It was 7:45 in the morning and about 40 degrees in Moneglia, so we bundled up in coats, gloves and scarves before heading to the train station. We stopped at a bakery that the cute little old lady at the front desk recommended to us to get some pastries. I wish I could find some pastries like these back in Oklahoma! We stopped at a café for some coffee and hot chocolate. It was the only café that was open before 8 in the morning. There was a group of old men who probably had breakfast at that café every morning together. I was disappointed to find that the hot chocolate was similar to the hot chocolate in Spain, which has the consistency of a melted chocolate bar and is too rich for a morning beverage. Nevertheless, the flavor was good and I drank a little to warm me up.
When we arrived at the station to catch an early train, we were not so pleasantly surprised. What are the chances of a national train strike occurring when we are here? All trains and buses were going to be on strike until 5 in the evening. We were at a
loss, because there is not much to do in Moneglia and we had no access to the towns we needed to get to unless we wanted to hike for 8 hours to get to the first town or take a taxi. We instantly killed the taxi idea because it takes 2 ½ hours by car to get to Monterosso, the first of the first towns that make up Cinque Terre (even though it only takes 15 minutes by train). We asked about buses and found out that they were on strike as well. We attempted to kill some time in Moneglia by visiting pastry shops and fruit stands, but we realized that we wouldn’t be able to entertain ourselves all day. We went to the beach to look at the ocean and then headed back to our hotel, hoping the little old lady would be there to give us some suggestions. Instead, there was a little old man working today—he was the owner of the hotel. He spoke a little more English than the woman so we were able to ask him if there was anywhere else nearby that we could walk to. He said that there wasn’t, but offered
Moneglia train station
Mom is making a mad face because the trains are on strike
to drive us to Sestri Levante, a nearby town that had shops and restaurants that we could entertain ourselves with until the train strike ended at 5. The drive only took about 20 minutes. It was so sweet of him to go out of his way like that. He showed us where the bus and train station was in Sestri Levante so we could find it at five and then dropped us off by some good restaurants.
We walked around the marina, taking in the beauty that was surrounding us and then explored our options for food. We ended up eating at Crocodillos. Mom and I split Margarita pizza (delicious!) and Dad had lasagna (also delicious). The house wine was good and the servers were nice so we were satisfied at the end of the meal. It was nice to eat slowly and enjoy each other’s company. I learned how to ask for the bill in Italian, which was a fun little learning experience. Unfortunately, it was between the hours of 1 PM and 5 PM when we were done eating— which means it was siesta time and almost everything was closed down. Again, we felt like we were
in a ghost town. We did our best to walk around the city and find anything that was open to kill some time. We didn’t have a lot of luck, but we did find some gelato and some beer for Dad!
We finally got on the train when the strike was over and headed to Monteroso, the first of the 5 towns in Cinque Terre that we were suppose to visit this morning. The sun was setting by the time we arrived, so we didn’t get to hike. We found some fun little shops to occupy our time for a couple of hours and then stopped at a wine bar to have a glass of Sangria. Mom seemed to enjoy that part of the evening =). Our next stop was Ciak, a restaurant recommended to Mom by Nick, her coworker. We ordered the seafood stew that Nick had recommended and sea bass ravioli. The portions said a minimum of two people, but they were definitely enough to feed 4 people each! They brought out the dishes one at a time because they were served from a giant pot next to our table. The ravioli was amazing and filling. We
didn’t think we could possibly eat anymore, but somehow we managed to enjoy large bowls of seafood stew. Each bowl had a whole fish, shrimps, clams, mussels, squid etc. I had to be a trooper and help Dad finish the bottle of wine, but it was delicious so I didn’t mind. The best part of the dining experience was getting to know the couple next to us. The woman was an American who studied in Florence in college and her husband lived with her in South Carolina but is originally from New Zealand. They gave us some pointers for the hike that we are going to take tomorrow. We shared our food with them and talked about anything and everything from bungee jumping in New Zealand to the necessity of knowing Spanish if you live in Arizona. We were sad to leave, but eventually we had to catch the train back to Moneglia. The few hours we spent in Monterosso were so incredible that we seemed to forget about all of the inconveniences that we ran into earlier in the day. Hopefully there isn’t a train strike tomorrow so we can hike before we have to catch a train to
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