Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cinque Terre (Part 2)

IMG_3758Saturday morning we got up early (okay, 8am-ish, but that’s early for us while we’re on vacation) so we could catch the 9:05am train to Manarola.  Manarola was my favorite of the 5 towns.  It was colorful and beautiful and the coastline was just gorgeous.


This is the little area that they lower their boats down into.  There was a waterfall coming from under the town that fell into this alcove.

IMG_3782 IMG_3788

A view of Manarola from where they kept their boats.  And you can see that crane on the left – that’s how they get their boats into the water.


This was the trail that went north of Manarola.  We walked along it and took some pictures.  It was beautiful and the rock along the cliff was fascinating.

IMG_3800 IMG_3806 IMG_3821 IMG_3831 IMG_3836 IMG_3837 IMG_3839

After our little photo shoot we found a playground up on a hill and let Abbie loose for a while.  She’d really been wanting to walk, and we didn’t want her walking along the path by the cliff, so we’d kept her in the Ergo.  But she had fun running all over the playground for a while.

IMG_3845 IMG_3848 IMG_3850

After our excursion around and over the ridge, we headed back into town.  Abbie had to point out all the boats on our way through town.  Lucky for her, there were about 50 of them.

IMG_3865 IMG_3873

The walking trail from Manarola to Riomaggiore, known as via dell’ Amore, was open, so we walked along that next.  The tale goes that people from both towns would meet along this path, giving it the nickname Lovers Lane. 

IMG_3875 IMG_3878 IMG_3882

All over Italy you see padlocks locked to pretty much anything people can put them on, mostly bridges.  The tale goes that people in love put a padlock on something and throw away the key, making their love everlasting.  Via dell’ Amore was no different.  There were padlocks stuck everywhere!

IMG_3890 IMG_3896 IMG_3897 IMG_3898 IMG_3902 IMG_3907

I personally thought this guy was nuts!  That water below him was violent, and if he’d made one wrong step he would have been in the drink.  I can’t imagine there was a bunch of fish in water that was that violent, but what do I know? IMG_3914 IMG_3922

After a nice mile long stroll to Riomaggiore, we hiked up the hill to check out the town.  We passed this little waterfall, which ran underneath the main road.  This person had a little house built for his ducks and was using the waterfall to run his little mill wheel.  It was pretty neat.


About a block up the road we saw this.  One of the big disadvantages of living on a huge hill.  I’m sure it’ll take them 2 months to fix this, even though it was blocking the road.

IMG_3931 These people put a garden wherever they can!  There were tiny gardens everywhere and little stairways going all over the place.


I really like Riomaggiore too.  It was a quaint little town and the people seemed friendly (and there were actually people around).

IMG_3947 IMG_3950 IMG_3957 IMG_3958  IMG_3970

Abbie found a butterfly while we waited for the train. IMG_3987 

We headed back to the apartment for Abbie (and our) nap around 1pm with plans to try to make the 3:56pm train, but we quickly nix’d that when the train back to our apartment was 15 mins late.IMG_4012

Our plan was to check out the last of the Cinque Terre towns, Corniglia, Saturday evening, but it was dark by the time we got there since we caught the train was late, yet again.  So this is pretty much all we saw of Corniglia.   (It’s the train station.)IMG_4047 

We had planned to get dinner in Corniglia, but after we got off the train we didn’t have a clue where the main street was, and after walking up the hill about 1/4 of a mile, we turned around and decided to head to Monterosso’s “Old Town” for dinner.  We had to wait for a half an hour for the train, but we encountered an American couple and chatted with them for a while, which was nice.

Old Town Monterosso was pretty neat, even if we didn’t see much of it because it was dark.  We had dinner at a little pizzeria and it was really good.  Abbie did really well, especially considering they didn’t have any high chairs (as usual).  She sat on a little stool next to Mark and ate all her food and watched a noise bunch of kids that came in after us.  She kept pointing at them and laughing and saying “funny”.  It was pretty cute.


It was raining when we headed back to the train station, but we had umbrellas and I figured out how to wear Abbie in the Ergo and stick the handle of the umbrella in between us and hold on to the edge of it to keep us both dry.  It worked pretty well.

Abbie woke up early (just before 8am, but that’s early for her, especially considering she was up until 9pm the night before), so we packed up the apartment and left Deiva Marina by 9:30am.  It was a little overcast when we left the coast, but about an hour inland it was snowing like crazy!  It took us until 4pm (including 2 stops) to get home because it snowed and rained for the last 5 hours of driving.

Abbie proved herself, once again, to be a very good little traveler.  She did amazingly well the entire time we were gone and didn’t have any major meltdowns.  Mark is hilarious with Abbie.  He tells me about 40 times per hour how perfect she is and how she’s such a good girl and how he thinks she’s the greatest thing ever.  He’s always telling me to look at whatever she’s doing.  She has him wrapped around her little finger like no one else.  It’s entertaining at times.


So now we’re home and unpacked and the laundry is started.  We have 3 days to get organized and repacked and then we head out for our trip to Amsterdam, which I’m excited about, but also pretty nervous about.  Naturally Mark has to fly nights on Wednesday night, so he won’t even be home until midnight-ish, and our flight leaves from Milan (3.5 hours from here) at 6:30am on Thursday.  My original plan was to leave Wednesday afternoon and check into a hotel near the airport and get to bed early so we could get up early and make our flight.  Now I get to wake Abbie up in the middle of the night and pray to God she goes back to sleep for the drive to Milan, and then wake her up again at 5am-ish when we get there.  (Did I mention that she didn’t sleep AT ALL in the car during the 10+ hours we were in the car on this trip?)  I think it’s going to be a very rocky start to this trip since Mark and I won’t get any sleep and who knows how much Abbie will sleep.  But at least we won’t have dog puke to deal with!

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.)

IMG_3584 IMG_3592 IMG_3597

(Not a big fan of the swing.)

IMG_3612  IMG_3642 IMG_3657 IMG_3683

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.

IMG_3693 IMG_3694 IMG_3696 IMG_3697 IMG_3700   IMG_3715 IMG_3722

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!

IMG_3684IMG_3386IMG_3384 IMG_3385