Abode {W}

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Getting there is half the fun

I am sure we have all heard the saying "getting there is half the fun". I do not know to whom that quote can be attributed, but whoever it was surely never relied on the Italian train system for getting from point A to point B. Getting to Manarola from Florence was quite the journey, and it was only fun in retrospect. It sure did not seem fun at 5:30 on a chilly, drizzly Saturday evening when cold,,tired, and hungry we were told the train (and last leg of our journey) from La Spezia to Manarola had been canceled! The next hour and a half was spent dashing from one platform to another, getting on a train headed the wrong direction, pulling our suitcases up and down stairs multiple times, being totally misinformed by the charming bulldog of a lady in the information kiosk, and finally spending 40 Euros to take a taxi to Manarola.

The taxi driver, in spite of driving like Jehu, was very helpful, and actually got ahold of the B&B owner at whose establishment we stayed. If not for him, we would not have been able to get through to him, as my phone had very poor reception there. So, the whole train fiasco turned out to be for the best, as taking the taxi also meant we were dropped off at the top of the hill and not the bottom, as we would have been if we had been on the train. Upon arriving at our room, we found out that what Giovanni (B&B owner) called a bed and breakfast was just a bed. No breakfast. He also wanted to be paid in cash, which neither of us was prepared for. We were tired, frustrated, and hungry, also unsure of how we would get breakfast in the morning, as it would be Easter and most businesses are closed on Easter. We were, truthfully, despairing a little bit. We tossed around the idea of just leaving, but decided to go check things out and have a cup,of coffee and a good meal. Coffee and good food always make things seem better. After deciding this, we opened our window to see the view. The picture below shows the view that greeted us.

Lovely! Just seeing that made us feel better! Soon, all talk of leaving vanished. We walked down into the main part of Manarola, bought bread and fruit and yogurt for breakfast, and enjoyed a delicious dinner in a,little restaurant overlooking the ocean. After dinner, we wandered into a little cafe, and the very nice young lady there told us that all businesses would be open on Easter. Greatly cheered, (sure we had food for breakfast, but still hasn't figured out how we would get our daily coffee fix!) we walked back up the hill and went to bed satisfied and happy. Manarola is an absolutely charming little town, built into a cliff overlooking the Ligurian Sea. The people who live there were friendly, the town itself clean and lovely, and the views were incredible. Manarola is one of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre. The towns are connected by train or hiking trails, and people come from all over the world to hike the trails between the towns. The main hiking trails were closed due to stormy weather, so we contented ourselves with walking around the town and the hills it is built into. I went to Mass Sunday morning, in a beautiful old church just a few yards away from our hotel. Exploring this lovely town was one of the highlights of the trip for me. On Sunday afternoon the sun came out, and the town came to life as villagers and tourists alike walked the path around the cliff. Stone benches carved in to the face of the cliff were full of people basking in the warm sun, and the gelaterias were doing a brisk business.

Ultimately, getting to Manarola was fun. We look back on the hour and a half spent trying to get there from La Spezia and laugh- it makes a great story now, and was a good adventure. However, actually being in Manarola was wonderful, and though I would gladly go through all the craziness of getting there again, being there really is more than half the fun!

I leave you with pictures of the lovely town, and the advice that if you ever have a chance to travel to Italy, put Manarola on your list of must see places. Next up? The adventure of getting from Manarola to Siena on a national holiday when the trains are crowded and you have to ride,on four separate trains! Ciao!







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