Saturday, July 9, 2011

Flight to Paris from Rome on a Spanish Airline to get to The Netherlands to visit my American cousins...

Sorry for my delayed blog post...and again, brace yourself for a long blog!

Early Tuesday morning I said goodbye to the "air conditioned and internet capable" Villa Tassoni (more like the sauna and lack of internet) and headed to the airport. Our flight to Paris was at noon, but we got to the airport pretty early. We decided to grab a bite (the standard for Italy pastry and coffee for breakfast) before heading through security. Brandon ordered a chocolate croissant with a cappuccino and I ordered a chocolate and almond pastry with a cappuccino. The total was 8.20 Euro...believe it or not I found this to be cheap for two cappuccinos and two pastries...that's because the cashier did not give me my pastry. After I realized that maybe she did not hear me, I said "Oh, I'm sorry I also had that pastry over there..." She was not happy. She started saying sternly "8.20 EURO" while holding up the numbers with her fingers. It was like she thought I was a total idiot. I said, "No, I would like to add it our order. Her response, "EIGHT EURO TWENTY--NO!" Needless to say, I did not get the pastry and I was annoyed. We got through security and waited at the gate for our plane to board. The flight was not bad at all. We could see a view of the Alps, which was very cool. Not to mention, the airline was very nice (Vueling). We arrived to Paris a little after 2 pm. This is when things got a little hectic.

View of the Alps

We picked up our checked luggage and headed for the train to the subway. Our hotel was right near the subway (Paris has a huge Metro) so we wanted to save money by hopping on there instead of getting a taxi. So, we bought the train ticket from the airport to the subway. Not a problem, we caught it on time and it took us directly to the subway. But, the problem was that after we got to the Metro, we could not find ticket machines to purchase actual subway tickets. Brandon had to exit the subway station and reenter just to purchase the tickets. Sounds simple enough, but this took us forever to figure out because we just found it annoying that you could only purchase the tickets before you took the train to the subway. We had to switch lines (again, Paris' Metro is huge) to get to our hotel with all of the baggage--remember I was here for 5 weeks (a lot of luggage). We finally made it there and by this time it was 4 pm. We checked in and got settled. We decided to head to the Marriott lounge where we could have a few drinks and relax. They also had some finger foods to snack on.

After calming down a little bit after the subway incident we decided to walk around town. Our hotel was really nice, but it was also kinda far from the center. It wasn't until later we found this out.

We first stumbled upon Jardin du Luxembourg. I say stumbled because we were just kind of wandering. It is one of Paris' largest parks. The flowers were really beautiful and it was fun to people watch there--lots of joggers, picnickers and people making out (I say that like it is normal because in Europe it was like everyone had no beef with PDA.)

Jardin du Luxembourg

After that we walked down Boulevard St. Michel. This is a strip of sorts that has several shops and leads to the Latin Quarter. We walked through the Latin Quarter which had a ton of tourists. There were several different types of cuisines and souvenir shops. There was a lot going on in this part of town.

After that, we wandered--yes, wandered some more and found Notre Dame. It was kinda nice that we saw it Tuesday night because we did not have much time in Paris. The outside was beautiful and normally the inside would not have been opened, but for some reason it was. However, way too dark in the cathedral to see inside. Interesting really because it did not get dark in Paris until at least 11 (we later found this to be true for the Netherlands as well). Near Notre Dame there were several street performers.

We continued to walk and all of the sudden the weather took a turn for the worse. The wind began to blow hard and you could see a down pour about 5-6 blocks away from where we were standing. Water from the nearby fountains got us wet and the dust and dirt from the gravel blew in our eyes...not cool. Finally, we decided to find a bar since clearly the rain was coming. We found a bar with live music (they played some American songs with some French songs) and ordered some Kronenbourg beers. We ended up meeting some people from the UK who had spent three days biking from London to Paris. They were pretty nice, but also wasted. They seemed kinda fascinated and relieved we were Americans. One, because we spoke English and two, because (so Brandon says...) the British are usually fascinated with American cities and celebs.

