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Adventures of a short vet

From cities to national parks

ITALY | Sunday, 10 April 2011 | Views [407]

Looking back towards Riomaggiore town

Looking back towards Riomaggiore town

A stupidly early train took me to Milan and (not having enough money to shop) from there to Genoa, where I was staying overnight at a B&B in the dodgy part of town overlooking the docks. Wandering past people drinking out on the sidewalk while lugging my life on my back and desperately scanning the doors for a tiny handwritten sign of the B&B is not my idea of a good time. But the owners were lovely and I ended up with the whole apartment to myself. Dumped my stuff & headed back out into the glare and noise of downtown Genoa, feeling much less like a target without my backpack. I ended up on the main waterfront piazza where there was a huge food fair being held, and enjoyed some of the non-local fair (mmm bratwurst rolls) before impulsively jumping onto an open-air tour bus. I usually never go on these overpriced tourist traps, but with only an afternoon in Genoa I wanted to see as much as I could. It was extra embarrassing as there were only three of us on it and we got the usual stares at all the stops, but I did learn that Christopher Columbus’ house was nearby, and ended up walking back to it after the tour.

The following day I caught the train to Cinque Terre, a national park in the northern part of Italy famous for the 5 hour walk through the series of 5 villages perched precariously on the coastal cliffs. I’d been getting cocky about how easy it was to travel on the trains and got a wakeup call today. I'd boarded the correct train but the announcer garbled something unintelligible (I can barely understand them when they speak English let alone another language) and people got up complaining. Luckily I overheard an Englishwoman telling her partner that we had to change trains at the next stop and I quickly made friends with them and traveling to Riomaggiore together. It pays to keep your ears open!

Arriving at lunchtime, I slogged my way up the steep hill to the office to check in, and then walked all the way back down through a maze of narrow alleyways to my dorm room, hidden away in a dark little corner of the town near the port. Not wanting to waste a beautiful hot day I took some lunch down to the wharf where I clambered around the wall and onto some rocks to swelter in the sun. My white English skin was soon protesting though, so I retreated to the shade of a restaurant overlooking the water for an overpriced beer, before buying a much larger and cheaper beer from the local shop and heading down to the pebbly beach to spend the rest of the afternoon. Not brave enough to swim yet though. A lovely ending to the day was being treated to a pasta dinner by a group of Americans in my hostel.

Tags: beach, christophen columbus, cinque terre, genoa

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