Day 12: Monday August 2nd, 2004 Read Short Version View Photos

Short Version Instructions: Only read every other paragraph.

We woke up and went to breakfast in the hotel at about 9:15, an average spread including breads, yogurt, cereal and fruit. We had decided the previous night that we would get a boat shuttle to the Chinqueterre today, and the first one left at 10, so we headed down, got tickets then boarded the boat.

Thumbs Up: Boat shuttles The boat was large and pretty nice, and Jessie and I sat as far up on the bow as we could. The cruise to the first town was 20 or so minutes, during which we saw some beautiful coastline in addition to the rollercoaster ride that was the bow on a somewhat choppy sea. Our first stop was Riomaggiore, where we decided to not get off and go to the next town instead.

Thumbs Up: Chinqueterre We continued on the boat to Vernazza, where we got off and went to our requisite church then proceeded to walk through the town and up a bit of the path that connects the five towns to take a few pictures. We looked through some shops, briefly used an Internet café, got some water then ended up back on the boat to Monterosso, the final town of the Chinqueterre.

Once again we walked through the town, poking in a few shops then decided it was lunch time. Alan suggested a restaurant down an alley that looked good, so we went there and they sat us in the very back corner. Jessie ordered the cheese plate which we all split, which was excellent. I had spaghetti with meat sauce which was quite tasty, followed by 12 or 13 large fried shrimp, which I had to behead and peel, but were also quite tasty. Bekki got shrimp risotto (again with whole shrimp) and a triangular ravioli in a walnut sauce, Alan got shrimp risotto and the mystery fish prepared in a mystery style, which turned out to be quite good. The waitress expertly cleaned the fish at the table using two forks quite impressively. Jessie got gnocchi in pesto and grilled swordfish.

We again wandered through town, Jessie bought some stuff, and we decided to take the boat back to Riomaggiore, from where we would walk to the town of Manarola, whose port was being worked on that day. We waited around for 10 minutes for the boat crew's lunch break to be over, then boarded the ship and cruised back to Riomaggiore.

We followed a sign into town pointing towards Manarola, and got a little confused and walked further into town than we needed to. It turned out to be a good thing though, as we found a store that had cold, cheap water (which we proceeded to buy 7 of, plus a PowerAde). We walked back down a bit and determined that we had to go through a tunnel which was quite a bit cooler than the blazing sun, so off we went. At the other end, part of which was a train station, we found that we had to purchase tickets to walk on the trail, which were 3 euro each. Tickets in hand, we walked towards Manarola along the Via dell'Amore.

Thumbs Up: Via dell'Amore The stone trail was amazingly well kept and picturesque, even without the amazing views of the coast it offered. Along the trail there was a café, a covered area with picnic tables, and a long tunnel-like area carved into the mountain with arches opening to the sea, covered in paintings, love notes and names. Via dell'Amore is right. We continued up a few stairs and down a bunch of stairs into the Manarola train station, through another cool tunnel, and into the main town of Manarola.

We didn't stay there for very long, as we wanted to catch the 4:40 boat back to Portovenere, so we did some quick wandering, took some pictures to prove we were there then headed back the way we came. Of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to whip out my sharpie and add our names and date to the wall (much like the Giovanni's truck on Oahu). I would have loved to walk more of or all of the trail connecting the cities, but we didn't have the time nor equipment (it's quite far and difficult in places); hopefully we'll make it back here someday.

We got back near the dock with plenty of time, so Bekki got strawberry and lemon gelato as we waited for the boat. We eventually got on board and left for Portovenere. Just out of the dock, we hit some rough water and got splashed pretty good on the bow of the boat a number of times, which we welcomed since it was hot and we had just walked a couple miles. The trip home was beautiful but uneventful and the breeze kept us cool. We arrived back in Portovenere 20 minutes later then headed back to our hotel. We had talked all day about going swimming and planned to after we freshened up, however upon getting to our rooms, we decided showers and naps sounded a little more appealing, so we showered and napped.

Upon waking up two hours later, we headed down to the waterfront in search of pizza. We ended up at a place right on the water that turned out to be pretty good. I got a 4 cheese pizza, Bekki got focaccia with onions baked in it and a margherita pizza, Jessie got caprice and a 4 cheese pizza, and Alan got a huge salad and an anchovie, capers and olive pizza. We chowed down then got gelato next door.

Thumbs Up: Walking off the beaten path We slowly walked back towards the hotel, but were temporarily enthralled with the ad-hoc beach soccer game being played by a bunch of kids, surrounded by about 100 spectators who were very into the whole thing. Alan wandered off, so Bekki and I followed him, and we ended up walking through the upper streets of the town which aren't very touristy and have a lot of houses. It was very cool and we were glad we explored up there, where we also saw a ton of cats lounging around (as we saw all throughout the Chinqueterre, a stark contrast to the packs of dogs in Greece the previous year).

We eventually made our way back to the waterfront to find Jessie gone, not surprisingly, and walked back to the hotel. In our room, I fell asleep almost immediately. I woke up at 4 AM, still dressed and wondering why all the lights and TV were still on. I remedied the situation and immediately fell back asleep.