Well, my day stared early, like 1:30am…I could not sleep (that’s what I get for going to bed at 9:30) so after an hour of staring out the window at the dark sea night, I quietly grabbed my flip-flops and hoodie and made my escape in my pajamas in search of a snack. The only thing open at that hours was the coffee shop in the ships “mall.” There I encountered 3 Australian women still living up the night and a very inquisitive coffee shop worker who asked me a zillion questions while I hunted for a sandwich and cookie. “Where are you from? What’s your name? Who are you with? Where are they? Where are your children?” Is it any wonder this kid was given the very late night shift. I’m sure everyone in the employee section has already answered all these questions more than once.
An hour or so later, I went back to my cabin and found Vonny awake and she too started to ask me questions. We had a good giggle over the coffee kid and then Linda grumbled, “go to sleep!” I worried that I would not get to sleep again and we had an early call the next morning, but somehow sleep found me again.
Up and early we were and off the ship by 9am to meet our private guide for the day. I’ve used ship tours in the past but in all honesty, they are not worth it. The are crowed and much time is spent herding people in and out of tour buses. I found our guide through Tours by Locals but it appear now he has his own tour company. We arrived at the terminal entrance in La Spezia and we were greeted by young Francesco who was to take us on a walking/train/ferry tour of the villages of Cinque Terre. I could give you a long winded history of the place but that is what Wikipedia is for. HERE. We started our walk along the harbor and through a shopping area (did you say shopping?) on the way to the train station for a 10 minute ride to Manarola.
I learned an interesting train ticket trick while there. If the lines are too long, go to the Tabac and buy distance tickets from him. Ours allowed 40km over the next six hours. They were likely a bit more expensive, but my time was valuable. I had no time for lines.
In Manarola, Francesco walked us uphill through the narrow walkways to key vistas. I was amazed by the number of hikers and hiking groups we passed along the way. It is possible to hike from one village to another and it appeared that people made quite a sport of it. I made a mental note to add this to my to-do list…soon. (click here to read about my second visit)
From there we took the ferry to Vernazza. We walked around the town with Francesco narrating along the way, enjoyed the views, picked sea glass from the rocky beach,
and then had lunch near the tiny beach. Lovely, just lovely. That’s Francesco, our guide for the day. He’s awsome.
After Francesco escorted us back to La Spezia where we spent a few hours shopping before heading back to the ship.
I gotta tell you, this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Everyone has a particular environment that pleases them…Dublin, Florida, Hawaii…well, visiting this place keeps Italy on my list as number one. I don’t have the words (can you believe that) to express the feelings/contentedness I found in these villages. All I know is I don’t think I can wait more than another year to come back. I’m making a backpacking list already. Clearly others felt the same way and that is why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Italians declared the entire area a National Park. Why to go, if now our oceans could be as clear and beautiful as theirs. Ok, perhaps part of the Pacific coastline is…but we could do better.
That would be about all for now, folks.
Click here for Day 6