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Back to Calgary [Aug2]

I'm sure glad I got some rest yesterday, as today was quite a long day. It basically took the whole day to get Vernazza and find accommodations, so after dinner I was ready to call it a night.

I was up at 4am this morning to catch my 5:09am train. The train from Arles ended up not being affected by the strike, although there was a slight 30 minute or so delay in Marseille.

The train leaving Arles was actually an overnight train from somewhere. When I climbed on board I found tons people sleeping in the seating area at the back of the train, the front section was sleeper cars I mentioned previously. As the train made its way east, each stop saw a few people getting off the train, so by the time we arrived in Nice the train was mostly empty.

At Nice I switched to an Italian train, where I shared a first class cabin with five people from the US. A couple from California and another from new Spokane along with his mother. All of them had stayed in Nice for a few days and were are travelling to Venice. The couple from California is off to Germany after that and the others are off to Paris. These folks had previously met a couple from Australia, who stopped by our cabin briefly, that were heading to Cinque Terre.

I switched trains again at Genova. There I met two women from Victoria, BC, that were also heading to Cinque Terre. They mentioned how much trouble they had reserving a room in one of the small towns, through which they learnt there was a convention of sorts going on in the area. This made me wonder what my prospects would be like for finding accommodations. The couple from Australia was in the same situation, they were going without any reservations as well.

The train from Genova took us right through the Cinque Terre area to Las Spezia, where I caught a regional train to go back up through the 5 small towns that make up the Cinque Terre. I bought a cheap one way pass that allows you to stop at each of the 5 towns as long is your total trip does not exceed 6 hours.

From La Spezia I headed to the nearest town and started looking from accommodations. Each of these towns is tiny, as you will see in pictures later, so it wasn't far to walk to scope out the accommodations. Although the steep streets are a bit of a challenge.

The first two towns, Riomaggiore and Manarola, has no rooms anywhere, so I didn't bother with the third, Corniglia, since it was the smallest town. That left only two towns Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. The Rick Steves' book recommends Vernazza, but warns that it may be a problem if too many people had his books. Well, apparently too many people did have his books because the place was almost complete full up too. Every place listed in his book was full, so I had to resort to following his suggestion and just ask around at all the local shops if they know of a room.

So that's what I did and just when I thought I was out of luck in this town, a shop owner who first said he didn't know of any rooms asked if it was for just me or a couple. When I said it was for just me, he said he knew of a place. A woman nearby had a room with a single bed. He was nice enough to call her up and she came over to meet me in a few minutes. When she showed up she didn't speak a work of English and my Italian is not too useful yet either, but that wasn't a problem. She called up her son, who spoke English, then gave me her cell phone to the make arrangements with him. Later we went over and met him and he showed me the room. It was perfect for me and after hearing over dinner what kind of rooms other tourists from Canada and the US have, mine was apparently real nice. It is a decent size with its own bathroom and shower and a decent view.

I didn't take many good pictures today, but here are few from the trains and a couple local shots. Speaking of trains. It seems like once we crossed the boarder into Italy we entered the worlds largest subway system. Most of the tracks here are in tunnels separated by small sections of above ground travelling with some awesome views.

At the Arles train station just before 5am.

It just before sunrise.

My view during the wait in Marseille.

Various photos along the way to Genova.

Monaco.

At the train station in Riomaggiore.

View from my room in Vernazza.

Town of Vernazza.