EuroTrip2006 – Day 12: Wildcat Rail Strike Shuts Down Italian Rail Network

Highlight: Wandering through windy trails in Cinque Terre at night, hearing frogs croaking, and catching flickering fire flies.
Lowlight: Worrying about hostels. We had to cancel our reservation for the campground when the trains were delayed and our plans changed. I regret booking ahead of time.
Fun Fact: Cinque Terre National Park was established to protect the terraced hillsides and vineyards between the five fishing villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.
Money spent: €34
Ben Frustration Index(BFI): 3
Pairs of clean underwear left: 4
Book Page: 690

I’m just typing this verbatim from my hand-written journal, but it looks like I was in a pissy mood this morning.

As the trip progresses my patience for Ben’s lame jokes diminishes. Maybe I’m just frustrated and taking it out on him. Either way, his jokes suck.

This morning we got up with the intention of riding the rails all day and arriving in gorgeous, and universally praised by everyone we’ve met, Cinque Terre, Italy. Unfortunately the Italian railway workers had other plans and have derailed ours with a 24 hr strike. Somehow we managed to get reservations on a train that will get us as far as Genoa (the only train coming through here), but it doesn’t leave until 2 pm. Genoa is close, but not exactly where we want to be. We would have to figure the rest out later – maybe a bus or spend the night there.

We used our free time to hope into an Internet cafe and I typed up the first few entries for my live journal. We could have just spent another day in Nice, but its cloudy and cool today and the beach would have been devoid of hot women – I mean we couldn’t suntan.

At 2 we boarded on our train to Genoa, not sure if we would make it much farther. Before we left we met two Waterloo grads who were trying to get to Torino – yet more people from our little neck of the woods. They were taking the train to Genoa too. In Genoa we met two American backpackers, Stephen and Jill, trying to get to Cinque Terre to. The 6 of us lined up to try and find out if we could figure out what the deal was with the strike. In France they didn’t seem to know much. And in Italy they only knew slightly more. I was surprised trains were running at all. But there seemed to be a fair number leaving the train station. With limited Italian (relying mostly on their limited English) we were told by the lady at the counter that she didn’t know which ones were cancelled but said if it appeared on the big departure board with the rolling letters (the cool ones you know) then it was running – very scientific. We found one leaving for La Spezzia in 20 minutes. Ben headed for the toilet and I went outside and quickly bought some sandwiches from a little shop.

On the platform, waiting for the train, we met Cocoa and Louisa, more Americans heading to Cinque Terre (Oh Rick Steeves, what have you wrought). Except these Americans preferred to be called Californians. The 6 of us sat together on the train and chatted the whole way. We hit it off really well with both couples, but especially Cocoa and Louisa. We all exchanged emails and Ben and I agreed to meet with Cocoa and Louisa the next morning to hike the trail together.

After a few seconds of looking for accommodation in La Spezzia, Ben and I went to Riomaggiore (actually in the Cinque Terre National Park) where accommodation was more plentiful. Our plan was to check out the hotel where we had a room booked for our 2nd night, but at the station another lady accosted us and offered us a “cheap room” – again about the only English she spoke, but this time Ben couldn’t understand her either. For €15 each, it was dirt cheap so we agreed. It was right next to the train station and clean, and all we wanted to do was drop our bags and go exploring. She took our 30 euros and that’s the last we ever saw of her – very suspicious.

The town is beautiful. There’s a noisy bar on the other side of the train station, but there are also some quant restaurants nestled -about. The whole town seems precariously perched on the edge the mountain-side. Once we hiked around to the other side of the mountain the sounds from the bar abruptly stopped and all you could hear where frogs and crickets. It’s so peaceful and quiet here. When you take a deep breath you only smell flowers and trees, not smog.

When we were hiking up a bath near the beach, lit only by moonlight and the light from my headlamp (I know, I’m dorky), I saw fire flies flickering around. I caught one in my hands and showed Ben – he was amazed as he had never seen one before. Closer to the beach I spotted movement near the water’s edge. Curious I shined my flashlight on it as we approached. Quickly I realized it was a couple spending some time together on the beach. Laughing we retreated.

On the way back we took a different path and ended up on a farmer’s trail, wide enough for one person, pitch-black, that kept dead-ending. After crawling through some bush and descending a steep hill we finally made it back to a road.

Me and My Backpack  Ben And His backpack  6 Heads are Better Than 1  I Look Like a Miner

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