Italy - Cinque Terre or Cinque STAIRa

Trip Start Jul 04, 2006
Trip End Jan 15, 2007

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Saturday, October 7, 2006

Finally getting a chance to catch up on some of the entries...

The Cinque Terre region is absolutely beautiful, and it helps that we were able to spend our time here with our good friends Olga and Andreas.

After a bit of a debacle (late meetings, wrong turns, parking in bus lanes, etc.) in getting to our base in Riomaggiore (an apartment very efficiently booked by Andreas) we started the evening off right - with wine and pesto from the area we were visiting. The pesto was a taste explosion and the wine - mmmmm - very tasty...

As Andreas has a masochistic streak in him, we spent the next day looking over the Italian Riviera hanging (and falling) from sheer rock faces, 50 feet up in the air. Yes, I finally actually went climbing.

A sport practiced by many friends and co-workers (often the same), climbing is a sport that can be peaceful as well intense. Looking at the cliff face, it didn't seem logical to me that we should really be attempting to scale it. But Andreas was his persistent self, and assured us that he would always be there to belay (hold onto the rope that keeps us from plummeting down the face of the rock to an unpleasant end) us. Given that we know many people that have participated in this sport, and as Andreas did make it look pretty easy, we decided to give it a shot.

The first climb was rated a 4+, which I assume means about as hard as sponge cake to those experienced climbers. Tania and I are not experienced climbers. That being said. we did make it up the rock to what was an amazing view of the Italian Rivierra. It was almost worth the pain.

For my second attempt at climbing Andreas decided to push me a bit more and make me collect all the carabiners that he placed on the way up the rock face. One issue - though the first half of the face was rated a 4+, the last bit was a 6+ due to its requirement for inverted (overhang) climbing.

So after actually making it to the last carabiner and unhooking it I decided to go for that last bit that would take me to the top of the cliff.

Then I fell.

As I was pretty far to the right of where Andreas attached the rope to the chain on top, I became a bit of a pendulum, and at one point was flying upside-down by the rock face. I have skydived, I have paraglided, I have upset Tania. This was the single most frightening moment of my life (well, there was that one time I made Tania really mad...). Fortunately, Andreas was in control, and the harness and rope were good, so rather than cutting our trip (or my life...) short, I was able to get lowered down, give Andreas a hug, kiss Tania, and open-up a bottle of the aforementioned wine to help calm my nerves.

I think I'll try get out with some more of you climbers when we get back to Vancouver. It's an incredible sport.

The next day we did the Cinque Terre hike. To explain, the Cinque Terre is a group of five villages along the Italian Rivierra, connected by a path (with many stairs...) that you can take from one to another. Some of the path is steep rock and dirt, some nicely paved. All of it provides breathtaking views of the Ligurian Sea, lovely vineyards and other bits of nature. We spent the day lazing on beaches, hiking, swimming and visiting the villages. Highlights of the region:
- the pesto and wine (and picnicking with both)
- watching the waves crashing off the coast of Riomaggiore
- the beaches of Monterosso (though not the freaky jellyfish thingys)

Overall we had a great time catching up with our favourite Russo-Saxo couple and seeing (and eating and drinking) the beauty of the Cinque Terre.

On to France...
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