Monday, September 4, 2017

Europe - day 13 Riomaggiore, Boulder Beach and Corniglia

We woke up in Levanto and the church bells were ringing as if to fulfill their divine purpose. Wow! So loud for 6 am.  Inoka was on the balcony at 8:15 am, calling me to breakfast early. lol...

At least this time I waited for Mom and we went out for breakfast together. As I sat down, she brought me a bacon, egg, tomato sandwich that I hadn't even asked for! Inoka has me pegged: Hungry American Lady: feed her.  I did show half an ounce of restraint and did not eat the toast, croissants or yogurt and fruit. So, naturally she wrapped it all up to take with us on our way.

There are some very kind people in this world. Inoka and Raymond are Team Captains.

We finished packing up our things and handed in our lovely keys. We left out the front door! Alas....there was a front door! And I would never be able to find it again.  I still have no idea where it is in relationship to the street.

But it is so beautiful. I can't get enough of these Italian doors!

We had called ahead to the owners of Scorci di Mare, where we were staying in Riomaggiore. He told us he would meet us early and give us keys to the room even though it wasn't quite ready.  When we arrived, we couldn't get a phone call through to him, but the maid came by and we played another game of Italian/American charades until she seemed to understand that we needed keys. She knew how to get them!

Soon, Michelle (Mih-kayleh...a man) appeared and pointed to our room across the marina. Our apartment was the second from the top. It looks crazy and run down and perfectly Italian!

He asked if we wanted to take the short cut, a little more difficult, or the longer and easier way. Since he was the one schlepping the bags, we chose the easier way. He seemed pleased about that.  14 turns, 8 starcases, two alleyways and a courtyard later....we arrived in our room....sweaty, out of breath, totally lost and laughing our heads off (inside).

We never could remember how to use the longer, easier that left us with this..straight up.

99 steps! I am not lying.



As we climbed and climbed the fact that I chose this place was making me so stressed! How in the world did I miss the fact that everytime you want to go to your room, you need to stretch out first?

But then we saw the room.

It was so perfect!

One side was the sea...

The other side looked out onto crowded, colorful homes with clotheslines connecting them all.


Waking up to this is totally worth climbing those steps! Although once we make it up those steps, we will probably need a good nap.

While our room was being cleaned, we took Michelle's advice and headed out to find the "real beach".  He said that the tourists make the mistake of swimming in the marina, but it's a bad idea because of all the junk in the water from the boats...fuel and oil. He said if we head up the hill and around the bend, we would find a beautiful area where we can enjoy the water.

As we went around the bend, we turned around and this was what we saw:

We climbed around and we saw this cool pathway...

And then there it was! I love the stone arches!

We found a great spot to sit on those big boulders. Someone had painted some colorful homes on them, I'm sure in honor of the local style....and I didn't realize that someone also painted "other" pictures up above...Mom laughed and pointed that out. Oh well!

We still had Inoka's croissants in our purses and Mom made a quick friend in this seagull. He was more than happy to munch buttery bread right out of her hand.

There was another one, she seemed like a girl, that could catch her bread right out of the air! (There's a little piece of bread flying at her in this picture.)

The water was clear and salty, we could see right through to the rocks. 

 Each time a wave would pull back to the sea, the water would make all the little pebbles cascade down. It sounded like wood cracking or even like a tree falling far away in the forest. It was the most interesting thing. I supposed it's similar to the sound of a wave pulling at a sandy beach, just with bigger pieces of rock. 

we decided we should use the afternoon to go to Corniglia. It's the only town in the Cinque Terre that isn't right on the sea. You get off the train and then you choose to either get in this line:

Or start hiking. We decided to wait. Pretty soon we were baking in the sun and we realized that there is only one minibus going back and forth. The people in the line became fiercely protective of their spot. Tourists getting off the train would unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) wander into the front of the line and they were immediately scolded and put to the end. It really was hot and the idea of standing there any longer than necessary was pretty stressful.

We did eventually squish onto the bus and made it up to the top of the hill. Corniglia was particularly fun to explore. The narrow streets and passageways were probably the loveliest of all five towns. They wound up to a beautiful cathedral.

Look at these massive lemons! I googled it and turns out they are called Sfusato d'Amalfi. Mom was so excited to show them to Kaira. She's a lemon fanatic!

We found a little shop and bought focaccia sandwiches. We lucked out and found a doorstep where we could sit down and eat. Naturally, we wanted a little gelato for chose the darkest chocolate I have ever seen, with a scoop of mint (perfect!). I finally took the plunge and tried the lemon/basil. I hedged my bets and also got a scoop of nutella, just in case it was too weird. Both flavors were delicious...but probably not together...ack.

We took a walk up into the vineyards and enjoyed our gelato.

Isn't it so...Italian?

When we first walked through the blue tunnel of Riomaggiore, there was this man set up playing accordion for the tourists. Mom left him a few euros and ever since then she had been saving up her change to put in his hat the next time we found him. It had been a while, though, so Mom decided to drop her change in the donation box at the cathedral instead. 

We headed back down to the town square to catch the bus back down the hill. If I thought the line-jumpers were bad before....holy smokes. People can be real jerks when they are trying to take something they don't deserve. I may have loudly demanded that several grown adults get their butts to the back of the line. oooh! I was spittin mad!

One fellow standing by us, knew that we had been pushed to the back of the line and helped us stand our ground the next time the bus came through. When we were all seated on the bus, he gave us a nod of solidarity and it made me smile. The few that successfully cut the line were being glared at by those around them.  Turns out playground rules are universal!

We made it back to the blue tunnel and admired the cool mosaics that decorated the walls....still no accordion man. 

There was a sleepy little cat curled up at the base of our many stairs.

We decided to head back to the boulder beach to see the sunset. Luckily, there was a gelato shop on the way.

We arrived just as others were heading off. The sunset was beautiful and we sat and talked and built our ebenezers. 'Ebenezer' is Hebrew for "stone of help". I really love that.

I love this photo in black and white...

Mom was particularly good at finding really flat stones. Mine were all a bit wonky.

When it really started to get dark, we though we better get a move on. The path around to the beach was narrow in a couple spots and there wasn't always a safety rope. Neither of us needed a quick dip in the Ligurian Sea before hiking our 99 steps to bed.

When we came around the bend. The village was all lit up and glowing. We get to sleep in this beautiful place tonight!

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