Vacations. Magical things happen when you travel. Suddenly, you’re in a new place, with new faces, new foods to try, and are pulled from the comfort of routine. We relax. We rejuvenate. We discover the best parts of ourselves again. I recently had the privilege of disrupting my entire life’s routine for one full week and spent some time in Italy. A major highlight for me (one of several) was visiting the Cinque Terre villages in the Italian Riviera. My traveling companion and best gal pal, Heidi, located a quaint little “hotel” in the seaside village of Vernazza. It was called the Elisabetta Carro. Though it has 4-5 star ratings on many travel review websites, I must warn you that context is everything. I wholeheartedly agree it to be worthy of 4-5 stars for the area, but do not expect the Ritz Carlton! The Elisabetta is a charming place to stay; simple, functional, and has breathtaking views of the Ligurian Sea. It has about 150 stairs to climb before you reach the front door, so pack lightly, or make nice with a local.
Heidi and I had a one bedroom space with two beds (a full and a twin), one bathroom, and a hallway. It fit our needs perfectly given that most of our time from sunup to sundown was spent outside. If you’ve ever been on a cruiseship…or an RV…the bathroom/shower is about the same size. We did have clean, hot water, and fully functional commodes so that is really worth the extra stars right there. We actually ran into a former co-worker of Heidi’s (small world!) and she did not have hot water in her place of lodging. She was staying in one of the other small villages. I saw a flash of jealousy when she learned of our hot water luxury. Five stars. Context.
A hugely enjoyable event for me was taking the hike between Vernazza and Monterosso. I love all things fitness, running, and being outdoors. On this activity I experienced breathtaking views and a real challenge to my quads and ankles. The journey was about 1.5 hours going one way. Have you ever heard the expression “I had to go uphill both ways?” Well, such a place really exists and it is on this trail. I’d do it again and again. If you have the honor of traveling to Cinque Terre, please pack a great pair of hiking or training shoes. We actually saw people in flip flops, sundresses, and other odd hiking attire at the beginning of the trail. I don’t know if they ever arrived in the next village. Wear good shoes. You’ll be glad you did.
It was on this trail that I felt very connected to the best of myself. Fit, free, and inspired by the beautiful seascape. That night, while laying sore and grateful in bed, these words came to mind:
Sun sets // Church bells chime // Waves crash, soothing against the shore // Tonight I wish for nothing less // and wish for nothing more.
PS. If you have the opportunity, ask Heidi how to pronounce Cinque Terre. The look she’ll give you is priceless. FYI- It’s like “Chank-wa Terra” and for some reason really hard to say- even for a midwestern girl who grew up with city names like Menomonie, Sheboygan, and Wayzata.