Bar We Visited

Notre Dame

We finally made it back to the hotel very late. It took FOREVER to walk back to our hotel outside the center.

The next day we had to switch hotels. Neither Hotel #1 nor Hotel #2 had two nights available. Luckily, Hotel #2 was very close to the center. We ate breakfast (which was really good) at Hotel #1. As you might of guessed, we opted for the taxi this time. It was a nice ride around Paris to familiarize ourselves with the city and also, neither one of us wanted to start our day getting lost and sweaty trying to find Hotel #2. We checked in but our room was not ready so we headed to the Louvre. We had to wait in line for about 2 hours, because unlike my adventures in Italy, I did not pre-book. At the Louvre we saw the Mona Lisa, David Jacque Louis paintings, Venus of Milo and Winged Victory of Samothrace. Again, we did not have much time in Paris so we decided that with the wait and the crowd there was no way we could see the entire museum (we heard there was no way to see the entire museum even with a long visit in Paris and it could potentially take like 3 days to see the whole place).

Venus of Milo
Mona Lisa
Outside the Louvre

After the Louvre we had lunch. I ordered a roasted chicken and FRENCH fries. :) It was actually pretty good. The "au jus" was delish. When we finished we headed back to the hotel for a quick rest and a chance to freshen up before dinner and the rest of the places on our list. We headed to Avenue des Champs-Elysees. Also, VERY touristy and crowded. A ton of shops. We saw some interesting people here too. We also saw the cops chasing street vendors who were selling knock off bags. Not to mention, the BIGGEST LOUIS VUITTON EVER! Things going through my mind--"WOW! That store is huge and why the heck would you sell knock offs in a 5 mile radius of that!" Champs-Elysees ends with the Arc de Triomphe. It was actually really gorgeous. I never expected that it would impress me that much. After that, we headed to the Eiffel Tower and waited in line 2 hours (AGAIN!) but it was worth it. We went to the second level and had a look at Paris right at dusk (ya know, 10:30--pretty normal :) )

View from Eiffel Tower The Arch

Eiffel Tower
Cops Confiscating Bags Louis Vuitton

We decided to have dinner afterward but it was nearly impossible to find a decent place to eat at this hour. I had a cheeseburger and BF had an omelette. We headed to a busy street to find a taxi. Apparently, taxis do not pick people up in Paris. They just drive around. It was impossible to hail a cab and we even tried waiting at a taxi stand. No such luck! We walked home...we did not get home until 2 am. This was not a good thing since we had to catch a 7:30 train to Rotterdam!

View of the Eiffel Tower on Our Walk Home

We woke up around 5:30 the next morning. We had arranged for a cab immediately after our incident with trying to hail a cab the night before. Thank God! We took the cab to the train station. The train was actually very nice. We slept most of the way and got to Rotterdam around 10 am. From Rotterdam, we were to take the train to Eindhoven to meet my (pregnant) cousin's husband Keith. We had plans to stay with them for a couple of days. When we got off the train at English signs. I found this to be weird because everyone said the Dutch speak perfect English (they do), but the signs were all in Dutch. It took us 45 minutes to figure out how to buy a ticket and find out what platform we were suppose to be on. I asked 4 people that worked at the station before getting the right answer.

We arrived to Eindhoven around 11:50 and Keith picked us up as planned. We went straight to Jessi and Keith's new house. It was great! Nice and spacious. We loved the big windows. I was excited to see Jessi (and Liam.) After we brought in the luggage and got a tour of the house we headed to lunch at La Place. We split a sandwich and a salad. Afterward Keith had a call for work so me, Jessi and BF walked around near their house and Jessi told us about things in Holland and even took us to the grocery store to show us the differences between grocery shopping in the US and the Netherlands. We went back afterward and relaxed for a bit.

