**Fully aware this post is coming over 3 weeks late! We have been so non stop that every time I have a minute to write I choose sleep instead haha! But still going to keep up on my stops in order as they went!**
I finally arrived in the tiny town of Riomaggiore around 9pm after 2 long days of traveling. Upon arrival I had no idea of where Brooke and Jen were staying other than a screen shot they had sent me of a bakery that was “nearby” the hostel. After asking around to random shop keepers and bumming wifi off a local cafe I finally saw them walking down the tiny road to come find me. Thank the Lord! These two had just started their 5 week long Euro trip in London the day before and were full of energy and excitement. However I was on the opposite end of the spectrum, feeling super beat already having been 7 weeks in. Especially after the late nights in Ios, my body was shutting down and it quickly let me know that I needed to slow things down. That night, and every night for that matter in Riomaggiore, there was the craziest thunder and and lighting storm. The lightning was so bright it woke you up cause you could see it through your eyelids and it was followed by an immediate thundering rumble. The wind was blowing, shutters were clattering. Basically like a horror movie haha. Needless to say I didn’t sleep very well, nor did it help my sickness in anyway. The next day I went to the pharmacy and loaded up on cold and flu medicine and decided to try and suck it up and do a little site seeing. I didn’t come all this way for nothing! We hopped on the mini trains that go from town to town and headed up to Vernazza, one of the most popular towns. There we walked around, ate focaccia bread and cafe Americanos and sat in the tiny harbor admiring the town. It was just like the photos I had seen with the array of colored houses stacked along the water. So pretty! We decided after Vernazza to take the train again for only 5 mins up to the last town of Monterosso. We had met a guy earlier that day, Mike, that had told us he had been here for a while and hadn’t paid for a train once. He said since the trains are so short they never check… Or so he thought. So we hop on the back of the train and sure enough within seconds of us making it to our stop the ticket guy comes to check and fines us 5 Euros each. (Which isn’t really bad at all, but still!) We got off the train so pissed at Mike and we were all saying “If I see that damn guy again I’m going to tell him he gives the worst advice ever and that he owes me 5 bucks.” And then, literally seconds later Mike walks by and says, “Hey guys! You made it!” We were laughing so hard and told him what had just happened. He goes “Oh shoot you didn’t get on the last car did you? They always start checking tickets from the back…” Haha. So he felt bad and said he wanted to make it up to us. He gave us a little tour about the city and then we ended up at a local wine bar. Turns out Mike, who was American, had lived here about 10 years ago and was friends with a lot of the locals. We had found ourselves an American local tourguide who could also translate for us. It was rad! At the wine bar was where we met Atillio. Atillio was an older gentleman who had grown up in Monterosso on his parents vineyard and now lived and owned a wine shop in Munich. We sat there for an hour or two and made quick friends, practicing our Italian and drinking Prosecco on the house. He then walked us down the street to his buddies wine distillery and like out of a movie they hollered at each other from down the alley and his friend comes out with glasses of red wine for us all. So nice! This totally made up for the 5 euro fine! Atillio gave us little insight into the history of the town and also invited us to his vineyard on that Saturday to pick and smash grapes and for a big celebration in the evening. We were so excited to be invited and if it had been the next day might have taken him up on that offer. But, the girls only having a few weeks to travel, wanted to cover some more ground. But we told him we would be in contact with him when we got to Munich and maybe come by his shop… But Atillio while still trying to talk Jen into coming out to the vineyard tells her, “It’s all about the experience!” but with his accent, Jen thought he was saying “It’s all about the asparagus!” We had a right laugh and immediately coined that as our new travel motto and promised we would get shirts made when we got home haha. ITS ALL ABOUT THE ASPARAGUS!
The next day after another tough night we decided to go on a hike to the next town over. We couldn’t do the hike along the ridge we wanted to because it was closed so we were stuck taking the 45 minute almost vertical hike up to the top of the hill. The view from the top was amazing tho, and you could see all 5 towns of the Cinque Terre. That evening we jumped off the rocks in the harbor and went for a swim, followed by a hike up another hill with some new Canadian and German friends we had met to watch the sunset. By this time I had fully over exhausted myself and my fever had returned. The whole “trying to just sweat out the sickness” method hadn’t worked. I was so bummed that I was seeing all these amazing things but my head just felt like it was in a cloud and my body was just exhausted. Being sick while traveling really is the worst. All I could think about was blue Gatorade, crackers, and my beloved couch at home haha. But I was here, in Italy, taking medicine I couldn’t even pronounce, hoping to kick whatever this was!
The following day we hopped on a train and headed to Florence for our first travel day all together. I was excited to continue our trip and hopefully leave this flu bug behind!