Helen in Europe travel blog

masses of holiday makers in Milan waiting for the platform announcement

Riomaggiore sunset; okay it's not so bad!

view from Cinque Terre Residence, Riomaggiore

I am starting to realise just how lucky I have been to have been able to enjoy Europe in perfect conditions before the swarms of holiday makers descend. I have hardly had to endure any cold weather at all and I have been able to wear summer clothing most of the time. There have been times when I have enjoyed roaming the streets of Lecco, alongside Lake Como or up in the mountains hiking, or even taking a chance on the various museums and wondered why the streets and rooms were empty. Lecco was often busy on weekends but nothing like I experienced today when I sadly loved lovely Lecco to tick off one of my bucket list destinations, Riomaggiorre, in the Cinque Terre. In Lecco I felt like a regular catching the train to Milano on Platform 4 and was even able to reassure an Italian woman that yes, this is the platform for Milano. Arriving at Milano Centrale made me realise that things were going to very different from now on. To work out where your train is leaving from, you need to stand in front of one of the departure boards, like at an airport. Then as soon as the Platform is announced, everyone swarms over to their train sometimes competing for seats, but in the case of the Milano to Genoa/ La Spezia/ Cinque Terre locations, everyone just wanted to get there, as our seats were allocated. Fortunately, I had finally worked out the seating system printed on my card and it took a bit of Google translating to get there. Corridoio translates to aisle and carrozza means carriage. As we were all tourists with luggage it was then a bit of chaos as everyone tried to squeeze past to get to seats, with suitcases, backpacks, children, pushers, prams and a cat in a cat cage. One helpful man grabbed my suitcase and put it up high on the above the head luggage rack even though my seat was technically 50 seats away. Just being helpful I guess. On this and the next train tickets were checked and I felt glad that I had indeed purchased them even though I didn't get around to validating the Levanto to Riomaggiore ticket. Not so forgiving was the station master of a group of Italians who apparently did not have tickets. An argument ensued and we (meanwhile I had met a nice Australian family when I checked if they thought the train was heading to Riomaggiore or not) were apologised to by the guard as the gendarme (police at arms) were called in on Monterosso station! At each stop between Genoa and Riomaggiore, there were lines and lines of bikini clad tourists queuing up in the hopes of jumping on the train. I assume that's what the Cinque Terre pass is about for the typical tourist - ticking off all five towns and making the most of the ticket. And if that wasn't enough action, I took the wrong turn to my accommodation and ended up on the top of the hill! The view is lovely, looking up at tiered gardens and ochre coloured buildings but the buildings so are are not that dissimilar to the ones in Lecco. I'm sure some walks tomorrow will prove me wrong and I'll fall in love with this town like I have the rest of Italy. As for now, I'm enjoying the complimentary mini bar Corona and my little balcony.

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