2023 Italy Day 08
Genova to La Spezia
Today we awaken excitedly as this should be a highlight day for us! We pack up and leave the hotel REX to find breakfast a few blocks away and there is a parking spot right in front! Right? Must be a good luck omen! So we order coffees and ham and cheese sandwiches because we still can’t find egg dishes for breakfast in this country!
Breakfast done, we choose to drive the highway today as opposed to the coast route as the destination today is more important than the journey! We want all the time possible at the destination! So we drive the highway and the journey is just over an hour! We arrive in La Spezia before noon and find our way to Porto Venere and Fezzano where our rented apartment is. We can’t find it so we call them. Their English is better than our Italian but it is a marginal help. But we get a friendly lady on the phone and I ask her to stay on the phone with me and she does. Finally, with broken English and broken Italian, we see a lady waving! We wave back and we are here!
And we find that our apartment find is a bargain at twice the price as it directly overlooks a marina full of boats! The downside is it is on the 3rd floor and the way up is via very steep steps and Elee’s knees scream! So I reluctantly go ask for a lower unit and they give a first floor unit that is very nice but they point out it doesn’t have the full kitchen and laundry room and we tell them not to worry about it. It has it’s own private patio where we sit and have lunch, consisting of take away meals from the last couple restaurants we have eaten at! Add a couple glasses of Italian Vino and Ecco (Voila)! Who cares where we are!
They tell us they can’t discount the price for us and we tell them all is good! We never had any intention of using the kitchen or laundry room anyway. We have laundry planned for the next city anyway! So we need to get our afternoon started and get to the good part of the day! We head off for the 15 minute drive to the La Spezia Train Station, also known as La Spezia Centrale. We park underground as we have been given a tip about that.
We trudge up the stairs and of course we find the elevator for Elee after we get to the top! We purchase our day tickets for Cinque Terre (pronounced Chen-qua Ter-Ray) and board the train. Over 70% of the ride is in black tunnels so there is nothing to see for the most part. The train stops at all five little cities on the coast that make up Cinque Terre. Now some of you are saying, Chen-qua What? But trust me when I tell you that all of you have seen photos of Cinque Terre. And when you see these photos, you will understand. This area of the Italian coast are some of the most photographed places in the world! And now we will have our own photos of the region!
This place is, at first, underwhelming as we decide to ride the train to the furthermost village of 5 and then work our way back, village by village. So we get to the far end in Monterosso and debark the train. We are not impressed as we think we would be. This is least spectacular village but interesting in its own right! It is a beach town and the beaches were photogenic! We met a lovely Brazilian lady who now lives in Dublin (Don’t ask me why, I never got that story) before we ever boarded the train and we chatted while waiting to board. But I digress, this lady meets us on the train and tells us she is intent on swimming at the beach and wants to take photos to show her boyfriend that she went swimming!
So here we are walking the boardwalks and street of the village and Elee looks over and says, “There’s our Brazilian friend about to go swimming!” So I quickly focus my fun zoom camera and there she is, setting up a camera at beach level and running into the surf. I don’t miss a shot and start shooting as she runs into the surf and back out, even doing the famous “Hair Flip”!
We move along as we feel we have seen this place and head back to the train. Our tickets are good for the entire day, as many trips as we want. The Villages in order are Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. We went to Montorosso first and want to work our way back, one by one. We board the train and find it doesn’t stop until Riomaggiore and we discover we need to pay closer attention to the train schedule. But okay, we have seen Village five, now we’re back to Village one. So we will check this one out!
Riomaggiore is a much more picturesque village and we walk uphill through the steep town, taking photos along the way. But we see post card stands along the way with some iconic photos that everybody has seen of this place and wonder where they were taken. Elee take a post card into a store and asks where the picture is. She is told it is taken at the “Marina”. We spotted signs for the Marina at the train station and we head back that way. Sure enough, we see arrows pointing us to the Marina!
The Marina. Stairs. Down. Lots of Stairs. Lots of stairs down! Elee’s knees. Not good. But she’s a trooper! We make it down to the Marina. I see the path from here leads back up to the left for the iconic shot! I head up. And Up, and up, and up, and up! I get to the top and the view is amazing! I snap off photos and await Elee’s arrival. She is a no show. So I wait, she will get here. But she doesn’t. I wait some more and try to watch the path. Don’t see her. I hear a shout, it says, “DON!” I look to find the voice and there she is, across the way in the iconic shot! It was much less steps to climb over there. So I make eye contact with her and hold up my hand to indicate, “Stay There!”
I make my way down and back up to Elee and I take some shots that she has of the other side. Then we work our way out of the Marina and back to the train station. We have the schedule figured out by now and we ride the train to Vernazza next. This is another Village that we are told has good views. We disembark and the trail is clear. Walk downhill. Picturesque buildings all the way! The views are fabulous as we walk down. We take our time to try and help Elee’s knees. I see Tylenol in both of our future evenings!
This is a fun time for our cameras and they all thank us profusely for bringing them along. There is a restaurant at the end of the walk and we take seats there. The head waiter has quite the sense of humor and he kids us and we kid him. Such things as when I try to pronounce something in Italian, he’d say, “You speak Italian!” And I’d come back with, “In your dreams!” We laugh and laugh and laugh!
Sunset arrives and departs quickly. I thought I had the timing set to get shots of the buildings at sunset and at the exact moment the lighting was perfect, I found myself paying the bill. And just like that, the good light was gone. We’re here tomorrow also, so maybe I’ll do better!
We meet these two vivacious women from Turkey who have fantastic smiles! They are Ezei and Yeelva and they are a couple of beauties! I don’t think I’ve seen a smile that big in a very long time! Hey Ezei and Yeelva, stay beautiful! Also take note of the two waiters who were totally fun with us American Tourists!
Once the sun goes down here at this time of year, so goes the temperature. The chill set in and we make it back to the train for the ride back to La Spezia. We disembark the train and find that we need the parking ticket number to access the parking garage! What? The ticket is in the car down in the parking garage!
So in trying to find another way into the garage, wouldn’t you know that we bump into our Brazilian friend again and we tell her we saw her swimming and that we took photos of her? She is so happy and wants our photos to show her boyfriend! I pull up the photos on my camera and show her and she glows with excitement! I give her my Blog address and she can’t wait to see them! I told her she was sexy (she was) and she blushed. A fun ending to her evening!
We go back up to try to find someone who could help us into the parking garage and what do you know? There were people going in that had access! So we hustle and go in while the door was open! We get to our car and pay the parking and drive away! Back to our apartment and we have misplaced the code to the free parking! What an adventure we are having! So we park semi illegally and all of a sudden the card with the parking code appears! We are good!
We retire to or apartment and write these Blogs! At a later date we will marry the photos up and get this posted!
4 Responses to “2023 Italy Day 08”
A very adventurous day with great pix.
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Right on the adventure part, for sure!
Great post! Love the photos, Don.
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