View from my hotel room in Vernazza Italy
Vernazza is our home base for this vacation. It is such a cute little town. It has a natural harbor and there were a lot of people hanging around. There is one main street and it is really cute. All these little shops and restaurants. The Gelato is the best part.
We went to our hotel and found that we have to walk up 82 stairs to get to our bedroom. And yes, we carried our luggage all the way up. Our room looks out over the harbor. We have this tiny little window that has a big box under it. You have to stand on the box to see out the window. The view was worth it though. What I loved most was when we were laying in bed at night you could hear the ocean.
Once we got settled in we went out and looked a little bit in some of the shops.
Then we got some Gelato (which in my opinion is the best thing in the world) and went out to the harbor. We went to the end area and found a place on the rocks to sit. It was a nice flat area that then sloped up to form a nice back rest. All along the end of the harbor a bunch of local men were fishing. They looked like they were having a really good time. For about an hour or more we just sat there eating our Gelato and watching them. We came to the conclusion that dad would really have fun here, and if he spoke the language he would be out there fishing right along with them. He would have made friends with them in a matter of seconds.
Everyday the locals come out, sit on the edge of the pier and fish. They are really friendly and fun to watch
In the evening we wandered a little bit trying to decide where we wanted to eat. We found a nice little place where I had very good pasta.
Mom had some kind of fish. I hate fish. After dinner we just went back to the hotel. I made mom watch some of my other favorite TV show, Grey’s Anatomy. It is an amazing show. If you haven’t seen it yet you really should. I got mom hooked. We still went to be pretty early because we knew tomorrow was going to be a great day, but a lot of work.
My mom and I hiked from Riomaggiore to Vernazza, then spent a great day at the beach in Monterosso
Today was a lot longer and harder than I was anticipating. We read about this trip in a Rick Steves book. By the end of the hiking I wanted to hit him across the head with his book.
We got up early and took the train to the first city, Riomaggiore.
This town is only about a 10 minute train ride. When we got there we found that to get into the actual town we have to walk through a tunnel, through a part of the mountain. The entire town is slanted on a hill. WE walked up a bit and found a little café. Mom had not yet had her coffee so we decided to stop. She had her coffee, and I had a hot chocolate. It was literally hot chocolate. It was basically a melted chocolate bar. Although it did come in a powder. I can’t really handle that kind of thing. I had one in Barcelona before. I can’t even eat a whole chocolate bar. I only drank/ate half of it.
The start of the hike. The first path is known as the Rio Dell Amore.
Next we continued on up the huge hill looking for the entrance to the first hiking trail.
However it was not up there, though walking up that hill was a big hike itself. So we walked all the way back down and back through the tunnel to the train station. There we found a big sign pointing to the trail. We bought our tickets to go through all the trails. The lady told us that the second trail was closed for now because of a land slide. We could choose to take another trail or a bus to another city, and then take the trail from that city down to the normal one.
The Rio Dell Amore. The only easy part of the hike.
Anyway, so we started out on the first trail. This trail is the only trail that has a name. It is called the “Via Del Amore.” It was a very easy trail. It is kind of built along the cliff, so it looks out over the water. It is very beautiful. People had written and drawn all over the walls. It was neat to see.
Don’t worry we have lots of pictures.
The town of Manorola
We just strolled along this path. We got to the next town, Manarola, in only about 15 minutes. This town was just as cute as the last (thought I still think ours is the cutest). So this next path was the one that was closed because of the landslide. It was here that we had to decide whether we wanted to hike to another town, or to take the bus. However we never really decided and we had not idea where to get on the bus.
We asked for directions to the town, and I am sure that they assumed we wanted to hike (or they were just really, really, really mean) so they pointed in the direction of the trail.
