Leaving my favorite place so far was bittersweet seeing as I knew that our night at Vernazza of Cinque Terre was nigh. Everyone has a very simple copy of the large itinerary to look at, but each day they still ask me where we are going next instead of referring to it. I don’t really mind.
We hiked in to the main bus station, feeling like locals because we knew the way so well already.
Dragging our luggage around when we are going to a new location is the second most tedious part of the trip for me. I take the 10 yr old’s luggage for the long hauls because I don’t want that to be his lingering memory. He has happily trodden many kilometers so far and has enjoyed nearly all of it.
The bus into Marco Polo airport was easy and so was picking up the new clunky people mover that will take us through Italy. It is big but much older and more of a shell than the others.
Road Trip observations:
1) I have noticed that the drivers here in Italy are far less inclined to indicate their lane change intentions than what we are used to.
2). Many of the petrol stations are automatic and unmanned. I could sometimes see a toilet but they, like the shop attached to the petrol station were always locked! Be prepared for that.
3)The AutoGrills are a great place to stop on an Italian road trip. Lots of yummy things to be eaten!
4). Not really traffic related but sort of. You often have to pay to use public toilets here. It makes me quite cranky. Budget for this or just hold on!
Our drive was quite pretty but on the highway so we didn’t see quite so much of the scenery.
We found the toll booth this time around and I kinda wish we hadn’t. I was actually livid at being stung €34. €34!!!
Our plan was to park our car overnight at the train station of what I envisioned to be the tiny township of La Spezia and then train in to Cinque Terre.
The reality was that La Spezia is big and its traffic is fast-paced. We finally manage to navigate our way to the station parking. Our parking ticket let us get into the attached public toilets or free so we took the opportunity. I think it was partially the fact that I was frazzled that I pulled the rope to flush the public toilet. I walked out and the kids called out, ‘ Mum was that you that pulled the rope in the toilet?’
‘Mum!’ They pointed at the alarm light flashing now outside the toilet door indicating that someone was stuck and needed emergency help.
We hurried up to the main area to alert someone to my mistake and to get train tickets. I envisaged sirens blaring as rescue services raced in!
No one official would help me tell the right people my mistake. They palmed me off and said it was not their area of help. . I ended up leaving as we were about to miss the train.
Vernazza is a lot like Venice, in that getting there was tough, but then you’re there and it’s like *ahhhhh-bliss*
The steps to our apartment were the steepest steps we have yet encountered. The location of the place is great- just next to the train station.
Our host welcomed us – showed us the complimentary packet toast and coffee for our breakfast and write down the name of a restaurant for which we would get a 10% discount as his guests.
I pretty much dumped the luggage, made sure everyone was settled and then took off exploring.
Vernazza is a delight. The locals really have worked out how best to use their skillsets to enthrall all the tourists. It is one main street that opens out to a little square surrounded by rickety tables set prettily for dinner under colored umbrellas. All this looks out onto a little beach and a rocky cove.
I found the recommended place and made a dinner reservation that would allow us to eat in time to still make our evening boat tour.
We ate a spectacular dinner and were all quite adventurous. The youngest played Foosball with some other kids in the square. It was a real summer beach holiday feel.
Bodie finished early and took the house keys to go get ready for the tour. He returned nearly immediately; unable to open the door.
I came back with him to have a go as I had been the one to lock the door. We could hear the lock turning but couldn’t get in. Every one ended up having a go-with no luck.
This certainly took the shine off the ensuing sunset sail around Cinque Terre as it meant contacting our host.
His text messages were disbelieving and the phone calls -from his end at least and mind you- all done on the boat, on our ‘relaxing’ sunset tour) were exasperated and then became furious. He apparently had to travel an hour and a half to fix the problem. He mentioned that we had broke the key.
Our boat tour was still going on; there were lovely snacks and drinks being served, and our companions were sweet. As the sun started to sink into the Mediterranean, the 5 towns making up Cinque Terre were bathed in pink. This was the place on the itinerary I had chosen to come too just for this and instead of being able to drink it in and take some well-composed shots, I was instead on the phone to a scary, cranky host, who due to the language barrier, could not give me any tricks to using the key!
The tour ended and we clambered out, raced to a bench and sat to wait for the train to bring our host.
I could spot his angry walk well before he reached the apartment. I trailed miserably after him as he stomp-stomp-stomped up the long narrow staircase and with great exaggerated flourish unlocked the door.
He really did not want to hear my peeping that I hadn’t wanted to try to turn it the way he had for fear of breaking the key. To open the door, it required one hard turn-a jiggly half turn and then another full turn all in the same direction.
He thrust a second key at me, turned on his heel and left, locking me out again.
I panicked and tried to quickly unlock the door. Nothing. I thought briefly about calling after Doriano’s disappearing form. Nope- I’d rather sleep us all outside than face him again.
I turned back, took a deep breath and did what I had seen him do. voilà! It opened!
We were in!
We went to bed rather quickly lulled by the gentle ballads of the chain-smoking local musicians playing at the tavern opposite.