Walking along the coast
Trip Start May 10, 2009
12Trip End May 22, 2009
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We took our showers, Mom had tea brought to the room and enjoyed it out on the balcony while I finished up work on the previous day's blog entry. The breakfast here is the best we have had yet. Juice, croissant, cake, a small glass of granola (with chocolate pieces mixed in) and yogurt, and 2 fresh prunes along with coffee, tea, espresso, hot chocolate, whatever you like.
We had a bit of a comical morning. We walked down to town and I picked up some suntan lotion, and Mom got a hat, and then we went to the train station where the tourist information desk is to get information on how this region works.
The Cinque Terre is a National Park. There are 5 towns along this coastline connected by a train line as well as a walking path. At the train station you buy a Cinque Terre card which gives you a pass for the number of days you request. Having a card permits access to the coastal trails as well as the dozens of other trails (some quite difficult hiking trails) into the mountains and to other sights and museums in the area.
We devised a plan of action. We would take the train to the first town (Riomaggiore) and walk the path to our town Manarola and then have lunch and decide what to do after that. When we arrived in Riomaggiore, I noticed that Mom did not have my camera bag. I had assumed she brought it and she had assumed that my camera was in the backpack. So we resolved to return to Manarola (about a 2 minute) by train, then take the train back and start again. We switched tracks and waited and waited and then Mom noticed she had Nancy and Danny's camera strap around her wrist. Ha. We laughed. Saved by Nancy and Danny again! We walked to Manarola and picked up my camera when we got there.
Then we had a chance to investigate our own town a bit. We like it. It is cute, looks great from a distance, has lots of little shops and eateries, and the people so for have been quite friendly except for one lady who works at a gelateria who hails from New York. We found a place where a young guy would prepare a sandwhich for us, heat it up to melt the cheese, and then pack it so we could carry it along and have a picnic lunch on the way to our next town. Along the paths there are many different rest areas, terraces, benches, picnic stops. We saw very many people sitting in the restaurants and cafes having lunch. Why on earth anyone would do that when you can sit by the sea and have a yummy sandwich I will never know.
There was a short ascent after our lunch stop with some huge steps that Mom was able to manage ok. From then on, it was fairly flat if rocky in places. Some of the path has no railing or fence or wall protecting careless walkers from plunging down so Mom kept grabbing me to make sure I didn't decide to leap off or something. She is nervous because she thinks of our trip to British Columbia. I was more nervous for her because her balance is not great and she periodically trips over a stone or weaves along the path. We came across one of those rickety suspension bridges along the way. Mom wouldn't let me take a picture because she wanted to hold on to me crossing the bridge. There were lots of picture opportunities of different local flora (cactus, poppies, etc.) and of course the amazing coastline.
By the way, Mom is a great traveler. She has carried her luggage up and down stairs at train stations, and airports when there isn't an elevator in sight. She has walked for many, many kilometers and doesn't ever get grumpy even when I know she is tired. She is willing to try almost anything (except the gastronomic kind... or physically challenging stuff), and is fascinated by the differences in European culture compared to ours.
As we were drying off, an Australian guy (who currently lives in Vienna) came up and started signing to Mom in British sign. She couldn't read it very well and finally after a few minutes I said, can you speak English so I can interpret? He was shocked that I wasn't deaf so we had a chat mostly about his younger days when he knew a lot of deaf and blind people.
Corniglia is a great place for wine lovers, but other than that it is not all that interesting. It is the least touristy of all 5 towns and my guidebook describes it as a place for hermits and anti-social people. There was a nice view of the terraced vineyards from the town square. We also walked along the spine and checked out a few shops then headed back to the train station and decided to walk back to Manarola.
We had originally decided to wait for the bus but Mom got impatient and decided to walk up. Amazing really. After a day of walking, and fatigued, she decides to climb a hill! There is a youth hostel across the square from our hotel and a whole bunch of lazy youths were standing at the bus stop. As we walked up we noticed many elderly locals carrying shopping bags full of food up that hill. We beat the bus.
This time after checking pictures, we both went down to the public terrace to connect to the internet so Mom could check the news from back home. The owner of the place, Gabriele, is such a nice man. He immediately came out, asked if we wanted something to drink, and brought Mom a tea, and me some water with a thick slice of orange and a couple of cookies and a couple of chocolates. He knows how to make us happy!
I took advantage of our complimentary internet access here and uploaded a short video of the view from our balcony here. You will find it with the pictures at the top of this post. Thanks to Nancy and Danny (once again) for the use of their video camera. It takes a long time to upload videos but since we only have one more day here, I will try to put up a few neat clips from Venice for the next post.
Back to relaxing. It was a good day.
Where I stayed