Nice, Cinque Terre, and Florence

Today was another busy day, spent mostly on trains, yet again. I left Nice this morning to try to get to Cinque Terre, Italy before the sun set. I knew the train left some time around 10am. I wanted to check the time before I left, but Madamme Martine, the hostel owner, was too busy playing solitaire on the computer to let me on. She is quite the interesting woman. Last night, she was telling me about how she has some kind of psychologic disorder that causes her to suddenly become very agressive in large crowds and push people through glass doors? Maybe something was lost in translation, but she clearly said “I am very dangerous” multiple times. Things like that make it difficult to fall asleep at night. I am grateful that she was so friendly, though, because she told me a lot about the area and gave advice on where to eat. Sometimes not the best advice, but between my terrible ability to understand spoken French and figure out directions, I can hardly blame her.

Anyways, I grabbed breakfast, got to the train station at about 10:10, and found that the train left at 10:05. Figures. I kicked myself quite a bit for that, and considered going straight to Florence since I wouldn’t have much time in Cinque Terre. After talking with Information, though, it still seemed possible. I had to make 2 stops to get there, but the timing could be right.

At one of the stops in a city in Italy I can’t remember at the moment, the woman at the Information counter did not speak English. French and Italian. Great. So, I start speaking in Spanish slowly. “Si hablo en Espanol, me entiendera un poquito?” and she nodded yes. That worked out pretty well. If we both spoke slowly enough, the message seemed to get across. At some point as she was walking to check something for me, she said something like “it’s easy to understand Spanish if the person speaking wasn’t born into it”. So, at least my terrible Spanish accent allows for Italians to understand me pretty well. I find that amusing.

 My last train ride to Cinque Terre, the sun began to set, bringing quite a downer on my hopes for seeing Monteroso, the first of the 5 cities. As I got off the train, I talked a bit with some Americans who had been staying there for a week, and followed them to the old side of town at twilight. It is absolutely breathtaking. I walked up a pathway which goes up a cliff overlooking the city and took some great photos, which I’m sure hundreds of thousands of people have already taken. At least now I have a copy. It was so beautiful that I began to cry. I could have sat there for a day… but I didn’t.

I was considering spending more time there, at least dinner, maybe getting a hotel room. But, trying to find dinner was near impossible, as everything was closed. Hmm… maybe this place isn’t for me after all. I can’t even find a place to eat at 7:30pm. So, I hop on the next train to get myself to Florence. And, here I am. I met a girl who goes to school in Albany, and we may go to Venice together if things work out right. I may want to spend more time in Florence than she would like to, though, so we’ll see. This hostel is full of people, and the walls are filled with much-welcomed grafitti. I hear Espanol all around me, which is comforting. Part of me can’t wait to get back to Spain… then I remember I’ll have Catalan to listen to, not Castillano. I’ll live.

Now that I’m in Italy, I can eat all of the pasta and pizza I want and not feel bad for doing so.

If there is one thing common around the globe, it is pigeons.


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