Monday, June 29, 2009

Day Cinque (pronounced Chink- way)

June 13, 2009 8:09A.M.

Well, here it is. The end of our first leg of Italy. It came, was grueling in parts, and went. In an hour we'll be on a fast train to Pisa to make our connection to Firenze.

Yesterday was another day of what the guide book promised as an "Easy" hike. I don't who the people are that decide these things, but they need to be shot. Trail No. 9 to Santuario Madonna di Soviore was almost straight uphill. The inclines were rough and the path alternated between uneven pavers on a mule trail to asphalt to rocky crags. Translation: grueling. Never have I sweated so much and had to stop so often to let my heart slow down. The church was interesting, though. The story of the doves revealing the wooden statue buried to protect it from WWII soldiers was intriguing. But too soon we had to replace our packs on our cold sweaty backs and go back down. It went faster buy try telling that to my legs.

Next was a boat ride over to Riomaggiore for some great photo opportunities. Then train it back because the next boat wouldn't be for two more hours. It's about 5P.M. Time for nibbles and then some tennis on tv, in German.

Earlier we tried getting money from the ATM but it kept saying our account wasn't available. EEK! We had to wait the our and a half for the bankers to return from lunch so we could get some money out. Thankfully we did this today instead of waiting til Saturday. Gordon's tip to Travel in Italy #4 (#1 one easily carried backpack, #2 clips for everything, #3 be early).

Dinner was decided on quickly once we noticed many restaurant tables had reservation placards up. It was the Belvedere for our last night. The food was very goo. Only two things spoiled it. A gaggle of drunk trust fund babies and a smoker who insisted on smoking through the entire meal.

Day Four

June 12, 2009 8:54A.M.

Oy, muscle ache is not fun on vacation. Gordon keeps feeding me bananas, something about potassium being good way to ward off crampings. I keep pushing for some beach time. Alas, no acquiescence (sp?). We found that the ferry does indeed stop at Riomaggiore. We train it over to Corniglia to continue the rest of Trail No. 2. Of course it was pretty smooth the whole way. A bit of up and down in Manarola. We didn't stay long there. Got right onto the Via Dell'Amore. Nice and smooth and blissfully SHORT walk. Think of the villagers voluntarily carving this out with picks and buckets. The Italians love their graffiti though. We found a cute Lover's Bench surrounded by tons of locks of love.

We meander through Rimaggiore finally finding the ferry ticket office at the bottom of these long steps. Only to discover the ferry had been cancelled due to rough seas. Of course they couldn't have put a notice at the TOP of the stairs, could they?

Nap upon return. Then out to explore the more resort part of Monterosso. Dinner was decided at Ely. Best food so far in Italy. Once it cooled enough not to scald my face. Ask to see the mark.

Day Three

June 11, 2009 9:35 A.M.

I am in pain. Real physical ouches. We came to the Cinque Terra to hike. Little did we know what were in for. Apparently they've allowed mentally unstable people assess their ease of trail ratings. Two hour long paths, paths as wide as a ruler is long, rocks jutting up from the ground every which way, and stairs. Stairs for days. We shouldn't have purchased a treadmill in prepartion for this trip. A rugged stair climber would have been more beneficial. It was like beating your calves with bricks on purpose. Just when you seriously consider falling flat on your face, you turn around to see a poddle coming up the path behind you. What a blow to the machismo! We walked this torture for six hours on only two of the paths. From Monterosso to Vernazza, stopping for lunch and water refills. Then on to Corniglia. Of course we didn't know the ferry didn't stop in this city (of course it doesn't). We see signs for Marina and walk down even more hellacious stairs only to witness the ferry sail right past.

Eventually arrive back at the top of the stairs and wait patiently for the Ecobus to take us back to our apartment and collapse. Guess what? It doesn't go to Monterosso. The train station lies at the bottom of... you guessed correct... stairs. 365 of them. One. For. Every. Day. Of. The. Year. The train ride? Yeah, it takes ten minutes. Sigh.

Dinner was at La Bella Anchor du Tortuga under the Torre Aurora watch tower. Dinner was better tonight and we even tried anchovies, which the area is known for. Desserts on the menu are not very eclectic. Ice cream or sorbet. So we found the only open gelataria. Sorry, no limoncello tonight.

Day Due (two)

June 10, 2009 9:57A.M.

It seems I lost an entire day somewhere while flying.

Breakfast at the Albergo Marina, Via Buranco, Monterosso al Mare, Cinque Terra, Italy. Our first cappucchinos with such thick tasty foam. Eggs, hard boiled, have a very different strange orangey colored yolk. Animal cracker cereal. Now we're waiting for our cheesy bacon omelets. More fresh juice for you?

Last night was an interesting experience. We finally arrived in the country of Italy 23 hours after leaving the house. Got settled then went and wandered all over the city. It was fun watching Gordon with his own camera. He took such different shots than I did. At 8:30 P.M. we found this place called Ciak that had out a beautiful display of fresh seafood. Plus it had a cute waiter in a sailor outfit. We sat at a buffet style table with a couple from Seattle and an English gentleman (Clive Evans) who is currently living near Nice. He is the chosen photographer for the Siena Palio events. Cool! Once the wine took hold the conversations just opened right up. There was politics and pesto, palios and history.

My dinner was incredibly gross. BBQ grilled mixed seafood. It said grilled fish on the menu, so I was totally expecting some bream, some salmon maybe. Oh no. Prawns, shrimp and squid with ink sacs included! Uck. At least the pesto gnocchi was heavenly. We finished with our first attempt at limoncellos and tiramisu gelato. NOW I love Italy.

Toscana con Piacere! Day One

June 8, 2009 8:40 P.M.

I am currentl flying over Price Edward Island and watching "New In Town" as I jet towards Italy.

Could life GET any better?

New in Town is this great movie with Renee Zellwegger. The minute it started with a table of women scrapbooking I knew I was in love. I teared up when Blanche gave Lucy her first album, ya know?

Sorry for the seque, I've been on this flight for three hours, plus the one hour they kept us sitting on the runway. Sitting right next to the only infants on the entire flight. There are still six more hours left. Thankfully they have Bejewled for FREE!

Somewhere ahead this vast ocean lies a city I've only ever heard about. One that holds mysteries and adventures wrapped with an ancient frame. I can't wait to touch walls that hold the stories of emperors and queens, gladiators and farmers. Walls that will still be strong long after I invade.

Rome, the very word thrills me to the very fingertips (thanks Anne Shirley). All of those movies planting visions in my head. I am finally coming to visit. Will I stay? Who knows, but I will finally experience you for myself. ROME.