Thursday: Manarola

We visited Manarola in the Cinque Terre region today. The five old towns are all linked along the Italian Riviera coastline. In good weather it is possible – and fun – to hike from town to town. This takes about six hours with few stops, but to enjoy the towns and their breathtaking scenery, at least a couple days’ trip is a better idea.

Another option to visit the towns is to take the train from La Spezia, which stops in each town. The stops are about five – eight minutes apart, so getting off the train and getting back on later is easy.

We did none of those, but still enjoyed a very nice day. Since two of the hiking trails were closed today and the others were full of mud because of all the rain the area has had in the past few weeks, hiking was off the list. Instead, we took the train to the second stop: the town of Manarola. It has arguably the most beautiful views in the region.

We arrived there at about 11a.m.(the La Spezia train station is about 45 minutes from where we are staying). We were immediately amazed at the colorful buildings of the city seemingly built into a mountain.

We walked past some fishing boats that were covered up, and I imagined they had been used that morning to catch fish for the community and the restaurants. There were about a dozen boats near the launch area.

We hiked up on the narrow trail above the sea and the view got more and more fantastic. The only people around were a large group of Korean tourists and their guides. A tour guide didn’t seem necessary though – all we did for a long time was just walk and look and take photos.

Most of the restaurants have closed for the season but we found one that looked good and we shared delicious spaghetti with seafood. Soon the large group of tourists found their way to the restaurant too, and the atmosphere became lively and fun.

I asked our waiter about the fishing boats – what time did they go out in the morning and what did they catch. He laughed and said the last fisherman died two years ago and the boats are used as pleasure boats by their owners, who don’t typically take them out this time of year.

Fantasy squelched.

We walked around a bit more, got some gelato (the owner said he is closing tomorrow for the season), met two American couples and chatted with them for a while, then took the train back to La Spezia.

photos: the fishing boats that apparently just sit there must of the time, to my disappointment; two beautiful views of the city

Wednesday: Viareggio

It rained for so long and so hard last night that the power was out this morning and water had come in under the balcony door in both of the two bedrooms in our house. Since the floors are a nicely finished wood, I dont think water comes in very often if at all. It seemed to be an unusually heavy and constant downpour.

Our host texted me first thing this morning to tell me where the circuit box is and how to reset the breaker. A half hour after I did that, it rained hard again and the power went out. I reset for a second time and we were good (= hot coffee).

It continued to pour most of the day, with thunderstorms regularly. We had planned to take the train to Cinque Terre today, but will try that tomorrow. Today we ran some errands, got food to make dinner, and hung out – a nice quiet day except for the rain hitting the roof.

photos: a lime tree across the street from where we are staying. The limes are huge and round; our Airbnb home; the scene almost all day today

Wednesday: Edinburgh

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[the toast trolley on the train]

We left London on a 10am train an to Edinburgh. The ride was a little over four hours, past fields and fields of grazing horses, sheep, and cows, plus quite a few perfectly rectangular farms.

We had lunch on board the train (cannelloni for me, fish cakes for husband) and I spent most of my time reading. It was very pleasant.

We checked into our hotel and then walked around the neighborhood a bit before having dinner at a small Italian restaurant. It was a good choice. Tomorrow we will see what we can discover here in this very old city.

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