It was horrible. I really thought I was going to die. It was not a hiking trail so much as a billion stairs. I am not kidding, the whole thing was stairs, and there were absolutely no flat areas. They were not regular stairs either. They were the ones that only come a couple inches off the ground, are more than a foot long, made out of very uneven rocks, and have plants growing out of them. I hate these stairs because it is hard to get a rhythm going. When I do stairs I need to get a rhythm, one step after another, one foot on each step. However you could not do that on these because sometimes I needed to take tow steps per stair. I don’t think we officially timed it, but I would bet that it took us over an hour to climb up them. I am not exaggerating when I say that there were probably over 1000 steps. It was never-ending. I had to stop every 10 stairs or so after we got going. Don’t laugh at me, it was horrible. But I finished and that is all that matters. It was a miracle when we got to the top.
We had to climb up over 1000 of these. I am not exagerating
Now we had to find the trail that would lead us down to the original town, Corniglia. Corniglia is pronounced Cornelia, like the name. We asked a group of people and they pointed up the hill, so we went to the top, but it led to a main road and we did not understand where we were supposed to go. So we asked this really old guy. He pointed back to where we came from. We tried to explain to him that those other people told us it was up here. Now keep in mind we do not speak the same language. He just kept saying “don’t worry,” and started walking down the hill motioning for us to follow. I am waving at mom behind his back going “we should not have asked him he is going to get us lost.
” This poor guy is still on his way down the hill. He was shuffling along using a cane. I felt so bad that he had to walk down the hill.
This woman walked along the whole small trail with that bag on her head
That is when I saw the (really small) sign saying “Corniglia.” We just missed the path to the side as we were walking up the hill. I felt so bad that we made the poor old man walk part way down the hill. I pointed the sign out to mom and he laughed and said “don’t worry.”
This trail was mostly very nice. It was very flat, and it wove in and out of the vineyards. It was beautiful. The path was in the vineyards, but it overlooked the ocean.
The ocean is always my favorite place, I just love it. It was not a hard path except that it was only about 1 ½ feet wide. You really had to watch where you were going. On the trail we met one man from Washington. We stopped and talked with him for a few minutes.
The Vineyard trails
As we moved on we did not realize that this would be the last little bit of easy hiking that we would have. We went on blissfully unaware for the next 10 or 15 minutes. After those blissful 15 minutes it all went wrong.
We came to a small fork in the trail, and it was not very well marked as to which way lead to Corniglia.
We looked down the path that went left, and it looked very overgrown. We did not think that this could possibly be the right direction. So we took the right path. Boy was that the wrong decision. It was absolutely horrible. We walked uphill for an hour. In my opinion this was harder than the stairs. We had to climb over rocks, roots, and holes. The path was not very clearly marked either so half the time we could not tell if we were still on the path. But it was marked enough that we could find it and know that we could still keep going. Soon we actually started hearing traffic. This did seem weird. Then we saw the road up ahead. We finished climbing to the top of the hill. I was about to die by the time we go there. That was when we saw the sign saying “Corniglia” with an arrow pointing town the hill we had just climbed all the way up. I about cried.
We took a trail through these vineyards
So we turned around and went back down the hill.
We walked back to the fork in the road. I found it pretty funny that it only took us 15 minutes to climb down what took us an hour to climb up. So this time we took the left fork (which turned out to be the correct one). This trail was downhill the whole way to the city. I was not as out of breath by the time we got to the bottom, but I have found that downhill is really just as tough as uphill. By the time we got to the city my leg was shaking. You know how sometimes you can’t control the muscles in your let. I just stood perfectly still and my leg just shook. It was actually really funny.
My mom overlooking Corniglia
By the time we got into Corniglia it was sometime after 1pm and we were ready for lunch. We could not find anything open. We asked a few people where we could eat, but I don’t think they understood what we were asking.
Finally one old man told us we had to go to a bar. So we found a bar and had lunch. They have this special kind of bread. I don’t remember what it is called, but it is fried and has a lot of salt. I had a ham and cheese sandwich with this bread. It was very good. They had this really great looking dessert menu. I was going to share this ice cream thing with mom because, hey, we deserved it. So I asked the waitress for it and she said “we only serve that during the summer, it starts next week.” All I could think was “you have got to be kidding me.”
The town of Vernazza. In my opinion the best city of the five.
So it was back on the trail for us. Time for the last trail of trip. It started out ok for us. We met this older couple from Martinez California (we drove through there every time we went to visit my Grandma).
