I knew I had made a good choice as soon as our train slid at lightning speed into the Vernazza (one out of five small towns in Cinque Terre) station--- the view from the window looked surreal-- the spotless, crystal clear, aqua blue water was unlike anything I’d seen in real life. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped to the floor and remained there over the next 4 days.
My new friends and I spent our time there hiking up and down the hills and mountains---through woods and vineyards---connecting each small medieval village to the next. And, we ate – the best pizza and seafood I’ve had in Italy so far -- drank copious amounts of wine, and laughed more than I have in a very long time.
Oh yea, and 3 of us went scuba diving. I had no intentions- absolutely none what so ever to go. I was planning on going for a ride in a kayak and maybe a swim. But two of my Aussie friends casually asked me if I wanted to go, and strangely- and much to my own surprise- I said yes.
The idea of scuba diving always scared the shit out of me—I was born with a pretty decent case of claustrophobia and always want to have wide-open spaces. Nevertheless, I doled out the 50 euros, put the tank on, listened to the nice Italian man’s instructions, strapped on my flippers, and went for it. Note- this would never happen in America. People can’t just go scuba diving without proper lessons or a certification. Granted, we didn’t go out on a boat—we got right in at the marina and stayed fairly close to land.
But our instructor was fabulous—he was very calm and reassuring. My fears vanished as soon as I went under the first time. I was surrounded by thousands of fish, all swimming together like little sea soldiers. Never in a million years did I think I’d be touching the coral on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. And, never in my life will I forget that experience.
If I had any disappointment with Cinque Terre it would be the number of tourists--- but, hey I’m one of them, so I get it. And, this actually happened to be the absolutely only place where I met any rude Italian people-- There was one coffee shop that apparently sought out only bitches for employment.
And my hostel was by far the crappiest one I’ve stayed in yet. Actually, it wasn’t even a hostel. It was a 2-bedroom apartment with ELEVEN beds. And ONE bathroom. And again, with guys—the snoring (and farting) here was worse than in Florence.
At first, to be honest, I wanted to cry. But, after meeting more people and knowing that my dear Australian friend Sarah was right there with me, I actually (strangely) grew fond of our little shithole. I’m not supposed to be staying in snazzy tight-waddy places anyway- I have no money and I’m 22. Plus, it was in a great location-- just steps away from the marina and close to good bars, restaurants and markets.
This is where I had to say goodbye to Sarah, Tracey and Nez-- 3 of my good Australian friends I’ve made so far on my journey. Nez was hanging around a bit more and Tracey was off to see the rest of the world (literally). Sarah was off to Switzerland and I was going back down through Tuscany. But, she and I are meeting again either in Amsterdam or Madrid for our November birthdays—she will be turning 26 the same weekend I am turning 23!
Chin Chin amice!