June 15, 2013
Two cities down, eight to go.
We just spent the last two and a half days in Levanto which is a town just next to Cinque Terre on the west coast of Italy. Levanto is a quaint little town and I got the impression that everyone knows everyone as people would say hi to each other and start chatting in the street as they were passing by. Our hotel (Hotel Carla) was fantastic. The rooms may have been small but the service was top notch. We asked to be moved the first night due to dogs barking and they were unable to move us but compensated by dropping off a bottle of champagne with a letter of apology. Luckily the dogs stopped but unfortunately we never had time to drink the champagne and when you’re already carrying a million kilos in your back pack, you don’t exactly want to bring it with you.
Kimbo and Stu arrived on our second morning and we immediately headed out on a train to Rapallo where we got a ferry to Portofino. It is such a beautiful little village, but it is tiny! The buildings are picture perfect, water crystal clear and after a steep walk up some steps and then back down we found a little “beach.” First let me say- the beaches in Italy so far have been hideous in terms of sand (more like rocks, dirt, broken worn glass, and twigs) but beautiful clear water. Andrew and Stu ventured off into the ocean and headed over to some rocks where they said they felt like they were looking down into an aquarium. Kimbo and I opted to stay on shore and take photos. We were warned that Portofino was very expensive, and while it was pricier than other places- it wasn’t ridiculous… then again, the only thing we purchased was some gelato and an espresso.
We then hopped back on the ferry and headed to Santa Margherita where we planned to eat lunch at a place a friend recommended. Unfortunately they didn’t open until 8pm so we found somewhere else where we all tried the ravioli with walnut sauce. Different, but good. It’s probably one of the meals I remember most since it was something I’d never tried- and probably won’t find again in Sydney. After lunch we wandered over to a hotel where we worked a deal with the staff to let us use their lounge chairs and ping pong tables for €30. We enjoyed an afternoon in the sun ordering cocktails, free nibblies, and the boys even went for a swim.
That night we had dinner in Levanto and ate some yummy pasta. So far I’ve had pasta for every meal out, I definitely think I’ll be coming back 5 kg heavier. We decided to head to sleep fairly early since we had a big day of hiking ahead.
Yesterday morning we woke up, had breakfast in the hotel (which was really good) and then hopped on a train to Manarolo. At least that was the plan. There was a bit of a debacle with the trains but in the end we made it to our destination. The Manarolo to Corniglia coastal walk was still closed due to the landslide in late 2011 so we did the internal walk up in the hills through the vineyards. It was beautiful! There was an abundance of wild flowers speckling the hills, everything was so green and the views out over the ocean were stunning. We then walked from Corniglia to Vernazza where we stopped to have lunch at a place that had high ratings online. Kimbo and I shared the pesto lasagne and spinach cannelloni. Both were delicious. After that, I headed back to Levanto on the train and Kimbo, Stu and Andrew kept walking to Monterosso. My feet were killing me after nearly 3 hours of walking and I didn’t want to push it since I’ve had problem with a ligament. It turns out Andrew shouldn’t have pushed it either. He rolled his ankle resulting in a nasty sprain which is currently being elevated by my arm rest on this train ride. Not quite sure how he’s going to handle the walking over the next few weeks, let alone play his beloved and highly anticipated tennis matches in Rome.
Last night was so much fun. We headed to the first of the five villages, Monterosso. We stopped at a cocktail bar and ordered some bananaramas, a fruity piña colada type drink, and man were they good! We met an American couple from Texas and they were so much fun. He is in the military and had some interesting stories to tell and she was just a crack up. She looked about 90 pounds but had a huge, strong and hilarious personality. We were having a great time but the bar closed at eight so we decided to all go to dinner together. Again I ordered the ravioli with walnut sauce and it was even better than the first one I had. A few glasses of wine and beer later Andrew noticed a guy sitting at a table by himself and invited him to join us, so now there were seven in our group, three Aussies, three Americans and a Canadian. After dinner we all headed to a dodgy bar full of 18 year olds and killed time until our train back to Levanto. We had a great night and it was a bit sad to say bye to our new friends.
Now we are on our way to Venice. We are only there for the night and so we don’t even have twenty four hours but we didn’t want to miss seeing it, even if for only a few hours.