Travel isn't about the destination, it's about the journey. But let's face it, sometimes the destination is prettier, less stressful and a whole lot easier.
Trains in Italy didn't get better after we arrived in Bonassola. In order to buy a ticket you had to use one of these evil little machines. If you hit the buttons too fast, inserted your card too fast, breathed too fast... it would make you start all over again. Also you had to type in the whole name of a town in order to buy a ticket, so we went to the towns that were easy to spell first. It took us 30 minutes to buy a 2 euro train ticket.
Buying a ticket isn't enough to get on the train though. You have to validate it. If you are caught on a train with a ticket you didn't validate, they can fine you like 70 euros or something crazy like that. Not that they ever really checked, but better safe than sorry!
In order to validate your ticket, you just stick it into one of the green machines at the station. And hope it works. Often they would be out of order or it would take three or four times to get it to work. No idea why it wouldn't just work the first time.
We decided that this was all a plot by the train companies to get us to adopt the Italian life style. You have to relax and slow down, or else your ticket won't print!
I was pretty sick, and spent the first morning painting, coughing and trying to get some food down my swollen throat. My mom went on a bike ride and chatted with the guests in the room next to us. When people are on extended trips, they get really tired of just talking to each other and will talk for hours with whoever they meet. It's one of the best things about traveling! (Besides gelato.)
I refused to miss out on seeing Italy, and dragged myself out of bed. Armed with cough drops, tissues and a bottle of sore throat spray we headed out into the Cinque Terre.
Over the three days we spent in Bonassola, we managed to see all five little cities. A cough-syrup induced fog blended them all together in my head but I guarantee they were all quite beautiful!
The first town we visited was Monterosso, because it was easier to spell. It is the biggest town, with lots of restaurants, gelato shops and tons of tourists. It also has a castle with a restaurant right next to it. Which is pretty neat.
Being sick on vacation is not much fun, but in Italy there were a few perks. I could justify popsicles and gelato as "medications" for my throat and eat as much as I wanted!
Everywhere we went was gorgeous. We climbed castles at sunset and walked through art galleries and my mom went swimming. The hard part was getting there.
The trains in the Cinque Terre aren't just hard to get on, they are hard to get off too. The trains have to pass through tunnels between the towns, and sometimes they stop in the tunnels instead of the station. You have to jump off in the darkness and feel your way towards the station against the walls.
One night we were trying to get back to Bonassola on the train. At the last minute they switched the track it was coming in on and then the train passed behind a parked one and stopped in the tunnel! We finally noticed what had happened and ran to catch it, but it pulled away right as we were trying to open the doors.
As I kept getting sicker, the walking part of traveling was getting harder too. I'd walk 10 feet, cough for 10 minutes, and repeat. But the destinations were all still beautiful!
We never got too lost and I consider that to be a great accomplishment. The Cinque Terre was beautiful but I was excited to move on to our next adventure. And I was hoping to get well along the way.