...Somewhere off in distant lands a young man sits, slowly cutting apart and eating his chicken cordon bleu (the frozen kind), together with a coke and a box of cheez-its sent to him from his distant homeland by his mother (his mother! sent! cheez-its! brilliant! she must be a great mom). He eats slowly, savoring the moment and the food. He looks out his small window into the night air, making out blinking lights from the mountain across the way. He is at peace. He is glad that his laundry is going and he will have some clothes for tomorrow. Ladies and Gentlemen, that man is me.
So I don't know really where that came from. Perhaps it gives you a comical glimpse into my life, but probably not very emblematic. I did however just enjoy a nice quiet dinner like that, though it was at all like the rest of my weekend. I just returned home this evening from the beautiful Cinque Terra in Italy. I guess I'll start actually describing that trip, since it is probably far more interesting than my dinner at home (why did I even type that???)
Cinque Terra is an Italian National park of five coastal villages located right around the kneecap of Italy's boot. Cinque Terra actually means "five lands" in Italian. It is a more hidden version of the French Riviera, and one of GlobeTravel's 50 places you must see before you die. It really is incredibly beautiful, but maybe not quite as hidden as one might hope. Even in September there were a lot of tourists. Photos here.
A five hour train ride and a shorter planned weekend necessitated a 6 a.m. start Saturday morning. Now those of you that know me know that I'm not exactly what you'd call a "morning person." There's just about two things I'll get up before the sun for--that's to play golf, or now to travel. It's always worth it. After the train ride we ended up in Levanto, a small connecting town to the Cinque Terra. We had a little time before the next train, so we wandered into town for a little lunch. It was here we found this excellent little Italian Restaurant. I had the best Swordfish (the town is right on the coast) and some very good wine. It was delightful! The best meal I've had here.
Then we made our way to Monterosso, the northern most of the five towns. After walking between a few booked hotels, we were directed to a little hotel that had rooms. We dropped our stuff off and went for a quick swim in the Mediterranean, moreso to say that we'd swam in the Mediterranean than for anything else. Though it was quite refreshing. Next we changed and took a train to the second town. After looking around and a little gelato, we began our hike to the next town, Vernazza. We heard that it was hard but picturesque. Well we didn't hear wrong. A tiring but beautiful hike. It was about sunset, so that made it even more stunning.
We watched the sun go down from a terrace at the third town, Corniglia. Then took a train to Manarola, ate dinner, and then to Riomaggiore. Somewhere in there were two more gelato cones...I don't know! Dinner wasn't fabulous, but we had some excellent Cinque Terra wine and some of the famous Pesto pasta. Cinque Terra is famous for pesto, foccacia, and anchovies. Let's just say I ate my fair share of two of those. You decide. Afterwards we went back to Monterosso and walked around checking out the night life. There was a packed American bar, but elected instead to buy a bottle of wine and take it down to the Mediterranean beach. It was peaceful and sophisticated, don't you think? The picture below on the left is actually the boulder we climbed and sat on top of for awhile.
The next day we went back to Vernazza and bought some souvenirs, some foccacia pizza, and took the boat back to Monterosso. It was a beautiful morning. Then followed the five hour train ride back. It was a delightful trip, and once again nice to be just the guys. If you ever make it to Italy, don't miss this less known jewel known as Cinque Terra. Don't I sound appealing? I think I should write for one of those guidebooks. That wouldn't be a bad job, traveling all over and writing about it. Maybe I'll do that...