August 2010 - Italy
The whole reason for being in Viareggio was for quick and easy access to the famous Cinque Terre, a strip of 40km of coastline containing five traditional fishing villages (and only one of the five is accessible by road).
Our first mistake was assuming Viareggio had quick and easy access. WRONG. We could hire a boat for the day $8,000 Euro, we could jump on the ferry (in hindsight perhaps we should have done this) but there is one ferry in, one ferry out, no options. We could catch a train but as we found out at the train station those are few and far between (we arrived at 925am, just missing the 917 train, the next train 1117)
Our last option… driving.
The first problem, Tom didn’t know which Monterosso in Italy we were heading to, but a detailed look at the old style paper maps helped us out on that one, so we were good for about 100km. Next problem… no parking. And when I say no parking I mean no parking for about a kilometre straight up a hill no parking.
With that in mind and Dad not wanting the ENTIRE day to be a write-off he dropped Mum and I at the very bottom of the car accessible area and said meet me back here in an hour. Monterosso is the biggest and busiest of the fishing villages, it was nice but there was a distinct feeling we were missing out on something. We hoped that Dad had fluked a parking spot on the way back and with that in mind we went to the train station to pick up a timetable. On the way back we stopped at a grocery store, paid all of 3.30 euro for a sprite and two waters, then headed to meet back up with Dad (and hopefully not his car). It was a relief to both Mum and I when we saw Dad walking towards us on the main street. He had found a park, an entirely legal parking spot, about 800 metres up up up the road. Seriously people it was a trek… There is a beach down there somewhere people...
We headed for the train station and caught the first train after 1pm down to the other end of the Cinque Terre, a small place called Riomajoire. The train service, being similar to Sydney’s city fail was 10 minutes late. We didn’t see much of Rioreggio because the town itself was in the opposite direction to the walking track along the coastline (the one that runs rings around the Bondi to Bronte walk). The first section was covered in locks in every spot they could find it. You could buy an official lock for the low low price of 8 Euro (see below, more expensive than dinner).
It was an easy walk, we got greedy, decided to try and walk to the next town, the map only said it was a kilometre. Just a shame we had forgotten about that rather heated orb in the sky, the sun. This trek, maybe 2% shade, it was HOT HOT HOT and by the time we made it to the next town’s train station I was in search of water. I thought for sure I was going to end up a lobster after that hour or so walk.
Anyhow, train to the next town and conveniently Vernazza was right outside the train station, we took a stroll down to the water, took some photos, stopped for Homemade Gelato (some of the best Coconut I’ve tasted) and made it back to the train station with plenty of time to spare before the 1622 train.
10 minutes, 15 minutes, 17 minutes, 25 minutes the announcements kept coming as the crowd grew on the platform, fortunately we were in the tunnel and out of the sun because it’s still hot.
We finally made it back to Monterosso where I was asked to take a photo for this random guy. Cute looking, asks me where I’m from, he’s from Havana, Cuba. He drags me over to Mum, pushes my sunglasses up and insists that she take a photo of the two of us, then another one, then another one. Talk about deer in headlights, I hardly knew what was happening. Then he asks in this roundabout way if I’m on facebook, but even with a pen (which we didn’t have) he was never going to find me on there (have you typed in Natalie White into the fb search engine?). We went our separate ways. Attempted pick up in front of the parental units, talk about embarassing, I’ll probably be reminded of this for a long time coming (can’t imagine what it would have been like if I gave him my details).
So at 530ish all restaurants are closed, food is sarce and what did we need? FOOD. We finally found a little cafe serving up pizza top foccacia bread. Three pieces of that, one coke, one diet coke was 7.40 Euro, CHEAP!
THEN Dad and I begin the trek back to the car, leaving Mum on the sidewalk. I felt bad leaving Dad to go it alone so I trekked it too. Not fun though people, not fun at all. We grab the car pick up Mum and then decide no, let’s not take the same way back, this looks shorter… Shorter maybe, quicker doubtful and it was certainly a little sketchy when we were driving the roads through the national park. Cliff side, room enough for one and a half cars, and that was before we took what must have been a windy local road inland. We start following the signs to the Autostrade after Dad clearly told us no more local roads today, I wasn’t complaining. I seriously think we have seen way more of the Italian countryside than I ever expected to between yesterday and today.
8pm and we finally reach the Hotel, no parking though, we are about three blocks away. There is a burlesque thing across the road and a girl out the front that has been posing for I don’t know how long in a gigantic skirt and corset. We came back to the room and I scrubbed the sweat and dirt off (I’m sick of being drenched in sweat day after day and I’m fast running out of clothes). I don’t plan on doing ANYTHING else tonight, we shall eat what is left in our room (and just when I said that I found Pringle crumbs on the Cleopatra bed). Tomorrow Firenze and I can’t wait!
For a day that started of crap, things worked out in the end.
OMG! I almost forgot. The floating slippery dip. I want one!
And.. Need shade? Found under boat.