Published: August 4th 2012August 4th 2012
So I made my way from my hotel in Genoa to the train station with lots of time to spare. I had a quick breakfast of cappucino, a croissant with jam, and freshly squeezed orange juice. (This was the deal for 3.90 euros.) I found my spot on the train to La Spezia and sat and waited to leave. And waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, someone who worked on the trains came and explained in Italian (of course) that there was a problem and a delay. I didn't really understand what was being said, but got the jist of it that there was a problem with the doors. After that, I didn't know if she was saying we would have to switch trains, or wait another 4 hours, or what. Fortunately there was a really nice man who took pity on me and my lack of comprehension and told me what the problem was. Then we started to move. Guess it wasn't a problem anymore! He and I chatted for a little bit, until the seat next to me was taken at the next stop. Oh well.
I got to La Spezia fine, found the Cinque Terre Park office (with a little difficulty) and got my Cinque Terre train/hiking pass for 2 days. I also got a map and a train timetable. I found out that the next train was in about 20 minutes, so I got some food and made my way over to the track to board the train. I arrived in the town of Corniglia (which is the third town of the five) where my hostel was. I boarded the bus to the main square with some difficulty (my backpack on my back got stuck on the low ceiling on the way in the bus!) and stood the whole way to the main square. It was a short ride, but way better than climbing a huge hill or a million stairs to get there!
I checked in at my hostel, and found my bed in a room of 8 girls. There was a bathroom right next to the room, and it was fine. The only thing I didn't like about the bathroom was the layout of the showers. Not much privacy there! Only a glazed door between you and anyone else in the washroom, and nowhere to leave your stuff but on a hook outside the shower. At least the toilets were in stalls with closing doors! Other than that, the hostel was nice and clean, and there were big lockers to store your stuff. You did, however, have to leave your locker key at the front desk anytime you left the hostel. Weird. I made sure all my valuables traveled with me each day.
I decided to wander around the town a bit, and wandered off on a road that led to the next town. I got a nice bird's eye view from there though! I then wandered back into town, looking for some gelato. There was a fantastic place down one of the little winding pedestrian streets, and I took my gelato to the scenic viewpoint where you could see two of the other towns in the distance.
I then took the bus back to the train station (all included in my Cinque Terre card) and made my way to another town, the next one over, called Vernazza, I think. It was pretty too, but not a lot to see. The castle was closed, and I took photos from the water's edge, and then I headed back to Corniglia. Time to do some laundry! While waiting for my laundry to be washed (the short cycle took 50 min.!), I met some of the other girls in the room, more Canadians! I think that there were 6 of us in there! They invited me to join them for dinner, but since I was waiting for my laundry, I had to pass. I hung up my laundry outside, and went to a patio where I ordered gnocchi ai 4 formaggio. I thought 4 cheese gnocchi sounded good, but it wasn't great. After dinner, I went back to the lookout point, and ran into four of the Canadians. These girls were Quebecoises, and spoke a real joual (slang) French that I only partially understood. I had better luck understanding the French in France! They switched to English for me a fair bit, and convinced me to go for a second gelato cone of the day. :)
The next day I got up early, took a shower (while no one else was around), had breakfast, and made my way to the train station to head to the first of the five towns, Riomaggiore. The train rides are short, but crowded. I wandered around this town, getting lost on the high and low streets, and found the castle at the top of the hill. It had a nice view, and it was cool there on a bench in the shade. Finally, I walked down to the panoramic walk along the cliffs, and did the short walk between the two towns, along the Via Dell'Amore. (Lovers Lane) It was hot, but pretty to walk along the cliffs by the ocean. I saw a lot of those "locks of love" that couples hang on bridges. It seems to me that they sell padlocks there for that very purpose. I also saw a lot of graffiti, even names carved into the leaves of cactus plants. How awful!
The second town was pretty too, but not as neat as the first one. There was a huge swimming hole at the port, where people were jumping off of large rocks into a very narrow channel of deep water. I cringed every time I saw someone jump, because there were so many spots where if the people landed wrong, they could hurt themselves badly, or crack their heads open.
After a short time there, I went off the fifth town (as I had seen #3 & 4 the day before) which was Monterosso. It was flat! Lots of beachfront, with lots of people sunbathing and swimming and kayaking. Had I realized how little people wore here to swim (and they don't have great bodies, or are particularly young), I might have brought my two piece bathing suit too! Oh well. I saw the new town, with the large carving of a man holding a wave, and the old town, with winding little pedestrian streets. I started to feel unwell, and decided to head back to the hostel in Corniglia. I got to the train station to find out there was a 15 min. delay on my train, and almost boarded the wrong one, since they were all backed up! I got off it in time, and then saw two of the girls from the hostel on the platform. I went to talk to them and found out that they had been swimming in the ocean, near the rocks, and had gotten injured in the water, hitting the rocks from either the tide or from some people pushing their way onto the ladder out of the water. We all headed back to the hostel, and I did a second load of laundry. The stuff from the day before wasn't all quite dry, but I'd learned that if you put your laundry in front of the air conditioner, the vents blew out a whole lot of warm air that would dry your stuff more quickly.
Laundry set up, I went in to find out where the four Quebecois girls were eating, and could I join them? They said there were going to go for takeout pizza and sit at the viewpoint to watch the sun set. I tagged along, and as we awaited our pizza, another guy from the hostel recognized us and asked to join us. As we walked to the viewpoint, we saw another girl from the hostel and told her our plan. By the end, there were 8 of us sitting at the viewpoint talking and eating and watching the sunset. My kind of night!
I bypassed the gelato that night (one that day was plenty) and made my way back to check on my laundry. About half of it was dry, so I rearranged the clothes on the drying rack, and went to repack my bag. I was up the latest, trying to post a travelblog, but my paid internet ran out before I could save anything. The site didn't work properly on my iPod Touch anyway, so I'm not sure it would have worked.
Next, on to Pisa!