I’m still alive, I promise!

20 Jun

Ciao everyone. I know it’s been a while, but now that my art class in finito, I will actually have time in the day to update. This past weekend, my friends and I (Natalie, JR, Sami, Becca, Sarah, Stephanie and Morgan) took the train and headed to Auola, which is 15 minutes outside of Cinque Terre. When we got to the train station, we had a moment of panic when Sarah and I went off to information to find out which train was ours. When we had returned to the spot we left, everyone had gone (in search of us, of course). Without cell phones, we trusted our instincts, did what they did in the old days and stopped and asked passersby for help. When we found our train (which was in front of us the whole time), we boarded and hoped everyone else did too. Sarah and I walked through all the cars and murmured”scuzi” to those blocking the aisle ways. We still weren’t sure if it was the right train until we met 3 nice British girls, on their way to Cane (Cane, really??) who assured us we were on the right train. Sarah and I then proceeded to our cars. I was in 7 and she was in 6. When I got to my car, I heard my name and FINALLY, I had found my friends. That stressful part of the day had come to a close. I hadn’t felt that way since I lost my mom in Walmart when I was little.

With all the stress aside, the train ride was pleasant. The 6 of us had our own little compartment and spent the 4 hours (we took the slow train to save money) talking, listening to music and playing “celebrity.” And then…..we arrived!

Auola was beautiful. Not to mention, in the middle of nowhere. Quite different from the hustle and bustle of Roman life. We had no idea where our hotel was, but because we all were nice, attractive, American girls, we got a free cab ride to our destination. He dropped us off at the bottom of the mountain and told us it was about a kilometer to our hotel. So, with luggage in hand, we began the trek. We walked, and walked, and complained, and dragged our suitcases almost 2 miles up the mountain. Did this hotel really exist? ONLY a kilometer? There were no signs of civilization and I was half expecting a bear to waddle out of the woods. And then I realized I forgot how to survive if encountered with a bear. But all of that aside, we kept walking..and walking. We stopped and talked to this Italian mother and daughter on our way up. And even though there was a language barrier, we had a great conversation. After chatting with them, we continued on, and it wasn’t until a man from Holland drove by and asked us if he could drive our luggage up (I was not about to put my luggage in a strange mans car) that we were finally saved. He told one of the hotel owners we were walking and she drove down in her nice car to take us up in 2 trips. Our hotel was by no means 1 kilometer up the mountain. According to her, it was about 5. We were not even halfway.

But when we got there, it was totally worth it. Our hotel was perched at the top of the mountain. It made me want to burst out singing “The hills are aliiiiiiiiive, with the sound of music.” I didn’t, of course. We had nice rooms, nice neighbors from England, a nice swimming pool and an amazing view. All for 36 euro for 2 nights. Can’t beat that in the States. That night we bought pasta and sauce in the main room downstairs and made a delicious pasta dinner for all 8 of us. It was the perfect way to end our night there.

The next morning, we headed to Cinque Terre for the day and everything went smoothly, aside from the weather. We started out our day lying on the rocky beach and people watching. After about 2 hours there, we decided to walk around and see the islands. Some of us jumped into the ocean for a quick dip. Stephanie lost her dress when it floated off into some cave and most of those who jumped in lost to the barnacles on the rocks. Toes were cut up and knees were scraped. It was a good thing I brought my first aid kit! After everyone changed, we headed off in search of pesto (created on Cinque Terre and the best around) and seafood. We took the train to another island and found the best meal I have had on this trip. I had spaghetti con vonglua (spaghetti with clams) in garlic and oil and I was in heaven. There was silence at the table as everyone was chewing. That’s when you know the food is good. After dinner, we headed back to Auola for another night of talking and playing “celebrity.” Day 2 had come to a close.

In the morning, we took a cab back to the train station and headed to Pisa for lunch to see the leaning tower before heading home to Rome. We ate lunch in Pisa which I spent way too much on, but it was delicious and I topped it off with gelato afterwards. We hurried to the leaning tower with limited time before our train left, snapped a few pictures and headed back to the train station. JR, Sami and I spent the extra 18 euro (42 euro) to take the fast train back while the others spent 18 euro for the slow train with no seats. Spending the extra money was totally worth it. We got back earlier, it was a pleasant ride and I was able to sit comfortably by the window. Perfect. When we got back in Rome we headed to dinner at my favorite Chinese restaurant here, Zen Garden for a very cheap and very delicious dinner. It was the great way to end the weekend.

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