Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bison Roam Water: Cinque Terre (Day 1)

Yes, I am still alive. I am even still in Italy, but I have been very very busy, hence the lack of blogging. But I really do want to tell you all about Cinque Terre (aka the most beautiful place on earth, in my humble but accurate opinion, to use one of Mrs. Gillham’s phrases). So, let’s talk Cinque Terre.

Our trip started off bright and early on Friday morning. Our first train (from Verona) left at 5:40 am, which meant we needed to catch a taxi from our residence at 5:00. Despite the early hours, and the late night before – we all managed to meet up in the lobby and set off for our first weekend trip on time. With tickets in hand and seven out of eight passports we boarded the train and settled in for a five and a half hour nap (and two train switches). We did try to amuse ourselves with games on the train – we were lucky enough to have the Bison playing cards that Jordan brought along, and with Bison on our minds we ended up laughing pretty hard about the relevancy Bison had to, well, anything. All of this hassle was worth it though once we reached the city.

Our hostel was in the first of the five cities that make up Cinque Terre. The town is called Riomaggiore and it is absolutely lovely. All of these five cities are very small, the most populous one only has about 1700 residents, but we still managed to get lost finding our hostel. There is one main street through Riomaggiore, and it happens to be straight up a mountain. So we walked to the top figuring that the trudge would be a warm up for our hike only to find out that the hostel check-in was situated at the bottom. This was cause for groans since some of us still weren’t quite awake yet. But eventually we checked into our hostel, climbed the nine flights of stairs to our room, and most of us were pleasantly surprised with what we found.

We had reserved a room for eight, and I for one was expecting to see four bunk beds with a community bathroom, but instead we found ourselves in a cute little apartment style room with two bedrooms, a pullout couch, kitchen and bathroom. I certainly think we lucked out, especially with the view from our window.

Anyway, we didn’t stay in the hostel for long. We spent most of our time during the weekend traveling around each of the five cities. The first day we did the famous hike through Cinque Terre. Although we had been warned of the “dangers” of the trail, we found the hike totally doable. I think this was everyone’s favorite part of the trip. We spent the entire afternoon and early evening trekking through the hills, cities and cliffs on the Italian Coast. I have never seen a more beautiful place. At every turn I wanted to pull out my camera (and at a lot of them I did). It was a great five hours of talking and climbing stairs and simultaneously staring wide eyed and jaw dropped at the scenery surrounding us.

The thing I thought was interesting was how each city had its own personality. Obviously, all of them are fishing villages, but each one had something unique about it, whether it was a certain view of the sea or popular beaches.

I feel like words really can’t do justice to just how pretty this place was. I am so glad that I got to experience it with such an awesome travel group. The eight of us had a wonderful time hiking. After stopping in the fourth city to eat dinner we returned to the hostel to explore Riomaggiore. We ended up spending most of the night on the rocks that make up jetties at the base of the city. By the end of day one, I could already tell that this was going to be a great weekend, filled with many more hysterical stories and exciting times. But those of you that want to hear about it will have to wait, as I have midterms to study for now.

Ugh, midterms in Italy! Isn’t that just the worst concept you have ever heard? But until next time, I hope that some of these pictures can show just how lovely the sights of last weekend were.

A view of the second city

Getting ready for the hike - the "before" picture

The girls - we decided eight was a perfect travel group size - a perfect fit on the trains

The boys on the train, bright and early.

Simply breathtaking

Some of us got very unique souvenirs, haha.

Leaving the second city

Excitement after climbing 382 steps on the last leg of the trail to the third city

The cutest tradition I have heard of. You and your special someone buy a lock, lock it and throw the key into the ocean. **aw** This doesn't just happen in Cinque Terre though. Apparently, it is a tradition all around Italy.


  1. What a trip . . . even if you have to take midterms. My jealousy grows daily! Thanks for posting and letting us see Italy through your eyes.

  2. I'm tired from reading about all of the hiking.

    Bison cards -- too funny -- and I can totally see how playing with them would add to the humor.

    Glad to see pictures of people as well as the beautiful photos of the small towns. I know what you mean about jaw dropping -- a picture never captures jaw dropping ---- it has to be Live.

    Try to have a good time, okay? I know it's a hardship.