Kerrie and I said arrivederci to the white, sandy beach village of Monterosso and started to hike. After sitting on trains and buses so much that week, I was excited to get some exercise. But, more than that, I knew the sea cliff views of the ocean and villages would be well worth the extra effort. It was said the hike shouldn't take more than an hour or so, so we we figured why not? That would leave us more than enough time to see the remaining villages before the day was over.
I was right about the views- they were spectacular and a much needed sight for my eyes to see. I was born and raised in Southern California, went to college at UC Santa Cruz and, up until moving to Germany, had always lived by some body of water (even at boarding school my dorm room had views of the Rappahannock River in VIrginia). Just seeing the Ocean felt like home.
Unfortunately, the time estimate for the hike was a bit miscalculated. And, by a bit, I mean a lot. Kerrie and I walked at a pace I could only describe as the comfortable tourist. You know the walk- slow enough to enjoy your surroundings and be completely oblivious to everyone and everything around you, but fast enough to actually see things. Our pace of choice took well over 2.5 hours. I probably should have looked at a watch or something.
Earlier that morning, while waiting on the train platform for the train to take us in to Monterosso, we started chatting with the loveliest old man on holiday with his entire family (every child and grandchild included. his treat). Within mere moments he reminded me of my own dad- his harmless flirtation with young ladies and witty sense of humor. It made me both happy, and a little homesick, all in the same moment. Kerrie and I shared stories of our time in Germany as AuPairs, what it was like living with an entirely foreign family, and traveling with no money. His wife then came over and joined the conversation. She was just as friendly as him, and you could see their love was real. Out of nowhere, he hands me and Kerrie 20 euro and tells us to get a proper Italian meal. We tried to refuse his generosity, but he insisted.
Throughout all my months of travel in Germany and throughout Europe, this still remains one of my most fond memories. It was not because of the money, but because this man was just so kind, and kindness (without any judgment) is hard to find these days. I wanted to hop in their family luggage and go along with them- did such a beautiful, kind family really exist in this world?
And so Kerrie and I did just what that sweet old man asked and ate a proper meal in Vernazza. I did take a photo, but it turned out so bad, that unless you've tried real Italian pizza for yourself, you would think all my talk of its goodness to be all lies. I also drank a cold can of Sprite. Ice is a foreign concept in Europe, so if you can get your hands on a cold beverage, you should just go for it.
Vernazza definitely had more of the charm that I expect when I dream up images of Cinque Terre. Bright colored buildings, narrow alleyways, and fishermen coming in from sea with their catch from the day. It was beautiful.
Sadly, our miscalculated hike sent us on our way much sooner than either of us were ready to say goodbye.