Day 4 The Cinque Terre

10:13 AM AirplaneFoodCritic 0 Comments

This is a photo taken at our hotel from the breakfast terrace in Monterosso

Even though this says it is day 4 it is really day three because I don't include the travel day. And day three is notorious for being the melt down day. it is never day 2 or day 4. There is the number you will count to and the number you count to shall be 3...  I got caught up with a  Monty Python and the Holy Grail Anyways somehow the third day of a European trip is always the melt down day. I think it is a combination of the time adjustment, the fact that you are with your loved ones constantly, the stress of being in a foreign place eating foreign things and adjusting to eating and sleeping at different times. All that comes together in a big shitstorm of human melt downs. My husband and I have luckily avoided this day 3 burnout for the last two trips to Europe but it caught up to us today. We were tired, didn't sleep too well and hungry. I had opened a window at 5am and that was what set us off in the bickering. It was short, luckily, and it was mild. All that happened was that I had to go eat breakfast alone. Which is totally fine with me. And the hubs got to get a couple extra hours sleep.

Breakfast at this hotel was served on the top of the building on a beautiful terrace. We had a view of the sea and the surrounding hillside. It was breathtaking. They gave me the choice of coffee or cappuccino. I asked Gabriel, our server, and the hotel owner, what the difference is. He said a cappuccino is smaller and has frothed milk added. A coffee is bigger and comes black unless you ask for milk in it. I chose coffee because it was bigger. I asked for milk and I got frothed milk so really, I got a giant cappuccino I guess. The rest of breakfast was similar to the others we have had so far, cheese, meats, yogurt, cereals, fresh orange juice and fruit salad. The difference here is that the meats included mortadello and the bread included foccia. It is Italy so that was a very nice addition. The spread also included salami which is a favorite of mine. I am known amongst my family as loving the "day glow" salami. I can not find it in the US. It is a super tender, bright pink salami. Because I can only find it in Europe I like it extra because it reminds me of being here...if that makes sense. I mean to say, that if I am eating it, I must be on vacation. I made my usual bread, butter and fresh cold cut sandwiches and washed it all down with yogurt and fresh fruit salad.

I brought a basket of breakfast stuffs and oj to the hubs who was just out like a log. He had his ear plugs and face mask on. I think part of the problem we had this morning was of the partying all night by the locals. ...oh odd side note, as I am writing this I just saw a motor-home go by towing a Tesla. I have never seen anything like that before and I live next to the Tesla factory....I digress...The locals were up all night celebrating their patron saint until about 3am. Then, the little winery across the walkway from our hotel, and directly below our room window started crushing and pressing their wine at about 7am. When I got back to the room I let the poor husband sleep another hour. Meanwhile the temperature outside was creeping up and up along with the humidity.

We left our hotel to begin hiking the famous Blue Trail that links the five towns of the Cinque Terre at about 11:30am. This is an hour and a half later than I had initially planned but at least one of us got a bit extra sleep. Maybe my turn will be tonight. I brought a little backpack that can tuck into a little pouch for traveling. I un-pouched it and filled it with only the necessary items like id, cash, a credit card, my medication, a bunch of water, a camera and one phone. I also packed some chips and other snacks. I am happy with my purchase of that backpack. I normally hike with just my purse but this first hike between  Monterosso and Vernazza is the longest of the four trails at about 2 hours. The trail goes up steeply, flattens out for a bit then drops into the next town steeply again. I knew my purse would hurt my back if I wore it. the backpack packs up small so it was easy to bring over in my luggage. Plus, at the end of our trip I can fill it with dirty clothes and use it as a small carry on bag while I can keep all our souvenirs safe in my luggage.
Making wine outside our hotel window...they are crushing grapes right on the street.

