After our late evening the night before, we slept in but got up in time to grab a cappuccino and a panini and make the noon train to the Cinque Terre. We first went to Monterosso, which in retrospect was the most touristy of the towns that we saw (we only saw three of the five towns..cinque means five in Italian). I think we actually didn’t make it to half of the town of Monterosso, but were really only on the walkway in front of the beach. My favorite part of the town was the very colorful umbrellas on the beach.
Vernazza was the second town we went to and like all of the Cinque Terre towns, and Genoa and other towns in the area for that matter, there were some amazing homes built right next to and on top of one another (see picture of Riomaggiore above). The thing that I think is unique about the Cinque Terre is that until recently, their livelihood was farming (now it is mostly tourism.) But the farming is done up on these super steep mountains so they have to build up terraces to hold in the soil and crops. We didn’t have enough time or wear the correct clothes, but you can actually hike up and see the farming and the houses high up on the hills. You can even hike from town to town and we saw plenty of the harder core tourists doing that. It was a very warm day, so I was perfectly happy to chill and eat gelato instead of climbing mountains.
Our third and final town was Riomaggiore which was our favorite. It was less touristy and had a lot of nice views of the ocean, college kids jumping off rocks, people laying on the beach, etc. It felt like a condensed version of Genoa. We decided not to try and push it to see the other two towns (the stars and train schedules would have had to all align to get us back to Rapallo in time for dinner) and instead just hung out and had a couple drinks in the shade.
The two other towns that we did not see were Corniglia and Manarola. A couple who we later met on the train said that Manarola was their favorite, so keep that in mind if you ever visit there.
We took the train back to Rapallo and went with Kelly and Ron to this restaurant high up on a hill that had a gorgeous view of the area. The waiters kind of tricked us with the appetizers and kept offering various things to us which we sort of assumed were part of some reasonably priced appetizer package or on the house. You know what they say about assuming…it was not the case so our bill was a bit hefty, but the night was fun and it was our last nice dinner in Italy. It was fun talking with Ron about an upcoming sailboat race he is going to be doing in Italy. He and Kelly really know a lot about sailing, which impresses me immensely since I know nothing, although I am enrolled in a class back in Shanghai.
The next day, we left for the airport in Genoa early to try and get an earlier flight back to Munich, since Andy was concerned we might miss our flight to Shanghai. The early flight was booked so we sat in the Genoa airport for over six hours. I was less than thrilled. It made it even less enjoyable that the airport was smaller than Boise’s so there was really not much to do. Luckily I had some “Grey’s Anatomy’s” saved up to watch on my iPod and I had a great new book called “Cloud Atlas” that I am really enjoying.
The plane for Genoa was really small and there was quite a bit of turbulence so i was quite glad that Claudia was not with us. I was already starting to miss her being in Shanghai with me though and was in a bit of a gloomy mood. I was not sure if I was ready to be back in Shanghai and go back to work, but I realized I had to focus on the excellent vacation we had just experienced and not think about he negative things about it being over. My fellow passengers on the flight to Shanghai quickly reminded me of where we were going with their sneezing without covering their mouths and the chatter of Mandarin buzzing through the plane. We were definitely not in Europe anymore, but at least we had fond memories of our time there and get to go back to 1.5 more exciting years in Asia. We are very fortunate!
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