La Spezia, Italy – Part 1 (April 20th – 22nd, 2018)

NOTE:  You will notice on some of my pictures that I’ve changed my “signature” to Bluegreenpacker.  This is because I was trying to come up with a catchy/cool name for my account on Instragram and I came up with bluegreenpacker.  Pretty much it’s because I love blue and green, I have a blue and green backpacks, and I love ocean and forest which is blue and green, respectively.  It just seemed to fit me!  So, yes.  My blog is still called Broadening Perspectives Adventures, but I am the bluegreenpacker on Instagram!  🙂 

I was up and about by 5:45am this morning. My train was leaving at 6:59am and it was an approximately a 10 to 15 minute walk to the train station from the hostel. Up and ready to go, I went to go into the kitchen and it was locked. So I asked the night hostel attendant if he could open the kitchen so I could grab my soymilk from the fridge. I ended up chatting with this guy, a security guard, who was originally from New Orleans. I don’t remember exactly how he ended up working as a security guard in Italy, but it was nice chatting with him. All packed up, I headed to the train station.

I had a couple of connections in (Brescia and Sarzana) to make which went fine and dandy. The trains today were relatively on time which was nice. My second connection though I was wondering if somehow I had missed it because the train started heading on down a track in the opposite direction of Peschiera… I thought uh-oh. But by then I was very aware and thankfully saw a sign that said the name of the town where I was connecting and the train was headed in that direction. It was 7kms away and so it would be the next stop. This stop in Sarzana was just a very small-town station seemingly in middle-of-nowhere, Italy. I took a couple of pictures of me and my stuff at this station.

Waiting for my connection in Sarzana.  

It’s a beautiful day! 

Happy to be almost to La Spezia.  

 

My connecting train came and it was only about 20 more minutes till I got to La Spezia Centrale station. I thought that the train station might have free wi-fi so that I could load google maps and then navigate myself walking to my hostel; the Grand Hostel Manin. But they didn’t. I knew it was in the general downtown direction but didn’t know where specifically. My pack felt really heavy and I didn’t want to be wandering around for hours looking for this place, so I just went to an information booth in the train station and asked if they had a map and could mark the approximate location of the hostel. Thankfully she did and I semi-confidently headed downtown. Walking, walking… the map was helpful to a point and then I just resorted to my blank google map with my saved point for the hostel on it and just started walking; basically playing a game of hot and cold with the hostel. But I was getting closer and closer and was walking back and forth and finally thought just look at the buildings to see if you see the name and sure enough, there in a tiny label by the door and a small label on the door buzzer was Grand Hostel Manin. So I buzzed them and headed up to the second floor.

This hostel is also VERY NICE!! It’s not a very big hostel, but it is well-kept, clean, and the folks that work there are super friendly. The guy that checked me in, Tim, was a wealth of knowledge regarding the Cinque Terre trail. I sat down to check in and I said “What can you tell me about getting to and hiking the Cinque Terre” and he said “You’re talking to the right person!” Yay! I also asked this hostel a couple days before I got here to add one night to my reservation here so that I only had one night in expensive Verona and not two. I was just going to hang out in the hostel when I arrived but it was such a gorgeous day that I decided to drop my stuff and go for a walk. I was also really hungry. Tim recommended La Pia Centenaria, a pizzeria not far away from the hostel. He said I should try their farinata which is sort of fried dough but can be used for a gluten-free pizza crust. It is made out of garbanzo bean flour and all the ingredients are the flour, water, oil, and salt if I remember correctly. And it is super yummy! And this probably goes without saying but the pesto in Italy is to die for…. ok, well don’t die, but the pesto is so stinkin delicious! I went to La Pia Centenaria a few times and once I got the farinata with pesto and stracchino which is a yummy kind of cheese. Spoiler – I bet you’ve guessed that I was absolutely not vegan while in Italy. 😀

English Menu at La Pia Centenaria

Farinata….yumm….

The first evening in La Spezia, I was in the kitchen of the hostel, working on my blog or travel arrangements for the UK and started talking to a couple people that were there as well. One was a young guy, Reid, who was from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He was doing a month-long road trip through several countries that he hadn’t been to in Europe before. He was planning to go to Riomaggiore for a drink and watch sunset and asked if I wanted to join… heck yea!! So we both went and showered and got ready to go. He was really looking forward to his shower because he had walked the entire Cinque Terre trail in one day (estimated to be a 6-7 hour hike total). We caught the train and got off at the first stop in Riomaggiore. All these 5-Terre villages are super picturesque. Riomaggiore is the best village to watch the sunset from though because of its position on the coast. We walked around for a looking for a nice spot and we eventually found one. So we stayed there for the duration of sunset and chatted. We both took time-lapse videos of the sunset… check this out!

Picture-perfect sunset.  

