Barbara's Random Thoughts

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Here we go again

Cinque Terre--Riomaggiore

October 18, 1996

We got up totally early this morning—well, 7am. [Heehee—I love my qualifier there, as I realized that 7:00 really wasn't THAT early.] We took a 7:51 train to Pisa, where we changed trains to go to La Spezia. In La Spezia we took another train to get to Riomaggiore--the 1st city in the Cinque Terre. It was so funny--we were in Pisa and had 5 minutes to get our connecting train. And over the speakers we hear--in Italian and English--that the train from Pisa to La Spezia requires a supplement. We're standing there with 5 minutes before the train leaves, the ticket office is a couple of platforms we just got on the train! The ticket guy on the train was rad, [sigh.] though--he was telling us (in Italian) that we needed a supplement and this train was a rapido...but he was so nice! He was like "Just look next time and make sure. But this time--ok." [This is classic. We did this more times that I’d like to admit--playing the stupid Americans who didn't know they weren't supposed to take a rapido on the rail pass we had. But I have to admit that the conductors on the trains were much nicer about it than the ticket office personnel usually were when we went the prescribed route and got our passes validated ahead of time.]

Then we got to Riomaggiore and found the hostel. They had room and it's not too bad at all! [Our universally-pessimistic edition of the Rough Guide to Italy didn’t speak well of the place.] Then we wandered around a little...found that the path to the next city was closed because of a mud slide--=(! So we took the train to the next city--Manarola. We wandered down by the sea and just sat there for so long. It is so beautiful! The ocean is this awesome blue/green color--it doesn't even look real. And the waves are all crashing up on the rocks at the bottom of the cliffs--the spray and the foam are just pure white. And the sun was out, blue sky, totally beautiful day. From Manarola, we found the path to the next city--Corniglia. Oh! [I forgot something...] But first, we wandered around Manarola. Just up and around all these little streets and steps here and there. We sat next to a little church and looked out over the hills above the sea. It was so cute--all these little houses in pink and yellow--gingerbread houses, they looked like! And they're all just built on the hillside, wedged in there, stacked against each other.

We went on from there and hiked over to Corniglia. It ended up that we took the wrong trail, but it led down to these steps that went out to some rocks overlooking the sea. We sat there and ate our bread and cheese, a banana, and some cookies. We could see back to the city we'd just left and on ahead to Corniglia. There were all these dark clouds over Corniglia, but we were sitting in the sun. Then the clouds began to move, and Corniglia was in the sun, but we got rained on! It wasn't too bad until the wind picked up--then we were getting wet both from the rain and the spray from the waves, and practically getting blown off the cliff by this freezing cold wind! So we walked back up to the trail and on to the next village. It was so beautiful along the way--walking on this path along the sea, watching the sun glimmering on the water.

I think it was in Corniglia, but I'm not sure--no, it was in Manarola. [Getting ahead of myself again...] We went exploring up this little road and decided to walk up these stairs in the hillside. Turns out there's this whole series of steps leading up to and around a vineyard. We're climbing up these tiny stone steps and hiking around and under the was incredible! Then Melinda tried to find a different way down the hillside...she and Michelle ended up jumping across this ravine! I was too chicken to do it so I ended up sliding down the hill on my butt, trying to get down another way! [I totally remember this. I was so afraid I would jump and miss the other side. And it was total peer pressure, too--everyone else is doing it!! But I guess I passed the test of "if all of your friends were jumping off a cliff..."]

And then we went on to Corniglia. [I had to acknowledge the digression...] I guess most of our adventures today were in Manarola! Corniglia was really nice, too, though. We wandered some and then found a place to sit and watch the sunset. I have been so surrounded by nature and God's creation today! The sunset was really pretty. The sun behind a few clouds, casting a pink glow over the sky and pink glimmers on the water...slowly sinking down and then disappearing over the horizon. We sat there for a long time, just thinking and watching the sky and ocean. I watched the sun set over the Mediterranean Sea today! This is incredible to be here.

[Narration of the next day's hiking]

On our way to find the trail to Vernazza, we ran into our waiter from last night! We hiked with him and ran into some others along the way who were staying in the same youth hostel as us. So we all hiked together: Michael, the Scottish guy who was our waiter, 2 Australian guys, and two Canadian girls. It was really neat to talk with them about places they've been and where they want to go...nice to meet people that are fellow travelers. The hike was so incredible. The views out over the hills and the ocean were so beautiful. It was so cool, the trail led up through the hills, past all these little vineyards, there were a few people here and there, working in their vineyard. And there were olive groves as well...with little old men picking up the olives. They would all greet us and say "Buon giorno!" as we passed.

[later in the day, hiking from Vernazza to Monterosso]

We ran into Caroline and Elizabeth halfway there--they were on their way to Vernazza. We stood and talked to them a little--we met them here at the hostel last night. Anyway, as we were talking, Elizabeth somehow stepped backwards or slipped or lost her balance or something--she fully fell off the trail, down a couple of yards into this vineyard! We were all freaking out, she's lying there and can't get up because she's lying sort of downhill...this Italian guy finally jumped down there to help her up...we pulled him up to the trail, then we all pulled Elizabeth back up! She was ok, just a lot of scratches everywhere. I think if she had put her hands back to stop her fall, or if she hadn't been wearing a backpack, she really might have broken something. But just the way it was so funny to look back on it, but not at all at the time. I just have this image in my head of her falling with this terrified look on her face!

[amusing train station episode from the journey back]

I opened my backpack to get some water, and as I pulled out the water bottle, my apple went flying, rolled across the platform, and then down onto the train tracks. But I didn't want to just leave it. I figured I could wash it off! So I bent down to get it (from beneath the train we'd just gotten off of)--and my backpack slips, hits me on the head, and then slides off onto the platform. We were all laughing so hard--I felt like such a fool! But I washed off the apple, cut off the smashed part, and it was really good! [Never one to waste anything, Barbara reaches under a train to retrieve an apple...and is proud of it.]

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| posted by Barbara | 2:23 AM