Catie's Semester Abroad in Lugano travel blog

On our 1-day cruise at the fancy restaurant

See--they even have a "cruise program"

View from our cute apartment in Riomaggiore

Starting off our hike Easter morning..the leg of the hike from Riomaggiore...

Looking back on Riomaggiore

Lots and lots of people hiking Easter died off as the...

In our first stop (second village) Manarola

There were a lot of lemon/olive/flower trees

With Manarola

Lovedd all the villages and scenery

Fun bridge we had to cross on the way to Corniglia

My kind of hiking...little carts of jewelry along the way :o)

Sooo relieved we made it to the top! I think it says...

Cute Easter decorations were all over the Cinque Terre


Taking a rest break

Love love love the views--I took soo many pictures this day!

We loved all of the pretty flowers which smelled soo good

Coming up to Vernazza

More of Vernazza

After our Easter lunch...we were right on the water!

So proud we ate at a Rick Steve's approved restaurant without even...

Vernazza--seems like the most touristy of all the 5 villages

View of Vernazza as we headed onto Monterosso

Coming up to Monterosso...Vernazza to Monterosso was the hardest leg of the...

Downtown Monterosso

In Patras it was sunny and we had a few hours before getting on our "1-day cruise". We decided to spring for dorm beds instead of air seats, so we could actually get a good night sleep. Beds make SUCH a difference! A steward walked us to our room, and we had a bathroom with TWO showers! Definitely high class traveling in our minds :) The dorm beds were set up so there were 6 beds in a room, and 6 rooms in the dorm section. You needed a key card to get into the dorm rooms(which will become relevant later in this entry) and only one other woman had a dorm bed so we basically had the dorm section to ourselves. The sun was still out so we went up to the pool deck and worked on our tans for a bit. There were lots of Greek teens walking around the boat who kept going "Welcome to Greece!" I guess we did look a little funny considering we were the only ones laying out in bathing suits but I didn't expect it to draw that much attention. We showered and got ready for dinner in the restaurant; since we were already high classing it on this ferry ride we figured we would continue this. We got a table right at the window, so it was gorgeous views. We felt so fancy, they swept up our crumbs between each course! It made the whole cruise experience much more relaxing and passed the time of being on the boat.

So continuing on with our cruise, we went up to the pool deck with some sangria we bought at the port. Two Australian guys also came up to the pool deck with some drinks they brought from the port, so we all sat together. They had been traveling on our exact itinerary all the way from the ferry in Santorini. Around midnight I was so sleepy from our night before that I went back down to the dorm rooms and called it a night. Our heat hadn't been working, so I asked the night steward to help me fix it. He must have thought I was crazy because he just fiddled with one button and then heat started coming out (but we had been fiddling with it ALL day and just kept getting cold air). I fell asleep, but woke up around 3am because it was SO hot in the room...the heat was definitely working! I heard someone come into the room and lay down on the bed, but I assumed it was just Alexis or Cheryl. When I went to open the curtain to turn down the heat I got a BIG surprise. There was a MAN in the bed across from me!! I just see this person laying there with his jeans unzipped and without a shirt on, their arms up over their head. Their curtain was covering their face, but I was not about to get any closer. I was freaking out because in my head I couldn't understand how this man got into the girls dorm section, and what he was planning on doing to me. I quickly jumped down from my bed, the whole time thinking he was going to grab me and do who knows what. I ran down two floors to reception, back to the same night steward who helped me with the heat. I was practically hyperventilating and looked ridiculous--I obviously took no time to fix my appearance and was wearing my funky zebra pajamas for everyone on the boat to see. At first the steward was hesistant because he didn't think anyone could get in with the keycard but I was very persistant with him coming up and checking the room. He got some back up help, and then the three of us went back to the dorm section. He silently motioned for me to stay back while he inspected my dorm room, then looked at me and goes "where's the man?" I started stomping down the dorm section going "I KNEW the man was going to run out when he heard me leave--we need to catch him!" when I look down at the bed and see the man was...Alexis! Hahaha I felt like SUCH a dummy! I just started hysterically laughing and the steward caught on too. Both of us were laughing so hard together, him going "Oh my goodness, you thought this was a man! Is this a man to you?" Alexis meanwhile was half asleep and very confused with the whole situation so she kept saying "No, I'm a girl! See- I have hair! I have a belly button ring! I'm a girl!". I felt so bad I disrupted the man for the second time, and Alexis had to wake up to this steward standing over her going "Do you think this is a man?" After about 5 minutes of just laughing the man said it was okay because we "have good laugh and make good story" and told us goodnight. From Alexis' side of the story it was very hot in the room and she had a bad sunburn so she didn't even feel like changing into pajamas. She just plopped onto the bed, unzipped her jeans and pulled up her shirt a little to feel cooler. Any girl in that situation would have looked like a man because of the curtain and the dark lighting, so she thankfully was not offended I thought she was a guy. In the end we all safely got back to Italy, but it was a semi-eventful night. After laughing about the whole ordeal for about another half-hour we were even able to fall back asleep!

