If you’re browsing for a quick introduction to Italy’s Cinque Terre, you might try the previous post, which also includes a link to that national park’s official site. Wondering how to travel between villages via train, ferry or hiking trails? Want more info on the villages themselves, what to do and what to see? Start here:
Also, call your travel agent!
Hopefully, you’re here for the stories. If so, let’s get down to business. A park named Cinque Terre (Five Towns) deserves five tales, right?
Upon registration for the sunset cruise with Enjoy Cinque Terre, we were told when and where to gather in Manarola. Tidal conditions during our appointed meeting time determined that we either embark the boat outside the main cove, or else cancel the tour completely.
Cancel? No way!
Ten passengers followed the skipper’s wife (on foot, using the trail) around the point (below, on the far left, coming around the point on the far right), then down to a more secluded boat launch (not seen in these two photos). The trail, when open (closed during my visit), continues on through to the next village.
Meanwhile, Skipper Daniéle (pronounced like “Daniel” with a charming accent) paddled out to his boat, then sailed around the point to where we waited to board.
Between when I reached the boat ramp until I sat down in the boat, I took zero pictures. Sorry! However, you can find an excellent viewpoint of the setting from here, which is REALLY going to help you visualize what I’m talking about.
For those of you who are not (yet) long-time readers, I sometimes struggle with “balance issues,” detailed a bit in this post. Unfortunately for me, in order to board the boat, we were required to walk along the top of the side of the boat ramp (a stone wall). At the end of that wall, step over a gap of open water between the wall and the tip of the boat, then scoot down to our seats. You can see the blue “gangway” in the photo above.
Don’t get me wrong. For everyone else, this proved not that big of a deal. For me though…
“How are you going to get out there?” Mike asked. “Do you want to use my shoulder?”
Usually, I navigate difficult spots by steadying myself on the shoulder of the person in front of me. In this case, however, that would most certainly be a recipe for a double “Nestea Plunge.” Falling backwards into a cool swimming pool on a hot summer’s day? Fun! Falling fully dressed into the ocean? Not so much…
The solution proved to be me sitting down on the wall and inching my way out to the end. Mike named it, “caterpillar-ing.”
Do you know how a caterpillar moves? Apparently they lead with their gut first, then the rest of their gooey body ripples along behind.
OK, lessons learned: First of all, “Go with your gut,” and, “Gut it out,” have new meanings for me. Second, I’ll consider this a “bonding experience” (all but three passengers wound up helping / hauling me on or off the boat by the night’s end). Team work!
BONUS: nobody fell in (although someone might have been a candidate; read on).
2. “American: A Broad”
“Who here is from Americuh?” one woman asked at the start of our three-hour cruise, right after we’d passed around the first bottle of wine. Her husband, already smaller than his wife, shrunk a little more, sipped his beer and looked away.
The majority of the passengers meekly raised hands. Maybe this wouldn’t turn ugly –
“We win!” shouted Mrs. Oklahoma, who then required everyone’s city and country of origin.
I’ll spare you the rest of that conversation. Also, the one where she pressured Boston Boy to propose to Boston Girl (clearly just friends). Or the one where she critiqued Mr. and Mrs. Singapore’s excellent English.
I snapped some time about when the fourth bottle of wine made the rounds, listening to Mrs. OK strongly urging the Singapore couple to begin having children soon.
“Hey, Troublemaker!” I called out. She turned and looked at me. “Leave those nice people alone,” I teased / warned her.
Nobody applauded, but I’m pretty sure her husband smiled.
3. I like to call this next story of local history about World War II —
What? I wanted to tell them the story you told about the —
4. Fine. This one’s even better. This one’s got pirates —
Um… I meant to say, “Can I have some more wine?”
5. Hey, I know what we can do. How about some pictures! Those are worth at least THREE stolen stories, right?
Fun! More, please.
Wow, it’s getting dark fast. Oh yeah! The part we’ve all been waiting for:
Now I’m sad (and a little scared to get off the boat). Thank you, Skipper and First Mate!
Bye-bye Italian sailors!