Helloooooo Cinque Terre!
This was our first experience with the automated train tickets and it took us close to 30 minutes to sort it all out but luckily we were on a train at 10:20 headed to our next destination: The Cinque Terre. Our first train change was in Pisa (sadly couldn’t really see anything from the train station) and our second train station was in Monterosso (which means we passed Vernazza and would have to back track) The train to Monterosso was SO FULL that Braden and I didn’t get seats next to each other. In fact we were in totally seperate cabins because this train was Harry Potter style and we had “cabins”. Which I thought was cool but was a little bummed I couldn’t even see Braden to point out cool stuff we passed. In Monterosso we did the quick change and were then in Vernazza, our home for the next 2 nights.
We quickly discovered just how BUSY these little towns were going to be. We barely moved along at a shuffle with our luggage in the crowd until I spotted the turn off for our airBNb. This it was only like… 10 minutes up stairs and hills till we were in front of our lovely little shack with a KILLER view of Vernazza. We had a large private terrace which certainly made up for the tiny space in the shack and the even more noticeable lack of AC. My first order of business therefore was a COLD shower to wash the sweat from climbing to the place off. We made it here roughly around 1 again. Then we had lunch at the restaurant just below us (also with amazing views) Braden had steak and I got Pesto lasange (which sounded like a match made in heaven for me since I love both those things but not sure if it was the heat or what but lost my appetite trying to eat it) Then it was down to the pebble beach to enjoy a swim during the heat of the day. I explored a really cool cave/ tunnel where water ran under the town and out into the ocean. I then also found out that Braden is not much of an Ocean swimmer… lol He didn’t really want to swim and I really didn’t want to stand on rocks so needless to say we didn’t stay all that long. lol but I did have a lovely solo swim and we hung out in the shallower area together for a bit. Then it was a steep climb back to our shack to shower and change.
A little after 5 we decided to get a little of our hiking out of the way and do the footpath from Vernazza to Monterosso. And bonus: we found out that the trail entry fees close after 5 so we didn’t even have to pay the 15 euros /person just to hike. Woohoo! This was quite the steep climb and with the unfamiliar humidity, I was sweating QUITE a lot. Luckily I still had my bathing suit on so I pretty much hiked in that. The views of Vernazza were amazing and overall the coast was really cool. And BONUS there were some (wild?) cats that had little shelters on this part of the trail and signs that request hikers to pet them and feed them(in the morning) so that was new for me. I took some photos but otherwise left the kitties alone to their naps.
The hike took us about 1.5 hours (.5 hours less than the tourist info suggests) and is about 3 Km/ 2 miles. We didn’t really see too many people hiking which was nice. In Monterosso, we grabbed Braden his souvenir of the trip: some red swimming trunks (since he forgot his! lol somehow…)
Then the interesting train ride: we found the train station and bought our 4 euro /person tickets and got on the platform we THOUGHT we were supposed to be on. Then someone told us there was change. oh? so we rushed and changed platforms and found ourselves on a train headed to Riomaggiore… again totally bypassing Vernazza. Great so we got off there and waited 15 minutes before catching the train in the other direction to our stop. Unfortunately this got us back to Vernazza at 8:30 after a lot of the places had closed and we really wanted to grab dinner
to eat and watch the sunset from our terrace.
We ended up with some cold pasta salad from this lunch box place. (not that it was all that bad… just wasn’t the meal I was quite looking for) The sunset however was great and lounging on our terrace really capped off a fantastic day. Too bad we had a hot night awaiting us. Luckily we had a fan at least to keep us somewhat cooler during the night.
Day 3: We got up, made some instant coffee to enjoy on our terrace( since this was probably the best part of the Cinque terre for us that terrace is going to get mentioned A LOT) and were ready to hike by like 8:30. This time we were already quite a bit up the trail and just steps from the pay booth to hike to Corniglia. We bought our day passes and were 10 minutes up the trail when the heavens opened up and it down poured on us. So we turned around to wait out the rain in our shack. Which turned out to be somewhat neat since we had total privacy up there we just left the door open and watched the rain for an our. About 10 it had sort of subsided so we headed out to hike again. There were still some angry clouds about but overall I think it kept some of the crowds away and definitely some of the heat. WIN!
