Monday, October 7, 2013

Sunday + {Day Twenty: Monterosso + Vernazza}

We slept in this morning, then swung by the focaccia place for breakfast. I had a delightful cheese + tomato + mushroom slice plus freshly squeezed orange juice. Then Gooligan and I split off from the rest of the group because both of us wanted to hike to the next village over. We paid our 6 euro per person dues for access to the National Park (which includes the trails).

The hike between Monterosso and Vernazza is about ninety minutes but it is a tough hike. Lots of it is steep uphill with these deep stone steps. But the views alone are completely worth it. Cinque Terre has some of the most beautiful scenery ever.

A lot of people on our way laughed or pointed out Gooligan’s shoes—comfortable yet sturdy leather flats—which was more than a little insulting. Considering we ran into people who were wearing flip-flops, Gooligan’s shoe choice was fairly practical. Anyway, we made it all the way to Vernazza with no accidents.

By the time we arrived, we were ravenous. We stopped off to get an incredible fresh juice drink (lemon + orange + peach), then headed to the train station. We had agreed to meet Sarah and Shannon at the train station in the next town, a difficult feat when we don’t have any cellphones. (Well, Shannon has hers, but since none of the rest of us has a phone, it doesn’t help for in-group communication.)

Anyway, it turned out that their train was delayed by a considerable amount of time. A little silly considering that the towns are about three minutes apart on the train. But luckily they arrived about ten minutes before Gooligan and I had agreed to go our separate ways from them if we couldn’t connect.

After we met up we had a delicious lunch (more pasta) and then asked our waiter for a recommendation for the best gelato in town. We followed his advice and it was delicious. It was also Sarah’s first gelato ever! I got coconut and chocolate chip.

Then we went down to the harbor in Vernazza and bought tickets for the ferry back to Monterosso (3.50 euro each). The ferry was quick—about ten minutes—and it was so cool to see the village from another perspective, since we had already seen it from ground level and up in the mountains.

We walked around Monterosso, exploring all the cute artisan gift shops, and picked up a few souvenirs. One of the best artists we talked to was a woman from California who moved to Monterosso nine years ago for study abroad. She made these amazing necklaces. Gooligan got one for her birthday (which is in ten days!). It has tiny charms on it: a spoon, a fish, a set of Libra scales, a little picture of Cinque Terre, etc. and is absolutely gorgeous. Plus the woman was so amazing and helpful and encouraged us to look at everything. (We had a bad experience in another shop where the shopkeeper was grouchy and passive aggressively drove us out, which is a lesson for anyone in retail: never judge a customer by what they look like: both Gooligan and her sister ended up buying necklaces from the really amazing woman and both Shannon and I bought prints from her.)

Then we walked back our Airbnb, stopping for about an hour to frolic in the water. The water was wonderful—fairly warm—and the beach was nice, but a little rocky. One of the waves surprised us and soaked the bottoms of my jeans. Then Gooligan and I climbed up on this huge rock before we had to get back home to change for dinner.

We wanted to go to this specific restaurant for dinner, but it was either closed or had shut down, so we went to the one next door which was fantastic. We ran into a few Americans from the south that were really great and told us the food was amazing. I ordered homemade black-and-white pasta with mussels. Probably the best food I have eaten all trip, hands down.

After dinner we headed back home sleepily and, after doing some paperwork for grad school, we went to bed for another fairly bad night of sleep.


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