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The Group


Day 14: August 10th 1999 (Cinque Terre, Italy).

Same breakfast as yesterday, then on to the Cinque Terre (the 5 lands).  It’s still too hot for a stop at Civita, unfortunately.

We stopped at another AutoGrill for lunch.  This one was even more crowded than the last – wall to wall people, and some short mean old ladies pushing everybody around.  Although the food was still very good, we all hoped this was our last stop like this.

We passed marble mountains and valleys near the sea, and eventually we reached Levanto to catch the train south to Vernazza.  The old train screamed through long tunnels, favoring us only with glimpses of vine covered hills and beaches before screaming again in darkness.  We reached our destination in 10 minutes – a thirty-foot opening between tunnels and the entryway to Vernazza.  We had to walk up 92 steps (with our luggage) to get to our hotel, but Don assured us that the key was “location, location, location.”  He was right.  The hotel was on an outcropping high over the sea, where the water crashed on the rocks continuously in a calming crescendo, drowning out all stressful thoughts.  I got the best room in the place, a single on the third and top floor with a balcony and an unforgettable view of the town, the rocks and the waves.

The sun was setting.  I could see tiny hikers coming down the hillside toward town, and the church bells softly rang each hour so I never needed my watch.  I went swimming briefly in the sea, and crashed onto the rocks myself drawing a small amount of blood from my leg.  Now I know what it feels like to be a wave.  The water was warm and very salty, translucent green, and the wave tops were unbelievably white.  Someone told me that the lime from the mountains caused this, but I didn’t care.  Waking from a dream as pleasant as this was unnecessary.

We ate dinner at a restaurant that faced the beach and was run by the owners of the hotel.  I had mussels in the shell and then spaghetti with mussels as well.  Ice cream for dessert.  The setting sun was at first blinding us with golden light, then just disappeared over the hills in what seemed like an instant.  After dinner Cindy and I watched a storm coming in from the sea, lightning illuminating the ghostly hillsides.  There was no moon, due to the eclipse tomorrow (the moon was following the sun closely).  Later we searched for Don and easily found him at one of the two bars in town.  We joined him for a drink or two.

We retired at about midnight.  The crashing sea masked out all the night noises and cares, rocking me asleep.


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Last updated 11/12/2005 .  Email me at bob@besttravelbarcelona.com.