16 Jul 2019 – Tuesday.
We set off bright and early-ish to find a parking space for the car in La Spezia, before getting train tickets to Cinque Terre. Our plan was to go to Manarola, walk the trail to Corniglia, walk further on to Vernazza, train to Vernazza, skip Monterosso al Mare, and take the ferry back down to Riomaggiore for dinner, and train back to La Spezia.
Please note that the trains often run late, sometimes up to 20min behind schedule so waiting is the name of the game when getting these trains from one town to another. Furthermore, we only found out that the walking trail from Manarola to Corniglia was closed, and the one from Corniglia to Vernazza looked too daunting and tiring for me to walk at the time… which left Flo and I with little choice other than the trains.
As we pulled into the first stop, Riomaggiore (which we would return to at the end of the day), we caught glimpses of the gorgeous blue waters. It was breathtaking and more than I’d expected.
Alighting at Manarola, we had to walk a few minutes from the station before reaching the town. It was quite hilly and bustling with tourists. Before I go on, I wouldn’t recommend visiting Cinque Terre if you’re going with anyone elderly or pregnant. It was tiring walking the steep inclines especially in the hot weather and it’s not easy trying to avoid any of the uphills unless you choose not to see anything.
So yes, pregnant and walking up and down the streets of Cinque Terre was what I did. We took breaks often and probably didn’t explore the towns quite as much as we could have.
The clear blue waters were a sight to behold and Cinque Terre does hold true to its reputation of being an idyllic string of towns along the coast.
We walked all the way up, following one of the random pavements in Manarola, and managed to find a little spot on a step in front of some homes to have lunch. There was a fountain beside where we could wash our fruit and tomatoes, as well as refill our water bottle. While I managed to scoot into the shade, there was hardly any room for Flo who had to sweat it out.
A simple lunch before we ooh-ed and aah-ed around the town.
This was the spot that rounded towards the first walking trail. We reached it only to see that there were barricades suggesting its closure. From where we stood, we could see that some of the barriers along the side of the trail had been destroyed so perhaps safety being compromised meant that the trail had to be closed off.
So, we trained our way to Corniglia, which, as we had come to accept, was trawling with most tourists – obviously we added to the crowd as well. Corniglia, compared to Manarola, is a lot smaller, with tighter walking streets and again, lots of steep uphills and downs.
We found a place for us to rest our feet and quench our thirst.
And also had a pretty view of the sea.
We didn’t stay too long before making off to Vernazza. Actually, I have to admit that out of the four towns we visited, I really liked Corniglia. It got quieter the further up we went and the cobbled streets and old brick buildings really spoke to me. The only thing is it’s quite an ass to get to.
We were blessed to have been able to get onto the bus that brought us into town, but it was packed and hot inside. Still, it would have been a really tiresome walk up the many flights of stairs. We found that out when we decided to leg it back down to the station instead of fighting to board the small bus. Walking down, it seemed like we would never reach the bottom. I saw a lady who looked more pregnant that I, walking up. How she could have done it, I will never know. I certainly couldn’t have. It was tiring just seeing everyone on their way up all sweaty and red-faced, hoping against hope that the next flight of stairs would be their last.
I remember that the train to get us to Vernazza was delayed multiple times and as I sat in the heat, tired, I felt the first flutters of Baby C. I remember telling Flo and quickly, he tried to feel it, and took a photo of us to capture that moment.
Vernazza was also nice in its own way. It was more roomy that Corniglia and by this time, the intensity of the sun had reduced substantially making for slightly cooler weather.
There was a large bay where many were cooling off in, as well as small boats for rent for a day trip out.
It was nice to finally sit down, albeit on hard rock, and people-watch.
It was also here that I had to pee. Usually we’d pop into a bistro or somewhere random for cool drinks and use their toilets, but this time, Flo wanted to get tickets for the boat to Riomaggiore so I went to a restaurant and asked to use their toilet. The guy said ‘No. Public toilets are by the station’ which was quite a walk way. I told him I was pregnant and really needed to go but he blew me off anyway. I went to the next place that wasn’t yet opened and again bore the same treatment. I felt quite downcast and sorry for myself because well, I figure it was because I’m Asian that I was being treated that way. Yes I’m sensitive like that.
When I returned to Flo still not having had the chance to relieve myself, he angrily brought my back to the first restaurant and asked the guy if I could use the toilet. Immediately, he pointed to the toilet inside and there, I could finally pee.
Anyway, around 6pm, we were first in line to board the ferry.
As much as I thought we could have saved the money and just taken the train back to Riomaggiore, I think it was a good choice for Flo and I to take the ferry because the views of Cinque Terre was amazing from the sea.
Please ignore my dry skin below. Blame it on hormones because I did moisturise daily.
A short 20min later, we arrived at Riomaggiore.
Similar to the other towns in Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore is very built up with buildings nestled closely together.
We found a random restaurant to have dinner…
I had stuffed mussels, which is supposed to be a regional dish.
These were stuffed individually with a mix of breadcrumbs, spinach, parmesan and egg. Unfortunately, they weren’t my thing because they were texturally quite soft and monotonous, and taste-wise, they were quite one-dimensional. Perhaps there are better renditions out there, and as much as I enjoy my ‘cozen’, stuffed ones? Meh..
Flo had the Trofie with Pesto. Now this, was good. Yeah I’m one of those people who orders my food and when all the food comes, I eye everyone else’s. Usually my husband’s. I liked the bite of the trofie. The dish sounds so simple, just pasta with fresh pesto, but it was very tasty.
After dinner, it was the train back to La Spezia, where we were treated to a spectacular display of the moon on our drive back to our hotel. Turns out, that was the night there was a partial eclipse of the moon and when we arrived back and the skies had turned black, we bore witness to that. Some things you can’t take pictures of (because of a lousy phone camera), but you hold in your chest of memories forever.