Jessi and Keith had to attend a birthing class right outside of Amsterdam so BF and I decided to have dinner in Amsterdam while they were in class. Keith and Jessi dropped us off at a train station near the class so we could just take the train into Amsterdam. Again, issues with the train. The machine only took coins or European cards (the one's with the chip--these cards are not like American credit cards. They have a set allotted amount of cash on the card that can be reloaded). We didn't have enough coins (of course!) I had to ask a random guy for some change--I felt like a bum!

We got to Amsterdam and the town was not what either of us were expecting. The architecture was beautiful. The Netherlands is also OBSESSED with bikes! They bike more than they drive cars. There were parking decks FULL of bikes. There were also canals in Amsterdam...I had no idea! Of course Amsterdam has the "coffee shop" and "red light district" stigma, but I really think Amsterdam is alot more than that! Very beautiful.

Bike "Parking Deck"

Amsterdam Canal in Amsterdam

We met back up with Jessi and Keith when we were done with dinner and headed back to their house. The next morning Keith bough us pastries for breakfast. We also had a "Dutch cuisine"--bread with butter and chocolate weird! But tasty and one of Jessi's favorites! Another breakfast item we ate and one of Keith's personal favorites was a "stroopwaffle" --very thin waffle cone like cookie with caramel filling. We set it on top of our coffee mugs to warm them up and soften them up. Very sweet, but also very tasty! Keith got a crazy coffee maker after moving to Holland and Brandon and I were in awe with it. Everyone who knows us knows WE LOVE COFFEE! We sat around after sleeping in, drinking coffee and chatting it up. It was so great catching up and we had a really good time just relaxing and conversing with Jessi and Keith.

We decided to head back to Amsterdam later that afternoon. Keith parked the car at a park and ride and we rode the train into Amsterdam again (this time with minimal issues.) We had planned to do the Heineken Experience, but we lost track of time when we all got very hungry and stopped for tapas. The tapas were actually really good! After dinner we walked around the rest of the city and also had dessert. The dessert was gelato and fresh was crazy because it was like the beginning of my trip meets the end! :) This morning Keith and Jessi took us to the airport. They could not have been more hospitable! (you can see Jessi's recap of our visit at she also has a blog!)


We got home around 6 pm (we landed around 1 pm and had to pick up our car and Linus--I missed him so!) I am very happy to be home, though. My trip was great and couldn't have asked for a more interesting and fun experience. I hope you all have found this blog to be entertaining!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Some more bling! Special shout out...

Another special shout ANOTHER one of my dearest friends--Telleen Jean Anderson-Lozano! Congratulations on your engagement. I am so happy for you and Greg and I can't wait to celebrate with you! San Francisco in a couple of weeks will be prime for a celebration and then MTB's wedding...woot! :)

I'm sorry I do not speak Italian, WOW! That's alot of pigeons and Julius Caesar...

On Friday morning I left for Bologna to meet family Mariano, Maria and Francesco. Mariano is my great grandmother's first cousin, Maria is his wife and Francesco is his son. I arrived at the Bologna station to find out that Mariano nor Maria spoke English. Another adventure...

Francesco had to work until 5 pm and then the plan was for us to all go to Bologna together Friday night. Mariano and Maria live in Malalbergo (a province of Bologna), which is about 30 minutes from Bologna. After we arrived at Mariano and Maria's apartment, we had lunch. Maria cooked pasta (homemade) with red sauce, veal with mushroom sauce and salad. We also had watermelon for dessert and finished things off with espresso. It was delish! We spent much of the time on the computer using translators to speak to one another. I was kicking myself for not knowing Italian at this point. Who wants to speak to one another through a computer when we are sitting right next to each other?? I don't...I feel like this was my fault.

Homemade pasta...courtesy of Maria!

After Francesco got home, we decided to take a walk so he could change. We had gelato. I ordered a small but Mariano INSISTED that I get the biggest size the place offered! At this point, I was about to POP! After we walked back to the apartment to meet back up with Francesco, we left for Bologna. We walked around Bologna for a few hours and had pizza for dinner. After we finished in Bologna, we visited Ferrara (another town right outside of Bologna). This was Francesco's recommendation, as its architecture was much more ancient and medieval, unlike Bologna, which was mostly modern. We did not get home until about 1 am and then I was up at 6:30 to catch my 8:50 am train to Venice. Francesco and Mariano dropped me off at the station and waited until my train departed before they left. Mariano, Maria and Francesco were very hospitable and we did the best we could with the language barrier. Considering I didn't know Italian and they didn't know English, we had a great time!

