On Monday morning bright and early we set off on foot for the Cinque Terre. We had packed a few things for an overnight stop in my day bag and the sky was overcast which meant it would be cooler at least to begin with. The path we were taking from Levanto, where we are currently pitched, would take us to the first of the 5 towns. It was quite a tough walk. It took 4 hours to get to Monterosso. The sun came out and it got very hot. The path was not well maintained and although mostly in shade it was steep either up or down with very little on the level. The thing which peeved Christine most was that we arrived at Monterosso after a tough 4 hour hike and we had only reached the start of the Cinque Terre walk. We could have arrived by train at the same place in about 5 minutes! After a beer and a meal on the waterfront we took the train to the next stop, Vernazza. This was where we had decided to stay overnight. I will pass over to Christine now so she can give her own account and continue the tale of our jaunt in the Cinque Terre.
Well I did find it tough going and had a face like a beetroot by the time we got to Monterosso and so was very happy to get onto the train to the next of the five towns. All of the towns are served by train and one ticket, valid for two days, enables you to hop on and off at will. You do miss out on the views doing this though as most of the line is in tunnels. Varnazza was very pretty and very busy with lots of American tourists. After a bit of wandering up and down we found a nice room close to the harbour. Maria, the proprietor gave us good advice about where to eat etc and after a meal we went to bed quite shattered. Today we visited the remaining three towns (by train) and then took a bus up to an old monastery. To return by bus we would have to have waited 3 hours, so I found my self staggering down another steep descent with walking pole in one hand and Frank's hand in the other. But we made it! The Cinque Terre coast is extremely beautiful and the towns are all a little different from each other. At Riomaggiore we walked a little way along the famous Via dell'Amore. This is a footpath cut out of the cliff and has lovely views out to sea. It is also flat and paved! Varnazza attracts the most visitors and there is quite a buzz about the place - especially in the Blue Merlin bar in the evenings. I guess this little expedition is the closest I'm going to get to backpacking these days and whilst I liked the bits sitting in the bars and people watching, I did find the hiking a bit of a challenge (need a new pair of knees).
We will be starting our journey westwards to France tomorrow, with a couple of stopovers before we reach Montpellier for our 2 week stay in the gite.
Love F and C
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