Sunday, June 22, 2014

April 4, 2014–Riomaggiore to Manarola and back.

Doug wrote the Travelpod on this day. Anything from the blog will be in italics. Any new Lizzie comments will be in regular text.

After sleeping in for the first time in Italy, we awoke to our first day of rain. I guess it couldn't be beautiful _every_ day we are here. Although, I really think it should be :)

I couldn't talk Lizzie into boarding the boat or the train to head to another city this morning and hiking in the rain was definitely not going to happen for her. So I got geared up in my rain gear and headed out into the rain because there is no way I'm letting the rain ruin my vacation! (I can imagine myself saying that on future family vacations -- "let's go kids, we're going to have fun, even if it kills us (don't tell your mom)")

I hiked all over Riomaggiore in the rain: down to the marina, up to the castle (I mean.. that's what "castello" means. It wasn't HUGE or anything. But it was really old and built of stone.. and looked cool.), I found 3 of the 5 churches serving the 1500 people that live here, I walked over to the Via dell'Amore -- the path connecting Manarola and Riomaggiore -- to find it was _really_ closed. Not just closed in name, but still open for those adventurous enough to hike it. It had a gate with a lock and everything. Being that it was raining, I was only in my hiking flip-flops and shorts, and I decided to obey the sign. And the lock.

(Incidentally, we saw the path later that day from Manarola to Corniglia, and when they say they had landslides, they aren't kidding. The whole thing was covered in mud and rock. Don't tell Lizzie, but I'd probably still do it).

I got some gelato from the stand next to the bar centrale -- banana and nutella. Seriously, gelato is awesome. I can dig a country that has gelato EVERYWHERE.

By the end of my stroll, I had about 6000 steps on the fitbit and about 90 floors. To say this place is "hilly" is doing a great injustice. Imagine going up standardized 8 inch stairs in the US with a standard 8-10 inch landing. Take half of the landing size and add it to the height of the stair. That's about the grade we're talking about on most stairs in Cinque Terre. It's pretty intense. Intensely awesome.

Margherita told us her grandfather lived here well into his 80s -- I hope I'm able to do this in my 80s. If anyone is ever game to come hiking in Cinque Terre, give this guy a call.

On my way back, I stopped at the take-away spot next to the bank (I think it's called Mamma-Mia) and got some pizza on focaccia bread. Simple, but delicious. Unfortunately, I forgot today was Friday and bought some ham on one pizza. So we're heathens today. Though so far, I've resisted the urge to get coffee for my lenten sacrifice. I'm very nearly ready to call exceptions for espresso and cappuccino. So far, though, God can still smile down on me. Well, as much as he did before, anyway.

As soon as I woke up Lizzie with pizza, the rain was slower and she was a bit more keen on exploring the 5 lands with me. I didn't hesitate: as soon as she was dressed for the rain, I dragged her down the stairs and we hit the train station to Manarola.
He is not kidding here. I literally stayed in bed sleeping until almost 2 pm. Evidently, I needed it. Probably a little jet lag catching up.

It took literally 3 minutes to go from Riomaggiore to Manarola. We bought our tickets when the train was on the platform and made our way over there to head out to Manarola. The trains come about every hour. We just got really lucky. Normal humans have to wait for a fair bit of time. We bought our tickets and we were on our way!IMG_0703

Manarola is very similar to Riomaggiore, but also very different. It's smaller for sure, and the vineyards are much more accessible. Well. I can't say that for sure. Everywhere I hiked in Riomaggiore was city.. if I kept going up that hill past the car park, it may have turned into vineyards. They were definitely up there in the terraced cliffs.

Anyway, back to Manarola. We got off the train and headed into the city center. I found the gelato stands and we headed up to the hiking paths. We got a bunch of photos while we were up on the cliffs. IMG_0717IMG_0715

That's likely most what I'll be uploading for today's photo journey. As I mentioned before, we saw the washed out trail to Corniglia, and we climbed up HIGH into the clouds to see the vineyards.

City of Corniglia:IMG_0709

Note: I was still in flip-flops. It's strange, but I think I might be more sure-footed (even on wet ground) in flip-flops than some of the other tourists in hiking boots. I was told to "be careful" at one point and that it was "very slippery" coming back down and that I was wearing "the wrong footwear." Silly English speaking tourists. Che stupido! (At least I think that's how you say "How stupid." There was a guy in the hardware store we went to that yelled that to a lamp in much the same way I yell at things that I think are designed poorly)

Tomorrow, I think I might hike barefoot. If it's not raining anyway. I need flip-flops to help with footing when it's wet (not really).Right, back to Manarola.