Castle in Ferrara
Statue of Neptune in Bologna

On the train ride to Venice, I met a breast cancer survivor who lived in none other than Anderson, SC (right outside of Easley, where some of my family lives). This woman lives in Anderson, but is orignally from Istanbul, Turkey and attended college at Berry in Rome, GA. Her story was very inspiring and she was a very interesting individual. It's always nice to meet people like this and I am sure I met her for a reason.

After I arrived to Venice I met up with Brandon. It was very exciting to finally see him! We spent most of the day exploring Venice and walking the city. We also did a self-guided Vaparetto tour of the city. It was a lot of fun. We did not have many plans, so I really enjoyed catching up and spending the day exploring and getting lost!! We had lunch at a touristy joint (impossible to avoid sometimes), visited the Rialto Brige, St. Mark's Square and just picked up a slice of pizza for dinner. Our hotel was very nice and had a great Venetian look to it. The staff was very accommodating and friendly (unlike the staff here at Villa Tassoni, who gave us a seriously hard time for Brandon's unannounced arrival.)

Rialto Bridge
Pretty Sunset in Venice

St. Marks' Square and the Pigeons!

Campanile on St. Mark's Square

Last night, we took a night walk across Rome visiting all the places I have already been, but BF has not. We visited Campo di Fiori and had a tasty dinner there. We continued onto Piazza Navona, The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain (with a stop for gelato...duh!) and The Spanish Steps. Everything was beautiful at night!!

Trevi Fountain
Campo di Fiori
Piazza Navona
The Pantheon Spanish Steps

Today we visited the Colesseum, The Roman Forum, The Panethon, Piazza Navona, Campo di Fiori (for a mini happy hour :)) and Trastevere for dinner (tasssssty). After dinner we enjoyed a beer on the steps in Trastevere and walked along the river at the night market. So far, we have really enjoyed our time together. Tomorrow we leave for Paris. I am sorry I have left off a lot of details in the blog tonight (and lacked my usual sarcastic remarks), but I have alot of packing to do! I will see everyone soon....Ciao!!

The Roman Forum
The Colosseum

Thursday, June 30, 2011


So today, I visited St. Peter's Square, St. Peter's Basilica and The Vatican Museum. It was an adventure (but, they all are by now, right?)

St. Peter's Square

I bought reserved tickets online earlier this week because if the tickets are bought ahead oftime, the purchaser can skip the line (which happens to wrap around the whole "city"--Vatican City, that is. 100 acres in size..and takes about 3 hours to get in.) It sounds ridiculous, but I am sure most of you know, the Vatican is its own country. I actually remember having to point it out in Geography class in 9th grade at McEachern (Grazie Ms. Tsuhdi-Rose!) It has its own post office and everything!

Vatican Mailbox

I figured since classes are over until my last final (which is Monday), I should try to squeeze it in this week. I slept in a little and took care of some things at the Villa. So much for taking my time though. The crazy cleaning ladies at Villa Tassoni knocked on my door right after I got out of the shower. I told them to come back. They did not like that. They said they would give me 15 minutes...since when does the cleaning lady dictate when I can let people in my room that I am paying for?? I told them that wasn't enough. After haggling with them (yes, haggling for time to get ready...ridic!), we agreed on 30 minutes. So, I finished getting ready and was out the door by 11 or so. I got to St. Peter's Square around 11:30. I contemplated going to see the Basilica first, but thought the line was too long. I decided to take my chances on getting into the museum early. My reservation was for 2:30.

