Monterosso al Mare was beautiful. We grabbed some breakfast at a touristy place (every restaurant seemed touristy and expensive) and then we walked back towards the train station to head to our intended destination - Vernazza.
Ah ha! Upon arriving at the train station, I was immediately pleased with what I saw. This was the Italy I wanted to see! We didn't have reservations anywhere and had read in our guide book that there are lots of apartments to rent on a walk up basis and we found this to be quite true. We started walking towards the water and found many signs stating "apartment for rent, ring bell". So we rang. People either shouted out their windows to tell us they were full or they came down to meet us and then showed us to their rental unit. The rates were pretty good and there were many rooms to choose from. We finally settled on one of the more spacious units close to the train station. The windows were really good (I was concerned about the train noise being an issue, but with the windows closed, you couldn't hear the trains). I LOVED the view outside the windows of our 3rd floor room...
It really was the perfect room for us...I spent quite a bit of time sitting on the bed gazing out the windows.
Here I am at the entrance to our apartment as we were heading out to explore. We spent the day exploring the town and seeing the sights. This was the last stop on our big trip and we had 3 nights in this town so we kicked back, took our time wandering around, and enjoyed every minute of it. It seems I haven't mentioned gelato in a while. Don't fret - we made sure to have some every day while we were in the Cinque Terre.
We also had plenty of pizza, bread, salami, cheese, grapes and wine on this trip. You could say we were trying to be budget travelers on this trip. Once in a while we'd eat out, but we were fairly conservative as we were aware that the dollar on the euro wasn't in our favor. In looking back I wish we had explored the food a bit more, but I'd like to think I'm saving that greater exploration for another trip in the coming years.
We hiked around a bit, sat at the waters edge and enjoyed our time.
At some point we settled into our room for the evening and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning we headed up the street to Il Pirata delle Cinque Terre which is run by Sicilian twin brothers. They are known for their pastries and I was ready to get a taste. It was excellent and we managed to visit this gem in the following days as well.
We stumbled upon a playground on the way to the bakery and Hailey got her first real ride on a swing. She loved it...
We took a quick break in our room and then headed out for a day of hiking. This was one of the things I was most excited for during our trip planning, so I was plenty giddy to get out and do it! We started in Vernazza and headed toward Corniglia. There were lots of stairs and I was lucky to be carrying Hailey on my back for this leg. I don't know how long it took us to get from town to town, but the book says this portion is a 90 minute hike. It was beautiful.
We ate lunch in Corniglia. I had some sort of seafood salad and Pete had a pesto pasta dish of some sort (I'm guessing by the pic).
We continued on our hike and arrived in Manarola and promptly found a reward for our efforts.
We hit the trail again, but this time it was a paved walkway...not so much hiking on this leg of the journey. We had to pose here on the Via dell'Amore (Pathway of Love). The trail became established as a lovers' meeting point for boys and girls from the two towns (meet in the middle kind of thing).
We reached Riomaggiore and ended our day of hiking with some fruity drinks in a bar overlooking the water.
We rode the train back to Monterosso al Mare and decided to have dinner there. We chose to go to the top rated 'classy' place that was listed in Rick Steves' guidebook. It turned out that everyone else visiting from America had decided to eat there as well and there was a distinct uncomfortable feeling as we walked into the restaurant. We should have turned around. The whole place filled with an 'oh no, they aren't possibly bringing a BABY in here?!' kind of air that seemed to ruin any hope of having an enjoyable meal. In all of the eating we did in Italy, this was the most uncomfortable and it was because of the people (stupid Americans! (no offense intended friends)). The girl at the table next to us made a snotty somewhat under her breath (but not quiet enough for me not to hear) remark as we sat down at our table. It was obvious that almost every person in this place thought we were rude for bringing our kid to eat with us. We were sure to ruin their dinner environment. I think the pressure got to Hailey. She had been so good at every meal on our whole trip - she just knew this would be a great place to start fussing...it was kind of like she said, "you think I'm annoying by just being here? I'll show you annoying!" and she proceeded to get a bit grumpy about things. I don't even remember what we ate...the mood was just so strange. Pete and I chuckled about it as we headed back to Vernazza...we loved how enthusiastic the Italians were about having our baby in their restaurants - she was always making everyone smile - we just narrowed it down to the American's being the selfish ones who couldn't understand why we would go to dinner with our baby in tow.
We had fun at the park while we waited for our train back to Vernazza to arrive. Hailey once again went on a swing and thoroughly enjoyed it. I would like to note that the color combo of the dolphin and the spring....are the same color combo as my old stunt bike (man I loved that thing).
This concludes days 15 and 16 of our trip to Italy...just one or two more days to go! I'm SO close to finishing these Italy posts - I'm amazed that I might actually finish! :P