The Five Lands

Last night’s sleep in the hammock was nice. I only woke up once in the middle of the night around 4:30AM which was typical for me anyway. I lay there for awhile and kept hearing noises around me I couldn’t identify. At first, I thought it was an animal walking around and crunching branches beneath its feet. The weird thing is that I’d only heard the noises for a couple seconds and then it would be silent for seven or ten minutes before I’d hear it again. I decided there wasn’t any way this was an animal; I’d hear then walking around for awhile, I thought. I convinced myself it was probably twigs and branches falling from trees around me caused by the wind. At any rate, I was able to ignore the sounds long enough to fall back asleep.

I awoke around 8:30AM and started packing my hammock, sleeping bag, and air mattress back into my backpack. It was neat seeing the place I picked in the day time after having no idea where I was last night. I walked back down the hill to the train station and hopped on the next train to Monterossa al Mare, one of the five Cinque Terre cities that was farthest from me. My plan was to start there and hike back through each city, ending up back near La Spezia where I could take a train to Milan to see the Leonardo da Vinci museum the next day.

Monterossa al Mare was a small Italian city nestled into a beautiful landscape of mountains and sea. The hike through each city would take me up through the mountains along the coast of the Mediterranean. Here’s a word of advice, I don’t recommend this hike with a 25 pound backpack. It was brutal, but the view around me more than made up for it. At some point along the trail an old man was selling fruit, and I ended up buying a couple oranges from him. He threw in a lemon along with it, which reminded me of my buddy who told me about Cinque Terre in the first place, Patrick. This man lives off of sour citrus fruit. I ate an orange and tossed the rest in my bag for later.

There were a few signs marking how much further the next city was. At some point along the way, I started hearing other hikers mention the trails were closed to the next city. No one seemed to know for sure, but if that was the case, I could always hop on the train and head out.

Near the end of the two hour hike from the first city to the next, I met a guy from Chicago. He asked if I’d snap a picture for him, and we continued to hike to the next city. There we grabbed some lunch and found that the trail to the third city was actually open. We learned that it was the trails to the four and fifth cities that were closed due to mudslides a few years back. We decided to continue on together, but it didn’t take long before I was well behind The backpack was slowing me down but I wasn’t about to quit. I met back up with Chicago near the third city. We stopped near the city center and I checked on my phone to see if there were BlaBlaCar rides to Milan. There weren’t. I also messaged my Italian buddy Davide telling him I’d be back in the area. He said I was more than welcome to stay with him if I liked.

Chicago and I found out that, while the main hiking trails to the next cities were closed, hikers could take the high mountain trails up and around the closed trails. At this point, I decided against it and Chicago and I departed ways. I never did ask the guy his name.

I hopped on the train and started my way back to La Spezia. As the train grew closer, I decided that I’d stay on for one more stop past La Spezia to see if it was the right train bound for Milan. Unfortunately it wasn’t. I needed to go north but the train turned south, so I hopped off at the next train station. This was a mistake. There were no signs or any other indications there at the little train station that gave any clues as to how to get to Milan or anywhere else for that matter. The only cool thing about stopping there was that while the train station obviously wasn’t being used to help people travel on trains, I could hear a drum teacher and his student inside receiving drum lessons.

I waited for quite awhile before another train showed up headed in the opposite direction. I didn’t care where it was going. I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere standing around at a (mostly) deserted train station. The train took me back to La Spezia and this time I made sure I got on a train heading to Milan.

That wasn’t the only train-related mistake I made that day. The ride back to Milan was a long one, and once there all I wanted to do was get to Luino where I’d have a place to stay. I checked the signs for the next train to Luino and climbed aboard.

The wrong train. This one was heading to Turino, though I had no idea at the time. All the signs said “Turin”, and I simply assumed it was smaller town on the way to Luino. Nope. The train traveled for over two hours before finally reaching Turino. While on the ride I met a family of whatever the French equivalent of rednecks are. The were goofy as hell and while I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, that didn’t stop them from trying to interact with me. It certainly helped the long ride to Turino go by quicker.

I realized my mistake just before arriving at the Turino train station. It was around the same time I would have been arriving at Luino, but I was nowhere near it. I was hours away and wasn’t about to take anymore trains that night so I left the train station and, without a wifi connection, started searching for hotels. There were about five near the station, so I went and asked each one for their cheapest rate. The first place I talked to ended up being the cheapest so I walked back and booked a room. After screwing up my travel plans as bad as I did that day, I was relieved to be staying in such a nice hotel that night.

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I've always had the traveling itch, I just never knew how to scratch it. Finally, in March of 2015, I decided to take the plunge. This blog will chronicle my adventures and misadventures as I journey around the world.

One thought on “The Five Lands”

  1. lol, love the stories, this journel would make a great travel book. These pics are great.

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