Today was another stellar combination of beauty and comedic errors that have become the norm for us this trip! We had to get up early to meet our tour group for a trip out to the Cinque Terre. Terrified I would sleep through the alarm, I set three. But as can often be the case, we both woke up about 5 minutes before the first one was due.
I’m not sure whether that gave me a false sense of security, but by the time we got out the door we were running late. I thought I had a 15 minute window to meet the bus, but I only had 5. So when I got there, they had gone. I rang them, thinking I was only a few minutes late, but it was 7.35, not 7.45 am. ‘So they’ve gone?’ ‘Yes I am sorry.’ FUCK!!!!! At first I thought yeah fair enough they can’t wait forever, but also part of me was super pissed!
I sat down on a bench and started googling other tour options when he rang back and said he could pick me up and rendezvous us with the bus. Ci per favore!! What a gem. So we met them at a little car park off the freeway and after profusely apologising to our middle-aged comrades, we were off.
It wasn’t a long drive and we got to drive past some interesting things including the Carrara area which is known for its marble production, particularly white marble. Most artists who work with it choose to live nearby to reduce the costs of transportation. Because it had rained recently the humidity was low so the ‘marble mountain’ was very clear, as you can see from my stellar photograph.
Marta, our guide, explained that many of the towns built on top of the hills were built by locals wanting to escape invaders and pirates. It was thought that being low to the ground was dangerous.
We took the La Spezia exit which looked to be a very pretty town although we didn’t stop here. Continued on to our first little village – Manarola. We were lucky to get there when we did because it was still quiet and uncrowded. We had an hour to wander around which was great. As I hadn’t eaten I made food a priority. Hardy had an ice cream, of course, and I had the best ham and cheese toastie ever, and we sat by the water watching it smash into the rocks and brave guys jumping in.
We checked out some of the little shops which actually had quite nice souveniors as opposed to most touristy places. Shame about that bag weight!!
The region is known for its grape production with the hills covered in them, from the top right to the bottom – so much so it seems like some of the grapes must fall off into the ocean. They have invented this little wagon/train that can go up and down the ranges to transport the grapes and supplies instead of people having to walk.
We were meant to catch the local ferry to the next town but the waves were too large apparently, so we got the train instead. Check out the view from the station! Didn’t seem to mind the train was late (surprise surprise) when you stare at this..
Our next stop was Vernazza. Our tour included three of the five villages that make up Cinque Terre (hence the name). It was so beautiful and quaint! The only one with a naturally secluded harbour, it was where the ship fleets would hide their boats from pirates who regularly invaded ports throughout the Med, you know, back in the day, so they could launch surprise counter attacks.
I knew I’d read somewhere that there was an opportunity for swimming, but in my haste this morning I didn’t pack any togs, a towel or even any toys – much to Hardy’s dismay. So we went on the hunt to buy some. The boardshorts we found were laughable – they look like boxer silks!
He enjoyed splashing around until a lady kindly let us know there were jellyfish in the water. I couldn’t see them at all but considering no one else was in the water it made sense. Later when we went to meet Marta, we could see them in the water:
We were able to get the ferry from here to our final stop – Monterosso. It was still fairly choppy so watching the hoards of cruisers on shore excursions (the vermin they are! haha) struggling in their old age up and down the ramp was a little bit amusing. The trip itself though was smooth and it only took a few minutes. Sorry my connection to the camera has stopped working so I can’t seem to upload my pictures – will try again later!
It was now time for lunch so we took care of that first (completely unremarkable which was disappointing) and went on the hunt to find me some togs as it was now hot and I wanted a piece of that ocean. I suppose because summer is over togs were hard to come by, but we finally found a navy pair of bikinis. While the bottoms looked to be lacking in a bit of fabric, I had no idea how high cut and skimpy they were until I put them on in the change room at the beach. Thank god there was no mirror because I definitely didn’t want to see it. But from what I could see, it was bad. Really bad. Not that I want to give you a visual, but you know how a pork shoulder comes wrapped in that string? Like that. And considering I found a grey hair last night, my ego is now virtually non-existent! I wrapped the towel around me and we ran to our lounge. I kept it on until I was almost in the water, then whipped it off and jumped in with Hardy. It was beautiful! So clear and turqoise in colour. Just stunning. Another beautiful Italian beach. Feeling SUPER self-conscious I got back out and sat wrapped in the towel on the little pebbles.
Hardy kept luring me back in – ‘come on mum it’s so warm, it’s so relaxing.’ Righto, so off came the towel and I scurried back in. And it was nice. Until I felt a weird sensation on my foot, and then it got worse. Shit, I thought. Jellyfish! We ran out and I could feel it getting worse and worse. Do I wee on it? How? I just went and Hardy’s aim is dreadful! No that’s not it is it? That’s a myth. I sat on the lounge and looked down at my poor little toe, all red and raised and stinging like a bitch. I read online that sometimes the stingers can remain stuck in the skin but I couldn’t see anything. It wasn’t that bad and soon it passed, but I had to laugh. All that effort to get in the water! I was just relieved it had stung me instead of Hardy.
Fortunately it was time to meet up with the group to head back. Hardy took charge of herding the crew, after regaling them with his tale of surviving his own jellyfish attack – ‘but it’s ten-diggles didn’t sting me.’
Hardy fell asleep immediately in the bus – no surprises there after the heat of the sun and all the walking and excitement of the day. We’re all set for another bed picnic and an Avengers movie is downloading.