So to continue writing about this Italian adventure…
First of all, to get to Italy we decided to take a night train from Dijon to Milan, one of the cheapest, yet most uncomfortable solutions for transport. Thello, is a train company that runs night trains between France and Italy and offers ‘beds’ for the night. When you get into the train you get directed to a small compartment where you have six beds, bunk-bed style, three on the left and three on the right. In between the two bunk beds you have enough standing room for one person at a time. The air conditioning either doesn’t work at all and you can barely move because you’re suffocation on the humidity of the small train compartment, or it works too well to the point where you have to huddle up with your boyfriend on the same bunk and share the one sheet that was provided for sleeping. All in all it is a terrible experience.
So upon arrival to La Spezia, Bastien had not slept at all during the night and yet he was still all smiles, ready for vacation!
We spent our first day exploring the city of La Spezia, going to the harbor, seeing a naval ship, and eating paninis and gelato.
I am so happy to say that Bastien finally got to taste real, italian, ice cream. I’ve never seen someone so excited to eat ice cream!
We stayed in a little hotel called ‘Hotel Aurora’, right next to the train station and not far from the center. Easy, convenient and cheap.
That night we made to sure to go to bed early to rest up for the first day of walking!
To commence our first day of walking we took a bus to Biassa (the starting point) at 7 a.m. and we easily found the trail head. It lead us straight into the forest in the direction of Portovenere. As we entered the forest I spotted a water fountain, ‘oh what a perfect time to fill up our water bottles before heading out! »… only to find a sign that said the water was certainly not drinkable… what a great way to remind you that you only have half a liter of water for two people and a long walk ahead of you.
-Note to self- Fill up on water before setting out
No panic. We’ll find water in the next village. Two hours away. Lets just hope it doesn’t get too hot.
So, full of energy on our first day of walking (an energy that was rather short lived I must admit), we trekked to Portovenere, stopping by the village of Campiglia on the way, where yes, we were able to (thankfully) find water! Not only that, but the small village of Campiglia offers an amazing view of the sea, a fresh breeze, and great benches to take a rest and take in the view!
After taking a quick pause at Campiglia, we continued our journey. Right after the village you come across a fork where you have the option to take the long (easy) path to the left to get to Portovenere, or the short difficult path to the right. We decided we’d go for the detour on the way there and opt for the hard path on the way back. So to the left it was.
About 5 minutes later we came across another, hopefully promising, detour. Off to the right Bastien spotted a sign promising a beach and a bar, so we decided to test it. Worst. Idea. Ever. After killing our knees hiking 3 km downhill we could almost spot the beach, only to have a barrier in front of us marked « Private Property ». Total fail. So back uphill it was, for 3 km…
About an hour later we reached the top of the evil detour path only to have 2.5 hours ahead of us before Portovenere, not to mention a dwindling water supply. We walked and walked, and walked. Our difficult climbs were rewarded by spectacular views and a feeling of accomplishment.
As we continued, we hardly saw anybody else. The path was peaceful and the furthest thing from touristic. It was wonderful to be out in nature, without the crowds of people. At one point though we did come across a vehicle filled with French people who were headed for a road that was far from being vehicle friendly, we pointed them to the right direction and in exchange they filled our water bottle.
We descended into Portovenere with relief on our faces and the promise of being able to relieve our backs from our heavy bags. Our 2 hour detour meant that we had arrived 2 hours later than foreseen, hence we were very very hungry by this point. We satisfied our hunger with paninis and of course Gelato.
We easily found our hostel ‘Hostel Ostello », where we stayed for the night. Great place, not expenive and in the center.
We swam, ate, and relaxed. Vacation.