Sunday, May 15, 2011

Italian Road Trip

The arrival of spring has made me straight up exhausted. All this biking and walking and gardening and hosting of guests and traveling has been a-mazing, but I'm running myself into the ground a bit (sidenote: I feel like my 2009-grad-school-sleep-deprived-overworked-self should slap my current self for that above comment, but I really am exhausted...oh how things have changed since then!). I took over 900 pictures over the course of our trip, and it has taken me awhile to sort through them all to pick some of the best ones to share with you guys. However, today's off and on rains are attempting to give me a break from my bike, (thank you Mother nature!), so I'm more than ready to begin sharing some of the best pictures from our awesome trip to Italy.

On two and half whopping hours of sleep (why does that always happen?) we hopped in our rental car for what was to be an all day drive through France, Suisse, the Mont Blanc tunnel and into Italy.

[Tiny Italian espresso but chock full o' punch!]

There was a ton of traffic going into the tunnel, but an hour and half and 46€ later [Thrift alert: yeah that's one expensive tunnel! Of importance to note? You can buy a two way ticket through Mont Blanc that is about 28€ cheaper than buying each way, you just have to ask for it. End thrift alert], we were in Italy. And boy was espresso needed.

[My first Italian espresso.]

The driver wasn't letting any of it go to waste...

Our sweet American sized, German crafted rental...which would later prove to be the scariest ride of my life on tiny Italian sized cliff roadways...

We drove through the Aosta valley and along the coast through Genoa, probably through a good 100 tunnels (and each with their own name). Our plan was to spend the first night in Cinque Terre in the village of Vernazza, and then high-tail it over to Pisa the next afternoon. Cinque Terre as a whole is a UNESCO protected site, which means, among other things, that cars are not allowed in any of the five villages (Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola or Riomaggiore). Luckily the train goes from Vernazza to La Spezia Centrale and on to Pisa, because after getting lost on several back country roads and finally finding our way onto the steepest cliff side roads without guardrails I've ever seen in Europe, we weren't moving that car unless we had to. But all of panicky feelings on the drive and holding my breathe around blind turns was worth it once we got into Vernazza...

[Vernazza's beach at night...]

[Stripes everywhere!]

Had I not been so ridiculously tired I probably would not have been able to sleep that night in anticipation of seeing Vernazza in the daylight. The family we rented our room from was very nice, and despite us arriving about 2 hours later than we had said we would, we were shown to our room and immediately asked if we had eaten yet. We dropped our bags and followed our host back down five flights of the steepest stairs I've ever traversed (are we noticing a theme here?) to the family's restaurant right around the corner, and had the first of what was the freshest seafood I've ever had in my life. Our bellies full of Cinque Terre wine, risotto and seafood we headed to bed (read: passed out).

Next up: More of our Italian road trip!

A la prochain friends...

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