Thursday, October 21, 2010

From Sunrise to Sunset

I'm typing this while sipping my morning coffee on the private terrace of our apartment in Riomaggiore, overlooking the Mediterranean. Above the sound of the waves I can hear the church bells chime that it's 10 o'clock. This is our view:



This place is all kinds of awesome :)

Yes, we finally made it out of Corsica yesterday. We were up before the sun, walked down to the port, and were shocked to ACTUALLY SEE A FERRY THERE. Woohoo! So we got on board, walked up to the top deck, and watched the sun come up over the Mediterranean.



It was 7:30am, and the beginning of a long but ultimately successful day of travel that brought us to Riomaggiore, in the Cinque Terre of Italy.

The ferry got us into Livorno, Italy, a few hours later. This is apparently the city of no taxis, because it was impossible to find one. After walking several blocks with our luggage we managed to get on a local bus and made our way to the train station across town.

The train system in Italy is awesome. We took three different trains to get here (Livorno - Pisa, Pisa - La Spezia, La Spezia - Riomaggiore). Each one was on time, and left about 15 minutes after the previous one, so the trip was as smooth as it could have possibly been. To top it all off, by pure coincidence, Lorenza (owner of the apartment where we were staying) was waiting for us at the train station when we arrived! So we were able to load our luggage into her tiny car and get a lift to the apartment. This was great, because the streets and pedestrian paths are so steep here that (as Lorenza says), it's a five minute walk down, or a 20-minute walk up :)

I also have to say for the record that I have the utmost respect for Lorenza's driving abilities. The streets are not only steep but ridiculously narrow in places, even for a tiny car. Without exaggeration, we went through a couple of spots where it seems like I could have reached my arms out and touched both sides of the street at once. The side-mirrors of the car just lightly scraped both walls at once, and we were through. Craziness!

Anyways, enough about the travel; let me tell you about the place. We're staying for three days in the southernmost of the five villages of Cinque Terre. There are thousand-year-old hiking paths between each villages, which we plan on exploring today. Our apartment here not only has an incredible postcard view, but is about a five-minute walk from practically everywhere in town.

I say "apartment" instead of "room" because we actually have a little kitchen and dining area, on top of our terrace and garden outside. For a change of pace, we opted to buy a few groceries and have dinner here instead of going out last night. Leslie even picked some fresh rosemary from our garden to compliment her pasta sauce. It was a nice, laid-back evening that we capped off by watching the sun set over the Mediterranean.

This morning, for some inexplicable reason, I was wide awake just before 6:00am (note: this is not like me at all). I got up, threw on a coat, and walked out onto our terrace to take a look at the village at night. It was very peaceful and utterly quiet, except for the waves rolling in. And because this place is in the middle of a national park, there isn't much light pollution from nearby cities, so the sky was full of stars. I stood outside for maybe 20 minutes and saw seven shooting stars streak across the sky. Incredible experience.

So now we're off to explore the surrounding villages! Not sure when we'll check in again because the only wifi here seems to be at the train station. Ciao!

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