The trains from Ancona up to Cinque Terre went smoothly, and we were checked into our hostel by dinner time. Whitney's train got there about 30 minutes after our train, and we met up with two other girls from Lugano. The six of us went to dinner by our hostel in Riomaggiore, the southernmost village along the Cinque Terre. All of the restaurants we went to in Cinque Terre were soo good, this region is the birthplace of pesto so there was lots of that. There was even pesto pizza which is a new favorite (along with dunking the pizza crust in EVOO--you have to try it even if people look at you weird). I got a recipe of one so Dad you can make it for us ladays one night :) Cinque Terre is known for being very calm and quiet, so it was the perfect end to our crazy week. There were so many Americans, I think I heard more English than I heard Italian. Since we went on Easter weekend there were especially a lot of tourists. Our Italian teacher had warned our class in the beginning of the semester not to go to Cinque Terre during this time, but we had no other opportunities. We got gelato after dinner, and then visited our other friends room before returning to our room. This hostel was funky, the door absolutely couldn't unlock. After about 20 tries we tried calling the hostel owner but he didn't answer. He was a funny man-- we walked past the reception earlier in the night to hear him pecking 'My Country Tis of Thee' on the piano yet he could barely speak English. Maybe he didn't know it's an American patriotic song. Cheryl worked her magic and got the door unlocked. I was just thankful this wasn't a repeat of Rome and I wasn't stuck INSIDE the hostel room.

Sunday morning we woke up pretty late (or later than other mornings when traveling) because we couldn't check out until 10am. Another weird thing about this hostel was that you had to check out BY 10am but you couldn't check out UNTIL 10am either. After we checked out and put our luggage into storage, we grabbed some breakfast and started out on our hike. You can hike through all 5 villages (fyi that's the Cinque part in Cinque Terre) in about 5 hours along the coast. The hike was GORGEOUS, I can understand why a lot of people like to spend Easter here. From Riomaggiore to Manarola the path is paved and very easy to hike. There were so many people on this trail, so thankfully it only took 25 minutes to get from village to village. Manarola was very cute but quiet, so we stopped into a church to see what their Easter mass looks like, and then continued onto Corniglia. We had lunch in Vernazza, which is the fourth village along the coast. It seemed the most touristy with shops and restaurants, but we wanted to stop there for the most selection and views of the water. We picked a nice restaurant to be our "Easter Meal". Since there were no English speaking churches along the coast we decided a relaxing lunch and the hike would be good. It was a veryy pleasant surprise that after lunch we stopped inside to use the restaurant's bathroom and saw Rick Steve's had been there twice! The four of us were so excited we took a picture with the picture of him, and all of these Italians asked us who this person was we were making a fuss over. We're always excited to go somewhere Rick approves of because so far he's only led us wrong once. All of his books give the best suggestions for what's a must-see and what you can skip over soo if you are planning a trip anytime soon check and see if he has any information first!

After our Easter lunch we hiked from Vernazza to Monterosso. The two legs from Corniglia to Vernazza and Vernazza to Monterosso were INTENSE hikes with lots of going uphill and downhill. We found out later there were two paths between the villages and we took the more difficult of the two. I'm not surprised because we were working up a sweat, but I'm proud to say thanks to our daily walk up the Lugano hill we weren't sore the next day. We didn't get to spend much time in Monterosso because it was time to get our bags and take the train back to Lugano, but we did get to walk along the beach. All around we had SUCH a nice time in Cinque Terre and I would say it's one of my favorite places I've visited this semester. The trains took awhile because they only offered local trains from Cinque Terre to Lugano, but we made it back late Sunday night/early Monday. It was the best way to end our weeklong, and a unique way to spend Easter Sunday.

Entry Rating:     Why ratings?
Please Rate:  
Thank you for voting!
Share |