Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010:Florence to Vernazza, Italy

(Sandra): February 15, 2010. This day has been devoted to travel. Train #1 Florence – Pisa (1 hour); Train #2 Pisa – La Spezia (50 minutes); Train #3 La Spezia – Vernazza (19 minutes). We got off the train in the train tunnel for the Vernazza stop. It felt very strange to do this. Reading about this in Rick Steve’s book gave me a ‘heads up’ for this. I phoned Monica, the manager of our accommodation and informed her of our arrival. Her sister-in-law, Francesca waited for me at the entrance of our apartment – only approximately 80 steep steps winding among a labyrinth of patchwork apartments from the train! Our legs and arms were screaming. This is quite the physical workout carrying our luggage – 2 rolling packs and 4 knapsacks between the four of us. My theory of why Italians live without heart problems (in comparison to North Americans) is that they climb numerous steps daily – they keep their ‘pumper’ in shape. ☺ The view from our apartment is definitely worth it!! It is simply breath taking. We wish we could Skype all our contacts with this amazing view! The Canadian prairies don’t provide this kind of visual variation feast. Words don’t do justice to the view, but I’ll try. The view includes pastel-coloured apartment buildings, the soft-yellow tower church with the clock, and the green terraced vines all along the sides of the hills, the shades of dark sedimentary-sandwiched rock, and the beautiful green/blue-coloured ocean horizon. The view is truly spectacular. We hope we see a storm while here since we’d have a terrific view of water action. Two disappointments included the discovery of no cooking options in our apartment and the closure of the hiking trails because of mud slides. They truly want tourists to ‘shake their tree’, leaving $ at local restaurants. This wouldn’t be so bad if the prices were reasonable. But some of the cover charges are 2-3 Euros per person, making a reasonable dish become expensive. We have discovered the hiking trails are open, but we are on our own. We enjoyed a snack of bread, cheese and olives and a variety of other snack options on the veranda with a view that made up for our meager meal. This view makes anything taste extraordinary! After dark we watched the limited Olympic T.V. coverage in Italian and cheered the athletes on. We wish we could see something in more detail and in English.

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