Friday, May 22, 2009

Hiking the Ligurian Coast: Levanto -> Manarola

Hey look! There's a traffic jam on the toll path.

After a self-supplied breakfast on the terrace and a coffee in town, it's off on our way. Of course we start with a climb out of town. We go past the old castle (with mailbox and vespa!) and then along and up and along and up, playing tag with a French couple. Very nice views back to the previous days. Up a bit to the ridge and then along to the former light house (Punta Mescla). From here our first views of the famous villages of the Cinque Terre.

The madness starts on the path down to Monterossa. There are plenty of people coming up from town towards us. Nice images of people climbing the steep hill in flip flops, or bikinis, or loafers. Finally make it down to Monterossa, where Greg's tourist allergy started to itch. Quick! Out of town to the path! There we'll be safe!

WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! The path out of town starts with a toll booth (the hordes have to pay to help repair the damage they cause) which marks the beginning of two very unpleasant hours of hiking in a crowd along what would otherwise be a very nice path. The path is narrow and the people aren't really hikers, so with heavy traffic in each direction the going is s...l...o...w... and irritating, with frequent traffic jams.
Good thing we've already spent five and a half days on similar paths otherwise we wouldn't know what we were missing. Eventually we make it down into Vernazza (holy crap! the density of tourists! aaaaaaaiiiiii!) and decide to give up; it's just too horrible. We wait for a while at the train station and enjoy a bit of lunch while waiting for the 25 minute late train. Then they cancel the train. Ah! Joy!

Rather than spend another 40 minutes in the crowds, we decide to go ahead and walk it. Onwards through the madness (luckily on simpler, wider paths). Nice lunch (part 2) a bit above the path looking down on Corniglia (it's amazing how many people walk by 1 meter below us and have clue that we're sitting there). Eventually we reach Corniglia (horrible!) and continue as quickly as possible to Manarola. The last bit is just 40 minutes on a simple path. Manarola is also predictably full and horrible. Find our place, shower and try to wash off the people.

Highlights of the day: hiking in bikini, backpack on the front to let the back tan; stroller being carried on a totally unsuitable path; two strollers being slowly pushed on unsuitable paths; people completely out of breath and exhausted 10 minutes into a two hour hike; people completely out of breath and exhausted 5 minutes into a two hour hike; people standing in the middle of a single track taking pictures and holding up traffic in both directions.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so had fun hey