The hot days continued in Milan, and we were thankful for our apartment with air-conditioning. Mosquito season was also at its prime so the smell of deet was heavy in the air.
The MBA studies for Eldad and our friends were becoming more onerous and everyone had begun their regular catch-ups with their study groups. I on the other hand was finding sanctuary in Twitter, Huffington Post and the TV series Scandal. After three days of my introverted and hermit-inspired lifestyle, I dusted the fonzie dust of my clothes (Fonzies are the Italian equivalent of Twisties) and decided I needed a change.
Taking my laptop, pen and a notebook, I wandered down to the Navigli canal to find a sunny spot to enjoy some pasta and a glass of vino and find inspiration for my blog. Finding myself in wifi hotspot, and ever the procrastinator, I began chatting to friends via whats-app. Someone had the bright idea to take a trip to Cinque Terre for the weekend.
The upcoming weekend happened to be Atonement Day (Yom Kippur) for Eldad. A Jewish holiday that (in summary), requires fasting from sunset to sunset, a restriction on using any electricity/technology, no hugging or kissing and many hours spent at the Synagogue atoning. Due to this holiday, Eldad was not going to be able to travel, and after some discussion, I decided to join the group and head to Cinque Terre for the weekend. Eldad would not be alone however. There were some other students – a lovely couple from New York that were also Jewish, who would be observing Yom Kippur. Eldad and our friends had plans to got to the Synagogue together, then enjoy a meal at the end of Yom Kippur.
There were five of us on the trip to Cinque Terre and in my research, I managed to find a fantastic apartment in the centre of the old city. The night before we left, I waited up for Eldad to come home from the Synagogue. Before bed, we played a card game of Rummy (I had newly acquired skills after my trip in Israel) which, although I repeatedly lost, remained optimistic about taking continued risks to hit the big win… It never came.
The next morning I had an early start to get the train to Cinque Terre. I arrived first to Centrale station and enjoyed a peaceful coffee as, one by one my friends joined for breakfast.
All the group arrived, but one, as we were preparing to board the train. I got a message from my friend Rachel saying she was still on the way in the cab. Trains aren’t usually renowned for being on time in Italy so we thought there was a chance Rachel would make it… however, as the train the pulled away from the station, I got a text from Rachel who was watching the train pull away as she arrived at the platform, only moments late.
While Rachel looked for alterative trains, the rest of us settled in the train trip, often drifting off to sleep from our early start. I was excited about visiting Cinque Terre. Although I had been there before, I hadn’t taken the walk between villages, which I was keen to do this time.
We arrived to a warm beating sun… We sat in front of the church in the old town to meet the apartment owner. She walked past us several times, not realising we were the tourist group waiting – but when I approached her she was warm and welcoming and took us to the apartment. The apartment had an incredibly steep and dark staircase and was in a a building from the 1600s. We took exceptional care walking up the stairs and were excited to see a generous sized apartment with plenty of room for us all.
We quickly got changed, ready to spend our morning on the beach. The beach in Cinque Terre is of the grey pebble variety, but the sun was warm and the water was pleasant so we were happy. Rachel messaged me with her latest update… She was able to take a train as a standing passenger, even though some business jerk had a compartment with spare seats. He watched as she grabbed onto safety bars when the train rattled without offering a seat, but at least she was on her way.
After some hurried texts to avoid dying phone batteries, it was only a couple of hours after we arrived that Rachel would join us too. By that time, we were ready for lunch.
Edmundo, Ash, Rachel, Sasha and I found a quaint back entrance to a popular restaurant where we feasted on seafood, pasta and rose wine. After our third bottle we were debating whether to do the hike, or just hit the beach. I was still keen for the hike as I had not done it before. Sasha seconded the motion and one by one, the rest of the crew decided to do the walk to the village of Vernazza from Monterosso.
The trek was just under 4km and supposed to take an 1 hour and half. However, with the amazing views on the way, the dangerous slopes and a couple of wines under our belts, it took much closer to two hours. On our way up one of the steepest parts of the trek, we met an old man selling fresh Lemonade, (made in front of you) and Limoncello. Sasha and I took a glass of each and were more than energised to continue on.
We saw some magnificent views on our trip and took every opportunity to pose for a photo opp! We finally arrived to Vernazzo, first seeing the amazing, colourful town from high above, then arriving in the centre to a buzzing village. Although we were initially hot from the walk, the sun was setting and the air was getting cool… Cleverly, we had begun our trek sans jackets (of course).
We checked the train timetable to see what time we could get home and decided to spend a few hours in this lovely town. We ordered some wine and snacks and sat by the water chatting on topics from men, to gender equity in the workplace, to make-up and future travel plans. I am pretty sure Edmundo was either very bored or mildly insulted with some of our men gossip but ever the good sport encouraged us, and we all shared a laugh.