Train, train, Go Away (Except Not Really): Day 5, Cinque Terre, Italy
A widespread and much needed lack of Internet has left me extremely behind on blog posts, so I'm going to make this one short, since it was yet another travel day. We're so glad that we invested in the Eurorail Pass, as it has saved us lot of time and money in booking trains and all we have had to do is make reservations for specific times. Today marked our final day of lengthy travel, as we would be taking a train from Venice to La Spezia to visit Cinque Terre for three days.
We woke early, surrounded by the familiar sound of gravel crunching beneath feet, as people made their way around the campsite. I always sleep oddly well when staying at similarly rustic locations, most likely due to my 11 years at summer camp and the same fell true for my night spent at Camping Rialto. Margaret unfortunately suffered a different fate and was plagued by mosquito bites for the entirety of the night.
Planning to take the 12:37 pm train to La Spezia, we hopped on a bus to Venice to spend a few hours of the morning and enjoy the beautiful day. I was on a hunt to find cheap sunglasses, but quickly gave up due to the demanding nature of the majority of the street vendors, who were not ok with us “just looking”.
We stopped to have an impromptu photo shoot and relive the majority of my high school years, except with much better scenery than the field behind my house or the Charlottesville Target. Since Venice is extremely expensive, we had planned to have picnic near the bridge, courtesy of the grocery store of – you guessed it- Camping Rialto. Seriously, this place has everything!
We went back to Camping Rialto to grab our bags and catch the next bus to the Venezia Messre Station. This began our first experience with the nature of public transportation in Italy: Easy to navigate, but extremely unreliable for those who value punctuality. We arrived at the train station with 12 minutes to spare, but were told that there was only room on the 3:17 pm train, when we made our reservation. Margaret and I spent the layover time in a café across the street, choosing to bypass the overcrowded McDonald's in the station in exchange for comfy chairs and questionable wifi.
Four hours later we finally arrived at the La Spezia Centrale Station, tired and exhausted from the long train ride combined with a less than comfortable Italian train, which boasted of the most disgusting bathroom I have ever seen. You know it's bad when an Italian man in front of you opens the door, looks inside, shudders, and proceeds to return to his seat after wishing us good “good luck” in Italian. Talk about permanently scarring.
From La Spezia, we took a local train to Manorolla, the second of the five coastal towns of Cinque Terre. Margaret visited Cinque Terre for a weekend last summer during her Maymester study abroad in Cortona and it had been on my bucket list to visit ever since I had seen her pictures.
We snagged window seats on the local train and were quickly submerged in the blackness of tunnel as we traveled between the the towns. Every minute or so, glimpses of the sunset reflecting on the ocean appeared out the window, counting down the seconds until our arrival.
After about ten minutes, we arrived at Manorolla, where we would be spending the next 3 days. The train station was built on the side of a cliff, with gleaming ocean waves on one side and tall mountain cliffs parallel. We walked through a tunnel that reminded me of a gloriously authentic Disney and were welcomed to the beautiful town of Manorolla, Cinque Terre.
We hiked up the paved road of the mountain, while dragging our suitcases behind us as we tried to catch our breath from the incline. At last, we reached the steps that would lead us to our hostel. Ostello Cinque Terre was a building the exact same color as their website: neon lime green with a hand drawn logo of an mountain and the words “Ostello 5 Terre” in kindergarten handwriting font. It was perfect and the view was absolutely gorgeous.
We checked into our room, made our twin bunk beds, and set out to find food and explore the village. We walked out on to a path that led us to a breathtaking view of the pastel colored buildings. I made a mental note that there were three gelato spots on this island alone. We are another Italian dinner at a restaurant right down the hill (mountain) from our hostel before finally going to sleep in preparation for the next day filled with hiking and a trip to the beach.