Can we find the very best? - Part 1

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January 14th 2022
Published: January 14th 2022
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As a blogger, some of the most frequently asked questions that I field, as I am sure many other seasoned travellers do as well are, "Which is your most favourite country?" or "Which is the best country you've ever visited?" From reading my blogs, you will already know the answer, which is "I can't answer that because each one has its own special and unique appeal."

I was recently pondering about likes and loves and realized that very much the same questions may be asked about the many cities, towns and villages that we have visited over the years. This is even more difficult to conclude and I will answer in like manner. However, I thought that I would share some of my own perspectives on this highly subjective topic and hopefully get responses from you in the comments section.

Rather than award the gold medal to any particular choice, I prefer to simply express my views with honesty and integrity, giving little space to specific bias. I choose not to be influenced by size, location, international prominence or any other yardstick. Doubtless there will be differing ways of assessing this, from costs, facilities and a host of assorted measurements. Yes, I will consider every aspect including those previously mentioned but when it gets down to the nitty gritty, I have considered one simple element and only one - How did the visit make me feel, inside. Using that as a basis, therefore, whatever I put on paper will be entirely unique to me personally. Those that differ in their views may disagree largely because each person will see things through his or her own prism which would likely be a reflection of countless and varied experiences across the widest possible spectrum of life. And that is the beauty of it all. We should all appreciate each other's reasons.

I still remember the first photographs I saw of this tiny village, instantly declaring that I simply had to visit it in the future, which we did, not many months later. On that occasion, we were visiting Italy. Having visited other cliff-hanging villages earlier in the day, we sat in the forward area of the ferry, making our way past the rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera heading towards our next destination and the subject of this piece. As the boat turned and headed in to shore, I waited with bated breath as Vernazza gradually emerged into full view. The multi-coloured stone buildings, clinging like ornaments to the steep inclines that surrounded the small Mediterranean beach below, thrilled in their magnificence of the medieval. Disembarking, all I could do was repeat to myself that I could not believe that I was actually there. It was like being in a place that time had deliberately forgotten and preserved just for people like me to later enjoy the ambience of its time-worn image. Ochre, grey, pink and beige colours adorned the walls of the homes. The occasional clothes line strung the day's washing out to dry and public viewing, typical of many an Italian town, adding character and charm to the experience.

That day thongs of visitors fanned out in all directions, exploring very nook and cranny, searching for a special souvenir that would remind them of their visit to this enchanting part of the world. As soon as a table became available we took our seats in the outdoor restaurant which was highly recommended to us by a young lady we had earlier met on the train from Genoa. From our vantage point on the beach we surveyed the scene around us. The golden sand tapered towards the clear Mediterranean while small open fishing boats, tethered next to each other, gave a colourful backdrop against the small break-water boulders. Some bikini-clad visitors lay on nearby rocks, exposing their pale skins to the scorching sun above. The superb atmosphere beckoned the avid photographer, videographer and the curious. Our seafood lunch was delectable in every sense, capping off a day that titillated the senses in the most delightful manner.

Prior to the widespread exposure to the world through the videos of the famous Rick Steves, the Cinque Terre, of which Vernazza is a special part of, must have been a simple forgotten corner, as people went about their daily chores of fishing and tending their small hillside holdings. Without wanted to compare it to the other hillside towns we have previously visited, Vernazza warmed my heart as I immersed myself in the simple pleasure of "just being there at that moment of time".

Unfortunately, I lost thousands of pictures of past travels when I experienced a hard drive crash, recovering very few but none of that visit to the Italian Riviera. We are currently booked to make a fourth visit to Italy in September 2022, subject to the logistics surrounding Covid-19 and that visit includes another to the Cinque Terre to share the experience with accompanying family.

In a sense, I am using this blog as an entre into writing again. Please refer to my earlier Blog "The Cinque Terre, Italy - A special place!":


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