Thursday, June 23, 2011

Iceland/France/Italy Day 14: Arrival in Riomaggiore

May 12, 2011
Italy Day 14: Arrival in Riomaggiore

And off we go to Cinque Terre! We had an early start again, packing up our stuff pretty quickly and having a basic free breakfast in the hostel. We walked to the station first to get our tickets for the train and then headed to the San Lorenzo Markets. I had planned to get a leather shoulder bag and was excited to pick one out. We came across a sort of no-nonsense seller there who told us that the rest of the stalls always say "This is 135 Euros, but for you... good price... 60% off! I just say, it's 50 Euros from the start." It was definitely true that the other folks around were inflating the prices and then pretending to give you a deal, and this guy seemed pretty no-nonsense and believable. So without the pressure of having to haggle, I could actually just look for what I wanted. I found a really nice Indiana Jones-style shoulder bag and decided to go with that one instead of a larger briefcase style like I had looked at in 2007 when I was last in Florence and was a poor student who couldn't afford a cool bag. :) It's awesome!!

I really love the Italian scarves and asked a dude at a scarf booth for some advice. I said "I'm looking for a scarf... for a man... for me", he picked out a pretty cool one and showed me how to tie it. It was hilarious because his girlfriend was there too and said, "No no no, let me show you how!" She wrapped it a bit differently and said that was a nicer way to wear it. Hilarious. They were super cool and about my age, and picked a really nice colour for me. Good times. I also picked up a few more leather bracelets and found another booth to get a "casual scarf" as the man put it, "to wear with jeans!" I got a bright one to "match my eye colour" and a few minutes later I totally saw an Italian guy walking down the street with one of these "casual" scarves on, with jeans of course!

After all the shopping it was time for a break. We chilled at a coffee house and I bot a Bombolini, Espresso and Gelato before we checked out of our hostel. After check out, we loaded up all of our stuff and walked to the train station. Norm and I went to grab some lunch and snacks for everyone for the train ride and we got onto a direct Firenze S.M.N. -> La Spezia Station train. There were some beautiful views of wineries, farms, houses on rock faces and houses on the sides of mountains along the way.

We arrived in Riomaggiore and called Lorenza, proprietor of the #1 TripAdvisor-rated accommodation, Casa Lorenza. She drove down to meet us and pick up our bags, as we hung out near the train station and laughed at a lazy dog chillin' out on the sidewalk near a Bar. Mom rode in Lorenza's car and we met them up the hill on the other side of the Riomaggiore tunnel. We walked a little futher and soon arrived at Casa Lorenza. What an amazing place!! And what a view!!!!! It was stunning to get there and to see how awesome a view you had from the front terrace. Lorenza quickly zoomed off to prepare us some Bruschetta, Tepenade, Beer and Frizzante. This was so tasty and a very welcome treat after a warm day of travel.

After some time to settle in and relax, we walked down the "stairs method" to get into town, instead of taking the windy roads down. Lorenza suggested the stairs were a faster way to get down into town, but were too hard on your knees to come back up, rather you should walk up on the more gradual road. We bought some other food for dinner at the Co-op: olives, gnocchi, fresh mozzarella. We also went into a few other stores and bought Pesto Focassia, more Focassias, cookies with an amazing zest flavour and some Crema de Lemone, which turned out to be the crappy step-sister of Lemoncello. We took all these tasty goods back to the apartment and made a nice dinner. After a large dinner it was time to work down the food, so we walked around and down to the harbour. We then stopped by "Bar Centrale" for a gelato!! I half-expected to meet my friend Bex there as I'd run into her there 4 years ago by total chance. What a fun evening and I remembered instantly why I loved Cinque Terre so much.

Duomo in the morning
Taking a quick look at the leather markets
The sweet bag I bought!
Awesome pastries
Beer, Frizzante, Bruschette and Bread with Tepanade made for us right as we arrived!!
The view from our guesthouse
Mom and Dad at our apartment dinner table!
Awesome food, some great vegetable stew, gnocchi that Norm made and some pesto bread.

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