So this past weekend we went to Cinque Terre... kind of. A bus was organized to take us there which left our campus at 3:00am Saturday morning which Mandy and I almost missed! Lauren had to come up to our room and wake us up so we had to rush to get changed- luckily we were fully packed, so we just had to run out to the bus but we were the last people on! Haha! It was about a 5 1/2 hour bus ride to the La Spezia train station- which is a town right outside of Cinque Terre. We had to wait about an hour for the train but we had a bunch of kids with us who were headed in the same direction. We got to the town of Levanto around 11:00am. Cinque Terre is made up of 5 villages along the coastline, but Levanto is not one of those towns- it is the town next to the furthest Cinque Terre village, Monterosso. So, technically we weren't really in Cinque Terre.
Anyway, it took us around 30-45 minutes to find our hostel (even though the hostel told us it was a ten minute walk!) but it was right near the beach and so nice and clean! Once we settled in, we went straight to the beach and just hung out there all day! It was a perfect day- warm and sunny and all blue skies! The beach there is so beautiful- the water is SO clear and clean, but no waves! The sand was a lot darker than Jersey shore sand and grainy, so that was different but so pretty! We just laid there all day, went in the water and relaxed (probably the first time we had down time since we got here!) We stayed on the beach til 5:00pm then headed back to the hostel to shower and get ready for dinner. There were 11 of us staying at the hostel- 6 of my girlfriends and 4 of our new guy friends from our program! We all went to dinner at this great restaurant on the beach- the food was SO delicious! And we met the owner who was such a cool guy! He's in his 70s and has lived all over the world- he even lived in New York for a little and worked with Woody Allen on some of his films! We all talked with him for a while because we thought he was so interesting!
The woman who worked at our hostel had told us earlier that there would be live music in the park that night so all of a sudden we heard "Sweet Home Alabama" and RAN to find it. We got there and there was an Italian band playing so we went right up in front of them and started dancing and singing! My friends Katie and Lexie even went up to the microphones and sang into them! It was so funny and fun- some people even came out of the crowd and started dancign with us! Lauren and I ran up to these two older Italian women who were dancing on the side and pulled them into the middle! We were having a ball! It was just so funny because they played all American songs but sung them in Italian!
After staying there for a while we went to a beach party where we met a lot of fun people and danced the night away! We all made friends with this English boy named Stuart (who I refer to as Stuart Little, like the little mouse in that movie) and now him and my friends Morgan are "pen pals"- he emailed her already! HAHAH I asked him what he thought about Kate Middleton and he said in his British accent "She's lovely!" and I almost died I was so excited hahaha He probably was thinking, "What a weird American." So funny! We got back to our hostel safely and went to bed.
The next morning a few of us woke up at 8:30am to get our free breakfast at the hostel, and we needed to check out by 10am. We left and headed for the train station with plans to go to Manarola, one of the 5 villages and hike there (There are paths to hike between each of the Cinque Terre towns which are supposed to be amazing). Once we arrived and tried to buy tickets, we were told that there was a STRIKE- this apparently happens in Italy all the time which is so bizarre. They even had times set- it started at 9pm Saturday night and ended at 9pm Sunday. So we were pretty nervous about how the heck we were going to get back to La Spezia to make our bus by 5:15pm! Luckily, there was a taxi driver who overheard us and helped us get two taxis for the eleven of us. We waited for a bit but the first taxi came and 6 of us got in. I can honestly say it was the WORST car ride of my life. We had to go up huge hills, around curves, down the hills, etc. We were all SO car sick. All I could do was laugh because I kept imagining one of us throwing up in the car and then all of us throwing up once that happened. Lauren felt so sick so we had to ask the taxi driver to pull over. I looked up in my translator how to say she was sick and the best I could find was "I am sick" which is "sto male." So I said "Sir, sto male" as I pointed to Lauren- he was probably so confused. At first he just showed us where he kept plastic bags but we told him we needed him to stop the car. At this point it was pouring rain, so Lauren M. held an umbrella up as Lauren got sick- she was hysterically laughing as she got sick because we all realized how ridiculous we looked. SO GROSS but so, so funny! I will never forget it. The rest of the car ride we all sat squeezing each other, rubbing each other's backs, closing our eyes, and taking deep breaths. It was like a rollercoaster ride you couldn't get off- so awful but one of my funniest memories. Once we got to the train station, we all got some fresh air and just sat, got some food in our stomachs and felt much better. We had 4 hours to spare til the bus got there so we just walked around a little and hung out with the other kids who also got there early. It was ashame since it was a little bit of a waste of a day but it was very rainy anyway so we wouldn't have been able to do much in Cinque Terre anyway. I'm pretty disappointed we didn't actually get to the real Cinque Terre but Levanto was so pretty and we all fell in love with it there- we said we felt like we found our own little piece of heaven. All the people were so nice and from the sounds of it, some of the Cinque Terre towns didn't have as much going on as Levanto.
On the bus ride home we all laughed about our two extreme days- Saturday being completely perfect and Sunday being a complete disaster but we had so much fun anyway! It was a great weekend and so many funny memories! Hopefully, we'll be able to actually go to Cinque Terre someday!
In other news, the Italian students who we share the campus with started last week- there are some high school students who board here and some just come for normal day school. There is also elementary school with a bunch of little kids! It's pretty funny to share a campus with them- we haven't really interacted with them much but I know we get involved with them later in the semester- like they come to my Italian class and they practice their English and we practice our Italian so that will be really cool!
We leave for Oktoberfest this Friday so everyone is busy this week getting school work done before we leave! I will post next week! :) Ciao! XOXO