 

He is a property manager in Jackson Hole. Unfortunately, we did not exchange contact info so I will never see him again.

😦 Oh well.

Riomaggiore station looking south.  

Riomaggiore station looking north. 

Back to the hostel, I got ready for bed.

April 21st

I was up and about sort of early to get a good start on the day. I was planning to hike from Levanto to Vernazza, an approximately 4 hour hike in total. Cinque Terre is a national park or something like that so you have to buy a ticket to hike most of the trail. You can buy a one, two, or three-day ticket. This ticket serves as your train ticket as well and provides free entrance to paid restrooms, and reduced prices to some museums in La Spezia. The ticket costs 16Euros for a 24-hour ticket. I just bought a one-day ticket to start as I wasn’t sure if I would use a two-day or not. I took the train up to Levanto and started hiking south. Wow is this coastline every beautiful! It’s a slightly challenging hike nothing too difficult but not easy for sure. I hiked from Levanto because Tim said that at P.ta Mesco was the only point on this trail that you could look south and see all five villages. Why not… it was really lovely.

Main street through Levanto 

Levanto waterfront.  

Beginning of the Cingue Terre Trail from Levanto. 

There are a few little B&Bs along the trail which are super cute.  I  took pictures of the accommodation name and so if anyone is interested, let me know!  🙂  

Follow the signs.  The trail is quite well signed.  

Looking back towards Levanto.

Such a gorgeous coastline. 

Looking south on the Cinque Terre Trail towards the 5 (Cinque) villages. 

Remnants of a very old building at Punta Mesco.  

Following the signs. 

The village in between Levanto and Vernazza is Monterosso; the village with the best beach. So, in between the two two-hour hiking sections, I could a couple of hour break at the beach. I had my swimsuit top on and just had to slip my shorts on European style :-p . Oh man did that sun feel good. The water was a beautiful blue-green and so I didn’t care how cold the water was, I was going to go swimming! And I did, and the water was really cold. I mean, not unbearably cold because I was in the water for probably 10-15 minutes, but cold enough to make it go from being too hot and sweaty in the sun to feel really good to get out of the water. Around 1:15pm, I figured it was time to get back on the trail and heading to Vernazza.

Wisteria?  

Chilling, or rather cooking, at the beach with a view of a scaffolded Statua del Gigante in Monterosso, Italy. 

Nothing attractive about this location at all.   😀   

That water was so clear that I thought I could touch at one point and couldn’t… it was deep pretty quickly.  

I didn’t have anything substantial with me for lunch and so figured I should grab something before I head out-of-town. I saw a focaccia bread place and so stopped in there. I got a piece with pesto on it for takeaway and ate it as I continued walking. The trail and the towns were really busy by this time. Reid had told me the trail would get crowded. This is when I started finding out that if you’re a fast walker and you get behind slow Italians, they generally will not hear you behind them and move over. You have to try to nicely say “scuzzi” so that they will move over for a second and let you pass, or you have to wait for a section of path wide enough for you to pass and then run ahead and possibly scar the pants off of them. 😀 Then they may whisper not so quietly under their breath some possible profanities at you… who knows. I wasn’t paying attention because I would be too far ahead already. 😀 Goodness, slow walkers drive me crazy! Sorry but I am out for an exercise walk and walk to get somewhere before dark. Sorry…not sorry.

Looking down at Vernazza. 

I got to Levanto which was a really nice village. I was feeling low on blood sugar and so went and found a place and bought a cold bottle of water and a cold L’Aranciata Sanpellegrino. That cold, sweet, and fizzy Sanpellegrino tasted absolutely amazing after a hot and long hike. Yummmm. I took the train back to La Spezia so that I could shower and decide where I wanted to go to watch sunset.

Skinny streets.  :-p 

Yummmy Sanpellegrino. 

View of the small village of Manarola, Italy. 

I wanted to use my Cinque Terra day-pass card so that I could get it’s value in train tickets before the 24-hours was over. I decided to go to Manarola and see that village. Tim had recommended a place to get a drink and so I went there, but saw a long line to get into this place and so thought screw it,I’ll just watch the sunset and then go back to the hostel. I feeling a little lonely and down so I didn’t even really stay for sunset. I needed to do a load of laundry and so decided to just go back to the hostel. I did get a few nice photos of sunset from the train station.

Sunset from near the train station in Manarola.  

Locks of Love.

Back at the hostel, I changed into my night-clothes and gathered all my clothes that I wear constantly and gave them to reception so they could do my laundry overnight.

April 22nd

I woke up, had breakfast, got my laundry back, and started feeling really tired. I did take sometime to research and apply for some jobs. I decided to yield to the Sandman and ended up taking I think about a three-hour nap. Didn’t really do much else exciting today. It was a Sunday so basically nothing was open; very, very few shops and restaurants were open so I ended up wandering around town to find dinner. Not much else to report about today.

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