Thank you to Gretchen Egolf, who first suggested I go to Cinque Terre.
I should try to make this fast. I notice when I do get online, I spend more time responding to people's comments and answering emails than I do posting entries on this journal. I also have to catch a train in about half an hour, and once I start writing an entry, it's hard to know when to stop. "Give an Irishman a chance to talk and you'll never shut him up" as it said in Mad magazine many years ago.
I spent the weekend in Cinque Terre, a group of five small villages along the coast of the Ligurian Sea. If Italy is a boot, they'd be close to the kneecap. The villages are linked by train, and even better, a series of trials you can hike. The trails run the gamut from an easy walk on a sidewalk alongside the water to a rather challenging trek through the mountains alongside vineyards. The trails aren't difficult in that they are on crumbly ground, but the journey up the mountain can feel mighty steep. At one point, I found myself breathing heavily. Normally, I try to hide this, but as I was alone, I let the loud breath come freely. If someone had heard me, I'm sure they would have wondered who got an iron lung so high up on the mountain.
But the views on the hikes are incredible. The good trails take about an hour and a half. I took about two hours on each one, simply because I kept turning around to enjoy the view. When you do reach one of the towns, it is a thrill to walk from wilderness into a little community, where people are kind, and you can have a nice lunch of olives, a sandwich and a beer for less than five euros.
to be continued