What do you call that moment where your phone background becomes a living reality?
After no sleep and train adventures (and fines…oops), we finally made it to Monterosso, the first of the five cities of Cinque Terre! The touristy, brightly colored city spread along a beach and against mountains. The pure beauty that encompassed every direction surrounding almost seemed incapable of processing. A sandwich and beer provided Tara, Suzie, and me a base to begin our hiking (“wandering/exploring”) adventure to the next city of Vernazza. Previously we were told the hike from the first to the last city was four and half miles and our plan was to hike that all our first day, stopping here and there and beaching it…ummm no. Four and a half miles maybe by a boat but the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza alone took over two and a half hours. We were also previously warned that the first hike was the hardest and longest. We soon recognized the warning as we climbed up and up along mountains. BUT it was amazing. Beyond amazing. Trekking along this narrow path and peering over to my right to see the beautiful Mediterranean Sea and to my left rows and rows of vineyards, cactus, and hidden gems. Pictures will never do it justice. Along the way, little stands were set up where someone would be selling paintings, jewelry, and my favorite lemonade. Cramped under this little shack along one of the steep hills, a man concocted fresh lemonade and limoncello made from his very own lemons. Reaching through a hole in the fencing to obtain our lemonade, it felt like the perfect break and most delicious and refreshing beverage imaginable. Legs shaking, we finally made it to Vernazza and directly found gelato. Again the town so brightly colored with boats floating above the sea. My eyes opened wide, all I wanted was to be in the water. Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea…yet another dream I couldn’t believe I was about to fulfill. As I climbed into the water, happiness just washed over me. Looking down, I’ve never seen such blue and clear water. I could see hundreds of feet down to the bottom. The rocks shaded in charcoal, white, and tan provided the backdrop glistening as waves crashed against them. Saltier than the standard oceans, the ease of floating was intensified. On my back soaking in all I could of that moment…one I will never forget.
Instead of continuing hike, we felt it would better suit us to take the ferry to the last city, Riomaggiore where our hostel awaited us. Best seven euro I’ve ever spent. A top a boat gliding through the Mediterranean we were able to see all the cities of Cinque Terre from the Sea and all their colors with the mountain backdrop. As we pulled up to the dock, I realized I was looking at the exact scene that the background on my phone has been set to for months. Riomaggiore was the most beautiful of the five and luckily for us we had a full 24 hours there. Excitement pushed us forward as we searched for out hostel that we randomly booked the night before. After checking in, we were guided to our actual hostel. Up and up, winding along streets, beauty never ending we finally made it to our place for the night. Pretty sure my jaw dropped to the ground. Our own private room. With a balcony. Overlooking the sea and mountains. All ours. Yeah we did a happy dance. I almost slapped myself to see if this was actually happening.
The sunset. We watched from our balcony with a bottle of wine until it crept behind the mountain. We then made our way to a church down the road in order to see the entirety of the sun sinking into the water. Sitting on a bench with a cross behind me, the sun and its golden path reflection across the sea lay directly in front of me. Once again, I couldn’t get over the beauty.
We made our way back down to the main part of town with seafood on our mind. We stopped by our hostel to ask for a recommendation and two Italian musicians were talking to the owner. They told us to follow them for the best seafood we could find. They brought us to a restaurant by the water, spoke to the waiter, got the three of us a table, and went on their way to play for the night. The food. Oh my. Best meal I’ve had yet. Tara and I shared our dishes. I think I might have possibly gotten a glimpse of heaven. Dish 1: the most perfect grilled tuna drizzled with pesto and balsamic accompanied by this olive, mushroom, onion picked salad. The combination of flavor was simple and pure yet powerful and basically melted in my mouth. I strived to chew slowly in order to taste every new flavor. Let me retract for a moment. Pesto. Pesto was INVENTED in Cinque Terre. I was in the birthplace of one of my most favorite things in existence. Dish 2: ravioli stuffed with this white fish and topped with muscles and a fresh tomatoes and zucchini flowers. Again melted with every bite. The freshness and perfection of complimenting flavors. Everything.
The day came to a relaxing end and somehow I couldn’t believe I had a whole day left in this magical place. Blessed. Beyond blessed.