21 day Best of Europe-DAY 14 San Gimignano and Monterosso al Mare
It was so good to see Ben again. He had his mandatory rest period and would be with us until we arrived in Paris. We walked several blocks from our hotel in Rome to the place where Ben could wait for us with the bus and a little after 8am we were on the road again (cue Willie Nelson). I know many say they utilize bus time to rest. I cannot. My eyes are constantly looking at the map, to the countryside, to the GPS, to the viewfinder of my camera. I don't want to forget any part of this trip so I document with my camera. I might have remembered more when I was a younger person but my 50+ year old brain can't hold all it used to hold!
We had lunch overlooking the valley in San Gimignano then bought a couple souvenirs including some of the famous white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano (incidently, 3 bottles for 10 euros total...score!). Gelato was the go-to dessert then it was time to meet back up with the group at the front gate of the town. We were a few minutes late and I wanted to mention how this is such a bad thing. I'm a rule-follower and being even a few minutes late is not something I do. It turned out okay this time but being just a minute late could mean missing a train, thus affecting the whole group. It won't happen again! Back on the bus and time for some business. Our first night in Monterosso and no meals are included but Colleen did arrange for a meal at a local restaurant known for its fresh seafood. I'm pretty sure everyone participated at 24 euros each (included wine). A few of us chose to opt out of the seafood and had chicken instead. I was one of those people because I am allergic to shellfish. Too bad, actually, because the chicken was pretty mediocre. The dinner was very fun. We've all been together for 2 weeks now and we're all family at this point; we try to make it a point to sit with different people at every meal. Along the road we pass by some very interesting scenery!
Monterosso is such a nice village, especially with the Old part of it connected by a tunnel. Tomorrow Steve and I have decided to hike from Old Town to Vernazza. At the time of our trip it was only hiking trail connecting the 5 villages that was open. We definitely want to get an early start. Amber wants to hike too so we arrange to meet up with her in the morning for breakfast. We aren't hugely athletic people so hopefully we aren't sorry we're attempting this!
21 day Best of Europe-DAY 15 It's a Cinque Terre kind of day
The weather is sort of coolish today so we dress in layers as I'm sure we'll be working up a sweat! The Monterosso train station sells the hiking passes and also the train tickets so we get the combo pass. We want to ride the ferry too but those are separate passes. Our plan is to hike to Vernazza, train to Manarola, Riomaggiore, then take the ferry back to Monterossa. The ferry will not run if the water is too choppy but we have the train as an option if need be. As luck would have it, the water was fine and we were able to see all the villages from the water, a nice point of view. We waved at Corniglia as the ferry drove by that village. We would have needed to take quite a few stairs to get to the village as it's high up on the bluff. Alas, after hiking the Monterosso to Vernazza segment, we didn't have the energy!
It was a long and tiring morning/afternoon but we were excited to have our Happy Hour meet up with the group back at our hotel. We shared a bottle of wine we had purchased in San Gimignano and the fresh pesto and focaccia we picked up in old town Monterosso. I took pictures of all of our new friends too, which I will include below. Katie brought her ukulele and Dave played it....we all sang and had a great time.
We enjoyed the company of our friends. We knew we hadn't come this far without stepping foot in the sea but it was way too cold to swim......so after some wine a few of us gals decided we needed to get our feet wet. There is a beach in Monterosso but it's pretty rocky so walking barefoot is a bit painful. I wasn't quite prepared for the temperature or the force.
I think everyone enjoyed our vacation from our vacation in the Cinque Terre. It was the perfect respite from the go-go-go of Rome. Tomorrow we leave Italy for Switzerland!