We hiked WAY higher than Lizzie wanted to go. She was a trooper for following along.

I think at one point I found the high trail that leads to Corniglia, but we were not prepared to walk that far. We saw Corniglia from our perch on the trail below, and it didn't look that far, but it was probably still about an hour walk.

We eventually found our way back to the city center. We went into their church, IMG_0752said a little prayer, took some photos, and headed down the hill to find something to eat.
We ate.. I can't remember the name of the restaurant. Maybe it's on the photos, maybe it isn't, but I plan to fill this info in later. I like how he really thought he would go back and insert restaurant names! The restaurant is below:


We split the salmon bruschetta (delicious) and the stuffed calamari (molto delizioso). IMG_0756

Lizzie got the gnocchi, IMG_0759

I got stuffed mussels and some anchovy fettuccini.


SOOOO GOOD. I haven't read Lizzie's post from yesterday, but if she didn't rave about the anchovies then, let me rave about them now. They catch them fresh here. So think about the salty, super fishy flavors you know from the pizza toppings in the US -- throw that thought away. These are fresh fish here and they are delicious. The only down side is that sometimes they aren't completely deboned and you might get some tiny bones caught in your teeth. Totally worth it, though. Seriously. If you come to the five lands, eat the anchovies.

We checked the time -- the trains were going to be in at 7:30 and 8:30. It was about 7:20. I ordered some Scicchetra (chee-kay-TRA). We ordered one for Lizzie earlier because she really didn't want to wait. It comes with some biscotti for dunking into it. It's sweet, high in alcohol content (18%) and I recommend trying it.

I also had un bicchiere di vino bianco di tavolo... at least I think that's how you say a glass of white house wine. That was by far the best white wine I have ever had. I am not a big wine drinker. But we're in Italy. And it's cheaper than coke here. So I'm in. If wines I've purchased before were this good, I'd probably drink them more often. So needless to say, we weren't going to make the 7:30 train back to Riomaggiore.

In the meantime, we met a couple from Minneapolis that sat beside us at the restaurant. They told us about the head of the Mississippi being only 5 feet wide at the head, and we talked about how much bigger the Mississippi is where we are at the mouth. And we made some recommendations about the food we ate (totally sold the anchovy fettuccini).

I finished up, we walked down to.. I'll let you guess here. Yes. The gelateria. MORE GELATO! Caffe and stracciatella. It's coffee and chocolate chip, basically. Good stuff. We walked to the train station, purchased our tickets, and I talked Lizzie into walking back into town for a stroll/hike while we waited for the train. She only gave me 7.5 minutes out when we had a good 30 minutes before the train came. So I talked her into going a different way back to the train station. We still made it in PLENTY of time. And I was happy. And she was happy. After we started going downhill again ;)IMG_0766

So we made it back to Riomaggiore, walked back to the room to grab the laptop, and looked for free wifi in the bars. I'm about 3 glasses into this bottle of wine at this point. IMG_1527We ordered another scicchetra here, but this is clearly not the same stuff we had in Manarola. I think the guy just gave us some white wine and figured we wouldn't call him out. I haven't called him out. So maybe he's winning. As long as it's cheap, I don't care.IMG_1528

I actually got to video chat with Mom while Doug was blogging. It was nice to see her face.

We have one more day here before heading on to our other destinations. I might be blogging again tomorrow because I LOVE IT, and Lizzie is only luke-warm on this set of towns. Maybe I drag her on the boat tomorrow and she loves Monterosso or Vernazza so much she wants to blog about it. But I think I'm going to be the lover of Cinque Terre in this relationship. The relaxed attitudes, the beautiful views... I could live here for sure.

Venice was AMAZING. I have loved Cinque Terre even more. Sorry, Edinburgh, you might have some strong competition for my favorite cities in the entire world. New Orleans is still tops in my book, but Italy with it's beauty (and gelato) is making a strong play for my favorite cities worldwide.

Until tomorrow, sweet internet. I'm going to finish this bottle of wine and wake up to a lovely day tomorrow. I just know it.

Lizzie Fitbit: 14,488
Doug Fitbit: 19,328

Love and Hugs, Lizzie

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