8am sharp, the ISA students boarded two buses en route to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre, meaning “five islands”, rests on the Eastern coast of Italy. We stayed in Levanto at Hotel Dora, only a short block from the beach. A group of us girls ate near the main square to sample the pesto, the region’s delicacy. I then shopped around for pesto and Limocello as gifts to bring back to the states.
ISA provided a ferry ride to Monterosso for us to explore on our own. Once we arrived to the shore, a couple of paddle boarders caught my eye. I have always wanted to try paddle boarding, but such activities are hard to come by when you grow up in the middle of the United States. Though most of my friends went hiking, Sam and I rented boards for an hour to work out like a celebrity.
Thanks to yoga, I kept my balance the entire time. Sam had a few tumbles but we managed to coast around the shore with ease.
When returning our boards, Sam and I searched for our phones and wallet on the beach. We left our belongings with Erin who had been working a day trip with Bus2alps. She was nowhere in sight and her tour group was waiting for the next train out of the city. We sprinted barefoot in our suits to look for Erin’s bright blue Bus2alps shirt. A minute before the train arrived, we found her amongst a crowd of tourists.
Erin assured us that our belongings were with Gabbi. I figured this was the case, though the thought of losing our valuables was unbearable.
After that scare, Sam and I met up with friends for a cocktail. After sipping on a spritz we decided to train home alone rather wait for the ferry ride back with ISA.
Ten of us ladies killed time with mimosas at Gabbi’s hotel room, which was separate from where the majority of the students were staying. She shared a floor with three girls, equipped with a kitchen, living room, balcony, and king-sized beds. I spent the night in a bunk bed. Cool. By 8:15 we departed the ritzy flat to train back to Monterosso for dinner.
We sat under lit tents on the seaside. The weather had dropped but the ambiance kept me distracted from the ocean breeze. We shared wine and stuffed mussels as a table and I split the salmon Gnocchi salad and steamed mussel appetizer with Sam. I tried my best to savor every bite but ended up devouring the plates.
Walking up to the kitchen to use the rest room, a table of men called me over. They were not aggressive and I recognized one if the guy from the paddle board rental stand. When I walked up to the group, they handed me a rose.
Waiting at the train station for an extra 45 minutes. All of my friends were exhausted and went to bed, but I was wired. We were in Cinque Terre people! I ended up finding Bridget, Kaleigh, and Kenzie on the street walking to a bar. Soon after we ran out to the beach to celebrate the town’s beauty.