Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Best Weekend Yet: Pisa & Cinque Terre

Let me just start by saying: holy hell. This weekend was amazing. Marissa, Amanda, Ashley, and I were rockstars. We kick off Friday by training it up to Pisa, as a quick stop off before our main destination. Thankfully we were only there for two hours because we at this point have low-tourist tolerance. We didn't climb the Leaning Tower but we took all the classic pictures. And ate at Subway, which in hindsight, was maybe one of the highlights. U.S. food cravings are more frequent now, and quite hard to fight. Then we headed to CINQUE TERRE!! We stayed in this awesome little apartment in the first town, Monterosso, owned by this cute little women Antonella, who was so helpful and nice. We kicked things off right away with a hike along a trail in the opposite direction of the the other towns just to see what it was like. We were so happy to be out in the fresh air, away from cities and churches and museums....and then of course when we got to the top there was an old abandoned church. I'm telling ya, you cannot escape from the churches in Italy. However, if you are hiking in a bathing suit top then Jesus won't let you in, so you only have to look from the outside. Anyway, it was a pretty intensive hike. Afterwards, we were domestic and went grocery shopping for breakfast and dinner for the next day. We ate at this restaurant at which Antonella got us 10% off and played the most awesome game of Would You Rather? (Would you rather have spaghetti hair or light bulb eyes? Would you rather have muffin hands or corduroy skin? Would you rather have a unibrow that can't be shaved or an endless supply of bellybutton lint?) Headed to bed early as always to rest up for the day. (Sign says "Avoid Loud Noises" Obviously that didn't happen.) We started off the morning with a baller homecooked breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast. And then started off our day by hiking to the second town Vernazza and then to the third town Coniglia. I literally cannot describe in words the epic beauty of these places. The trails aren't easy because there is so much altitude change, but the views are so so worth it. In Vernazza we had lunch at this crazy pirate restaurant and a Belgian couple asked to take their picture with us because we were exotic. In Coniglia, we met these two women at a gelato shop who said they walked to the fourth town, but the shortest path was closed, so they took a longer, 3 hour path. They gave us their directions, and we just had a moment of clarity when we decided that we had to do it. It was the hardest hike of my life. But so beyond worth it, as I said, can't put into words. When we got to the fourth town, after we explored for a bit we found out the normal walking path was closed. So we went to the Information Office and the lady told us we could walk along the car road. We had to. At this point, I couldn't stand still because my legs would start shaking but we absolutely had to finish all 5 Terre. It was an amazing ending. We arrived to the final town, Riomaggiore, in just enough time to run through town with this energy that came from God knows where to the rocks to sit down and watch a gorgeous sunset. Then we traveled via train (our bodies deserved a rest) back to our little Monterosso and in the most efficient way possible (we outlined the plan on the train: Kate - boil water, pour wine, set table; Marissa - cut veggies; Amanda - do your pesto pasta thing; Ashley - cook chicken) cooked a most fantastic dinner. Then we passed out for the night, only to awake to the sound of thunder and downpouring rain in the morning. Which was quite sad indeed as it became apparent that we would not be rewarded for yesterday's hiking with a day laying on the beach. So we turned instead to souvenir shopping as we needed some material possessions with which to remember this weekend. I bought a cute dress but the find of the day was popping into this artsy little store where we started talking with this girl who had studied abroad her junior year in Siena (where we had all visited) and was now working for this Italian couple in the little art store, but also made a lot of the jewelry that was sold there. She had such a cool story and we were all very inspired. I bought this special necklace because out of all the places I have traveled this semester, I felt most connected and happy in Cinque Terre and I'm happy to have a piece of it to carry with me always. After a delicious lunch of more pesto pasta and a beautiful place of mixed anchovies (devastated that I forgot a food pic) we went to dip our feet in the Mediterranean now that the rain had stopped. After climbing out onto the rocks (where at one point Ashley hysterically fell, but was unharmed) Amanda and I decided we had to jump in. We stripped down as much as we publicly could and jumped in. It was SO cold but very exhilarating. We ran back to the apartment to quickly change and hop on the train only to find that one of our connecting trains was suspended but for some godly reason that cannot be described, Trenitalia was nice today and we had no problems taking alternate trains and still arriving home at the same time that we would have. I am still floating in heaven a little bit from this weekend and I know I will have fond memories of it for a long time.

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