So, the ticket reservation worked, I cut the line. After you go inside though, you have to gothrough security and then trade a voucher for a ticket. You do have to wait in line after all...Well, while I am waiting in line, this crazy (I know I am using the word crazy a lot in this entry, but at this point of the trip--everyone here IS crazy!) tour guide grabs my arm and pushes me out of line for my ticket! (OK--sidenote: I haven't really talked about this alot in the blog, but Italians don't know how to say sorry OR "Mi dispiace"--which is suppose tomean sorry in Italian! They don't know how to say it in ANY language. They just push you out of the way everywhere over here. And if the pushing doesn't work, they insist on touching you. Leaning, elbowing, grabbing--they do not care how sweaty they are, how sweaty I am, they just want to touch someone!) Accepting that Italians do not have a sense of courtesy or personal space (at least not in my experience) was too far gone for me at thispoint when this crazy tour guide grabbed my arm! I looked at her with a dead stare and said, "DON'T touch me!" She got her way anyway and cut the line--grrrr! I finally got my ticket though. To escape the crowd, and since I was dying of thirst and hunger, I decided to take a detour to the "caffetteria." What a mistake that was....

I got lost!! ( I know that most people grab a bite midway or after the sites at a museum, but Ineeded to cool off after the encounter with the crazy tour guide.) There is one organizedflowing direction at this museum and I somehow went in backwards after having my lunch. The odd part about it all: I saw the Sistine Chapel first (it's the last stop at the Vatican Museum). After realizing where I was, I couldn't really be that mad anymore. I pulled outmy iPod and listened to the Rick Steves Audio Guide for the Chapel and took a lot of pictures. About 15 minutes after taking pictures, I got yelled at. Apparently, there is no video or photography even though everyone and their mother (literally) were takingphotos. I leaned over to the guy next to me and say, "well, everyone else is taking pictures."He didn't like that because he snapped at me in an Australian accent, "That doesn't make it right!" Despite all of this, I have to say that the Sistine Chapel wasn't what I was expecting. I don't know how to explain that because I don't know WHAT I was expecting. It's crazy to think one dude painted the Pope's personal chapel and place where new pope's are elected with a little help from some assistants who plastered the ceiling and help him build a scaffold.

Sistine Chapel ceiling

The Creation of Man in the center seems to be everyone's favorite part (with God giving Adam the "spark" of life). But, as you all know, I tend to have a darker side (especially when it comes to TV and art) and I preferred The Last Judgment (the piece done later byMichelangelo behind the alter, depicting (his interpretation of) the last judgment--Christ's return). The left depicts those ascending into Heaven and the right of those descending into Hell. The other interesting thing is that Michelangelo paints himself in the picture as well, on the right side. I'm not really sure why he did that or why he made himself look that way (like a melting corpse), but I like it--everyone knows I'm a Dali fan and it had that kind of surrealist look to it even though it's a renaissance era fresco. I am sure there are a thousand theories as to why Mike did that, but it was fascinating.

The Last Judgment (sorry the quality isn't great...not a lot of lighting)

Creation of Man (upside down...sorry, it was so crowded, the only spot I could get. I guess I could rotate the picture, but it would take a minute and I haven't had the time to spruce up my pics yet! :) )

After asking like 3 guards how to get back to the entrance, I just kinda decide to sneak back out the way I came in. It was so crowded! There were seas and seas of people in the museum and I seemed to be walking in circles! I have never in my life seen so many people in a museum. This made the other parts of the museum difficult to enjoy, not to mention the heat. I'm not sure if there is A/C, but if there was, I couldn't tell. The Sistine Chapel was also crowded, but I was in too much awe to notice until the second time I visited it.

The crowds... see... no exaggerating!

After figuring out how to get back to the beginning of the museum and doing to best I could to avoid the crowd (near impossible). There were several statues and also "Stanze di Raffaello" (The Raphael Rooms), including his work "The School of Athens" (pictured here). All of these rooms were decorated with frescoes, NOT paintings. Plaster is used for frescoes, not just paint. There were also some other interesting things in the museum, but hard to see because of the crowds. I was quite impressed with the ceilings and the architecture (yes, Claire & Robert). After seeing these works along with some modern art, I went back into the Sistine Chapel (the correct way) and then exited to visit St. Peter's Basilica.

