After Lauren had taken ‘falling for Cinque Terre’ to a whole new level, we began our last full day in Cinque Terre with the same adventurous spirit as we started. We (Ellie, Lauren, Catherine, Cynthia and myself) took the train to Vernazza, another bright, colourful and picture-perfect town of the national park where we set Lauren up in a place with sun, wifi and friendly locals who would provide ice for her ankle. Although she was sad not to be joining us for our trek, there aren’t many better places to sit and watch the world go by.
Money Shot of Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Our trail took us up and around the headland and provided panoramic views the entire way along. Add in the excellent company and we were left feeling on top of the world in every sense of the phrase. We all couldn’t get over the beauty of the place, the unquantifiable value of travelling and how lucky we are to have experienced both of them. For one of the first times in my life I truly felt a resonating and overwhelming sense of happiness. I was in my element.
Ellie, Myself, Catherine & Cynthia
We walked to the sounds of George Ezra and unsure ‘bonjourno’s of passing walkers (even though we’re pretty sure every person walking it was also foreign). With no trip ups we arrived in Monterosso al Mar, the last of the 5 towns. Here we had lunch and a power nap on the beach, followed by a wander around the shops and markets. I spotted a painting which was shouting at me to buy it, and will probably cause nostalgic urges to return to Cinque Terre for the rest of my days.
Trained it back to Vernazza to meet Lauren who had been reading and people-watching all day. We bought gelatos and sat on a hidden beach for hours and hours, sharing travel and romance stories, surprisingly deep philosophical thoughts and making plans to meet up again in England. We ate pizza and gave travel hints of Europe. Cynthia and Catherine were 24, the same age as my brother Tim who seems so much older than me, but age didn’t matter even a little bit, we had bonded so quickly with these girls. It’s one of the perks but also downfalls of travelling. That 1. You have friends from different places in the world but 2. They’re from different places in the world. It was a hard goodbye.
The next morning was time to leave paradise, which would have been sad except for the fact that we had more Italian cities to look forward to. Not that we knew which city we were going to. We woke up with no agenda really, it was going to be spontaneous travelling.
Ellie had continued to Switzerland and so it was Lauren and I taking on Italy. We decided to go to the land of Romeo and Juliet, Verona for a night before spending our last 3 nights in Venice.
A foolproof plan some would say, but with hot weather, a person on crutches and me taking double luggage it became a bit more difficult. It was a lengthy train ride but as long as the window views were nice and we were together then it was all good. Stopped off in Parma for lunch, sat next to a crazy cat lady on the train to Brescia and then the train to Verona ran 10 minutes late. Which would have been no biggy, except that somehow it arrived in Verona 10 minutes earlier than originally expected. A feat which we still don’t understand. By the time Lauren realised that we were in Verona, crutched over to tell me, then I rushed to get the multiple luggage pieces from the other side of the carriage and out of the train, the doors had closed and the train was choo-choo ing its way to the next stop. Uh oh. It was 730pm and we had to be at our hostel by 8pm. As the train moved further away from Verona and the chances of us reaching our hostel lessened, we decided to stay at wherever the next stop was. This happened to be the world famous Vicenza. Where and what Vicenza was we knew not. Trying to find a hotel or help, a local told us we could stay at his house the night, we politely declined but he asked for our number just in case we needed help. Later on we found out his name was ‘Ed Young Money Junior’. If this was junior, we’d love to meet Senior. Thank God we didn’t take up his offer.
We wandered the streets, found a hotel with a figure far too high for a gappy but supply and demand meant that we were going to stay there regardless. Late, tired and poor, we made the most of their facilities (and free fruit bowl) and went to bed. We were real travellers now.
I went for a run the next morning to explore this unknown city and it was surprisingly beautiful. Was actually so nice to be away from the tourist crowds and watch the true Italian city wake up in the early hours of the morning. Watching bare, quiet streets become populated, vibrant and full of life is the best way to see a city in all its glory.
We definitely made the most of the hotel buffet breakfast, filled to the brim with every food in the planet before packing up and missing the train to verona. We were going to catch the next one until a train guard, taking pity on my poor hobbling friend, came up to ‘help us’. Well help us he did not because he communicated to us in his best google translate that the ticket we had bought was actually for a bus, even though it said that no where on the ticket machine. So, continuing to ‘help us’ he took us to the stupid bus station where we had to wait for our stupid bus that was going to take a stupidly long time. Why do people have to try and ‘help you’. We couldve just gotten on the next train and played the ‘confused, young traveller’ card if a ticket man came up to us. We eventually arrived after a scenic tour of Vicenza and Verona’s industrial precincts and had a walk/hobble around Verona. Juliet’s balcony was stunning but also crowded and very small. Nevertheless it was great to see it and we did some quality people watching in the main square of the city.
Letters to Juliet
Lauren with all the messages on the wall to Juliet
Not entirely sure Verona was worth the drama but hey, we’re all about the adventures. Lauren may have been exhausted the entire time on crutches but we lived and we were ready for the next leg of the journey – Venice! Lauren needed all the legs she could get at this point.