Cinque Terre, A Little Slice Of Heaven

Travel days can really be the worst. They are invariably long and tiring. Though I’m usually thrilled to have arrived at my next destination, I really wish someone would jump on this whole teleportation thing. We were up so crazy early to leave Morocco and to make matters worse, I was feeling under the weather.  From about the time we arrived at the airport, I spent the majority of the day wishing I could curl up and die.  My stomach was a mess, twisting and gurgling . But of course, David with the stomach of a goat, was perfectly fine.

But really when you think about it, a travel day is probably one of the better times to fall ill.  Sure, turbulence and food poisoning don’t really mix, but at least I didn’t have to stay in bed all day or power through an excursion. And fortunately enough, by the time we arrived to Cinque Terre, everything was better.  David and I were sipping red wine and looking out at the sunset over the Italian riviera.

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Riomaggiore Sunset Witnessed Moments After Arriving

 

Having experienced it, I completely understand why millions of tourists flock to these five fishing villages each year. It’s Italy at it’s best, with the crystal clear aqua water, the brightly colored buildings nestled into the sides of lush terraced hills, gorgeous hiking trails and of course the deliciously fresh food. Cinque Terrre is a dream. A place where babies are conceived because of the wine and gorgeous views.

As I peered out of our window on our first morning in Riomaggiore (the furthest south of the five villages), all I saw in the marina were day hikers outfitted with all of their hiking gear.  Hiking is definitely a must while here. It’s a great way to visit all five of the villages, get some incredible photos and to counteract all of the food you will be consuming. Lorraine, the apartment manager at Allo Scalo dei Mille, had suggested we take the ferry from our village to the farthest north village of Monterosso and hike the trail from Monterosso to Vernazza. So, we set off for the ferry. By sea, you truly get to a unique view of all five towns.

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A Sea View of Riomaggiore

The beautiful views from the trails were endless on the hike from Monterosso to Vernazza, but it was hard work. We climbed steep step after steep step, looking back to catch a glimpse of the town that we were leaving or getting peeks at the village we were approaching. It was all so magical really. Water shouldn’t be that blue and the sun shouldn’t make it sparkle so much. And as expected, when Vernazza, the darling of Cinque Terre, came well into view, I couldn’t help but fall in love with it.

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Looking Back At Monterosso

Most of these towns have the spot that everyone has a picture from. The one from Vernazza was just off the trail and everyone wanted that famous photo. But then there was Heather from Canada, a woman, who had plopped her butt right in the prime position with a bottle of champagne and had no intentions of moving.  All I could do was shake my head.

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There’s Heather From Canada

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An Alternate View of Vernazza

Although Vernazza is the darling, and really all of the towns are adorable, my favorite of the five was Manarola. I loved how the candy colored towns were positioned  in the hill and the way the marina hugs it. It just photographed so well. We hiked down from the neighboring town of Volustra (not a part of the five villages) on our second day to Manarola and spent time exploring.  We had lunch perched up at Nessun Dorma, a restaurant that serves yummy bruschetta and has the best views.

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Just Imagine My Perfect B&B Somewhere In View

And what’s a trip to Cinque Terre without heading to the beach? Monterosso is by far the biggest and has the most resort town feel. Besides the shopping and oodles of restaurants, it’s blessed to have a pebble beach that we laid out on like lizards under an orange and green stripped umbrella.

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The Beach of Monterosso

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A View From My Beach Chair

If it wasn’t for all of the annoying tourists, like myself, eagerly hiking the trails, snapping pictures, eating all of the gelato (the best place by far is Alberto’s Gelateria in Corniglia) and stealing all of the dinner reservations, I would sell all of my possessions, learn Italian and open a B&B in Manorola.  Cinque Terre is a slice of heaven that everyone should have a taste of. It’s odd. Normally when it’s time for me to say goodbye to a place, there’s this sadness that comes over me that makes tearing myself away that much harder.  But this experience was different, there was no sadness, no concerns of never witnessing again. I just have this feeling that I’ll be back sometime soon.

 

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Twenty-Nine

It’s weird to even say it aloud that I’m 29. I know, big eye roll. We all get old. So I’ll move on.

Thanks to the help of an awesome guide created by X days in Y and a little bit of research of my own, the 29th anniversary of me was perfection.  We spent it exploring Montmartre, an adorable part of Paris with stunning views, secret alley ways that lead to more stunning views and a little gem of a restaurant that the locals would love to keep to themselves.

