another great one and when we headed to the train station the next day we were ready to get back to London. The journey home went off without a hitch. We took the train to Pisa and made a quick stop at the leaning tower. We were careful to avoid pick-pocketers as we snapped a quick picture and then headed to the airport. Ryanair came through for us once again. We took off about 45 minutes late, but somehow managed to make up the time in the air because we arrived in London (rather bumpily) right on time. That night at our flat we unpacked and repacked our bags, attempted to do some laundry in a very confusing washing machine, and headed to bed with the excitement of officially moving into our home the next day on our minds...

No comments:

Post a Comment