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Published: August 9th 2011
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 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 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.
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