Monterosso is the northernmost of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre. Going south, there is Vernazza next, then Corniglia, Manarola, and finally Riomaggiore. There are several ways you can get between them – most popular is the train, but there’s also boats, and hiking. Yesterday I hiked from Monterosso to Vernazza, and then from Vernazza to Corniglia. The paths connecting the last two towns were indeed closed, but it turns out they are the shortest; in fact, the hike from Manarola to Riomaggiore is not really a hike at all, just a 20 minute walk on an actual path.
My guidebook said that the first two trails were difficult, but I kind of blew that off because I figured it was pandering to people who aren’t really experienced hikers (not that I am one) or don’t really get much exercise. You know, the average schlub. Well it turns out I AM THE AVERAGE SCHLUB because the two trails I hiked were VERY strenuous, and quite difficult at times. Going to Vernazza there was a pretty drastic uphill at the beginning and then a steep decline towards the end, and then sections where I had to walk along a very narrow path with cliff on my left and then just a dropoff to my right. I am very scared of heights, and at one point I felt myself almost paralyzed with fear because there was no barrier of any kind to separate me from the drop. The second trail (between towns 2 and 3) was much more populated, but like 90% of the people were Germans, and they take hiking VERY SERIOUSLY. They had the poles and the fancy shoes and the whole package. Out of everyone I encountered while hiking, 90% of them were German, and like 5% Aussies and 5% Americans. There’s oddly a ton of Aussies in the Cinque Terre in general, which doesn’t seem like the most convenient place for them to come on holiday, but what do I know?
There is a fancy restaurant in town (Restaurant Miky, which for about 24 hours I kept reading as “Milky”) that has a more casual location a little further down the street (Miky Cantina), so I went to the more cas place for dinner last night and it was SO good. I had a panzanella with tomatoes, pickled onions, and feta, and then spaghetti with mussels, shrimp, clams, and calamari.
Since I only hit 3 of the 5 town yesterday, today I took the train to the furthest one, Riomaggiore, walked around for a bit, then took the train to Manarola (the second most southern). By that point I felt like I had seen everything -honestly, these towns are so small that there is the sense that once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. So I am glad that I went to all of them, but I didn’t really need a lot of time in each one. Not drinking also severely limits my options, because it’s really just bars and restaurants everywhere, and there are only so many cappuccinos I can drink in a day (it’s 6). So from Manarola I took a boat back to Monterosso, which was an excellent idea because I was able to see all the towns from a different perspective. Corniglia, for example, is super high up in the hills, which explains why that portion of the hike was so exhausting. It’s also the only town of the 5 that can’t be reached by boat.
Then, holiest of holies, by some divine stroke of luck, after a dreary cloudy morning…. as soon as I got back to Monterosso, the weather started to drastically improve! Since it was too cold and cloudy for the beach yesterday, I IMMEDIATELY hauled ass back to the hotel, changed into my bathing suit, and hit the beach about 2 o’clock. When I got there it was still sort of cloudy, and under normal circumstances I would not have considered it “beach weather”, but I was desperate and it was just barely warm enough. I was literally the only person on the entire beach in a bathing suit, but then about an hour after I got there the clouds were completely gone and it was WARM and I went SWIMMING and everything was glorious and nothing hurt. It was really just an absolutely perfect day.
I went back to the same restaurant again for dinner tonight, which I thought was kind of embarrassing (I had intended to go to the original, fancier one, but it is closed today) but I told myself “there are probably different people working, nobody will recognize you, they see hundreds of people every day” and of COURSE the one waitress was says “would you like the same table as last night?” but whatever, I had another fantastic meal and it was well worth the money.
Tomorrow morning I’m off to Nice to spend the rest of my trip with Lynsey. She texted me the other day and said “I hope you don’t mind, I scheduled a birthday/Halloween party for the twins the day after you arrive” – um OF COURSE I don’t mind, that sounds ADORABLE, and I am so excited to give them candy until they love me.