Cinque Terre, Italy

Day 57, Tuesday October 31, 2017

On our way to the train station to visit Cinque Terre we pass street cleaners who use the same ‘witchy’ brooms as they do in Paris. It seems especially appropriate today on Halloween.We are rather surprised that most of the train ride to the Cinque Terre villages is inside tunnels! I guess, in hindsight, that makes sense as these towns are only accessible by train, boat, or walking. We are visiting Monterosso al Mare, which is the town furthest away from La Spezia where we are staying.
Cloths for sale spread out on the sand. There were lots of sellers but not many buyers.We have seen a few Halloween decorations here and there but this is the only real pumpkin jack o’ lantern we have seen.This huge rock was a popular spot. We walked all along this beach… and through a narrow tunnel to reach the oldest historic part of town.
Monday is wash day and we see lots of laundry hanging outside windows.We have noticed that churches in Italy are all quite different from each other. When we were in Spain a couple of years ago the churches seemed much more alike than they do here. These four churches are all in Monterosso al Mare.We walk down this street on our way to find the footpath that leads to the next Cinque Terre village of Vernazza about 3.6 km away. 

We aren’t exactly sure what we were expecting but we were definitely surprised at how many steps are on this path. By the end of the day we calculate we have climbed about 1,420 steps!! and of course what goes up has to come down. That is a lot of climbing up and down! These photos were taken on flights of stairs that had between 200 and 350 steps all in a row. Yes, I had to stop several times to catch my breath and rest my legs, but I did it! I am rather proud of myself.The path is also fairly rough in places and sometimes only just over a foot in width. It was quite an adventure. About half way along the path we found an older gentleman making fresh orange juice for € 2.00 a glass which seemed like a bargain! It was delicious. Way down there is Monterosso where we started our hike.We saw this little rat on the path. He didn’t want to get out of the way, despite being prodded with my hiking pole. I didn’t think he looked very healthy which may explain his strange behaviour.We even crossed a cute bridge over a small creek.There is our destination, the village of Vernazza.We found these little cat houses along the trail along with big containers of food and instructions to fill the cat’s dishes if they were empty. Someone here really loves stray cats.Finally, we are almost at Vernazza, after 2 1/2 hours of climbing up and down, and down and up.It isn’t a very big village and has a population of less than 900 however the Cinque Terre villages see more than 2.4 million tourists a year!I love peeking inside doorways and today I was rewarded with this interesting collection.
We arrive in Vernazza in this narrow street but…we have to climb down one more long narrow set of stairs to reach the main piazza, or public square, where we find an ice cream shop for a much deserved treat. The fruit sorbet in Italy is amazing, so creamy and delicious.Children in Italian towns play in the squares or on the streets, or in small playgrounds. Green spaces are far and few between. I think about how different their childhoods are compared to children at home who spend so much of their time playing outside in grassy yards and parks.After watching the sun set over the we take the train and then a bus home. We need to get off our bus a couple stops early because an accident that has tied up all the traffic. Two young people on a motorcycle have had a collision with a car. It looks very serious as neither of them are moving and there are several ambulances on the scene. It is very sobering to think of how quickly life can change. 

In yesterday’s post look at the windows in the last picture of the boat. One of them is covered in black plastic and duct tape. Not what we expected to see on a boat that costs millions of dollars.


Tuesday September 5, Wednesday September 6 andThursday September 7, 2017

We are excited to be beginning another extended holiday.  We left home on September 5th and arrived in Amsterdam on Wednesday September 6th.I love sunsets viewed from a plane window. This one was somewhere over northern Canada on our way to Reykjavík, Iceland, where we had a short layover before catching another plane for the second leg of our trip.The clouds look so amazing when seen from above.This photo is for my friend Pat who recently tried to ride on a Segway and didn’t care much for the experience.  Well these security officers absolutely flew around the Amsterdam airport, at least they did until one of them fell off his Segway in a rather loud crash!
Just a few of the bikes near one of the train stations where we found a taxi for the last leg of our journey. The taxi driver informed us that there are more bikes in Amsterdam than there are cars!
Thursday morning we heard a commotion outside our apartment and we were interested to see how construction materials are moved into the apartment next door, up and over the balcony.  This is also how people move furniture into their apartments when the stairs are too steep and narrow for anything but small items.
We went out for a walk this afternoon and these meringues in the window were enormous. I really can’t imagine eating one, they are so huge.The first canal we cross on our walk is the only one we saw that did not have houseboats lining both sides.This electric two passenger car is probably the tiniest car I have ever seen.They are so tiny that they are allowed to park on the sidewalk along with the bikes.We decided not to visit the Anne Frank House as we both remember it from our last visit to Amsterdam almost 40 years ago…and the lineups stretched over two blocks long. Take a look at the sign on the door.  Too funny..The main train station in downtown Amsterdam, which is currently under construction is where we arrived on our visit to Amsterdam so many years ago. We wondered if we would remember any of it, but we didn’t.  It is enormous, and includes both wings on either side of the construction area.  I couldn’t get it all into one photo and there is now a mall on the backside of the building with stores and restaurants.We caught a tram home as we were both a bit tired. My fitbit informed me that we had walked over 15,500 steps which is almost seven miles! This is the main street near our apartment.  These apartment buildings stretch block after block as far as we can see.Many of their doorways have decorative tiles on either side of the doors. I thought they were quite beautiful. We returned home to an email from Icelandic Air informing us that our flight home from Reykjavík has been cancelled!  I guess we need to sort that out tomorrow.  Travelling isn’t without its challenges, and it certainly isn’t boring.