Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Adventures in the Cinque Terre.

This past weekend, I traveled with three other girls to Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre (which literally means 5 lands in Italian) are 5 small towns all located on or near the coast of northern Italy, linked together by a trail. On paper they don’t sound that impressive, but the Cinque Terre quickly became one of my new favorite places in the entire world.

We left for the Cinque Terre early Friday morning by taking a taxi to the train station at 5:00am! The taxi drive was crazy—the streets of Rome were almost deserted since it was so early, and the driver was going so incredibly fast. To my still-asleep eyes, everything just seemed like a blur.

In part because of the speed of our taxi driver, we arrived at the train station with plenty of time to spare. We then took the train to Pisa, where we switched trains for La Spezia. Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy traveling on the train? It’s just so much more relaxing than flying, plus you get to see a lot more scenery.

We stayed in La Spezia for the weekend, which is not actually one of the Cinque Terre towns, but it was only a quick train ride away. Staying in La Spezia actually meant we got to stay in a nicer place—a hotel instead of a hostel—that was actually cheaper too!

We spent most of our time at the Cinque Terre on Friday and Saturday completing the 7-mile hike that links the towns together. We broke the hike up into two parts and did the first half on Friday and the rest on Saturday. The second half was much harder than the first, but the views/scenery were gorgeous! The last half of the hike was a lot of up-and-down action, steps, and really narrow ledges, but I felt incredibly accomplished when it was over.

As soon as we got to the last town, we went swimming and hung out at the beach! Spending time at the beach was wonderful, of course, and we then wandered around the town for awhile. We got dinner and gelato and just enjoyed ourselves. :)

Sunday morning, we woke up early and took the train back to Pisa. It was already pretty cloudy at this point and starting to sprinkle a little bit, but we were hoping the rain would hold off. Unfortunately, just when we arrived at the Leaning Tower, it really started to rain hard. We stuck it out for a little bit and took a few pictures before heading back to the train station, where we had McDonalds for lunch! FYI: McDonalds in Italy tastes almost exactly the same as McDonalds in the US, except that it’s more expensive. But it is excellent comfort food.

After lunch, we grabbed another train that took us back to Rome, and that pretty well wrapped up the weekend. I absolutely loved visiting the Cinque Terre and really hope that I get to go back there again someday. Overall, it was really an excellent trip!

A few more tidbits of exciting news:
Tomorrow everyone at the JFRC has the opportunity to go to a Papal Audience! I’m really looking forward to it; this isn’t an opportunity that everyone gets. Also, my parents arrived in Italy yesterday, and I’m so eager to see them this weekend when they come to Rome!

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