Tuesday, November 8, 2011

October 25th

We woke up early and decided that we would start our day with city one and then go to city two. With heavy rain in the forecast, we knew it was going to be a wet day. After leaving the hotel, we discovered where the 400 steps were and took them down to the train station. We took a quick train to Riomaggiore, city one, and looked at the murals that are right at the station. They were really pretty and a little creepy because the paint was starting to peel away in large chunks and so some of the faces weren't too friendly. We walked through the pedestrian tunnel to the main street in town and bought a large umbrella right away. Since it was raining so much already, we knew our hoodies would not provide enough protection (despite them being of great Indiana quality). I made sure we got a large one instead of two little ones so there would be mandatory cuddle time as we walked.

The first interesting thing we saw in the town was their museum about the history of Cinque Terre. They had a lot of really cool pictures, stories, and rusted tools inside of the museum. It was not only a break from the rain but it was also interesting to see the history of the towns, their wine, and a brief snippet of their culture. We walked around the town and made mental notes of the different things that we wanted to get as souvenirs. Looking through our third wheel's book, we decided to go to the most suggested restaurant that was, of course, at the top of the hill of the city. After walking all the way there, we discovered that it was closed, even though it was the middle of the lunch hour, and decided to go to a place that we first saw when we entered the main drag of town. We made it down the hill slowly to the restaurant where we were greeted warmly by the waitress.

The restaurant was very cute and nautical themed.  There were Michigan fans there so of course Chris was skeptical of if we should eat there or not, but his desire for food was more important. So thankful for that because I got spaghetti with Cinque Terre pesto and Chris got a fried seafood dish (Misto Mare). Mr. Marshall, your suggestion was a wise one. The food at this restaurant was so delicious and flavorful. I am so glad that we decided to get a type of seafood with just about every meal. While in the shelter of the restaurant, it started to rain down harder and harder, so much to the point that the ceiling began to leak on the unlucky patrons at the table next to us.

When we were finished with the meal and the rain appeared to be letting up, we went back out onto the main drag and went to buy the souvenirs we had seen earlier. Unfortunately, a few of the stores we had seen were closed down because of the rain and the lack of tourists. We found an open shop and I got some pesto because A) the one on my pasta was so delicious and B) pesto was invented in the Cinque Terre region. Once we were done with our shopping we went down to the train station to buy our tickets to city two and barely made it out. The rain started to come down so hard and the power kept flickering. We purchased the post cards that we liked the most and then the lights went out for good. This posed a problem because the trains are run off of electricity so we began to wonder if we were going to make it out of the town that day. As we crossed the tracks to the other side, we watch the lighting and rain over the ocean which was super cool because of all the different colors in the ocean. As the storm moved closer to the little city, a few of the bolts came down quite close to where we were. Although the train was about ten minutes late, we were still able to board and go to the next town. Right before boarding the train though, I stupidly dropped the pesto under the train. Thankfully Chris is quick on his feet, reached down, and grabbed it. Only later would we discover what happened to the jar after I dropped it.

Reaching Manarola was a very quick trip because these two towns are closest in distance out of the five. We hopped out of the train and made our way down to a restaurant where we were told we would be able to get free sciacchetra if we had our Rick Steves book with us, it was in the book by the way. With the power out, we go to the restaurant and the woman looks at us like we are crazy when we ask her about the free drink. She gets upset with us and complains that this is not a bar, and if we would like food, we can order it but that she refused to give us the drink unless we ordered something. Chris was saying he would buy desserts with the wine, but she wanted us to buy a full-out meal.  So, with our tails between our legs, we walked quickly out of the restaurant and into the pub that was located right next door.

We were greeted warmly and were asked to sit down and they would bring us the drink. While we were drinking our delicious sciacchetra, another visitor of the bar came over and started talking with us. She was a woman from Sweden in her 60's I would have to guess and she was as sweet as can be. She talked with us about her children, her husband, and her time that she had spent in America. We talked with her for about an hour and then decided we should start to explore the city before it became too dark and miss our opportunity. We walked down to the water and along the side of the cliff on the path looking at the ocean. It was so beautiful and the colors were amazing. The rain had brought the vegetation of Cinque Terre to life and it is truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. We ran into the woman a few more times on our walk and she was happy to see us each time. After exploring just about every nook of the city, we decided that it was time to go back to the hotel and get some rest before the next day's big adventure.

When we got to the train station there was a crowd waiting to board the same train we were and everyone was talking about the storms. We found out that there had been mudslides in two of the cities and that there was going to be limited transportation, especially since there was no power in any of the five cities. We waited for two hours for the train and finally it came. After seeing cancellation after cancellation on the message board, it was nice to actually know we were going to be able to make it back to Corniglia. All the trains were stopping in Corniglia and not going any further because it was too dangerous and the landslides had gone over the rail road tracks.

When we got back to our city we were hoping the little killer bus would be running so we wouldn't have to walk in the rain. It was, but as it continued to let people on to the bus, we wondered if it was a wise idea. There were a total of 20 people on our little 10 seater bus and for real, I thought we were going to tip over. As all the windows were fogged over, the driver cleared a tiny quarter size eye hole to see out of, and yelled, "ready!" which was more of a statement than a question. This bus ride was even scarier than the first, partly because of how packed it was, and the other part was because it was so rainy out. Well, obviously we made it to the city square alive and headed to our room. On the way, we helped a group of students find their hotel office, which actually was in the same building as ours, and then we went to our room to change our sopping wet clothes and decide what we wanted for dinner.

Since the entire city, except our hotel, was out of power, we decided that it would be fun to just get sandwiches and eat them in our room. The first deli we went to that we saw was open didn't have any meats so we decided to not get anything from there. We had asked for some bread but after deciding we wanted to go to a different place and said we didn't want the bread anymore, the owner was not happy and called us "damn tourists" as we left. Oh well, can't win them all I suppose.

We went to another little deli that was across the road and up more towards our hotel and knew right away that that is where we should have been all along. The woman was so sweet and made us sandwiches to go with our other things we ordered. When we got back to the hotel, we downed all of the food we bought. We got tomato, lettuce, ham, and mozzarella sandwiches, spinach quiche, and apricot torta della nonna. It was a delicious dinner and a perfect setting. We had the doors open to our balcony and we watched the rain from the comfort of our room. Finishing the night with a few games of cards, it was an interesting day to say the least.

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