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June 28th 2011
Published: August 9th 2011
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Can you think of anything more fun?Can you think of anything more fun?Can you think of anything more fun?

We paddled out to the deep and had the time of our lives!
Some days are just perfect. We didn't plan much for today, but it all unfolded as though we had mapped it out carefully. We woke up keen to explore, after only getting a glimpse of Monterosso from high up the hill at sunset last night. I threw open the big green shutters on our French doors and couldn't believe how gorgeous the view and the garden was. There were brightly coloured flowers everywhere in the garden, and we were aware of the fragrance of the jasmine before we walked down the path to breakfast and saw it. I can't believe I'm writing this, but I had the best coffee I've had in Italy from a MACHINE at the breakfast buffet! Strong and milky, just how I like it - nothing like the old cafe bars at home.

As we had driven in last night in the dark, we didn't experience the steps until we ventured to the beach. It's not that we hadn't been warned about them, but we decided it might not be such a bad thing to be a little removed from the main drag. The view was worth it, but hearing Hugo count the 162 steps on the way down made us wonder how we'd go walking UP at the end of the day! (Actually, on the way up, the steps were easier than the steep section of road that came after) I think we'll be much fitter at the end of this week. Who needs a stairmaster when you can visit this place?

Monterosso has two sections - the 'old town', (Where we chose to swim today because of the paddle boats), and a gorgeous promenade lined with kerbside restaurants which you reach either through a pedestrian tunnel under the hill, or by a path over the hill. This path may lead you astray however, as there is a wonderful bar half-way along, with a view to die for. The colourful umbrellas and deck chairs go on for miles along the beach, with fairly hefty rental rates when you multiply by four, but nothing too prohibitive. I think we are just used to beaches being free!

We opted to skip the chair rental for the kids, and to use those funds on the perfect thing for children who had spent the last week or so in art galleries and museums! We had never seen
The road to MonterossoThe road to MonterossoThe road to Monterosso

Watch out for the 3-wheeled utes!
anything like these magnificent paddle boats. Ours came complete with a curvy slide (apparently short straight slides are for babies). Isabel and Hugo couldn't believe their luck, so it was squeals and laughter all round as we paddled out to the deep water and took the plunge. As we were playing, an older American gentleman swam past, hoping to find out how to buy one for his 'pond' (!) in upstate New York.

Eventually hunger got the better of us and we walked off the beach to find a place to eat. The B&B had given us a discount card for a restaurant in the old town, so we decided to try it out (without expecting very much based on previous hotel recommendations!). Ristorante Moretto was a gorgeous place with flowers and umbrellas and white tablecloths, and the pasta with clams was just amazing - not too oily, lots of white wine, very special. An old lady was sitting at the table beside us literally smacking her lips. Having said all that, Isabel ordered the dish of the holiday so far: Salmon with an almond crust and a beautiful dressing piped around the plate. Check out the photo below
View from B&B Il ParcoView from B&B Il ParcoView from B&B Il Parco

We woke up to this........ Our view looking out
- everyone needed more than one taste! Frank and I are getting a kick out of our children ordering haute cuisine while we go for the, shall we say, "lower-key" menu options. No nuggets and chips for them!

After negotiating several queues, we have now sorted our Cinque Terre cards, which give us train travel and entry to the trails between the five towns of Cinque Terre for the rest of our stay. The lovely lady at the tourist information booth also gave us advice about the best time of day to walk. The next job is to decide which end of Cinque Terre to start our hike from - Riomaggiore or Monterosso. In a lucky break, we were chatting to a couple of guys in the beach cafe who had just come off the walk and had some recommendations to make. It is so hot, that we think it will be best to start the walks in the evening around 7pm, then eat dinner at the town we walk to and catch the train home. Some people do the whole hike in one day, but I am looking forward to taking it slowly and enjoying the view.

Stay tuned...................

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Our first glimpse of Monterosso - just as the sun was going downOur first glimpse of Monterosso - just as the sun was going down
Our first glimpse of Monterosso - just as the sun was going down

I had to take this photo so that Frank could keep his eyes on the road!
Il Parco private gardenIl Parco private garden
Il Parco private garden

And this was the view looking in.
paths lined with jasminepaths lined with jasmine
paths lined with jasmine

Maybe it was the heat that made it smell so wonderful?
Stunning gardenStunning garden
Stunning garden

Every morning an old man carefully removed all the dead heads so it was always perfect.
Relaxing on the patioRelaxing on the patio
Relaxing on the patio

one of our favourite reading spots
B&B Il ParcoB&B Il Parco
B&B Il Parco

Worth the steps for the garden and the view
Colour, light, fun!Colour, light, fun!
Colour, light, fun!

Never a dull moment on the beach!
Just off the beach, MonterossoJust off the beach, Monterosso
Just off the beach, Monterosso

We became a little more self-conscious than at home - everybody seems to get completely dressed before they leave the beach!
Isabel's menu pick - the winnerIsabel's menu pick - the winner
Isabel's menu pick - the winner

Our children know how to pick'em! Incredible salmon with an almond crust and delicious sauce.

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