Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Little Italy [Our Trip to Cinque Terre] Part I

I thought this post had long hit the roads of our virtual existence... However, it now seems that I must have dreamed writing it, because clearly it hadn't. I hate when this happens. Like when I was pestering that poor student about his homework, while it had only been in my dreams... Yeah, that's when I switched to very detailed lesson plans. ^^ Not that I don't trust my memory --  I simply don't trust my subconscious.

But what you really wanted to know about, why you clicked here, is our little trip to the Cinque Terre. So I guess I'll cut my ramblings short, and start telling you more about that. Well, I'm kind of in a pickle as to that. According to the stats, many people consult my blog (that sounds so cool, doesn't it?) to find out more about a given topic and to get some specific information otherwise unavailable on the world wide web. But there are those (OK, a minority obviously) who want to know how I fare or -- to be more realistic -- whether a certain place or activity would appeal to them.

You see, I definitely want to keep on providing hard to get information, but I also want to make this post (kinda) fun. So I decided to diverge from my usual informative style of posts filled with links and to do lists and venture into a semi-narrative of what we were doing (and eating) in the south. You'll see I'll still go informative from time to time, but if you're specifically looking for that kind of stuff, I have two tips to give you.  I'll be highlighting the key info, so that you can scan for that. Second, I'll be using the official names of all the things I mention, so whatever search engine is your best friend, they'll be easy to gather more info on. So, let's get started! ;)
Well, we did quite early, actually. Both googlemaps and our GPS estimated the route to be around 5-6 hours, so we decided it would be awesome to have lunch already in Cinque Terre. So we set out around 7, stocked up on cheap Swiss gas and off we dashed, through the Mont Blanc Tunnel and onto Italian highways. I won't bore you with the details, only tell you that half the road was amazingly spectacular and the other half -- was just tunnel after tunnel. Which means that reading any book or writing any research (yeah, I know) was just impossible, so audiobooks are definitely the way to go if you don't have a very talkative companion. (Or, if your husband is just too conscientious a driver to let his attention wander...)

We did get there by lunchtime, however, and this meant we were up against our second Herculean task (the first being getting all the route right). Parking. OK, a little info, something you'll find in any guide or forum. Parking in the Cinque Terre is a pain. Most of the villages don't have parking lots and all of them are closed to motor traffic. But no need to worry, you're reading a survivor's guide to globe trotting and Fleur's ready to come to the rescue! ;) Your solution will be to park your car at the first or the last town, namely Monterosso or Riomaggiore and take the train. As the villages are better connected to each other than to nearby towns, I wouldn't park in Levanto or La Spezia... But that's just me. Of course, it depends on where you're planning to spend your time.

As we were planning to spend most of our time in the Cinque Terre and only give the likes of Tuscany a cursory glance, we booked a room in Monterosso. This proved to be a good decision for a number of reasons. We had excellent accommodation at Manuel's Guesthouse and the parking lot was just by the train station. We easily found a place and set off to check in and discover the village.

Needless to say, we ended up spending that day at Monterosso's beach, relaxing in the sun after all those tiring kilometers (and tunnels...).

Thanks for reading, I hope this was helpful/fun. :) To find out more about the Cinque Terre and our Italian holiday, please keep tuned. There's more to come. ;)

Hugs from a decidedly autumnal Geneva ;)


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