"If heaven isn't all it's cracked up to be.... well, send me to Cinque Terre"
These words have stuck with me since they were uttered by a fellow Brazilian traveler a couple days ago on a bus to Monaco. I was a little skeptical at first, I mean sure I was excited to see the Mediterranean, eat some pasta, and get out of France, but I had no idea of the sheer majesty of Italy's best kept secret. I swear, this city is like some sort of narcotic, really- addictive, powerful, and always leaves you wanting more. You may want to come here before you die.
This morning Dan and I got up early to go to La Spezia to book tickets to Venice for Friday. Looks like we'll be headed out of Riomaggiore Friday at 1 AM, have a smallish layover in Pisa (that means cliche picture time) between the hours of 2 to 4, and then it's to Venice, estimated arrival- the buttcrack of dawn. Nope, no sleeping that night, but whatever, we're poor now thanks to Italian train police, and we can't afford, nor want to book, another hostel. Should be an adventure :)
When we'd sorted out all the logistics of our trip, we met Cade, Casey, and Brittany and headed out to go on the hike to see all of Cinque Terre. Oh, the hike. Basically to get between the 5 cities, you've got a couple options. You can take the train, take a ferry, bike, or walk the breathtaking trails for 7 miles along the Mediterannean for an estimated 6 hours. We chose the last option. WOW this hike was fantastic, and I must publicly thank my Chacos, the only form of footwear I kept in Europe for our little adventure, for all they have done for me me thus far. Anyways, back to the hike. It's better expressed in pictures, but as of now, I've got none. So, again, google Cinque Terre, and come back July 1 for a better description of the breathtaking seascapes that are the crazy hard hike in the Italian Riviera.
The hike only ended up taking us about 5ish hours, and that was after my memory card ended up being full between the 1st and 2nd city, and I had to turn back for my new one. Yeah... I was not about to miss out on all the pictures this time! Oh, and did I mention that the trek to Monterossa was hard? Well, it was. Really hard. When they say that the hike is along the coast, well, they kind of lied. The first part was smooth sailing. The path was wide, the grade was almost flat, and life was good. Everything was easy until about the 3rd city when it began to climb higher and higher into the mountains, and steep stairs became the only form of path we could see. For 2ish hours it seemed all we did was zigzag up and down stairs, always losing any altitude we had previously gained. It was a little disheartening, but, like I've said time and time again, the scenery made every stair worth it, and I've gained some new calf muscles. They are named Cinque and Terre.
When we finally reached Monterossa, the last city, I wanted to fall onto the ground and kiss it. We were starving, so our first order of business was food. We found a nice cafe, and all ordered Focaccia bread with various things on top. I had potato and rosemary, and it was good. Maybe I was just the fact that I was starving, but the rumors are true: the food in Italy is ambrosia.
After eating we went down to the beach. I didn't even get in the water at first... I was too pooped from our hike! I think everyone basically had the same idea, because we all just laid out our towels and crashed for a little. Even though little Italian kids kept running by me and flipping sand onto my face and I was awoken by loud Italian mothers playing with their kids and the incessant ringing of the city bell, sleeping on the Mediterranean beach definitely was one of my favorite parts of the day. It was a little breezy, but the water was nice, and Casey, Brittany, and I jumped in and swam around anyways. Oh, and Brittany got stung by a sea anemone- she is so hardcore!
When the sun cast huge shadows on the mountains above and our little beach was surrounded by shadow, we packed up and headed back to Riomaggiore for dinner and World Cup. We went to our favorite outdoor bar, I got 5 euro pesto, and we ate and cheered for Argentina all night. Oh, and I made sure to get gelato, too.... you can't forget gelato.
Well, that is the day's events. Nothing too exciting, but that is the way we like it. Tomorrow will probably be a mirror image of today, only with NO hiking and more beach. (And maybe lots of sunscreen too, seeing as I got very very burned today)