May 22nd

…Brandon and I had our first “real” experience with the rail system today. Basically, we had no idea how to get on our train, even after figuring out which platform our train was at. However, we weren’t the only ones who were confused. Once we figured it out [not that it made sense, we just asked] we were running. It turned out that they didn’t close the doors early, nor did they leave on time. Needless to say, it still got our adrenaline pumping.

Now, however, I’m on a train on my way to Cebere, a town over the French border. There we will have about an hour stop, then jump on our overnight (with couchette!). Other people we’ve ran into on this train don’t have sleeping reservations, but I’ll happily pay 15 Euro for a peaceful night’s sleep.

The scenery through the band of small Spanish towns has been picturesque and interesting. Some of the towns seemed to have little other than the stop (no station) and houses. The one thing that remains the same through the big cities and small town, however, is the graffiti…

May 23rd

so we had our first experience with the couchettes last night. I have to say it was not as great as I had expected. It was basically a tiny room with 6 bunks, and a small shelf area to put bags. Each bunk had about 2 feet of space, so there was no sitting up in bed. And I soon discovered the walls were very thin (yet somehow they managed to amplify the snores of the man below me). Needless to say, I slept (which was much appreciated), but it was a restless s sleep.

We woke up very early this morning as others in the cabin departed to Nice, France. From Nice, however, a large part of the train ride was very pretty. The tracks followed the coast for a while, giving a great view of the Mediterranean. During our hour break in Ventimiglia (small town just over Italian border), we ate a quick breakfast. Then it was back in the train for a few more hours, this time to La Spezia and then another train to Riomaggiore (the southernmost town making up Cinque Terre).

Since we hadn’t reserved a room that was first on the list of priorities. It wasn’t as quick as I had expected, though. Most room rentals were booked full, or others weren’t even open. But we got lucky and found a place for 20 Euros each. We share a room with a girl named Zoe, who is from Australia (seems really cool, from the short time we’ve talked). But anyway, we arrived with enough time to do exactly what we came here to do–relax. We headed to the beach since it was warm and sunny. (It should be noted, however, that this beach was made of rocks…and a lot of them! I now realize that I have been spoiled from Destin’s sandy white beaches! ūüôā Hungry and dirty, we dragged ourselves up the hill to a local pizza shop…and ate our pizza overlooking the harbour. All in all, this seems to be a great place.

May 24th

Known for its hiking trails, we decided to hit the path soon after breakfast. We went from Riomaggiore to Manorola to Corniglia [there are 5 towns–hence Cinque Terre–so we were able to visit 3 of them this way]. The walk was great because the trail followed the coast line, with wonderful views of the sea and villages. I tried to take a few pictures, but it’s one of those situations where I never seem to get everything I want in the frame. I guess you just have to be here to truly appreciate it. We laughed about how we were hiking after walking all over the past large Spanish cities. But it was definitely worth the effort…

May 25th

[Hmm…not too much to report. We traveled from Cinque Terre to¬†Pisa¬†where we spent a little time–by the way, the leaning tower, although still leaning, is no longer suspended by cables, as I thought it was. In fact, people were even allowed to go up inside of it! Well, it surprised me. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the day was lost due to travel to¬†Florence¬†and then the fact that everything was closed in Florence since it was Sunday.]