Saturday 21 July we arrived in Ameglia Italy, which is just south of the Cinque Terre. The van park had a large pool area, a bar and a disco every night for the kids. The first night we took Cara to the disco - the kids all stand in a circle with the leaders and dance to the songs. Cara loves the disco and dances in her own moves. She was in the middle of the circle most of the time providing lots of entertainment. After the disco they got out a machine that looked like a cannon but shot foam into the air and all over the dance floor. Cara thought this was Christmas! There were teenagers and young adults on the dance floor by this stage as well. The foam just kept coming and covered the dance floor and everyone on it. I was expecting there to be some injuries as the floor got very slippery, but no one was hurt and everyone was very careful of each other.
We were amazed how the adult Europeans did not drink, as would be the case in Oz.
The Cinque Terre is a national park along the Italian coastline. Within the park, there are 5 villages, some perched high on the cliffs overlooking the sea. You can only visit the villages by boat or by train. We had heard you can see so much more by boat as the train spends most of its time in tunnels. We decided to go by boat and were up extra-early the next morning to get on the first departing boat only to find that it had been cancelled due to the strong winds that had picked up through the night. So back to the car to find the train station in Le Spezia. The trains were very crowded - more than normal because the boats weren't running.
We hopped off at each stop and explored each village. You can also walk between the villages, but we were told many of the walks had lots of stairs and were quite long and it simply wasn't possible with Cara. We did the walk between the first two villages at the southern end (Riomaggiore to Manarola) as it was quiet an easy walk along a pathway on the cliffs.
From Manorola we caught the train up to the last village, Monterosso. This was one of the busiest towns. There was a nice beach to swim so Loche and Cara went in for a paddle. Many parts of the beach were roped off for use only by restaurants or hotels guests. After a quick swim we were back on the train headed for Vernazza. We had a look around and were stopped having a drink when walking towards us was James Halliwell. James and I used to work together at John Deere for many years and I don't think I'd seen him since I left. Of all places to see him, I never thought it would be in the Cinque Terre in Italy. It makes you realize what a small world we live in!! We stopped and chatted for half an hour or so before James had to get going to meet up with his tour. I guess you're back in Australia by now James, we hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip!
Back on the train for us headed for the village of Corniglia. It's perched high on the cliffs overlooking the sea and there were many stairs to climb. I told Loche to go ahead and I would wait with Cara - but Cara wasn't having any of that, she was up those stairs in no time. There were 382 Steps and she ran up most of them, we were both stunned! Near the top, she told us she just needed five minutes for a rest! This village was by far our favorite and once again I think it was because there were no crowds. It was lovely and relaxing just wandering through the streets and taking in the beautiful views. We went out onto a terrace to take some photos of the cliffs and sea and we met a lovely family from America who offered to take a photo of all of us. We stopped and chatted for a little while before heading back down to catch the train. We were halfway down all the stairs when we realized the train was coming any minute now. There wasn't another train for an hour, so we started running - Loche carrying Cara, me lagging behind. We still had a little way to go when the train pulled in, but it stopped at the station for a while….we kept running (well Loche did) just as he got to the stairs to the station (about 20 metres from the platform) the train pulled away. He was not feeling too bad as a younger couple ahead were about 5 meters from the platform.
Not long after a family arrived - from the US as well, New York this time. We got chatting for the whole hour and then sat with them on the train. They were a lovely couple with 2 young children who managed to keep Cara amused for the long wait.
In the car on the way home we promised Cara some Mcdonalds as she'd been such a good girl all day, but we didn't make it as far as Mcdonalds before she fell asleep. We managed to transfer her to the caravan but at about 11pm she woke up and continued to wake up every 10 minutes or so. I think it was about 3am by the time we got some sleep. We were up again at 7.30am packing the caravan up, heading for Florence.