A train ride

Today I had to say goodbye to Riomaggiore and say hello to Milan (only for 5 hours-ish). I caught the train with Lisa and Emma to the first stop, they continued onto Pisa, then Florence and I switched trains to Milan. The train ride was 3 hours, 3 long hours and I was so tired, just because we were on a train, not for any other reason!! I slept for like 30 minutes though, I forced myself to stay awake!

When I got to Milan I checked my bag at the bag check and headed to the Metro to take me somewhere. It took me to the Duomo. This Duomo wasn’t as big as Sienna’s but it sure was cooler! It had buttresses everywhere, and you could climb up to the roof and walk around!

I headed down a street and treated myself to a 4 cheese pizza and water and enjoyed my own company. I took my time and watched some Englishmen make fools of themselves. After lunch I grabbed a gelato and headed back to the Duomo. I climbed the 250 steps (dad, these were easy steps too!!) to the top and walked around. You could see all the details of the buttresses and of Milan.

I had no idea what there was to do in Milan, but knew I was going to need something to hold me over on the train so I popped in a hotel and got directions to a market. It was 15 minute walk, but it was the cutest little market! I got a yogurt and grapes (which magically were seedless and I had no idea!) water and a gatorade.

I decided to head back to the train station and just wait there. I ate my dinner by the tracks and went and fetched my bags around 7. My train got called at 720 so I boarded early and checked out my sleeping quarters. I thought they would be rough but they have lots of room. I’m in a 4 person sleeper (couchette) and so far there are only 2 of us (we’ve been on the rail for an hour now) since we don’t have much luggage and there are only 2 of us, I think that’s why it seems larger! It has a sink in our compartment too!!

The train ride is 12-13 hours, overnight, and I will arrive around 9am. Barcelona is expecting a cool off and some showers these next couple days, and I couldn’t be happier! I’ve been hot for 3 weeks, a cool off sounds wonderful!

New country, new food, new language…all when I wake up 🙂

Last day in Cinque Terre

Today is my last day here, and I just didn’t know what to do. I laid in bed until about 9, then got up and people watched from my window until about 10. Then I got ready, bought a banana and a yogurt and headed out to another town. I caught the train to the 4th town to shop and relax. I am currently sitting on steps in the 4th town just people watching and it just feels so wonderful to not have anything to do.

I’m now writing from the train on my way to Milan! Yesterday was just the perfect day!

I got lunch in the 4th town, the caught the train to the 3rd town. From the 3rd town I walked back to Riomaggiore. The walk is just so beautiful, right above the water the whole time! When I arrived back in Riomaggiore I went and changed into my swimsuit to go sit on the beach (rocks really). All I wanted to do was enjoy the water because I was so hot. Unfortunatly the waves were too rough to swim in with all the rocks around so I sat on the rocks with the locals and let the water crash onto me and cool me off. I sat there for awhile but grew tired in the heat so I decided to try and nap on the beach. Surprisingly its easy to get comfortable on the little rocks, so I laid down and fell asleep for a bit. the heat woke me up though so I grabbed my stuff and headed back to the room. My new roommate, Kate, had just arrived and she was heading down to the beach. I warned her about the waves, but she didn’t seem to care. I laid down and fell asleep for 2 hours, it was so refreshing!

When I woke up, Lisa, Emma and Kate had just gotten back. Kate got beat up by the rocks I warned her about!! Kate and Emma left and Lisa hopped in the shower. While they were gone, my towel fell off our line to the line below!! I couldn’t reach it even with a broom, so I headed down and buzzed the people, they weren’t home. I headed down to the ground and tried again with the broom, no luck. I eventually was able to get it because of my triopod. I extended it as far as it would go, headed down to the ground and after 5 minutes managed to knock it off the line. A lady was laughing at me, but I couldn’t help but laugh as well. I learned my lesson: no more line drying without clothespins!!

I got washed up and met Lisa and Emma for pizza. I found clothespins for the rest of my travels and grabbed a Fanta before we headed down with our pizza, to the rocks. We enjoyed our pizza and good conversation down on the rocks by the water. It was the most beautiful night, calm sky and calm water, it was just perfect!!

I am currently heading to Milan, Italy to catch my next train to Barcelona, Spain! I get there tomorrow at 10ish in the morning! I have 4 hours in Milan, then a 13 hour train to Barcelona! Long travels!! 

Let’s go for a hike

Well first I must fill you in last night. After the beach, I ran into Pip. Pip checked in with me, and is in another room. She invited me out for a drink with her and her roommates, so I decided to go.

We went to the same place I went to lunch at. We had drinks (I had a Coke light with lemon) and after awhile we ordered dinner. It was yummy. We decided to head to bed around 10, but as soon as I opened the door to my room, I heard a concert! There was a party in the square, apparently just because it summer. Emma and Lisa were in the room so we decided since we couldn’t sleep, might as well go down. We went and just watched everyone dance. I left around 1130 to shower and journal the day.

