Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Getting to Cinque Terre

Ciao! After a perfect 5 days in Cinque Terre, we are back safely and soundly in London.

We had such a richly full vacation that I don't even know where to begin and how to fit everything on this blog. Too much happened on some days to break it up that way, and I don't want to leave anything out!

I think I will start with our trip there, the town we stayed in, and our hotel.

We initially became interested in Cinque Terre because several friends raved about it's scenic views and inspiring culture. Then, we started following Rick Steves and learned that Cinque Terre (meaning 5 lands) is one of his favorite "Back door" European regions. The icing on the cake was that we found plane tickets for dirt cheap. Sold!

Our alarm went off at 5:45 on Friday morning. Because of my dilly dallying, we ended up sprinting with our luggage to the bus stop at 6:12 (the bus arrived at 6:19) to catch a ride to the airport. We got to Stansted with enough time to grab some coffee and then boarded our plane.

What does a 44 pound flight give you? Basically, a half promise that you will arrive to your destination alive. There were no assigned seats, no luggage carry on (had to pay extra to check luggage over 15 lbs), and definitely no free beverages. One slightly terrifying landing later, we were in Genova, Italy.

Not a picture I took. I was too focused on getting to Cinque Terre to take a picture

Despite it's beautiful geography, Genova was a disappointment and I'm glad we left as quickly as possible. It was graffiti-covered, congested, and not somewhere I would want to walk the streets of alone and at night.

From the airport, we took a quick bus to the train station, and then a 2 hour train ride to the town we were staying in, Vernazza (one of the 5 villages in Cinque Terre).

I was initially really worried about getting to our final destination. I could find very little information online and was so worried that we would end up lost in Italy. We were able to easily talk to a tourism agent at the airport and buy our bus ticket to the train station. Understandably, the train station was a little confusing at first- nothing was marked in English and we had no idea what information our train tickets were providing us. We unknowingly bought a train ticket that was not direct and ended up passing Vernazza on the train. There was nobody to help us on the train and other than the people selling tickets, nobody to help us at the train station. With that being said, we were able to easily fix our problem and all together, it was probably only a 30 minute detour. Turned out much better than I figured it would!

Once we got to Vernazza, we had to walk up SEVERAL steps to get to our B&B (and all of this, carrying luggage)! If ONLY we would have known how many hundreds (maybe thousands?) of steps we would have ended up taking on this whole trip!

Initial steps...doesn't look too bad

Just walkin' uphill...probably almost there...

More narrow steps...Is it around the corner?

You're Sh***** me...

Are you serious?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? (BTW, I almost always got lost walking to our b&b. Can you blame me?)

And then, after several winding alleys, uneven steps, and hidden turns, you finally get to the building, and there are 3 more stories you have to drag yourself up!

Our absolutely teeny tiny bedroom, equipped with a pocket-sized bathroom that could boast hot water about 30% of the time

But the views from the window definitely made up for it.

We kept the windows and shutters opened the whole time. Partly because there was no AC and we needed some air flow

But also because we could hear the powerful Mediterranean waves crashing on to the rocky land. It absolutely lulled us into sleep every night.

This was a semi private terrace by our room. Perfect spot for reading, sipping some Italian wine, and just watching the views.

After checking out our accommodations, we just walked a bit around Vernazza. It was a pretty small town. It had one main rode, lined with restaurants, shops, and Gelaterias.
The town bell tower- I found it to be quaint and adorable, except for when it woke us up at 7 am and then rang every half hour after that! BTW, I wouldn't consider what you are seeing as a beach (more of a harbor). It was teeny tiny, and after watching 2 cats use it as it's litter box, we decided we didn't need to walk on it.


 Before dinner, we sat in the Piazza and had a glass of Cinque Terre wine, grown on the hills amongst the villages.

We had dinner at a restaurant that was a short 2 minute walk outside the village. It was owned by two twin brothers and was a wonderful meal to start off our trip! Daniel had lasagna and I had mushroom risotto (so creamy and decadent). We skipped dessert at the restaurant for gelato at the gelateria nearby. The flavors were all in Italian and we felt too bad asking the worker to translate every flavor, but I had something with dark chocolate and hazelnut, Daniel had something creamy with raspberry puree. It was absolutely heavenly and started us off on our gelato-a-day habit while there!

So, that was our arrival, in a nut shell. Just get yourselves ready for the next week or so on this blog to be Cinque Terre overload...we took over 300 pictures!

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