Continuing from my last few posts… Italy and the Cinque Terre!
So after have spent the night in beautiful Portovenere our next leg of the journey was to make off to Riomaggiore!
Up and ready by 8 am, we climbed our way out of Portovenere (yes, literally climbed out), and as we were stumbling our way up the mountain side we came across a young man. He too was up early, but he was in the middle of building a house. With a surprised tone he asked us where we were headed and why we had all our stuff with us. When we told him our plan to trek all the way to Riomaggiore he laughed, « Riomaggiore too far! Bus take you there! It is too far for walking », I looked at Bastien and smiled, and we both chuckled. We were doing this, even if the local was probably right (flashback to us not having any training and already being drained from the first day).
Now between Portovener and Campiglia there were two different paths that can be taken, either the long and « easy » path, or the short and difficult path that is along the cliff side. On the way to Portovenere we had taken the longer of the two, and this time we opted for the more difficult one. In all honesty the only reason I would say it was more difficult is because it was more dangerous and the terrain was well… rocky.
But the more « dangerous » path was definitely worth it. Because you are hiking right along the cliffs you have a beautiful forest to one side and a turquoise sea on your other. The views were rewarding and I would definitely recommend this path to those who are up for a little challenge.
We arrived at Campiglia around 11ish, and decided it would be a good idea to eat something, fuel up. Now campiglia is a microscopic village, you blink and you’d miss it. No train station, and barely any cars. I think the only people who actually see this village are those who walk.
We enjoyed our 3€ paninis on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean, and we enjoyed the opportunity to relax for a little bit and prepare ourselves mentally for the rest of our day.
Its funny because I have the impression that in this region of Italy you’re always climbing up, and up and up. And the only time you climb down is when you’re getting closer to a village and then it’s one steep descent that lasts a while. So you’re either dying from climbing uphill, or killing your knees with steep descents that never seem to end.
This leads me to say: I am thankful for proper hiking shoes. I am thankful for hiking poles.
The stretch of hiking between Campiglia and Riomaggiore was the most tiring and challenging portion of our trip. Maybe it had to do something with the fact that we were already exhausted, untrained, and to top it off our bags were too heavy. But I remember there was a point when I couldn’t talk anymore. Long walks are as much mental as they are physical. Your muscles scream, and your brain starts to scream (normally a long chain of profanities), and you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I wanted to stop, « I could stop right here, non? Just stop. I could do that right? ». I wanted to liberate my feet, « I could maybe finish this barefoot? maybe… non that would just be stupid right? But oh gawwwwd my feet hurt ». My brain just wouldn’t shut up. But at least every negative thought was shushed by the « WE ARE GOING TO F***ING FINISH THIS MOTHER, YEAH!!! » (Like I said, lots of profanities).
The trail seemed live it never ended, what was supposed to take 3,5 hours ended up taking up roughly 5! Yet, the moment we started descending we knew we were approaching something, and with our fingers crossed that it was Riomaggiore, we continued downhill. Bastien was convinced that Riomaggiore was still over the next mountain and that it was impossible that it was this village before us (nice way to kill my motivation), luckily for us it was Riomaggiore and our day of trekking was FINISHED!
We easily found our Airbnb, and when the guy showed us our room Bastien and I both felt extremely awkward. Here we were, covered in a days worth of transpiration and dirt, standing in a pristine white room that had just been cleaned spotless. I don’t think I have ever felt so dirty in my whole life!
We didn’t even have to say anything to one another, but we both grabbed our swimsuits and we both knew that the sea was going to be our first destination. And boy was it wonderful. The fresh, salty water was exactly what we needed. Not only did I feel the days dirt and sweat wash off my skin, but my swollen feet felt liberated, my sore muscles felt relieved, and I also felt cleansed of my tired-ness and grumpy-ness. It was nothing short of amazing.
The specialty of the village seemed to be fried seafood, seeing as everyone was walking around carrying cones filled with the stuff. Squid, octopus, clams, mussels… So when in Rome, or in this case, when in Riomaggiore!!!
Well that was our journey from Portovenere to Riomaggiore! More to come!