The party ended at midnight, so we could finally sleep! Thank goodness!

Today:
I woke up to an overcast sky and cool weather. All of us roomies got up at once, so we all got ready and headed our separate ways. I stopped at the Co-op to get some blackberries and a yogurt to snack on during my hike, and then headed out. This is the first time I haven’t taken my big camera with me! But it was too heavy for such a rough hike.

The first leg (from town one to town two) was paved, and covered and just simple, some curves and a very few steps, but nothing difficult, at that point I thought this 9KM hike can’t possibly be that bad! I thought too soon, that’s for sure! The second leg (from town two to three) was a little more challenging, but still mostly paved, its distance was longer than the first leg, but still not too tough. I don’t even remember seeing the 3rd town, so clearly I was in a zone. From town three to four it got a little more difficult. Many many steps and actual hiking paths, not paved. At one point you could opt out of stairs and take a road, but I decided since I was doing the official walk, I was taking the stairs. 

I stopped in the fourth town to have a snack and get a cold water. I took about a 20 minute break, then headed towards the final town. According to the park guide, its a 2 hour walk from town 4 to 5, so I was ready, or so I thought. The first 20 minutes of the walk was just stairs!! I couldn’t believe it! After the first ‘set’ of steps the path narrowed and got tough, and there are no handrails either! The steps never really stopped leading up. I had to take a 5 minute break at what I thought was as high as I could get, it ended up being close to the top, but I had another 10 minutes of steps after that!

Once you made it to the ‘top’ the descent started. And oh goodness, it was the most beautiful part of the walk, a stream ran next to the path, there were little waterfalls (not that you could see, but that you could hear) and 2 small bridges to cross. And then the stairs started, again! At least this time they led down to the town. I would say easily over 1000 steps down (which means if you are going the other way, you have to go UP them). The steps were of varying heights and widths, so it kept you on your toes, literally!

I reached the last town in 3 hours and 30 minutes, which was an hour and a half faster than the ‘average’ time! I was proud of myself. I decided to go sit on the beach and maybe go in the water. However, the weather was so weird that every time I stood up to go into the water the sun would go behind the clouds, and it got cool. The water wasn’t as warm as the other day, so I was a little disappointed. I took a short nap, then attempted to get back to my town. I missed 2 trains because they showed up on the wrong tracks, but I wasn’t the only one, so I didn’t feel so bad then!

I made it back to my room, and was going to get in the shower when Lisa came in. We decided to go have a drink (or in my case Fanta or Coke light) up on a ledge over looking the water. We showered, then headed up to a small bar to relax. Emma came and joined us a little later and we closed down the place (it closed down at 8pm). We headed to another bar until our dinner reservations at 930. We have fun talking to the locals and they love finding out where people are from. 

Our dinner was at the ‘best’ restaurant in town (there are about 10 total restaurants in our town). The atmosphere was nice, but the selection of food was poor and I really didn’t enjoy my dinner, just wasn’t ‘the best’ I guess. Our other roomie, Illia (the guy from Russia) came and joined us for some gelato before we all headed to bed. Lisa and I were so exhausted from the hike, we laid in our beds and our bodies shut down.

First day on my own!

Well goodness! My day started early, and now I’m starting to get tired, and its only 7pm here!! (Ps, I’m writing this from the rocky beach in town)

I’ll start where I left off, on my train ride…

I arrived at my destination 30 minutes late, and caught the next local train to my final town for the day. They say this town Riomaggiore only has about 600 residents, clearly now since it is holiday time for everyone, there are tons of people! The directions to the hostel was right on! The lady must have been from Canada or the US, but she was nice. There were 4 of us checking in to rooms, 3 of us together. The place I’m staying is up 23 stairs, down 100 meters, then down 5 steps to a door on the stairway! Haha, its a fun walk to get there! Anyway, after we all checked in and paid (it is €20 a night, so roughly $30) the lady took us to our rooms. Me and 2 of the girls got one room, while the other girl went to a different room. I was placed in a room with a roommate who was already there but gone for the day. The other 2 girls (originally from Capetown, South Africa; who now live in London) Lisa and Emma invited me to lunch with them. We went and hiked around the town, which really is just about 2 roads, to find a place. We finally settled on a restaurant on the water and got some lunch. They headed onto the beach, and I headed back to town.

In order to take the trail from one town to the next (there are 5 towns, hence Cinque) you need to pay a fee to use the national park. I got my 2 day pass, so tomorrow I can make the 5 hour hike to the farthest town, and dip in the Med. Sea if needed! Because its soooo hot!

I looked at the shops because I’m going to need sunscreen in this weather for sure! And found a Co-op that sells fresh berries, that will be my breakfast tomorrow!