School of Athens (Raphael)

The Basilica was gorgeous. I don't know how else to describe it and the pictures don't do it justice as usual. I guess it is just indescribable.

Peter's Basilica

Peter's tomb is inside covered by an enormous canopy that you see pictured here. The basilica sits where Peter was crucified on "Vatican Hill". The basilica is full of mosaics and impressive decor. Again, why can't churches in the U.S. look like this?!

Peter's Tomb

Michelangelo's "Pieta" is also housed here. It sits behind bulletproof glass. Also an amazing work. He was a genius apparently because he sculpted this when he was only 24. Younger than me! Why can't I have that kinda talent!? The Pieta is Mary holding Christ after being taken down from the cross. Next to the Pieta is the "Holy Door," opened every 25 years, to celebrate the "Jubilee Year"--encouraging new beginnings and forgiveness of sins and debts.

The Pieta

The Holy Door

I think that everyone MUST visit the Vatican sometime in their life. I'm not really sure why, but the entire time during my visit to the Vatican all I could think about was my great-grandmother ("Grandma") and how I wish she could have been there to see it with me and how she probably will never see it (yes, other family members, I thought of you all too, but all you have to do is get on a plane and get over your fear of flying :)! You have the rest of your life and you aren't in your 90's!) I hope that she will be impressed with my pictures when I get back, but I would have given anything to have her there today.

Well, today is my last day ALONE in Roma! I will be day tripping it this weekend to Bologna (to see Mariano Bucolo--Grandma's cousin--and his fam) and to Venice to meet up with BF. Look for more excitement come Monday night! Ciao!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Our own fireworks for 4th of July...

Shout out to BF...

He didn't get one last night so I felt bad. I missed him very much in Cinque Terre because it's very romantic (for those of you who don't know, I'm not Ms. Romance by any means, but this place just has that effect on people). Claire tried to warn me! Not to mention, he would have loved the atmosphere there. We love travelling to places like that. I'm so excited he decided to join me for my last week in Europe. I can't wait to see him. We will be in Venice, Rome, Paris and The Netherlands together!

We don't exactly have an official date as to when we got together, but it was Summer 2009, right around this time. I couldn't be happier that we did! (cheeseball comment, but the truth!). Because we don't have a date really...we can just say our first kiss was July 4, after going to a party with Ricky, Brian and Melissa at The Marietta Square. So, although Italy may not celebrate the 4th, at least I can kiss BF on 4th of July! (That sounds weird, but I thought I wasn't going to be with him on the 4th this year and now I am and it makes me happy). Therefore, I'm ok with the fact they don't have fireworks here...

(I posted a picture here from Cinque Terre's Via dell' Amore...usually couples sit in this chair as a ritual when visiting the path. I know BF wasn't there last weekend, but I have a feeling we might get to sit in that chair together one day!)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

an occassion special enough for its own entry...

Congratulations to one of my dearest friends Carlie Marie Monti! She is newly engaged to the love of her life! I am so happy you have found your soul mate and I can't wait to celebrate with you and Justin when I return to the states!

Additionally, Brandon's brother and sister-in-law, Bryan and Tara, have just found out the gender of their baby who will be born this fall. It's going to be a boy! Congratulations to you guys too!

Sidenote--now that I am living in Rome without a roommate and spending a lot of time on my own, I have really started missing my friends and family(and let's not forget Linus) much more. While I am having a great time in Italy, occasions like these (also Father's Day, Megan's Birthday, Claire & Robert's Homecoming and Annual Fripp Trip) make me realize how much my friends and family mean to me.

Missing everyone!

My name is Jenna, I have a blog, I am from the U.S. and yes, I am here alone...

Brace yourself for a long blog entry people. I had an unbelievable weekend! I visited Cinque Terre. For those of you who do not know, Cinque Terre is an area with 5 villages in the Italian Riviera (FYI, "cinque" (CHINK-wey) means 5 in Italian)--Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso. This is the geographical order of the villages, south to north, but I did not visit them in this order.

