Vernazza, Cinque Terre
Ok, so I am sure you are all wondering about the significance of my blog title for this post. Normally, you can count on Tam for a pun, joke, essentially any type of humor. And don’t get me wrong, I did have a couple of silly titles in the works, but none of them seemed to reflect my true feelings towards Cinque Terre (my latest adventure). So the truth is this post is a little less Tam the ham and a little more real life.
This trip was my last planned group trip. Anything else I do from here on is either on my own, or will be a carpe diem with friends. After visiting Cinque Terre, a place that I honestly had never heard about before arriving in Milan, I must say I am in awe. First off I must suggest that those who visit should decide to embark on the hike through the towns. In my opinion, and others can fee free to disagree, the beauty, the essence of Cinque Terre can only be found in the hiking. Sure, you can take a train from town to town. But these towns are super small, and they sort of blur together. However, this is not the case if you hike. The hiking unlocks the raw Cinque Terre, and unfolds some of the most incredible views I have ever seen in my life
Manarola, Cinque Terre
Brooke, Heidi, Taylor, MK, Madison, Alissa and I mid hike
This was the biggest group I have done a multiday trip with, there were seven of us, Brooke cleverly named us the Cinque Chicks. Seven can be a difficult number to accommodate, it isn’t even, and it is quite large. We lucked out, this really was never a problem! These are some of my favorite ladies in Milan, and I probably couldn’t have accomplished as much as I did this weekend without them. To be honest, at first I was kind of confused as to why we were going for a whole weekend, but upon leaving I wished we had left for Cinque Terre even one day sooner!
Cioppino at La Cantina di Miky
We arrived Friday in two groups. Brooke & Heidi scouted out Monterosso earlier in the day, and the rest of us joined later. Monterosso was probably my favorite of the towns. It was on the larger side, as compared to the rest. But most importantly to me was the beach. My mother always jokes that she gave birth to water babies. Although I disagree with my mother on many things, this is not one of them. I love the water, it brings me joy, it brings me to life. There is nothing more relaxing to me then soaking up some sun in between trips to the ocean/lake/pool/literally anything. So to arrive Friday and see a beach really made me a happy camper. Upon our arrival we walked around for a bit, and then Heidi and I dipped our toes in the crystal blue Mediterranean. We grabbed dinner, I made sure to have seafood of course, and then we were off to our hostel.
View from 5 Terre Backpackers
Our hostel had the most amazing view, two cats roaming around, as well as hammocks. Plus this was all for a relatively good price. Definitely one of the nicer hostels I have stayed in. I didn’t even realize but we had our own room, which was a nice change of pace. I did not think there would be a room for seven! One great thing about our hostel, was that because it wasn’t directly in Monterosso they provided daily, free shuttles. Everyday I took the 9am shuttle to Monterosso, and the 6pm shuttle back to the hostel.
So Saturday morning we awoke early enough to enjoy our free breakfast of cornflakes and coffee, and then we were off! I won’t lie, I felt like I was in over my head Friday when we got off the train to see how many people had walking sticks in hand. I am not a nature girl. I have lived in New York City for 22 years, and my ideal nature is Central Park. Although hiking isn’t my forte, I knew I could not come to Italy without visiting Cinque Terre, so I figured I would suck it up for one day, and then Sunday, the beach would be my reward.
First off you have to pay to hike, which I found odd. Why must I pay to be at one with mother nature? Oh well, no big deal. We also had to make sure to use the bathrooms in the towns, because there were no bathrooms on the trails. This hike truly is and was meant to be a whole day affair. We were told the first part of the hike was the roughest. In my opinion, we were lied to…
Don’t get me wrong, the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza was without a doubt nearly impossible for me, but I actually found part two of the hike from Vernazza to Corniglia to be the real beast. Maybe most people find the first part of the hike the roughest because it is longer, but man oh man did I struggle. Europe has faced me with lots of opportunities where I have had to push my physical abilities in order to take in all that is around me. I am used to walking, we walk a lot in New York City, heck I don’t even have a driver’s license, but the walking I have done abroad is far more grueling then anything I have ever experienced. Hands down though Cinque Terre was my Everest.
I am overweight, out of shape, and have eaten my fair share of pizzas in Italy. Never, do I think I have doubted myself more so then I did on this hike. I was embarrassed, and disappointed in myself. It did make me feel better to see five of the others struggling just as much as I was (not Heidi, this was a walk in the park for her). But I’m not sure if the other girls were as close to giving up as I was. I just felt like my body could not do what I was asking of it. Which is why this hike truly tested not only my physical limits, but my emotional limits as well. If I was alone, there is NO doubt in my mind that I would have waisted the 7.50 euro, and headed back down to give up. But being with these other girls, all of us motivating each other, stopping for breaks, water, and pictures in between, gave me hope. I just wanted to be able to do what my friends were doing. And spoiler alert, if you have not already gaged this from the title of this blog post, I was able to do it. All seven of us successfully survived a full day of hiking, mostly uphill, on unpaved stairs.
Prove yourself wrong everyday. Because this is what I did in Cinque Terre, and it truly impacted me far beyond what I could have imagined would come from a weekend trip.
Selfie time for Heidi, Alissa, and I
And that is the thing, if I was unable to do this hike, I would have never been able to view Cinque Terre with the essential bird’s eye view. I am proud of myself for pushing myself past my limits and completing what I nearly gave up on. Proving yourself wrong is one of the most rewarding experiences you can face. Truth is because of the shuttle we only had time for tre terre, however Sunday before our beach day, and before our train home, Alissa, Heidi and I trained to the other due terre. So I indeed was able to see all cinque!
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre
I think I was on a high from the hike, so this weekend really was just what the doctor ordered. The towns were adorable, the gelato, delicious, and the beach relaxing. Dear readers, please keep in mind all that I have said in this post. Never give up on yourself, you are capable of anything and everything.
Beach day in Monterosso, in the Mediterranean Sea!
To all of those students (both New Paltz and elsewhere) who graduated this weekend, conGRADS! I am technically a member of the class of 2015, so I guess this makes me a college grad! I do believe this will all hit me a bit more, once I am done with finals. Sure, I may never get to walk across the stage and collect my “diploma,” but I’m pretty sure Cinque Terre was an adequate alternative!
Sometimes you just gotta stop and smell the flowers! Greetings from Corniglia, Cinque Terre