The man at the train station screwed us over. It was 6:32 in the morning and our train left in 5 minutes. Unbeknownst to us, the ticket agent had sold us a first class ticket after we presented our 2nd class Eurrail passes. Now the man said we had to pay the difference, despite the fact that it was their mistake. There was no way around it. We paid the exorbitant fee and raced to the train. Needless to say, our impression of the Spanish train service was not a good one. Our moods improved as the train carried us through the South of France. We played games, danced to music, and ate an awesome sandwich called a Croque Monsieur. It was similar to a grilled cheese with the cheese on top instead.
In Nice, we had a two-hour wait so we headed down to the ocean to dip our feet. The “beach” was rocky and covered with pebbles, however the water was gorgeous. We sat and relaxed for a bit, enjoying the fresh air and the sun. On the way back to the station, we bought a baguette and some meat and munched on some sandwiches. It was night-time when we reached Genoa, Italy. Our search for a hostel proved to be more difficult than imagined; everything was full. Somehow we scored a wonderful private room at very little cost because the guy said it was unsellable. It may have had something to do with the rotting wood on the ceiling! Still, it did the job.
A quick hour train the next morning brought us to Levanto, our first home for the region along the coast of Italy known as Cinque Terre. We checked into our hostel, bought some sandwiches from a nearby street vendor, and headed out onto the trails. It was a gorgeous day with a slight breeze as we climbed the steep path out of town. Within half an hour, the town was behind us and we were in the scrub forest above. Wafts of basil and other herbs as well as the sweet scent of juniper trees urged us forwards. As we climbed higher, views of the coastline become all the better. It was 5 miles to the next town, Monterroso, and the official start of Cinque Terre (Italian for 5 towns). From an outcropping above, you could make out all but the final town. Each was tucked into little coves or perched on hilltops, their buildings climbing up the hillside. In Monterroso, we relaxed on hidden rocky beach for a bit before continuing onward to Vernazza. As we left Monterroso behind, the landscape now became more terraced and cultivated. The trail now cut through vineyards and lemon orchards. In one particular spot, a man was selling homemade Limoncello, a lemon-flavored alcohol popular to the area. We again rested in Vernazza for a bit, eating a dinner and some gelato, before heading back to Monterroso and eventually taking the train back to our home base.
The following day, we took a walk along the road to the neighboring town of Bonassola. Glenna wasn’t feeling the best, so when we returned we decided to part ways for the afternoon. I headed back to the mountains, choosing to climb Mt. Rossola. The mountain loomed above Levanto and provided some epic views of the town and its beautiful ocean front.
It was a tough hike, but well worth the effort.
Back down in Levanto, we headed to the restaurant across from our hostel. I filled up on a bomb ass spinach calzone and then we went dancing at a public square near the beach. To be honest, the old folks kicked our asses. They knew all the moves. The next day after breakfast, we rode the train to Riomaggiore, the farthest town to the south, and checked into our new hostel. The most famous of the Cinque Terre trails, the Via dell’Amore or the path of Love, was unfortunately closed, and the route again took us up into the terraced hills.
We hiked North through more vineyards, stopping in Manarola and Corniglia on our way to Vernazza. Of the 5 towns, we decided Manarola was definitely the most scenic. From a graveyard across the hill, you were able to get a very beautiful picture of the stunning town.
We started the last morning off with a real omelet for breakfast. In Europe, breakfast is usually just cereals and bakery and we needed something more. After breakfast, we lounged the day away on the beach. The rocks weren’t as comfy as sand would’ve been, but the sun did warm them up and I felt a bit like a lizard. We spent some time battling the big waves in the ocean. While I struggled to stay afloat, Glenna gracefully swam laps. She’s a real fish! The sun wore us out and we headed back to the hostel, munching on some awesome fried calamari along the way. After a nap, we pigged out on a “maxi” pizza, consuming some local wine and enjoying a neat little concert in the square. It was a beautiful night and we tried our luck at some night photography. It was sad knowing we had to leave this paradise in the morning. Hopefully Florence would not let us down.