Well, since this has become a story, I may as well continue. Yesterday, I left off sitting in  a

Deserted Train Platform

train station waiting for morning. My train did come at 4:35 a.m. I got on. It was a sleeper car, but I was only going to the Cinque Terre. My stop was the first town Riomaggiore. I get on find a seat in a couchette, with a sleeping person. It’s dark, and I’m tired. We pull off and I’m trying to see the station signs as we pull in. Later today when the sun comes up I find out that the Riomaggiore stop is the first one from LaSpezia, just 8 minutes away. I guess in the darkness I dozed. Well, when the train slows, I try to see the signs, none are any of the 5 towns in the Cinque Terre. I can’t seem to keep my eyes open I doze more. At some point I look at my watch and I’ve been on the train for an hour, I know I’ve missed my stop now. I doze some more. At one stop people are in the hall preparing to get off, and a man asks me “where I’m going?”, I say “Cinque Terre” he looks confused and says don’t know. This is Genova coming.  Now Genova is 2 hrs from LaSpezia, so I get off. I look at a schedule to see what time the next train is going back to LaSpezia and the Cinque Terre. (The beauty of a Eurorail Pass) One leaves in about an hour. I say ok, what was I going to do in the Cinque Terre at 4:30 in the morning anyway. So I go outside, look around take a couple of picture.

I have breakfast 2 faccio bread things (yes, I know that’s the wrong spelling) and a cappuccino.  The coffee is good, but they put it in those tiny cups, I need to be supersized. So I order another. I feel half alive now. I meet a American couple with a baby, they at least speak English – they are going to the Cinque Terre too. We all head back to the platform to catch our train. We do the 2 hour ride back – I sleep most of the way of course. When we get near, only me and the couple are still in our car. We start seeing the names of the outlying towns. When we see Marnola, we know Riomaggiore is next. We get ready. The dad moves all the luggage and baby gear near the door. I get Percy down from the shelf.

The trains slows for the stop, we are all standing ready to go. Our car is still in the tunnel. (Part of my problem before was these tunnels, they go through the mountains, you can’t see the station signs until you’re out of the darkness.) The next thing we know, the train is moving we go by the Riomaggiore sign, and I so “No I didn’t miss this stop twice in one morning!” So once again I am in LaSpezia where I spent the night.

Ok, the next train is at 10:00 – I’ve got another hour. I decide to go to a bank and get some money changed to Euros. It’s raining now in LaSpezia, so I have on 2 back packs, and a big red rain poncho. I look like the hunch back of Notre Dame. I finally find this bank. It has a small entryway, with a glass tube. People go in (it will only hold 1 person at a time) and wait for the other side to open. So I watch. So me, Percy, Bo, and the poncho get in. It’s a tight squeeze. The door behind me closes but the front doesn’t open.
I’m looking for buttons to push etc, but there is no room to move. Then I start getting automated talking to me in Italian. The back door opens, I wiggle my way out. Now, I’m causing a traffic jam because other people are trying to get in this bank. The hall is about 3ft X 3ft. So, a lady that can speak a little English says and illustrates that I have to take my backpack off. There are about 15 lockers with keys in this little alcove. She indicates to put my stuff in there.

Percy

Well there is no way Percy is fitting into any of these cubbyholes. Nevertheless, I take Percy off and place him on the floor in a corner. I try the tube again. Same thing – Italian talking. Lady comes back out and says I have to take the little backpack off as well.

Now this is an ordeal, because it is on under my jacket, so I basically have to strip in this alcove. I’m hot, aggravated, and tired! Soooo, off comes the poncho, off comes the jacket, off comes the backpack, I shove them in this little locker (nothing is making me take Bo off) I take the key, my cash and get in the tube. Voila, I’m in the bank. The nice lady gives me her ticket number (evidently you need one), and lets me skip her. I go to the banker, tell him I want to exchange American money for Euros . . . . . . And guess what????? He say he can’t do it unless I have an account! You know I wanted to cuss, but I don’t know any Italian. So back in the tube, get my stuff out the locker put it all back on. Load Percy, and say forget it. By now I have to hustle to catch my train, and I’m hot and wet. It’s still raining.

So as I’m going back, I’m real disgusted. I think maybe I should skip the Cinque Terre, just head to Paris. I could sleep all the way. Who wants to hike in the rain etc etc etc. but after the Leaning Tower, the Effiel Tower, the Cinque Terre was one of the highlights of this trip.

So I’m finally off the train at Riomaggiore,  with lots of other tourist, the sun even looks like it wants to come out. I park Percy in storage for the day, get my ticket and start on the trail. Well, despite the bad start, and the way this hike ends up. It was so worth it. It is a beautiful place. If the sun would have been out it would have been spectacular.

I hiked 4 of the 5 towns. By the time I got to Vernazza,  I was soaked. My poncho was just sticking to my body. Bo and the shirt underneath were wet. My sneakers and jeans were wet (they still are 16 hours later). I had climbed up, more than 700 stairs, I didn’t count them coming down, with water running over them like little rivers making it muddy, the rocks slippery and the wood riser slick. My cameras are wet even though they are in my pockets and under the poncho. Thank God it wasn’t cold. But my legs hurt, my knees hurt and I’m just miserable. At the end it pouring so hard people are just standing in any little alcove trying to find shelter. So I figure good time

Gelato

to have a Gelato It was delicious. Still raining, so I may as well eat. Go in a little restaurant and have spaghetti with Pesto and a glass of wine.   The pesto and the wine were made right here in the Cinque Terre.

It let up a little, but my next stop is at a bar so that I can sample the Sciacchetra wine that is made and can only be bought here in the Cinque Terre. That was absolutely delicious. If I could get it on the airplane, I’d carry a bottle of this over the rest of Europe. It is about 3:30 now and I started this hike at 11:00 a.m. It’s time to start thinking about how I’m going to get to Paris. I retrieve Percy, put on some dry clothes, and head to LaSpezia one last time.

It is too late to make it all the way to Paris from here tonite. But I would guess you can understand, I’m ready to get out of LaSpezia and Italy. So I leave on the 8:00 p.m. train for Torino. Where I will catch a train to Paris in the morning. So yes I’m spending another night in the train station. This is a much bigger station, not nearly as scary, and there are other people around sleeping as well.

So bye for now. I hope no more loong entries. I”m expecting the next 5 days to run smoother. It’s 4:00 a.m. in the train station now, and by 4:00 p.m. I will be in Paris. Where I have a room reserved for the next 2 nights, in what looks like a very respectable hostel. A bed and a hot shower are due.

Next entry wonderful pictures from glorious Paris. Still safe and sound – Thank God!

(Footnote guys:  I’m in paris, blog is a day or so behind.  Look for another post in 6 hrs or so.  Paris is the bomb!)

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