We walked through town and headed up the trail. There were several people, all from different countries, walking along with us. The trail was very narrow, often without room to let anyone pass. The direction we were going, south, was the most popular direction so we didnt have to pass too many folks. The trail really reminded me of the Kalalau Trail in Kauai. It was narrow, it winded along a steep drop off on one side, it was stifling hot and there were all sorts of tropical plants growing everywhere. Some differences were the vineyards we passed through and the tiny, tiny houses we passed every now and then. I had to take pain killers to do the trip of course but I was still proud of myself for making it the whole way. At the beginning of the trail the hubs found a natural walking stick that someone must have left when they used the trail going the other way. That stick helped me immensely coming down the steep steps as we dropped into Vernazza. The views were incredible. Just mind blowing. The Mediterranean was bright blue, the vegetation was thick and green. The air was perfumed. It was so hot though. We were soaking wet from sweat and the humidity. As we began to drop down towards Vernazza we caught glimpses of the town. The little pink, yellow and other pastel colored buildings all stacked one on top of the other stuck out in contrast to the surrounding land. We could hear the waves in the harbor get louder and louder as we got closer and all we could think about was jumping into that sea.

My legs were all wobbly. I was scared that my knees would give out on me as I took the last steps. I leaned on that walking stick so hard that I began to get blisters on my hands where I gripped the stick. The town is so quaint...aside from the 10,000 tourists that packed the narrow streets. It had to have been above 90 degrees and all of us were sweating, pressed into one another. The hubs and I pushed our way to the harbor, flinging off our clothes and shoes and just fell into the sea. Ohhh man. It was so refreshing. It might have been the most refreshing thing I have ever experienced. I was worried about our stuff being stolen so I jumped into the water to cool off then got back out to let the husband jump in. Then I climbed across the rocks to hide the backpack where it was mostly out of sight. Then we both swam around for about a half hour. The hike took us 1 hour 37 minutes and the swim was about a half hour so by this time it was pretty late in the day. Later than I had planned when I made my itinerary. The itinerary where we visited each town and swam in each one but Corngilia because that one has no ocean access. We had to diverge from the original plan quite a bit. There was a rock that looked good to do some cliff-diving off of so the husband swam out to it. I went to our stuff and got the camera out to take photos of his feat. He stood on the rock and looked around and around. I got worried at this point because often he seems to get himself hurt. I could just see the broken tailbone and us having to cancel the rest of the trip. Still he stood there. Finally he waved me off like to say "don't film this". I got more worried. Then, after a few more minutes he climbed down. Phewww. Later, he told me that there was such a glare on the water and there was no safe way to jump in. I am so relieved that he chose not to risk it.

After our swim we rinsed off in a fresh spring and walked the town. I bought a little Vernazza tile. We got gelatos too. I got coconut and hazelnut and he got coconut and pineapple. The pineapple was sooo good. I am salivating thinking about it. We made our way to the train station. By this point, the town was packed with people, the train station was even more packed. It was so hot I felt like I was literally melting. I could barely breathe. We used a machine to buy a ticket to the next town, Corniglia. I figured we could at least stop at each town to have a peek then more to the next even if we didn't have time to jump in the water in each. The train came 20 minutes later. We were shoved and pushed onto the train once the doors opened. People didn't even let the others off before they began shoving on. I lost my husband in the mad rush. I stood in the gap between cars waiting to see him get on. I never did. The doors closed and the train began to move. I was crushed. I had all the money, all the water and he was stuck at the crowded, stifling station all alone. The people around me were laughing at me because they understood what was going on. If the town was stifling, the train was suffocating. The ride was only a few minutes but it was an awful, smelly, sweaty few minutes. I stepped off the train in Corniglia and paused to catch my breath. I looked towards the back of the train where the tiny breeze was coming and saw my husband walking towards me. Oh thank GOD! He must have gotten on at another car. I am so glad I have a super tall husband because he is always so easy to find in a huge crowd like we were in.

We began to walk with the masses towards town. There was no shade, only blazing, searing hot sun. We had to first walk along the train tracks so we were smelling all the sweaty humanity along with the creosote oily stink of a train yard. I thought I was going to barf. We found a spot of shade at the base of some stairs and paused. We looked up and saw that in order to get to the town, we would have to climb an ungodly amount of stairs. No one told me this in all the travel blogs and guides that I read. In all the stuff I read, I did not see anything that said it was such a hike to get to the town. I knew it was the only of the five that was not on the water but I didn't know the train station was no where near the town. We decided we had to just leave without seeing the town. Our plan was to see each town, go for a dip in each, take the train between each since the train was 1.80 euro and each trip was a few minutes. Then we planned on taking a boat the whole way back so we could get a good view of the towns from the sea and relax the whole way back. The problem is that the last boat leaves Riomaggiore, the last town, at 5ish and there we were at 3:45 in the middle town. So we now had to run to the train and get to the last town, skipping one all together. We ran back and bought tickets. The tickets were purchased at 4:10 for the 4:19 train. We had to wait in the searing sun for the train because there was no shade at ALL. The train never came. Now we were waiting for the 4:35 train and the crowds of people doubled.

