Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cinque Terre

  For Thanksgiving we decided to head to Cinque Terre, which is located on the west coast of Italy in the Italian Riviera, about 4.5 hours from where we live.  We’d heard lots of great things about Cinque Terre and we were excited to check things out.  Cinque Terre, translated means Five Lands, consists of 5 tiny towns along the rocky coast.  From north to south they are Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.  We found an apartment in Deiva Marina, which is a 15 minute train ride north of Monterosso.

The trip started off a little rocky.  We weren’t more than 30 mins down the road and Sadie puked all over the back seat of the car.  Nice.  All over Abbie’s toys and the bags of food we had behind the drivers seat.  So we pulled over to clean that all up and then drove another 1.5 hours listening to her dry heave.  We decided to stop at an Autogrill by Bologna, had a nice lunch, bought a $10 bag of M&M’s (no kidding, this bag was not the grocery store size, but not as small as the gas station size either.  It was in between the 2 and it was 7.60E, which is about $10….), and went back out to the car to discover Sadie had puked all over the front seat of the car.  So gross!  Thank God Mark cleaned it up because I was getting nauseous from it.

We made it to Deiva Marina around 4:45pm after Sadie puked in the car 2 more times (last time we’re ever taking the dogs on a trip over here), and after 2 trips around the tiny town, we found where we were supposed to check in.  Deiva Marina is pretty much a ghost town this time of year.  It’s beautiful, but there aren’t many people around at all.  We really, really liked our apartment.  It’s small, but efficient.  It had 2 bedrooms and a bathroom with a shower and a washing machine and a little kitchen, living room, dining room area with a computer with internet access.  For 90E/night, we were very happy with it.  If we had the windows open we could hear the waves crashing on the beach since we were about a block from the ocean.  Thursday night we went literally right across the street to a tiny (and I mean tiny) grocery store to get some food for lunch.  The lady behind the counter didn’t speak a lick of English, but was very nice and helpful and she gave Abbie a piece of focaccia bread that was DELICIOUS.  We had dinner and got Abbie to bed at 7:45pm.  She didn’t nap at all on the trip, but surprisingly she was still in a good mood and slept from 7:45pm until we woke her up after 9am.IMG_3685IMG_3379IMG_3380

Friday morning we wanted to take the train to Vernazza and then hike to Monterosso, but that didn’t work out.  We got to the train station 15 minutes early because we wanted plenty of time to get tickets and figure out which platform to get on.  Conveniently they didn’t have anyone there selling tickets.  They just had a machine with a sign on it saying it didn’t accept credit cards and to go to a hotel in town to get train tickets.  However, we’d just walked past that hotel and it sure didn’t look like anyone was around.  So we decided to try to use the machine since we had Euros and we got it to work, but of course the machine didn’t give change.  It just printed out this “I owe you” receipt for us.  Mark and I just looked at each other and laughed.  SO typical Italy.IMG_3393 IMG_3419 IMG_3421

So we get to Vernazza and we want to buy a map.  We only had a 20E bill since the stupid machine hadn’t given us any change and ATM’s don’t give out smaller bills.  The girl said she didn’t have any change, which is VERY typical in Italy.  I don’t know how merchants make any money when they NEVER have change.  Don’t they realize that ATM’s only give out 20’s or 50’s?  Italians don’t make sense sometimes.  So we didn’t buy the map and went to the train station counter to buy tickets for the National Park.  (Cinque Terre is a park and you need a pass to hike on the trails or to ride the train between the towns.)  So we found out there that all the trails are closed and you can’t hike between the towns.  …  Great.  The whole purpose of coming to Cinque Terre is to hike between the towns along the coast.  All we could do is laugh and say whatever.  So we asked to buy a train ticket to get between the towns and use the “I owe you” thingy to buy it and of course that wasn’t an option because they weren’t Trenitalia (the main train company in Italy).  Man, I love Italy.  We just decided to screw it and figure it out later since we were getting frustrated.  IMG_3435 IMG_3454 IMG_3475 IMG_3482 IMG_3490

We walked downtown Vernazza and watched the waves crashing on the rocks for a while and took some pictures of the coast and the town.  It’s a pretty little town with a lot of character.  We saw signs for a castle, so we decided to go check that out, only to get halfway up there to have someone tell us the castle wasn’t open that day.  *sighs*  She pointed us in a direction saying there were some pretty look-outs that way, and we ended up finding them which was nice.  It really is a picturesque little town.  I just don’t know how people live there year round.  It’s literally built on a cliff, so the whole town is just a bunch of stairs and VERY narrow walk ways.  I couldn’t imagine moving into a house there.  I’m not sure how you’d maneuver furniture through those narrow sidewalks.  But we got some good pictures and a magnet while we were there.IMG_3500  IMG_3510 IMG_3516 IMG_3521 IMG_3524 IMG_3541

We headed back to the train station so we could take the train to Monterosso since hiking wasn’t an option.  We ran into a bunch of Americans there and had a nice chat with them while we waited for the train.  Monterosso was a little disappointing, but we discovered afterwards that we never went to the “old town” part, we were only in the “new town” part.  Maybe tomorrow we’ll get a chance to go back to the “old town” part if we have time.  We got a few cute beach photos, even though it was pretty cold, let Abbie play at a playground for a little bit and then walked along the walkway by the water before heading up to the train station.IMG_3545 IMG_3546 IMG_3556 IMG_3567 IMG_3579 (She wasn’t too sure about the waves at first, so she had to hold on to daddy’s leg.)

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(Not a big fan of the swing.)

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We came back around 1:30pm, ate lunch at our apartment and then all 3 of us took an almost 3 hour nap.  I love afternoon naps.  One of the nice things about traveling with a toddler is that she needs a nap, so coming back for her naps is a perfect excuse for me to take a nap also.  We decided to just hang out in Deiva Marina on Friday night instead of heading back down to Cinque Terre.  We got dinner at a place right up the road that had really good pizza and pesto focaccia bread and then came home and went to bed.

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Side note:  There is a place about a block from our apartment that reminds me so much of the Tower of Terror at Disney World in FL, it’s not even funny.  I seriously think whoever designed that place must have seen this place.  It’s incredibly old, abandoned and just plain creepy!

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Brittney said...

Very beautiful, I can't wait to go there :)

Tanya and Patrick McNally said...

Beautiful! Love your pictures!

Anonymous said...

Your pictures are awesome! Love it!