My birthday started out simple enough with my favorite meal of the day, breakfast!  I was truly craving bacon and eggs with a side of French toast, so I found Breakfast In America. It’s a sweet yet inaccurate play on a New York diner. Both the pancakes and French toast were boss and I can definitively conclude that the café au lait was absolutely dreamy. And to add to my pleasure, they played my favorites- Ella, Frank and Tony.

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We made a brief pit stop at Place Vosages since it was so close.

After, it was time for our romantic tour around Montmartre. Like champs, we navigated the metro and in no time we were climbing the stairs up from the Abbesses station to begin at Le Mur de Je T’aime.

From there we wandered through the cozy streets as the guide suggested, stopping here and there to capture the beauty and appreciate the scenery.  We passed the Moulin Rouge and the café from Amélie Poulain.

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We caught views of the Eiffel Tower and the beautiful Parisian rooftops.

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Until we finally made it to the main event, the Sacré Coeur.  It was breathtaking, both figuratively and literally. We climbed all the way to the top of the dome and enjoyed the full panoramic view of the city.

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By the end of it, our booties were on fire from the steps and our fingers were frozen from the 40 degree weather, but it was well worth it. And we rewarded ourselves with one of the most delicious lunches from a restaurant called Soul Kitchen. We had a gourd soup, a salad and a rhubarb, apple crisp with hot tea to warm up. It was heaven. We made conversation with the locals who were playing the restaurants daily challenge. That day’s was to name 10 countries with the letter “z” in them. In English, the challenge is very easy but in French it’s a different story.   This place is definitely secret for the locals; they even asked us how we found it.

As we made our way to the metro to our last destination, it had turned cold and windy and began to hail. At our next stop, it was if it the cold never existed and we were greeted by the sun. It couldn’t have been better timed because we were able to have a beautiful, practically uninterrupted view of the Sacré Coeur.

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By the end of our day, everything was hurting. Those shoes that started off as insanely cushy and comfortable were now being cursed. Calves, booties, shoulders, fingers and toes, were all either sore or frozen. The sun was overpowered by the changing weather and disappeared behind thick gray clouds. And by the time we reached our hotel for a little wine before dinner, there were snow flurries. It was some of the strangest weather I’ve ever experienced in one day. But it really didn’t bother me.  I had a whole day doing exactly what I love to do, eating well and exploring a new place. What more could I have asked for. The day ended with dinner and small adventure, but more on that later…

If you ever want to take the self-guided tour of Montmartre go here.  *Note that Le Mur des Je T’aime and the secret view of the Sacre Coeur are not a part of it.

The Bourgie Traveler Is Back

Passport Photo BT Is Back

I’m about to leave the country for thirty days and life couldn’t be more normal.  In a matter of hours my grandmother will be cruising her way through Atlanta to pick up David and me to go to the airport and I’m in my PJ’s casually making breakfast. What the hell is wrong with me? Preparedness. That’s David’s explanation. To his point, our trip has been seven months in the making, but that doesn’t reasonably describe why were so relaxed and reserved this morning.

A smile crossed my face when I woke and realized that today was the day, but where’s the unabashed enthusiasm? Thirty days. 3-0 days of vacation. On the inside I feel like a kid cracked out on a giant pixie stick, the blue one of course, but on the outside I’m the exact opposite. Why aren’t I dancing in my underwear to Donna Summer?? Could it be that I’m…tired? NO!

Clearly I need to pull myself together here.  In less than 24 hours, I’ll be stepping foot on European soil and you know what that means. Beautifully manicured parks, buttery pastries stuffed with chocolate for the hell of it and glass after glass of wine just because I can. There will be no real sense of time unless I’m chasing the sun for its grand morning appearance or it’s lazy descent into the horizon. It’s only a matter of time until I’ll be staring up into a vast starry sky from the comforts of my desert tent, post camel ride. And I can’t forget about all of the gelato I intend consuming. My guesstimate is about twenty cones, a little conservative, but we’ll see.

I’m psyched about the countless experiences that are before me, I just need to have someone pinch me to remind that this is real. It’s real and it’s happening right now. Maybe when I’m being felt up by TSA, a fun beat will pop into my head.  And when I order a milkshake in the terminal as a toast to America, my shoulders will begin to shimmy in time to my hips. And finally, when my butt hits my seat on the plane, I’ll have an uncomfortably awkward smile plastered across my face as other passengers pass me by, because this trip is going to be AMAZING (my preferred vacation descriptor of all time, at least so says my dear friend David Munz)!

So the long of the short of it is that the Bourgie Traveler is back! And it’s high time that we all get excited for what’s to come.