Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hiking and Boating in Italy

When we woke up on our last full day of Cinque Terre, the rain was coming down in sheets. It was so disappointing because the rain would prohibit us from doing the last 2 things we really wanted to do- take a boat ride through the sea and hike from Monterosso to Vernazza. The tourism board had told me that morning that the water taxis would not be running today AND all of the trails would be closed due to the rain. I was trying to be positive and thankful for the one day we had without rain and just had to tell myself how lucky we were to have gotten to go to Cinque Terre.

The rain subsided a bit and we decided to take a train to the most southern town, Riomaggiore. It was forecasted to start raining again in a few hours, so we tried to speed through it.

As I said earlier, one of the main things I wanted to do while in Cinque Terre was take a boat ride through the Mediterranean. We asked the tourist board both in Vernazza and Riomaggiore if the boats would be running that day, and they both told us no, since the water was so choppy and rain was forecasted. One of them told me that if they did start running, it would cost about 50 euros a person.
Well, while in Riomaggiore, we saw the water taxi pass by! We walked towards the water and sure enough, there was a kiosk selling tickets! I told myself as long as it was 40 euros or less a person, I wanted to buy tickets. When it was finally our turn in line, the vender charged us 10 euros! I was so thankful and figured even if we weren't able to hike from Monterosso to Vernazza, at least we got to take my boat ride!




The water taxi was probably the most well spent money of our trip. It took a little over an hour and offered gorgeous views of the coast line. We went all the way from the most southern city to the most northern, Monterosso. The water was SUPER choppy and we understand why everyone thought that the boats wouldn't be running. Some people almost got swept away by the crashing waves while boarding the boat!

After getting off the boat, we had lunch in Monterosso. Despite the trails being closed, we decided that we would *try* to hike them and see if anyone stopped us. We heard rumors that there were guards at the beginning of the trails prohibiting people from hiking.

We got so lucky. Not only did no one stop us from hiking the trail, but because it was "closed", we were some of the only people on the trails! Was it safe of us? Of course not. But it was an experience I will never forget and definitely don't regret!

The whole hike was basically stairs, and it was HOT. Daniel equated it to doing the Stairmaster in a sauna for 2 hours. We understand now why the trail was closed- the paths were really slippery, narrow, and hand-rail free. The picture of me on the right shows how narrow the path was- no room for more than one person, and if you fell, you landed in tree branches!

Bye, Monterosso!

Daniel, being a monkey, climbed down some rocks so he could take a picture of the bridge that we had to cross while on the trail. I then had to take a picture of him and the rocks he climbed down for his photo op. Either my skills as a photographer OR the iphone (vs my nexus) suck at pictures. 

We see Vernazza in the distance! 2 hours least we knew this time what to expect!

This house that we passed while hiking was in total shambles. We are guessing that it was ruined during the mudslide a couple of years ago.

We couldn't believe how blessed our day had been. It never rained other than in the morning and we were actually able to accomplish every single thing that we wanted to do while in Cinque Terre! I am still so thankful!

After our full day, we showered and got ready for our last dinner in Cinque Terre.


We ate at a highly recommended restaurant called The Belforte. It was on the side of that cliff (picture on left), and we could barely hear each other over the sound of the water! I had fish and lobster that had been caught that morning by the local fishermen- delicious! While there, we chatted with two Americans that had decided to elope while in Italy and had just gotten married ON that balcony before dinner. It was so neat getting to share a bit of their experience with them. Our waiter was a riot and ended up giving us complimentary limoncello. It was such a memorable way to spend our last night in Vernazza.
So, that was our trip. Some final thoughts:
1. Definitely one of my top vacations ever (I'm rating it top 3). I'm thinking it is the most beautiful place that I have ever been to. It was such a nice getaway from London, too!
2. Daniel loved it, but not as much as I did. It ended up being way more touristy than we had imagined. That didn't bother me, since all of the tourists that we met were really friendly. Just know, though, that if you go there, you ARE going to a tourist hot spot.
3. I don't think I would fly all the way from America just to go to Cinque Terre. I would make it one of the stops while touring Italy or Europe. 2-3 nights would probably be enough time (although we are happy we spent 4 nights, since one of our days was rained out!)
4. We loved Vernazza, but I wouldn't have minded staying in Monterosso. The other villages were lovely, but didn't have as many restaurants. I would recommend staying in Vernazza or Monterosso.
Thanks for letting me share this with all of y'all! Back to posts about normal life in London!

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