I was informed last Tuesday that I would receive Monday May 24 off as it was a public holiday. I quickly put together some already loosely formed travel plans and made arrangements to hit up Milan and Cinque Terre for the weekend. Gabri, as seen in previous posts, teaches at an international school in Milan, so we had a free place to stay and fantastic hostess to show us around. I have never been to Cinque Terre despite having studied abroad in Italy, therefore it was high time I got myself to that little sliver of paradise.
On Friday night five au pairs boarded the first of the three trains that would get us to Milan. It was without incident and doesn’t deserve mention, except for the fact we had no idea what was in store for us on the next train. On train nummer zwei we happened to sit next to two fellows in the Swiss Army, who proceeded to regale us with tales of how “pointless” the army is and “what a waste of time it was.” I was the odd man out of the seating arrangement and had to sit by these two goons, who apparently had 9 beers before we even joined them on the train. Each beer is 500mL, which means they had each consumed 4500mL of liquid stupid prior to our acquaintance. Whilst on the train they guzzled down three more. At least 40% of my body was in the aisle as I was trying to remain as far away from my “new friend” as possible. He asked me three times what I was doing in der Schweiz. By the third time I told him we were all marine biologists studying the sea life in Switzerland. Clearly this makes no sense but that didn’t seem to phase him. It was about 1 hour into our friendship when I heard nothing short of a roar come out of his mouth. He belched so loud I could not be sure whether it was a prehistoric creature returning to the present or a bodily function. He proceeded to do this through the remainder of the ride in between bursts of him spilling beer all over. Obviously, it was a pleasant ride.
Saturday was beautiful. We all slept in and enjoyed waking up to sounds that did not include children. Gabri lives a bit outside of town so we made our way into Milan city center to locate some grub. First stop: Duomo. This is one of the most magnificent pieces of architecture I have seen. It made me realize how much I miss Italian churches and cathedrals. I was awed by its sheer size and the amount to detail. We lunched at a place that offered a great view and a serious amount of sunshine. Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I have a bit of what Jill coined a “glandular issue.” I sweat. And, compared to the Swiss, it’s a lot. Needless to say it got a little toasty sitting in rays of sun so gelato was the next order of business. I lurve gelato. Allie and I agreed this was one of the best gelato experiences we’ve had. It was capital-Delicious. We took our tasty treat and headed on to do a little sight seeing, which ultimately led us to a park to hang out for the afternoon. Once we found a spot on the grass we parked our bodies on the ground and were treated to one of the worst displays of “football” I have seen. After we had our fill of suntanning we made our way out of the city center and back to Gabri’s apartment. It was imperative that we scram as Milan was hosting a major soccer game and the Italians tend to go a little banana sandwich over soccer. To avoid being mobbed/crushed to death Jill, Allie, Gabri, and I went back to have dinner at a restaurant near her apartment. A couple bottles of wine and heaping plates of pasta later we were making our way home when we presented with one pleasant surprise. A party was in full swing at the shopping center directly across from the apartment. The only choice in this situation is to join, so we soon found ourselves dancing along with Italians to such hits as “Mambo Number 5” and “Tubthumper.” Is it even possible to say “No” to a line dance? After we finished tearing up the dance floor we made our way upstairs for (in my case) a short night of rest.
I awoke at 5:30 in the morning to make my way with Danielle to the train station so we could head on to Cinque Terre. Thankfully, it was easy to get there and there were no problems. We arrived in Riomaggiore and were directed to our hostel. The proprietor informed me that we would be sharing a bed, which is slightly unusual. Jill and I shared a bed in Cadiz but that was only because we feared for our lives. What he neglected to tell me was that this bed would be located in the kitchen. Seriously. You walk in the hostel/apartment and you see a range and sink to your right, a table and chairs to your left, and the bed straight ahead. Through a doorway is an actual dorm where the other 6 people slept. Luckily, everyone was cool and I didn’t feel the need to sleep with one eye open. Danielle and I threw on our swimsuits and headed out to explore. This was, hands down, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I’m sure it would have still looked as beautiful had the weather not been so great. But, it hovered around 80 degrees and the sun was turned on Full Blast. I wish I could describe it better but you will just have to look at the pictures to see for yourself. It’s a place I would definitely like to visit again. Mid-way through our hike we decided to select a spot on some rocks with other travelers and soak up the vitamin D. I have a pretty righteous tank top tan and shorts from all the running I do outside. I’m sure I looked pretty silly in my suit, but nevertheless it was nice to lay out for a bit. More hiking and imbibing in the local dry, white wine completed the afternoon. A definite Must-See.