They were coming from the direction we were going. They told us that we were going the right way because when they started out from Vernazza they climbed up for about 2 hours.
The people there like their pizza
As we moved on thought I wanted to hit them because they did not mention that they had been coming down for a while. So we climbed up for another hour or so. There was this huge group of pre-teens who kept coming out of nowhere, and they made me exhausted because they were running up the hill. They smelled really bad too.
Once we got to the top of the hill it stayed flat for a little while.
I am thankful that I did not eat an ice cream thing at lunch. Then it was downhill the rest of the way to Vernazza. However this downhill was not as bad as the other because it was not as steep. I am glad thought that we were going the way we were because it would have been horrible having to climb up. Finally we descended into our city, Vernazza. We went straight back to our hotel and I took a nice, long, cool shower.
We found a great place to sit and watch the fishermen, the ocean, and the sunset
After my shower I thought about taking a nap. I laid down on the bed, but then decided that I was not very tired. Mom wanted to go back out to our spot and sit and read, and watch the fishermen. I decided that this sounded like more fun than a nap. So I went and got myself some Gelato, then met mom at our spot.
We stayed out until around 5pm then went back to our room.
We watched some Grey’s Anatomy and waited for the time to go down and get dinner. The place we picked for dinner was very nice. The food was good and we met a very nice couple. We were sitting in a little back area of the restaurant, and the only other people there was this one couple. It turned out that they live in Calamath Falls Oregon, but the woman grew up in McCloud California. We know McCloud very well. It is only about an hour or so drive from where we live, up near Mt. Shasta. I have been to McCloud many times, and when mom and dad go away together it is usually to the McCloud Inn. They have also taken the McCloud dinner train a couple times. The lady had also been to Redding many times.
The beach at Monterosso
It was really fun talking with them. After dinner we just went back to the hotel and went to bed. It had been a long, tiring, great day.
The most beautiful sunset
Today was one of our most relaxing days. This is probably a good thing because it was our last day. What better day to relax? I slept in a little bit. Once we were up and moving we went to go find a place to get something to eat. Europeans don’t really eat breakfast. I have found this very difficult, because I don’t function well without it. Today we were really lucky though. We were walking down the street when we saw a sign outside a bar that said they served the “Blue Marlin Breakfast.” It was scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, and a piece of that bread I mentioned earlier. The first thought in my head was “Score!! Breakfast.” It was amazing. I have not had a real breakfast since I was home in January. All I get in France is cereal, and that does absolutely nothing for me. I was actually full by the end of this meal.
After breakfast we went up to the train station, and took a train to Monterosso. This is the 5th town. It is also the only town with a beach, which is why we went there. While we were looking for the entrance to get down to the beach we found a little grocery store and got some snacks to take with us. We got some water, chips, and strawberries. The strawberries were amazing. I ate almost all of them by myself.
We laid on the beach for a couple of hours. I took about a 2 hour nap. For lunch we went back up to the train station area and found a bar type place that had food. We got some pizzas and sat out on the balcony area overlooking the beach. It was very nice sitting up there, but it was very windy.
When we were done with lunch we tried to figure out what we wanted to do. WE decided we were not really done with the beach. So we got some Gelato and went back down to the beach. We stayed there for another few hours just watching people. There were these 2 cute little boys playing in the water. One still in dippers, so he had a saggy butt. Then when their mom tried to tell them it was time to go the older boy tried to dry him off in the sand. It was funny. He did it twice before his parents just picked him up and dried him off themselves.
We headed back to Vernazza around 5pm. I got another Gelato (yes, another) and we went back to our spot to watch the fishermen. That evening there was the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. Don’t worry I have pictures so you will all be able to see it. My camera actually took very good pictures of it. The color is just amazing.
In the evening we went to another nice restaurant for dinner. When we went out this time we just took the credit card not even thinking that we would need money for a tip. We did not realize this until after we had finished eating and were paying for the meal. Mom made me go back to the hotel to get something (lucky for me this is a very small town). While I was gone mom started up a conversation with a couple from L.A. Apparently they had a couple of children doing a study abroad too. After dinner, it was just back to the hotel and to bed.