Friday immediately after class I went to the train station and left for Cinque Terre. I sat in yet another hot train, but by now I am used to it. I was in one of those God awful end seats at the end of the aisle. I dealt with it. I read during the whole train ride (which was nice. Because I have not traveled alone until this weekend and was taking 2 classes instead of 1, there wasn't much opportunity to read for pleasure). I arrived in La Spezia station around 4pm. I bought my ticket to Riamaggiore (where I stayed this weekend and the first Cinque Terre village), which is about a 15 minute ride from La Spezia. Here is where I unofficially met my new Moroccan friends, Mehdi and Fatine. Mehdi and Fatine did not realize they had to validate their tickets and unfortunately had to pay a mini fine. We got to talking and they asked me where I was from, etc. We parted ways after the train ride. I got off the train and there was a pedestrian tunnel to take to get the Riomaggiore's center. Right before entering the tunnel, there were some cool murals on the wall.


[I have to say, I relied a little bit too much on Rick Steves (shout out to Tiffany and Nico, I will get to introductions later, don't worry) for Cinque Terre. I trusted his judgment that it would not be too crowded. It was definitely super crowded. Most of the locals I spoke to told me the best time to go to Cinque Terre is a weekday in the fall (none of which were the days I spent there).]

I checked into my hotel, set my stuff down and then I decided to check everything out and get my bearings. I went ahead and purchased my Cinque Terre Card (this card allows you entry to the "hikes" between the towns) since I planned to do that Saturday. I walked around Riomaggiore for awhile and had an Birra Moretti at Bar Centrale. After that, I took a train to eat dinner in one of the other towns. Here is where I would like to mention that Cinque Terre's trains are an adventure in themselves. They basically go to each of the 5 towns, but for whatever reason they are not reliable. I did eventually make it to Vernazza for dinner. I had Linguine with Crab at Trattoria del Capitano on the water. It was good. The only downfall was I had to crack my own crab which just happened to be slathered with red sauce whilst wearing a white dress. That was a challenge my friends. I had a beer at the Blue Marlin Bar. There was a sign there that said "Cash Only" with a photo of Johnny Cash. I found this to be quite amusing.


I took the train back to Riomaggiore and that is where I ran into Mehdi and Fatine again. We spent a couple hours chatting and enjoying the outdoors. While we were talking a parade for San Giovanni (John the Baptist) came through the streets. That was interesting. Mehdi and Fatine were very nice! Unfortunately, I did not run into them again during my trip, but I trust they had a great time!

Mehdi & Fatine

I went to bed with the hopes of getting up early. I woke up around 8:30 (not as early as I'd hoped for). I had breakfast at my hotel and then I was off to the trails! I started with Via Dell' Amore to Manarola. This is a famous path in Cinque Terre connecting Riomaggiore and Manarola. It was once a lover's lane for those who dated outside of their village after WWII. There are a ton of locks placed by lovers and a lot of graffiti professing love for one another. There were also a lot of people making out (more so when I took the path back in the evening). Unfortunately, I was not locking locks or lips with anyone, but it was still enjoyable and very beautiful. I did not walk around Manarola until later in the afternoon.

View from Via dell' Amore

The path between Manarola and Corniglia was closed due to landslides, so after taking the path from Riomaggiore to Manarola, I took the train to Corniglia. After getting off the train at Corniglia, it is about a 400 step climb to the top. Despite the trail being closed, I would consider this to be my effort for the Manarola-Corniglia trail! I walked around Corniglia for about 30-40 minutes. It was very cute and quaint. Loved it! I did some shopping and scoped out the panoramic views. Side note--someone who has an accessory addiction such as myself, can get into a lot of trouble in Cinque Terre! From Corniglia I hiked the path leading to Vernazza. This hike was tough due to the crowds and the heat. Despite the fact that I was getting run over by German giants who had giant hiking boots and walking sticks, I enjoyed the hike. It was definitely exhausting. I walked around Vernazza again and enjoyed the daytime hustle and bustle (crazy term for Cinque Terre, but true for this weekend).