It was at this point the husband said to me "we are never coming back to Italy again". I said yup. I said that the last time I was here and I still mean it. No more Italy for us after this. It has been agreed. We waited until 4:35. 4:35 came and went. We were barely able to stand the heat and humidity standing there with all the other people all gasping for air. The train showed up about 10 minutes later...right at about the breaking point. We all pushed and shoved onto the train. The hubs and I were the last to get on and we were scraped by the closing doors. I had to stand with my hands up by my face and my back against the door. There was a tall, doughy man in a tank top ib front of me. His armpit was right at my nose height and it was unpleasant for me. A couple minutes of me flopping into this person and that because I had nothing to hold on to and the train stopped at the second to last town. We were skipping this one so we could get to the last one in time to catch the last boat back to Monterosso. The doors opened and some fresh-ish air came in. Ahhhhh. I took a nice big breath as Mr. Armpit disembarked the train along with a few others. I was now able to reach out and hold onto a pole for support. The door that was open was the one across from us so luckily we were not in the way by leaning on the ones we had entered and were now leaning on. People then began to board. It wasn't TOO bad. I still could reach over some heads and hold onto the pole. The doors were about to close then there was a surge of people all of the sudden. It was so fast and powerful I got terrified. There was an Asian tour group that wanted on that train no matter what and they just kept coming and pushing and elbowing until all of them were on that train. I got crushed back into the door. I lost the grip on the pole and my balance was at the mercy of the bodies that were so tight against me that they were holding me up. One woman who backed into me thought I was pushing her but in reality I was just squished between her and the door decided to teach me a lesson and dug her elbow into my stomach. I had no defense so I had to just take the blow. She did that a few times before she realized that I was not trying to hurt her and she stopped. The train left for Riomaggiore.

We stepped off into the slight breeze of the southernmost town in the Cinque Terre. I took a few deep breaths before marching towards the city center looking for the boat launch. We went through a long tunnel of just sweaty bodies pushing and jabbing their way to where ever they were trying to get to. We came out of the tunnel and followed a sign to the marina. We climbed more stairs to a little booth and managed to purchase the last tickets of the last boat of the day. Phewww! We waited the 20 minutes for the boat down by the harbor. There was talk amongst the crowd that they sold more tickets than there were seats available and judging from our experience so far we tended to believe the rumors. Luckily we were only a few dozen people away from the dock. There was, of course, zero shade and that sun just baked us to death as we waited. We barely conversed. Mostly we talked about how we are never coming back to Italy again and how glad we were that we were not going any further south.

The ferry arrived, we were lucky to find two seats right at the front and outside. The breeze, although warm and heavy with moisture, felt amazing. I took loads of video and photos as we stopped at Manarola, passed by Corniglia, stopped at Vernazza and finally as we approached home, Monterosso. The shower back at the thoel was one of the best showers I had ever had. It is funny, after all that discomfort, the second we were back at the hotel we had already washed away all the negativity. We dressed for dinner and headed out to find dinner somewhere. I was a bit nervous because it took us so long last night to find a place that suited the hubs but we got lucky tonight. We immediately saw a place that had calzone and pizza. Exactly what we were in the mood for. We got a seat outside with out having to beg or wait. Like it was meant to be. I ordered a half bottle of the local white and he had a Fanta. He got his calzone, something he has been craving for months before we even left for this trip. I got the best pizza oh man. It was a white pizza with mozzarella, marscapone, mushrooms and a black truffle cream. The mushrooms, which I don't normally like, were pickled or marinated so that they tasted like an olive. It was one of the best pizzas I have ever had. So creamy! The service was a little lacking but whatever. We paid and left after a wonderful and relaxing meal. We strolled the town a little until we found a gelato place. I got a nut and a dark chocolate scoop and he got lemon and strawberry. I loved mine. We ate while we walked back to the hotel where we immediately fell asleep. I fell asleep at about 9:30 and did not wake up or budge until my alarm went off at 8:30am. It was a necessary sleep!

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