Cinque Terre…The Five Lands and “Guido”

Although all of the destinations on my 12-night Mediterranean cruise (taken in 2010) were amazing, I was looking forward to Cinque Terre most of all, and it didn’t let me down!  In 2006, I had spent hours upon hours researching and booked a solo, three week backpacking trip to Europe, to include Cinque Terre, and because of life, had to cancel it, so I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to visit.  Especially due to the recent disaster there!

After docking in Livorno, we boarded our pre-paid/reserved train…a little over one hour trip…to La Spezia and then hopped on a short regional train ride that delivered us to the last of the five villages, Monterosso al Mare.  I thoroughly researched this excursion, because when you’re on a cruise ship, timing is very important!  If you miss your ship, you’re “ship” out of luck!

I took this photograph of Monterosso al Mare while hiking.  Everyone that I spoke to on the ship was going to Florence and/or the leaning Tower of Pisa.  They didn’t know what they were missing!

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This is the beginning of the 1 1/2 hour trail that we hiked from the fifth village to the fourth village, Vernazza.  Although I purchased some great Merrill sandals, especially for this trip, I was beginning to get a callous on the edge of my heel.   But nothing could dampen the dazzling vistas!

 The entire region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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  The natural beauty was almost overwhelming!

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  The trail varied in it’s difficulty and scenery…

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You can see the village of Vernazza in the distance.

  It’s like a jewel jutting from the cliff…

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After having some lunch in town…due to time constraints, we took the train to the first village,  Riomaggiore, where we briefly looked around and headed back to the train station in La Spezia.

We had over an hour to kill at the train station, so we went for a walk and my traveling companion overheard a woman talking to a taxi driver about taking her to her ship, which happened to be Royal Caribbean.  We spoke to her and within seconds we’re sharing the taxi with her to go back to the ship.  Obviously, we weren’t thinking…we were over an hour away from the ship…and the woman said the taxi was only 10 euros…which is about $12 to split.

Within a couple of minutes we realized that she was heading to a different Royal Caribbean ship and I’m asking “Guido” the taxi driver if he is going to charge us anything for taking us back to where we came from.  He said he wouldn’t and started making a wierd gesture with his arms and saying in his half Italian and broken English that we were tight!

Then…the lady wanted a receipt for her taxi ride and he wouldn’t give her one…gesturing and almost shouting…so she exited the taxi and on the 5-10 min. ride back to the train station, he is saying “Cacare”, over and over.  Upon inquiring as to its meaning, he informed us it meant “F____ you”.  He was upset with the lady wanting a receipt…so to break the tension…I requested him to teach us how to say it…so we’re all three in unison saying…”Cacare, Cacare”!

If you’re ever in La Spezia and want an unforgettable taxi ride, try to find “Guido”!

p.s.  Later…I discovered from a fellow blogger that “Guido” is actually a slang term to denote someone that is lower or working class of American/Italian descent.

“Boeuf” in Cannes

The first port of call on my 12 night Royal Caribbean Mediterranean cruise was Cannes, France.  I found it to be very pleasant and nice…almost too perfect!  I’m not complaining…it’s just that I like the “unusual” in my travels.  Perhaps not exciting enough…no sense of adventure or mystery.  Anyway, after walking for hours…there were only so many shops we could look in…

  A little cappuccino break…

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We stopped at a restaurant and the waitresses couldn’t speak much English.  One of the “specials of the day” was something with boeuf  in it.  The waitress kept enunciating it…boof…and finally I said, “What animal sound does it make?  Moo…Moo?”  She agreed that it made the sound, “Moo…Moo!”  When I lived in Germany for a few years in my early 20’s, learning to communicate was essential.

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 Even the flower peddler is smartly dressed…

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Some uncut flowers…

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French grafitti…they would have to “one up” everyone else!

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  You haven’t experienced France unless you’ve sampled some cheese…

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Look at the size of that Octopus…

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The shoes match the sunglasses…dress…baby carriage and baby!!

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Our next destination is one of my favorites…Cinque Terre, Italy! (I hope the clean-up efforts are going well!)

All Aboard

Royal Caribbean‘s  Brilliance of the Seas“, set sail from Barcelona in June of 2010 for a 12 night Mediterranean cruise, to include these stunning ports of call — Cannes, FranceLivorno, Italy (where most people went to Florence and/or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but we chose to hike through Cinque Terre); Rome, Italy; the Island of Capri off the coast of Italy; Venice (where we docked overnight); Dubrovnik, Croatia; and Corfu, Greece, before returning to Barcelona.

There are pros and cons to cruise travel.  Just like every thing in life.  But for this type of trip it made sense.   I’ve been on three other cruises…all of them to the Caribbean and they seemed to have more of a party atmosphere than this cruise.  That suited me because of the long days at each destination and the amount of walking we were doing!

We were upgraded at no additional cost to a room with a window to our pleasant surprise!

There were three formal nights.  One of them was a masquerade ball…so I’ll save that for another post!

Fun in the sun!

I awoke at 5:30am to capture the sun rising.  I believe we were headed to Corfu, Greece.  It almost reminds me of a lunar landscape.

  

It was white night on the ship…so I bought a dress in Corfu, Greece.

I met a lot of people on the cruise.   On the second day of the cruise my camera mal-functioned and I was lamenting my misfortune to a fellow passenger named Dan.  I had just met him and was very surprised when he said he had a spare camera and let me borrow it for a few days.  That gave me time to purchase one on the ship.  The kindness of strangers is wonderful!

This couple, Johan & Heidi, are from South Africa.  They were planning to marry in 2011 and I really enjoyed talking with them about their lives/country.  They even extended an invitation to visit them…but we’ve lost contact.

Tomorrow we dock in Cannes, France.  I’ll see you there!