Thursday, June 4, 2009

La Spezia & Cinque Terre

once again, being in Bologna station, we were waiting patiently for our train to Parma to switch to La Spezia...

our train was supposed to leave out of Platform 4b


well as far as the eye can see, we only see NUMBERED platforms. (unlike Harry Potter's Platform 9 3/4) so we waited, but no train came on platform 4 at the designated time - but no one else looked hurriedly panicked either.

10 minutes after the train was due to have left, BB walked up and down the entire platform, then pointed to a remote little corner of the Bologna station where the platforms are half the length of the regular platforms - and we agreed that it MUST be the "b" platforms.

so, we caught the next train to Parma, which gave us nearly 2 hour of layover at Parma station. Parma smells like cow poo, and i was told it's because all the farming and cows that made the yummy yummy parmesan cheese i love.

Parma also gave me the worse mosquito bite within 2 minutes of stepping onto their platform...

by the time we board the train to La Spezia, it was dark out... it's a local train so the inside was dirty and messy, but we were too tired to care. BB fell asleep and I was trying to keep track of what stations - without announcements, and when it's dark out and the stations are tiny and it's all in the dark...

thankfully our hotel was a stone's throw away from La Spezia train station.

BB was too tired but i was famished even at 10:30pm, so i wandered over to the restaurant across the street to have dinner...

the waiter and owner were both older (50s) and having their own meal - turns out they didn't speak much english but i conveyed that i wanted what they were having.

yummmm.. my dinner was a sizeable grilled fish - so fresh - served simply with a wedge of lemon. it was perfect, i was craving some *real* food, but it wasn't too heavy to be having so late at night and i can go to sleep afterward...

-------- May 18th - Cinque Terre --------------

We were excited and finally rested to explore Cinque Terre - from La Spezia the train ride is about 15 minutes to the further village - Monterosso.

We started with the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza - apparently this is one of the harder stretches, which we didn't realize until later. When we got to Vernazza, we had lunch there, well deserved.

i had the warm octopus salad with potatos - yummy. then i had anchoives baked with tomatos and potatos. i realized that fresh anchoives are only ok (sorry hurc) - the bones are just long enough to feel very uncomfortable to chow down. BB had fritto mista - mixed fried seafood, of which mostly it's comprised of squid, some shrimp, and a bit of anchoives. she didn't like it, and i tried to help her out but it was way greasy.

we had to console ourselves by having gelato, before we decided to hike from Vernazza to Corniglia.

more pictures...


we had dinner at Manarola, i had spaghetti alla mare, BB had speghetti pomodoro. it was yum - you can't go wrong with pasta. BB wanted to capture Manarola in the sunset and at night time with the lights shining on it, so we walked back to the walkway to try to capture this - well she was to capture this. i was to capture the sunset (but secretly i think she just wanted to keep me occupied so i wouldn't be dead bored) :)

the last stretch of the 11km (650meters of elevation change) we decided would be our most leisurely walk, so we did it after dinner... this part is called Via dell'Amore (lovers lane) and is paved, the scenary was nice but really nothing spectacular after all the other hikes of the day.


The hike through all 5 villages of Cinque Terre is beautiful and breathtaking - literally because of all the steep stairs and variations in elevations, the narrow unpaved walkways (at times patchy steps are created acrosss cliffsides) - but the view is equally stunning and breathtaking. it is worth every painful step - after the first stretch, i was skeptical about continuing... BB asks what else would we do if we don't hike the rest - good point, since we weren't there to lie in the sun on the beach all day, nor train it everywhere... i'm glad she voted for us to complete the whole hike, it was a great walk, and soooo worthwhile.

Thus ends the first Cinque Terre day...

-------- Cinque Terre day 2 ----------

it being my bday, BB was so thoughtful and asked me what i wanted to do. my only answer was 'dip my feet into the water at the beach!'

we started off at La Spezia, where the great poets like Byron had found inspiration at the Gulf of La Spezia. all that inspiration makes a girl hungry, so we found a little pizzeria on a side street and sat down, only to discover...

THE BEST PIZZA of our lives!
i ordered the "nord special" which is pizza with truffle cream and porchini mushrooms. the flavor was sooo sinfully rich, so decadent, but soooooo tasty. if it were a man i would've married it on the spot.

BB had a simple prosciutto with rucola and tomato sauce and cheese - so simply delicious, you taste the freshness of each ingredient and the bouquet of how all the flavors complement each other.

to amuse me and my bday request, we started off our 2nd day at Cinque Terre started at Monterrosso and i hiked the treacherous few feet to waddle into the ocean waters... the beach at this part was rocky, like uneven, painful rocks. all i could do is avoid grimacing to try and enjoy dipping my feet into the water

BB and i spend late afternoon sitting here admiring the view and enjoying early sunset... i wrote some postcards here...

we went back to La Spezia for dinner, but ended up eating at a semi-fast-food type of italian place, where the price is cheap but the food was less than ideal. it was 'ok' and not 'bad'. but we were tired so we ate it and went home and fell asleep.
So ended the 2nd day at Cinque Terre... the next day is a travel day, me back to Milano, BB back to Zurich (to ready for her Moscow work trip - she is a globe trotter!)

More pictures....

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