Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cinque Terre--Details, Details!

My Cinque Terra experiences were memorable to say the least. I can't say or write enough about them...plus I kind of took 700 pictures in the span of 14 hours.

Cinque terre consists of 5 small villages all on the coast: Monterroso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. Each one is a little different but the fishing community, the locals and the beauty all tie it together.

What made my trip so wonderful?

First off, cinque terre is by far the most gorgeous place I've ever seen--hands down, no questions asked. The combination of the rugged landscape, deep blue ocean and mountain tops literally took my breath away. It was so beautiful to me.

The things I experienced there were so cool too:
We first arrived in Monterroso. Our tour guide said this was probably the best place for beach time, so we went on the hunt for a changing room and chairs. We found Bagni Eden and spent about an hour there.

This beach was completely different from any other beach I've gone to. The sand was composed of rocks, big and small. In fact, it was really hard to walk. In the end though, Catherine and I decided that we probably got a nice sea exfoliation pedicure out of the experience because the strong current pushed the rocks under and around our feet.

I didn't make it very far in the ocean because it was chilly and the current was really strong, plus it was hard to keep your balance. We saw swimmers and paddle boarders off in the distance, though. I was jealous, but also mystified at how they were managing to do be out that far in such a strong current with surrounding jagged rocks on the coast.

To my left, I saw a big black rock and a bright orange life preserver, followed by a long row of assorted colored beach chairs. To the right, a big mountain hovered over the blue ocean, a sail boat could be seen out in the deep, and people were swimming in the lagoon. I did not want to leave.

Our next town was waiting for us, though. When we got to Vernazza, we saw a compelling picture of muddy damage and litter. A year ago this place suffered a flood. There was an illustration on the wall showing the after math, and the locals talked about it to us. You could still see the line where the water rose in some places. I wouldn't have known though if it weren't for the picture because the town has recovered remarkably in just a year.

We scoped out the place and found a nice little spot for lunch...probably one of the best meals I've had in Italia: stuffed mussels. Our waiter was really nice too and let me take his picture. I looked around while eating and took in the scenery: colored umbrellas, boats and a lagoon.

After 2 hours we caught the train and arrived at Corniglia. Here's the deal: Corniglia is actually at the very tip top of the mountain. A group was going to hike through there and two other towns in order to meet us at the last town. We didn't know there was a bus that drove up to the town in shifts, so we opted not to hike the hill.

Instead Catherine, Meagan, and I explored what was under and around the train station. At first it looked like nothing but pretty scenery, but that was misleading because under a tunnel we discovered a small mountain of sea rocks that led straight into the ocean!

Well we weren't just going to stare at the rocks. We climbed them. This was literally one of the coolest things I've ever done. The rocks were slippery and sharp and led into the ocean, yet I managed not to fall and got some pictures. There's something about the ocean that brings out the best in me. I always feel so happy, joyful, and adventurous!

We chilled there for an hour or so and then took the train to the fourth city: Manarola. This colorful town was filled with fishing boats on the sides of the street with lots of little artisan shops. I bought a beautiful ceramic plate. I'm assuming it's authentic enough because the owner of the shop didn't even speak English. That's when I decided I had a good find and also made the decision not to ship it because I couldn't understand what she was saying when I asked her about it.

At the end of the street there was a huge rock where people were free jumping into the ocean.

The whole group reunited in Manarola, and we walked through the last city together. Riomaggiore was actually the National Park of Cinque Terre. It included Lovers' Lane and a small town with some shops and restaurants. I had never seen anything like Lovers' Lane. People come and put locks on gates and fences and throw the keys away. When we made it to the town, we walked around I grabbed a chicken kabob that was comparable to a gyro. It was delicious.

That concludes the trip! We took the train back to the bus and left for Florence. 
When I left, I said a little prayer that I would be able to come back to this magical place one day.

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