Thursday, August 06, 2009

Day 4: Cinque Terre (Italy)

Cinque Terre was my favorite of all the places we visited in Europe. Our stay there was way too short. We only stayed one night and two days. We just had no idea we would love it so much. Our first day we took the train in from Milan to Monterosso (through a connection). Cinque Terre is made up of 5 villages on the coast of Italy connected by trails, trains, and boats. No cars can actually get down into the village which makes it such a neat experience. Monterosso was the first of the 5 villages (I think we actually did it backwards) then Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. We hiked Monterosso to Vernazza first. The next pics are the view from where we ate lunch before the hike.
This blog entry will be made up mostly of the journal entry I did after our visit:

Sitting in Vernazza recalling our first hike. We just hiked Cinque Terre OMG. It was not easy. I guess I thought going into the hike it was easy because of everything I've read saying "avid" hikers can do this trail (Monterosso to Vernazza) in 1.5 hours. I'm not an avid hiker but I'm in pretty good shape so maybe it will take me 2 hours...

It all started with the awesome signs for how to get to the trail. There was a "red trail" that was SUPER long and the normal trail that was "blue" on the map [that was given to us at the ticket booth]. When we started walking we saw red/white stripes marking a trail (see picture below). We figured that was the red trail because it was marked RED, so we avoided it and looked for blue markings. We walked uphill all through Monterosso looking, then back downhill. Through some tunnels, in circles - it was ridiculous. Then we decided to just follow the red marks since it looked like the trail. After 35 minutes of wandering we were on our way.

[I would like to inject into this journal entry that the difficulty to find the trail was possibly because we started at what may be considered the last village. However, they still sold tickets at the start of that trail and did not give good instructions. Let me also add that we had decided to hike with our backpacks instead of leaving them somewhere. They contained everything we needed for 3 weeks. BIG mistake]
15 minutes into the trail there is a shack where you have your card checked. I asked the woman, "is this the blue or red trail?" She said, "Oh, it is the blue trail but it is marked in red because you don't have to pay for the red trail, only the blue trail." HUH? Oh well, it made sense to her and we were on our way.
The first 45 minutes of the trail was all uphill stairs. Killer. We were huffing and puffing. Then it got sort of rugged and started winding a lot. We didn't take enough water, so Travis started feeling sick and stopped to sit (which we had done a few times before this particular time to get out of people's way). I stopped several steps ahead of him and sat down too. Then I noticed he was actually laying down on the trail. This older woman (she looked maybe 70-75ish) stopped at Travis laying in the path (well leaning back I guess) and started insisting he drink water from her, eat her power bar, take sugar packets. She had a thick German accent and spoke very little English. She stayed with Travis for a little while [I was down the path a bit watching all this from afar]. I thought the whole time he was humoring her. I later found out he was not! He almost passed out and she saved him LOL.
Somewhere around the top of the 3km hike in rugged terrain a funny exchange began to happen between hikers. At this point we had been hiking for about 1.5 hrs mostly uphill. The hikers coming from the other way basically the same. The hikers - out of breath, drenched in sweat, with a desperate look in their eyes began asking each other, "How much longer?" It was very discouraging to hear, "it is a long way." Feeling after hiking 1.5 hours we must surely almost be there. We were discouraged to hear it was much longer.
One of the vineyards we saw on the trail
It took us 3 hours to complete the trail and our legs were shaking by the end of the trail. We were going to hike to the next town. HA! We took the train later that day. We were the only people on the trail with large backpacks so that made it harder.
Once we arrived in Vernazza we collapsed on a bench and drank water from a local pump and ate gelato. We decided to get into our bathing suits and take a dip to cool off in the Mediterranean. I just stuck my feet in the HUGE waves on the rocks where we were. Travis swam and got cut up some on the rocks.
"Today I saw some of the most beautiful views I've ever seen in my life here in Cinque Terre. Amazing. Worth every step. The sea spraying up on the rocks, the colorful houses clinging to the mountainside, the bluest ocen I've ever seen.We took a train to Corniglia where our hostel is. Brand new super clean hostel. We didn't know we had to walk 382 stairs. Then we searched again for our hostel. What is it with hostels being so hidden?"
a cute family of birds in Corniglia
We ate at a nice restaurant with a mean waitress who wouldn't let Travis have Parmesan cheese on his dish, LOL. Then we had cappuccinos at a very hip cafe.We ended the night with a lightning show. Probably one of my favorite days of the trip.


Anonymous said...

Love how you're keeping the trip to Europe alive by only journaling a little at a time. As I said before, the pictures of your travels are stunning! Grammy/Mom

Paige said...

Wow - it sounds like it was quite a hike! Go you two! And what great pics - Italy is so beautiful. When we go back I'd like to hit these areas. :)

cinque terre said...

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( in my signature ) and to the blog where you can also vote the nicest of the 5 Terre.
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