Alec and I both celebrated our birthdays on this trip. We're a year apart in age, but only a week apart in birthdays. I chose to be in Cinque Terre (pronounced Chink-Wa Tehr-Ay) for my birthday. If you don't know where this is, google it before you even see this post. I wasn't on a boat, so I couldn't capture beautiful pictures of the colorful buildings on the coast. But the pictures that are out there are fantastic!
Originally I had wanted to stay in La Spezia. Cinque Terre stands for five towns, as you can see on the map below.
La Spezia is just past Riomaggiore, but is a bigger town with more places to stay than anywhere in Cinque Terre. It also meant having separate space so we weren't as crammed as we had been in all of the hostels. But we ended up booking a place in Riomaggiore, and this place ended up only having two beds. We took a train from Nice to Cinque Terre. It was stressful trying to find the right train stop, and then to find the place we were staying in. Especially with Charles, who we had learned almost immediately could not take the weight and whose wheels were moving horizontally instead of vertically.
We battled with the lady who owned the property, who insisted that we had booked twice. Eventually we were led up a freakishly large hill to where we would be staying. The place had no wifi, two beds, and a communal bathroom for the building. I was tired, cranky, and ready to just find somewhere to eat and be done for the night. We walked all the way back down into town and found a little restaurant that looked decent to sit down and have a nice meal.
The food was fantastic. I had a salmon platter and tons and tons of bread and wine. This was also where we learned that Italy has a built in service fee that's pretty hefty! After we walked back up the giant hill and tried to get to bed at a decent hour so we could do the hike along the coast starting early in the morning.
Above the photos of our first Italian meal below, you can see a picture through a window. That's the view from our room. The window opened up onto a little balcony and gorgeous gardens. It was a pretty decent view. Above that is the entrance to the "reception area" where I had to squat for wifi during hours of operation.
The next morning we started my birthday off right: By doing our laundry. We hadn't had clean clothes for most of this trip, so doing laundry was absolute bliss. There were tons of stray cats everywhere, but the laundry kitty was my favorite. She was super friendly and kept her perch either just outside of the laundromat or on the table inside. At one point an angry Italian woman came in and yelled at me in Italian for a good amount of time until some charades gave us the understanding that she needed the double load machine. It was kind of funny.
Then, we grabbed some breakfast at a little cafe type of place, which really wasn't much, and grabbed some snacks and drinks for the hike at the teeny tiny grocery shop. We bought a day pass for the train to be able to go back and forth between the towns as needed. We decided to hike from traditional start to finish, we we got on the train and headed to the first town: Monterosso. Every train we took that day was INSANELY packed. I've never seen anything like it. People were running along the trains trying to hop in the door and hold on before the doors closed. There was shoving and screaming and absolute chaos. And then hugging your neighbor until it was all repeated at the next stop. It was apparently a holiday weekend for Italy, aka absolute madness.
When we were finished with our hike we came back to grab some dinner in Riomaggiore. We had two of the absolute worst pizzas I've ever had in my life and some of the best gelato. And the best birthday I've ever had.