Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Not all those who wander are lost!" - J.R.R. Tolkien

In the Summer of 2008, Erik and I had the time of our life when we backpacked through Europe. We spent almost an entire month exploring the different cultures across the Atlantic. Starting in London, made our way to Prague, Venice, Florence, Sienna, Cinque Terre, Rome, Barcelona, and Paris. We started off with an itinerary but after realizing the multitude of possibilities and adventure, we strayed from the original plan. Some of our unplanned and spontaneous activities were the most enjoyable. After all, according to Lao Tzu,  "A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." 

One of my favorite areas we explored was Cinque Terre, Italy! Cinque Terre is located along nothern Italy's Riviera in the region of Liguria. It consists of five breathtaking villages that overlook the coastline. Manarola, Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso, make up Cinque Terre. We stayed in a quaint and charming town called Manorola, at a wonderful hostel called, Hostel "Cinque Terre." The location of the hostel was ideal! It was very clean, the staff was nice, and overall it fit our needs perfectly. Honestly, you spend a majority of your time in Cinque Terre traversing the five miniature villages... so a fancy hotel is not necessary. I would recommend you stay at a hostel and save your money for indulging in amazing wine and cuisine Cinque Terre offers! The grapes of the Cinque Terre are used to produce two locally made wines that were fantastic!

We arrived in Manarola by train. Once you arrive at the train station you should take the tunnel to the village center, and after exiting the tunnel turn right, up the hill. Warning, when you are hiking up this hill with a backpack on, it is quite the workout. I complained for a majority of that little excursion and was ready to throw my backpack off the cliff. But it is SOOO worth it once you make it to the top. So don't get discouraged!  Follow the road to the church square. Turn left at the church. The hostel is the large green building behind the church. The distance from the train station to the hostel is about 300 meters.

Everything about Cinque Terre is magical. The town is painted in whimsical pastels, the locals are very friendly, and you meet travelers from all over the world. All of the villages are connected by walking trails. The views from the paths are breathtaking. A part of its beauty and charm is its lack of modern development. The towns are still rustic and minimal, and even the paths are unpaved and rugged. It is really hard to express how beautiful the landscape really is. 

The trail from Riomaggiore to Manarola is called the "Love Walk" and varies in difficulty from an easy stroll to a rough and physically challenging hike. Erik and I decided to take an entire day and make our way down the steep well- trodden trails along the coastline throughout the villages. We had a blast!! We stopped in each village to explore and find souvenirs. Each town had its own unique art and cuisine. I would recommend the local seafood dishes to anyone! The hike was long but worth every minute. The trail from Vernazza to Monterosso is by far the steepest and most difficult part of the hike but it had some of the best views! Erik and I didn't know this... and stopped for a glass of wine and a beer before this leg of the trip. Not the best idea but it was kind of amusing! We should have drank water and were parched halfway through the hike. We even found a local vendor selling fresh squeezed lemonade out of a cave. It was refreshing and delicious and gave us the boost we needed to finish our journey! 

So I would highly recommend that everyone put Cinque Terre on their travel itinerary. You won't be disappointed! 

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad you guys made this trip of a lifetime... what wonderful memories!


Blog Design by Sweet Simplicity