Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Iceland/France/Italy Day 17: Hike from Monterosso to Vernazza

May 15, 2011
Italy Day 17: Hike from Monterosso to Vernazza

The weather was quite different again today, a bit overcast and looked like it could rain a bit, but we ventured forwards without breaking our stride. We tried to go to Vernazza for breakfast but asked the wrong person at the train station if we were getting on the correct train. So we ended up stopping only in Monterosso and had to walk from there instead. That turned out to be ideal because it cleared up quickly and this gave us more time to spend in Vernazza which is probably my 2nd favourite village after Riomaggiore.

We started the walk and there were some very steep cliffs. They warned us some rocks could be slippery when wet and it had been a little rainy/wet earlier in the morning. But soon after we started the walk, the sun came out and it was glorious. We had some really great views of the water, and also we walked by the Lemoncello guy's fence!!!! So awesome!!! There is a guy on the Monterosso-Vernazza trail who has a little sales booth set up next to his lemon farm. He was there in 2007 and sold us Lemoncello and a fresh-squeezed lemon juice which were both FANTASTIC. He was such a character and I was hoping to see him but I guess he was staying in his house since it was still a bit wet outside.

After a couple of hours we got to Vernazza and the views were awesome. In Vernazza we found an Ice Cream gelato guy who was serving probably the smoothest gelato of the trip. It was sooooooooo good. We loved it so much we kept going back, we went about 4 times, getting new flavours each time and sharing them 4-ways. I tried a Canella (Cinnamon) and we also tried Pistache and Licorice!!! Licorice sounds weird but it tasted great.

For lunch we had Pizzas at the harbour with pesto and artichoke on them. We wandered in a few stores after lunch and I found some weird Pez flavours I wanted to try. We walked by a pasty store and I found some mini-pastries in there, cannolis and other tasty stuff. I got a few for our late-afternoon tea.

We headed back to Riomaggiore on the train and for dinner we had another homemade feast of Gnocchi, Homemade (from the store) Pesto, Buffala (fresh mozzarella) and Burrata. We got some Blood Orange juice which was very good but very tangy, so we mixed it with some Frizzante and that made for an excellent combo.

After all that eating we needed a walk in the evening to work down the food. I went for a coffee with Dad at Bar Centrale and we yapped there for a while, that was fun. We then headed back to the apartment to pack up for the next day and for some tea.

A cat trying to get into a restaurant
And of course, even in the most unlikely of all places, Riomaggiore... I run into someone I know! In 2007 it was Bex, this time it's Alex Kaldor! He was visiting the Cinque Terre very briefly on his way to some other cities in Italy and Europe before heading back to Israel. Small world, as usual :)
This cat was guarding something I think. He was pretty intense.
Walking along from Monterosso to Vernazza, looking back at Monterosso
Cliffs on the way to Vernazza
A cat along the way!
Getting closer to Vernazza
What a great walk!!
Looking forward to some lunch!
Almost there...
We're here! This is the place where Crystine almost lost her camera memory card a few years ago. This time, we ate Pizza there instead of saving memory cards!
View from our apartment, back in Riomaggiore
Laundry hanging to dry

Iceland/France/Italy Day 16: Videos

A couple of videos from this beautiful day in Italy.

A beautiful sunny day at the Beach in Monterosso, Cinque Terre, Italy

Boat between the Cinque Terre in Italy

Iceland/France/Italy Day 16: Boat to Monterosso

May 14, 2011
Italy Day 16: Boat to Monterosso

This morning the weather was excellent, so we were up and off to the boats! I didn't get to do this last time I was in Cinque Terre so I was super excited to take the boat trip between the villages. The weather was nice and clear and the boat trip was really fun. It was amazing to see the villages from the water and all the way up the mountains behind the villages too. A great opportunity for photos and video!

We got off the boat at Monterosso and it was much more awesome than I remembered. I had a feeling it was very touristy and overrun with people last time, but it was totally fine and great this time. The weather was so warm and just outstanding. Norm and I chilled on the beach for a bit, and I got a Bruschetta and a Cafe Shakkerato. Ahh soo good. Norm bought a gelato with a weird flavour called "A.C.E." which had pictures of fruit and what looked like a carrot. We finally figured out later that this must be a gelato with lots of fruits which have Vitamin A, C, and E in them. It was good.

Norm and I wandered back to the other part of Monterosso and found Mom and Dad. We switched groups and Norm and Dad sat on a bench for a while and Mom and I went for some more food. I got a caprese salad and a mojito and we enjoyed a nice view from a pretty darn well priced spot right on the beach.  Dad and Norm joined us for a gelato and then we headed back to the boat. The boat back the other direction was at a nice time for photos and I took a lot of pics on the way home.

We had a big dinner with lots of cheese and other tasty stuff and then just chilled at the apartment for the evening. Matt Parrott let me borrow his Alain de Botton book called "Consolations of Philosophy" and I finished that off while sitting on a nice lounge chair in our courtyard, overlooking Riomaggiore harbour. It was glorious.

Lots of schlepping lately, so we had a nice coffee with the moka pot in our apartment and went to bed early.

