Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cinque Terre

Wow! Sorry it has taken me so long Family! We had a hard time getting Internet ANYWHERE!!! Our last hotel didn't even have the option of Internet, and for the past 2 days we have seen Internet cafes but they are closed for the season. Seriously, we are really in like, small OLD, old towns. We have had the funniest, scariest adventures out in the middle of random hills and mountains with no railings, and SMALL, teeny, little one-way streets that are apparently in denial and think that they are two-way streets, but they are actually even too small to be a one-way street. Yeah, and cars like to fly around those hairpin, switchback, blind curves. (There is one, like every 5-7 seconds). Oh, and people like to park on that street just to make things even more exciting and challenging. We have basically been screaming, laughing and repeating for 2 days straight, and we have some funny videos to prove it.
We had a great last day in Venice on Monday, aside from the freakin’ cold weather! We woke up and it had SNOWED! Yes, snowed. It was windy and yucky, and we were so grateful that the weather was a lot better the 2 first days we were there. We saw the Accedemia building and art museum, and then the Frari Church, which I LOVED. It was so beautiful, and it was probably my favorite church so far on the inside. The outside was blah, but it had many shrines, and lots of cool history. Then we went back to San Marco Square (Saint Marcs Basilica) and walked around the streets of Venice one last time. I was so sad to leave Venice, but enjoyed every second of it, even in the freezing cold.

We got up early yesterday to get ready to drive to the Cinque Terre region. It took us about 4 hours to drive from Venice to Cingue Terre. Between the maps of Italy, and the Garmin GPS that Alicia bought, and my amazing and articulate sense of direction, we got there just great. Ok the latter of the 3 actually is a big lie, and we did struggle a bit getting there. We usually do great on the Autostrada (freeway), but the second that we exit, it is a winding nightmare of small roads with fast mini-BMW's with really annoyed Italian men behind the wheel, and signs that don't mean anything to us, and lots of options to turn down wrong roads. So we turned down the wrong road, probably because of the pressure of the screaming Italians flashing their lights at us, and ended up....well, up on the side of a mountain with a train of mad people behind us. So we pulled over and cleaned our ridiculously dirty windshield, which actually made it worse. Anyway, we made it, and got to the "Best Western." It was cute, but hard too find, but a perfect, AMAZING location and view in the city of Santa Marherita Liguere. Small rooms teeny beds (two that were stuck together), but the most amazing view that you can imagine!! It was gorgeous!!! I loved that part of it.
Anyway, we didn't get there and checked in until about 3pm so we didn't have time to go to the Cinque Terre, so we decided to just stay in town and enjoy it there. It really was a cute city all on the beach in a cove-like setting with clumps of old houses and churches and restaurants lining the harbor, with boats on the docks, and a winding road on the coast. We went to Saint Margherita church, and it was SO gorgeous. There was not one square inch that was not gilded or carved or painted. It was so pretty, but we were the only tourists and there were several older people that were there praying or kneeling, and lighting candles, and in one corner there were people reciting what sounded like the Hail Mary prayer in Italian. We just sat amongst them, and I took a probably illegal video of it, while we pretended to be praying and meditating. We're so irreverent. Then we ate at a Gelateria that was delicious of course, and we were freeeeezing, but it was totally worth it. After the ice cream we ate dinner! Just how I like it. We basically had this little heated room outside, just to ourselves. It was yummy. We both got pizzas, and Alicia got some Mozzarella al Capprezze, which is her favorite here in Italy, and she has gotten it a few times.

Today we were up early and checked out by 7:45 am, and after we ate the free yummy breakfast and enjoyed one last look from our 4th floor balcony, we drove off to the Cinque Terre It was quite the drive, I really can’t even describe it. It was over a ½ hour off the freeway, of the crazy turns and small roads and mean people, and getting lost. When we got to the first town, we were trying to park so that we could take the train to all of the 5 beach cities (that’s what Cinque Terre means), but in November we are discovering that we are apparently the only tourists in Italy, so the "police guarded parking lot" we planned to park in was actually a deserted square of dirt with soccer goals in it. So we had to improvise and find a place to park by driving back around the town another way because there were no real streets to just drive through. Anyway after a series of unfortunate events, we parked and toured the 5 cities. Mostly it’s done by hiking between towns, or taking the train, and we did a little of both. They have bridges on the sides of mountains to connect the towns, and they are AMAZING sights, like I have only seen on National Geographic, and never thought I would experience myself. Today was A LOT warmer, so it was actually perfect for walking outside all day today. Each town was VERY deserted feeling, and we stuck out like sore thumbs, in my yellow jacket and blonde hair, and only saw a few other tourists. We had gelato 2 times again today.
By 3:30 pm we were on our way to Florence, and we got here in good time, but again, off of the main road on to small scarier than ever roads, in the hills of the Tuscany region, and did a lot of screaming, sweating, and laughing, till we found the hotel. Ok, it’s actually not a hotel, it’s an old castle type house from the 1500's!! It’s amazing. Well, at first it was SCARY, and we didn't know if it was the right place or where to go in or how to park, but once we were in, we decided it’s amazing. So I am sitting from the bed writing this email. They just got free WiFi, lucky us, so we have free and unlimited Internet for another day !! Oh, and we went back down the mountain a little ate dinner at this place that was really good. I had the best, diced potatoes I have ever had, and a grilled chicken that was divine (it was 20 euros though). Alicia got a Mushroom pasta and enjoyed it too. We are in Florence tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and then sleep here again tomorrow night, and then most of Friday in Florence and then of to Rome for the rest of the trip till Tuesday!
Bye for now!


TA said...

It's so fun to read your stories! Tell your Aunt she should come to visit Ukraine next time (and take you with her;)

Laurel Bogar said...

It looks like you are having such an awesome time! How fun! And the pictures are so cool. I think I need to go there. look so cute in the picture in the little rock window thing. Are you back yet? If not...keep having fun!!!