The hike to Corniglia is the longest of the coastal route at about 4Km or 2.5 miles but wasn’t as much elevation gain as the trail to Monterosso. Even still there were a few stairs and it was quite humid and warm. We didn’t see a soul until we were close to Corniglia and we saw some people hiking in the opposite direction. This is the only town that is set up more in the hills than on the water so we didn’t plan on staying long but we did need some lunch. We had some FANTASTIC ham sandwiches. They wer HUGE first of all on greasy delicious Foccacia bread with ham, mozzerella, and “salad”. My kind of sandwich. No mayo in site. We ate that on a bench overlooking the town and water and that was quite enjoyable. We also picked up some yummy croissants and apples as snacks later on but soon found out that we had hiked all we could of the coastal path and would have to take the trains for the remainder of our journey. DARN! Basically we got to do the longest and hardest of the hikes. lol
Yummy (HUGE) Ham and mozzarella on Foccaccia bread sandwich. The best sandwich of the whole dang trip.
So we descended the crazy SWITCHBACK stairs to Corniglia’s train station and headed to Manarola.
So.. soo many stairs.
Here we ditched the crowds at the marina and main square and headed up the hill. We soon saw what was likely part of the coastal path but which looked open so we climbed up to get a better view of the town. SO WORTH IT. The view of Manarola is only second to Vernazza I think. Such a cool town and it was from up there on another bench we enjoyed our apples.
We tried to see if the Via Del Amore was open (the .5 mile paved trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola) but alas.. it was not. Still got a cool shot of Manarola though with it’s train station to the right.
Riomaggiore: Now this town was interesting. After again walking up a hill hoping for similar results as the last hike, we soon realized we weren’t even in the “main” part of town. Oh no we’d need to go through a tunnel where we were then spit out into quite the crowd of people. So we pretty much went to the Marina, surveyed our swimming options which didn’t seem like that many, took some photos, and headed back to the train.
We thought, lets go back to Monterosso where they had big sandy beaches. So we hopped on the train back to Monterosso where we got out into an ever larger mass of people. Oh my goodness words can’t even describe the crowds in the little tiny village. And we soon discovered that the entire beach is covered in beach chairs that cost 20 euros per PERSON for 2 hours. uh, no way we have a free pebble beach in Vernazza thanks very much. so again we were back on the train to our “home” town. Only this train was different. Again they switch the platform on us and we rushed over to get on this old, ancient NO AC train where we sat… and we sat for at least 20 minutes while they crammed more and more people onto it. We kept wondering when enough was enough but people kept getting on until we again hugging strangers in an AC absent stuffy compartment. Great. But then we were back in Vernazza, ducking onto the stairway to Heaven/ shack where I could take the 2nd of cold showers for the day. We looked down on the beach which was full of people but no one was in the water.. interesting. The waves did look a bit strong so since it looked like swimming was out, we opted for a relaxing afternoon on you guessed it, our TERRACE. lol We sunbathed and read our books, relaxed, and I probably took at least 1 more cold shower to cool off.
For dinner we got all cleaned up and headed down to town. We grabbed a pizza from a shop (which was a delicious pesto, tomato, mozzerela pizza for only 7.50!) some sprite and fanta from the grocery shop and headed to the pebble beach. We sat and picnicked while watching some pretty wild waves crash on the boulders. That was aweomse.
When we finished our pizza, we headed over to the marina where some people were swimming in the crazy waves so we sat and watched that for a while. Then we spotted the path/ stairs up to the fort/ castle of Vernazza and thought, why the heck not. There were only a few people up there with us and the views with the sunset were great!
Vernazza is the only little town to have a… Castle? We had a lot of fun roaming around the emptied grounds taking pictures. It was a 4 euros (for the greater good of providing first aid supposedly and not for profit at entry) well spent.
I really loved all the little “bridges” connecting buildings over these narrow alleyways. If you ever visit the Cinque Terre, make sure to get off the beaten paths in each village and discover these fun, colorful streets.
We capped our day off with some gelato (my 2nd bit what??? I think I got some coffee and sweet cream flavors this time. delicious) and then returned to our… Terrace to watch the remaining sunset on Day 3.
A few shots of our little “shack” Otherwise known as.. the Love shack. haha It was a small bedroom with a wardrobe and a very tiny bathroom, but what more could we need? We spent every minute outside on the terraces!
Left: our gate we could lock so no one would come up and disturb us. The height from the gate and path also added privacy since one terrace had stone walls. But we also had the smaller gated terrace to the left with a table and chairs. It had better views 🙂
Day 4: Up at 6 again to be at the train station by 7. Goodbye little shack. We’ll miss you!
A few photos from the water camera that got out of order… this cool water tunnel went under the village and let out on the pebble beach we swam at.