View of Corniglia from the Corniglia-Vernazza path

After that, I decided not to do the path from Vernazza to Monterosso because I kept hearing how dangerous it was (not to mentions the giants and the crowds). While waiting for the train, I met Tiffany (works in London for the NBA, originally from AZ) and Nico (works in London for the NBA, originally from France). We asked the same questions, where are you from, etc. We parted ways after getting off the train (don't worry, I bump into them again, just like Mehdi and Fatine).

I walked around in Monterosso and found a pub to eat lunch in. Gotta say, not a great lunch. Then again, I ordered salad. Nothing special about that. After having lunch I walked back to the main beach to rent an umbrella and beach chair. All full! I walked down a little further and found one in "New Town" (Bagni Fegina). I rented a chair and an umbrella. I enjoyed the water (this time in my Vibrams avoiding any rocks or hot pebbles like in Positano). I stayed in Monterosso for 3-4 hours. It was my least favorite village. Very touristy, very crowded. I only had one village left to see-Manarola.

I took the train from Monterosso to Manarola and walked the town. At this point in the day I have to say I was pretty beat. Nevertheless, I walked uphill (all of the villages were hilly) to the top of the village and went on a path into a vineyard that ended at a cemetery, then descended back into the center of the town. There were lots of lizards on this walk, so it was more like a run the entire way.


I made my way back to Riomaggiore by taking Via dell' Amore. The winding down of the day looked gorgeous on the water and the rocky coast. I went back to my hotel to freshen up and then began a quest to find some delish food (which I had yet to have in Cinque Terre). I walked down to the harbor and up the stairs to a bar with a view and low and behold there was Tiffany and Nico! They asked me to join them. We had drinks and watched the sunset. Chatted up for the rest of the night until the bar closed. It was a great time! Afterwards, we found a Pizzeria open (everything closes by 11 in these parts, other than a few places here and there) and had dinner. Focaccia and pesto is what Cinque Terre is known for. However, I only tried Focaccia and it was actually pizza . Pretty tasty! We had gelato after that (of course) and then called it a night.

Sunset (Riomaggiore) Nico & Tiffany

This morning I slept in a little and had breakfast at the hotel again. I did some shopping in Riomaggiore and Vernazza. On my way back to Riomaggiore before departing for La Spezia I was sitting across from a young woman. I kept staring at her. I am sure she noticed because she finally said, "Do you go to Harvard?" (shout out to Claire, Kelly, Kim, Mayson and Rachel...I was sporting my Haaahhvard tee I bought in Boston from a street vendor)

I laughed and answered her. "No. I don't--just a souvenir I got in Boston." (she was the 2nd person to ask today) I got ballsy and finally asked her, (since I had been staring for 5 minutes) "Did you play one of Ted Mosby's girlfriends?" (yes, all of you HIMYM fans! She played Victoria, the girlfriend who moved to Germany ) She replied "uh, yes. you are like the 3rd person to ask me that on this trip!" All I could think to myself was, "What? Of course! Who wouldn't have asked you!?" I asked her for her autograph and she signed my train pass "Jenna, I didn't go to Harvard either. Ashley Williams" It was so freaking cool and super down to earth! She was chatting it up with me and I've never even met anyone famous other than Clinton Kelly! She was actually on her honeymoon and her fiancee was so freaking nice. It was like the most amazing way to end a most amazing weekend! I am a little embarrassed because I have actually seen her on a few ABC Family Christmas movies and of course Law & Order: SVU, but the only thing I could think of was HIMYM! When I got back to Rome I IMDB'd her and saw she was in Something Borrowed, so I feel like an idiot for not asking that. But, in my defense I have not seen that. I definitely want to see it now!

All in all it was an AMAZING weekend! Again, the pictures never do it justice! Ciao for now!

P.S. look for more on Roma this week. A lot left to see in my last week here! Then it's off to Paris and The Netherlands!