Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lunging through the Chinque Terre

Cinque Terre means the five lands in Italian.  On the west coast of Italy there are five towns connected by hiking paths.  As we hiked (more like did 1000000 lunges) through these five towns I thought about the five towns I've called home and how they've shaped me.  

Town 1:  I was born in Decatur (Decatur where it's greater). I have a few memories one being the loss of my first dog, getting stung by a bee in my outdoor play tunnel, and of my sister threatening to hit someone who made fun of me with her cast on a walk home from school (I had a lot of hair and bullies loved it). Oh, the things we choose to remember as kids.
Town 2:  Next I moved to Norcross where I went through grade school all the way to high school.  I made great friends, learned independence, and became a young adult. 
Town 3:  I headed off to Athens (GOOOO DAWGS, Sik 'Em).  This is where I learned how to start anew and make friends (even if it took a whole year to meet one of my current best friends who lived on my freshmen dorm hall), learn networking skills, and where i found my passion for research.
Town 4:  That passion lead me to my fourth town Columbus, OH (OH - IO!).  My new affinity for the Big Ten didn't surpass my love for the Bulldogs, but it sure was nice to wear a hoodie instead of heels to a football game (it's too cold for all that cuteness).  This is where I was molded into a scientist and had a twisted love affair with a protein called NOD2 and the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Town 5:  After five years, a PhD, and a new husband, my journey led me to my fifth town Clarksville, TN (Clarksvegas).  We only lived there two years, but it was my first time living in a home, becoming a professional, and my introduction to the Army.  

While the five towns that have shaped me could be hiked to, I don't think I'd ever want to make that journey on foot.  The five towns of the Cinque Terre - Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are only about 7 miles total if the normal hiking trails are all open.  Much more doable.  A few of the connecting trails were closed due to a flood in 2011, so we were lucky enough to be able to hike (more like lung) up into the mountains.  Thank you Nike Training Club App for the many lunges I suffered through in preparation over the past few years.  We hiked up, up, up and over several mountains.  It was a relief each time we made it to a new town.  We celebrated by drinking wine and eating a new Italian appetizer along with taking a few dips in the water.  

  1. We took a late flight out on Ryanair to Pisa.  Stayed overnight in Pisa at Hotel Ariston, and then ate breakfast with the leaning tower as a gorgeous view.  Then walked to the train station to head to the Chinque Terre.  It was about a 2 hour train ride and a pretty decent price.
  2. In the Chinque Terre we stayed in Vernazza at Camere Giuliano. Giuliano is welcoming and hand built all of his rooms (#1 on Trip Advisor as of 9/2014).  The architecture is amazing!
  3. Make sure you check the ferry times if you want to enjoy a relaxing boat ride back to the city you're staying in.  If you're like us and forget, you can always take the train back.
  4. Get to Montorosso early.  The umbrellas on the nice beach are quickly reserved, and you'll feel like beggars going from each company asking if they have a place for you to take off your giant backpack that you just hiked with.  Also, be prepared to pay 25 Euro for two lawn chairs and an umbrella (this was after 1PM).  The beaches are privately owned and there is very little space on the public beach.  
  5. Make sure to buy your ticket early if you are leaving late in the day to catch your flight.  We stood in a long line at the ticket kiosk and almost missed our train.  Why didn't we learn from our trip to Barcelona?

We woke up to this view outside our hotel window!

From our room in Vernazza

Why didn't anyone tell me about pesto lasagna?!?!

Okay, so after stuffing ourselves with Italian seafood and frying like an egg on a rock, which may have lead to getting a bit dehydrated, we called it a night.  We woke up early and started our trek to see each town.

Vernazza --> Corniglia (Regular hike open)

Leaving Vernazza


We deserved this wine and cheese

Corniglia --> Manarola (Alternate hike)

Hiking through vineyards on a mountain


Olive pizza in Italy = whole olives dumped on olive oil covered pizza

Manarola --> Riomaggiore (Alternate hike)

Leaving Manarola


We ended the day soaking up the evening rays

After watching to sun go down while looking at how much land we had covered, we ate some delicious seafood and took the train back to Vernazza.  The next morning we woke up and finally used our backpacks for what they were made for.  What a workout!

Vernazza --> Monterosso (Regular hike open)

Leaving Vernazza

Looking back at the Cinque Terre



What a crazy few days!  This trip was definitely a workout, but we loved the breathtaking views along the way and learning the little quirks of each towns.  If you enjoy hiking and a good workout this trip is for you!  If you don't enjoy hiking or working out this trip is still for you!  There are alternate modes of transportation to get around and see the cute little towns.  Have fun!

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