Funny pic of Mom posing and Norm walking around the corner form our apartment
Some local folks chatting at the morning truck market
Walking towards the boat dock in Riomaggiore
Riomaggiore harbour
Me rockin' my classy new scarf
Riomaggiore from the water 1
Riomaggiore from the water 1
Riomaggiore train station from the water
Towards Manarola
Nearing Corniglia
Beautiful Vernazza
Getting closer to Vernazza
Arriving at Vernazza to pick up more people
Some people enjoying the weather
Coming up to Monterosso
Man at the beach with his dog
Beach umbrellas
The view from our lunch spot
Lunch: Bruschetta and a Cafe Shakkerato
Photo along Monterosso Beach
Heading back out
Looking back at Monterosso
Cool cafe in the rocks in Vernazza
Long steps up to Corniglia
Landslide that caused one of the walking paths to close
Past Manarola
Almost "home"! Arriving back at Riomaggiore
Riomaggiore harbour from the water
Mom and Dad sharing a gelato
Sweet cat near our apartment
The cute cat's louder, more aggressive friend. This guy was pretty nuts!
The cute cat looking a bit nervous cause his cat friend was crazy
Gorgeous view from Riomaggiore Harbour

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Iceland/France/Italy Day 15: Lover's Lane and Manarola

May 13, 2011
Italy Day 15: Lover's Lane and Manarola

Our first full day in Cinque Terre! We decided to do the first walk today. We were considering taking the boat between the villages but it was a bit overcast so it was a better day for a walk. We started at the Riomaggiore end of the hike, at the beginning of the famous "Lover's Lane". This is a special part of the Cinque Terre walk where people come and attach a lock to railings and fences along the way, with their initials on it. One of our big plans was for Mom and Dad to attach a lock with their initials and anniversary on it, and also to attach two smaller "child" locks for Norm and Me! Awesome.

At the beginning of the hike, there was a new heart-shaped logo made out of locks which was very cool and new since I last visited in 2007. Mom and Dad were very excited and Dad said, "It's out wedding day!" They searched out for a nice place for the locks that Mom had brought prepared from Canada. As I was perched at the top of the hill, Mom and Dad walked down to a spot they picked out and I was taking photos... but other people stopped to take photos too!!! Haha so awesome. Some lady beside me said, "Oooh, look at that couple!" The audience started to expand and they cheered and clapped when Mom and Dad kissed!! What a great audience.

We continued the walk and ran into a large group of Italian school kids. They were very excited to be on this walk. We got to the Lover's Chair and Mom and Dad sat on it. The crowd went wild, "Oooooh!!!!!!" Then Mom and Dad kissed and got an uproarious cheer from the crowd of mostly school-age girls. The crowd went wild and Mom waved to everyone "like the Queen" she said!! Haha this was priceless. :)

Soon after we got to Manarola and chilled out and took some photos. We walked to the famous view spot and took more photos. Then we walked up to the vineyards above the town and saw a suuuuper lazy cat on a roof! He was soooo lazy!!! Based on a recommendation from Rick Steeves, we walked up past a wall, near a church, down an alleyway... and finally found Trattoria del 'Billy', a recommended restaurant perched high up on the cliff!

We had some incredible fresh fish there and it was very good. We shared some Cinque Terre wine and Tiramisu as well. What a great lunch. Then the sun came out!! It cleared beautifully for our walk back. At the start of the walk back, I found a good place on the wall to draw a picture of Mom and Dad as Wall-E and Eve and Mom took photos of me drawing it. Back we went to Riomaggiore and we went shopping for food for dinner. I got a "Burrata" - a sort of fresh mozzarella that Jess had recommended back in San Francisco. A couple of small pieces in San Francisco were $20... and here a nice sized piece was only 2 Euros!!!! Wow. We also bought lots of chocolate meringue and almond cake, and also some more loquats. They are so good. We headed back to the apartment and the food was SO good.

After dinner we walked back to the seashore. I had a nice chat with Dad about house rental vs. ownership, stock markets, gold price, "investing" in cash (still good while the stock market is so wild). We headed back for more dessert and tea, and then I spent some time catching up on my journal. Tomorrow we might take the boat if the weather is great, otherwise we'll continue onto one of the next walks.

I am really loving the scarves that I got in Florence!! The Burrata was so good we'll have to get some more tomorrow.

Mom and Dad at the entrance to the "Lover's Lane" walk in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
Heart-shaped locks at the beginning of the walk
Starting the walk, but first things first!
Mom and Dad found a nice spot for the lock
Attaching the locks
Posing for the crowd that started cheering
Another great one
Further on during the walk, Mom and Dad sat down on the Lover's Lane chair and a whole bunch of girls on a school trip were so excited. When Mom and Dad kissed they started cheering and taking photos!! Haha!! Mom waved to the crowds of admiring fans.
Lover's Lane chair
Me finding a good spot on the wall to draw a picture for Mom and Dad
Done! Drawing of Mom and Dad as Wall-E and Eve :)
Candid photo of two people having lunch in Manarola
The classic Manarola scene
The classic Manarola scene with some iPhone filters :)
At Tratorria Del Billy for lunch
Chocolate pie for dinner
Fresh Mozzarella and Burrata for dinner