I headed back to my room, and my roomie was sleeping, that’s when I learned my roomie was a man. He’s russian, but lives in Vancoover and Florence, and is here on holiday. I think he might be uber religious, his goal was to hike to all the churchs, and the churches are at the highest point in the town, about a 45 minute hike to each of them. He’s smart, but has hair a little longer than his ears, that he straightens, puts product in, and then puts on his cool hat! Haha.

I decided to head to the beach on my own. I got my suit on and headed down, then up, then down again to find the smooth rocky beach. The water is warm, but not hot, and clear, so very clear. They offer snorkeling and diving tours here, maybe one day, if I have time I’ll hop on, otherwise, just enjoying the water is enough.

I’m going to find a place to eat soon, the sun is setting and I want to hit the hay early, I’m so tired. I think my South Africian roommates are going to party, thank goodness my Russian one doesn’t seem the type!

Sorrento and Capri

Our hotel is just amazing. The view is to die for and it is hard to leave. Yesterday (8-19) we headed out to Capri. Capri is a very small island, on 4 miles by 2 miles, but it is beautiful! There are no sandy beaches in either Sorrento or Capri, just cliffs and rocks. We drove downtown Sorrento and parked our car in a ‘garage’ which really is just a cave, and then headed to our boat. The boat ride was only about 20 minutes long, and boats, unlike trains, never are on time. They are always late. We arrived on Capri Island, and immediately got our tickets to get on another boat to go to the Blue Grotto.

The Blue Grotto is a large cave, with a very tiny enterance (about 4×4 feet) that once your inside there is no sunlight, but the bluest water. The water almost looks like there is lights underneath it lighting up the water, but its all natural.

Our boat ride was supposed to go straight to the Blue Grotto, then around the island, but there was a long line at the grotto, so we went backwards. The island of Capri is cliffy. Sophia Lorenz has a house, that maybe a moped to get to, but that’s all. Its way up high, with like a tiny bridge crossing some of the cliffs. The water is clear and beautiful greens and blues. The boat tour was nice and relaxed, and gave up-close tours of some of the larger grottos on the island. We finally got to the Blue Grotto, and it is a sight to see. Upon approach, there are about 10 boats, and 10 dingies. And the dingies look like they are trying to break through the rock, because you really can’t see the enterance to the grotto. We did some donuts in the water to pass some time, then anchored the boat and the dingies soon arrived. Only 4 people per dingie, and €10 per person for the ride and the enterance fee. Dad and I got in the 3rd dingie, and I got to cuddle with a nice Italian couple in the back, while dad got the front. We paid the rower and got in line to enter the grotto, after about 15 minutes it was our turn. Our rower had to wait for the waves to be just right, the he pulled on this chain to get the boat through the tiny hole. We all had to lay down, including the rower, to get through the hole. On the inside, the cave is huge, and the water is so beautiful and neon blue. If you took a picture with flash, it couldn’t capture the beautiful blue. We were rowed around the cave (less than 5 minutes) while our rower sang, along with all the other rowers. Then we got back in line to get out. We got hit by a big wave that through our boat into the wall, it was an experience! We finally got out on the 3rd try and arrived 98% dry! Then we headed back to the marina.

We decided to try and go to the city center, so we started the climb, up lots of stairs, and steep angles. We quit after about 15 minutes, because we hadn’t even made it half way to the top, and we still needed to eat lunch before our boat left for Sorrento. We ate at a small cafe on the pier, we had fresh fruit salad and fries. Fries just taste so wonderful here! No ketchup needed (not that I would use it anyway). Oh and ketchup, for those who like it, is just like tomato paste, its just tomatoes and viniger, no sugar like in the US.

We got on our boat, and my seat was kicked the whole 20 minute ride by a wonderful Italian kid who screamed a lot. Anyway, once we got back to Sorrento we got our car and headed to another parking garage to park for dinner. We walked around a little and took our time finding our restaurant. We followed Rick Steve’s advice and ate at a wonderful little restaurant in an alley. It had great pizza, and was cheap! Our cheapest meal yet! We headed to Davide il Gelato, anther Rick Steve’s recommendation, for some great gelato. They had 60 flavors to chose from!

We headed back to the hotel, which proved to be the most difficult part of the whole trip. We made it up the tiny road ok, but there was NO place to park. So we had to go up farther and come back down, but dad hit the wall going up because its so narrow, and then parking, hit the rocks. No real damage, just scuffs, but he was flustered. We just hung around the hotel last night, I uploaded pictures and then passed out!

Today when we returned the vehicle, no damages we noted! Yeah! We are no sitting in the train station, in the McDonalds, dad got a coffee and I got a Fanta and we are just waiting for our train to come and take us to Roma. 
Dad leaves Friday. But first, on Thursday, we must celebrate his birthday!