Buongiorno, Genoa! This morning we will be enjoying the ship excursion for the Cinque Terre. When one’s in-laws’ (who have generously provided for this trip) say to you “We adore the Cinque Terre, it has always been the highlight of our trips,” then you sign up.
Brief breakfast buffet and disembark. Check. Even the littlest one proudly holds her own cruise card in her purse and shows it to the security guard. We have gathered in the explorers lounge to be assigned you our tour group. We are Brown 4. We board our bus along with the others in our group. The bus contains typical bucket seats in rows, upholstered in bluish hues. But there is one row facing backwards toward a table. The kids find this section. I’m seated with a pleasant fellow, who is traveling with his wife and daughter, who are in the row in front of us. They are experienced cruisers and world travelers from Florida, this is their 13th cruise. At the first rest stop we invite the ten year old to join our kids at the table. My new friend joins his wife and offers his seat for my husband. Which is very kind, but my husband has relocated and claimed the entire back row of the bus.
It was very nice making new friends on this excursion. The tour guide is a delightful young Italian woman with a sweet accent. I am reminded of the tours I have taken on my other travels- the Bullet Train in Japan and the Road to Hana in Maui. Our group is about thirty in total, which is not bad, except for that we are one of five groups all going to the same places at the same time. So when we get out, walking among the masses and trying to identify and keep up with our group is a little more stressful than it should be.
The CinqueTerre are delightful; they are five colorful villages that comb the cliffs and slide into the ocean. CInque TerreI am reminded again of my favorite book that I read every year: The Miracles of Santo Fico. The bus parks at one village and we walk down the hills to the water. At the bottom of the hill is a popular swimming hole: and we enjoy watching the inhabitants frolick. A restaurant with outdoor seating is beautifully set up, but as it is only morning, no patrons yet. I’m taken by the lovely cobalt blue accents in the decor, when I notice the restaurant name reminds me of the characters in my book. I snap pics of the sign and the mural. My daughter will paint her version of that scene tomorrow.
Meanwhile, we watch, fascinated, as a modern conveyer system pushes out a boat and lowers it forty feet to the water. We have some free time before our boat departs, but it’s really too hot to think about taking the little stroll they recommended. So we wait. There’s a short jaunt to the dock and we board a little ferry, along with more brown numbered groups. The wind of the sea feels fantastically refreshing as we head toward our next village.
Here in Montorosso, we have a brief introduction and then time on our own. The church is strikingly decorated with black and white marble, arranged in stripes. I am so moved by a large painting, I literally moved when I photographed it. Alas. My in-law’s prefer a slow, fancy lunch and bid us adieu. We find a bar/cafe called FAST and so we duck in there. The names of the sandwiches have rock band references. The old building is so charming with its cracks, and then there are large flat screen tv’s blaring music videos and Italian news. I enjoy a caprese salad, as you do. All the burgers and whatnot arrive together, and I remind the waiter I had ordered a salad. He seems astonished that I even mentioned it, and says it is being prepared. Code for, Relax, you crazy American lady! Afterwards, we venture around a bit and find ourselves at a gelato shop, hits the spot. Hubby and his sister look for the wine tasting, and we head back toward the meeting point. There is a cute playground, we take some pics of dear daughter on swings and slides and whatnot, then we run out of the sun. I find postcards and the cashier says “bye-bye” to me in a funny way: it is too loud and uncomfortable on his tongue, and I wonder if he has seen that skit on Saturday Night Live.
We walk to a train station, and as our guide purchases our tickets, she asks my tall godson to hold her sign. He begrudgingly obliges. We observe the security signs and find them hilarious. Ninja’s might steal your wallets, apparently. We herd onto the train and ride one stop to where our bus awaits. We are exhausted in the afternoon, as is our custom. The ten year old has been to many of the places depicted in my daughter’s world traveler coloring book. They select a page and take turns coloring. Upon embarking the ship, we detour to the international cafe. I have been trying to use up my punches on my coffee card, but they keep giving the kids free drinks. There are worse problems to have, right?
Tonight is another formal night on the ship. We dine in the formal dining room and enjoy our entertaining waiter again. After dinner, we split ways and the girls wait for the balloons to drop in the atrium. It is half an hour before they do, but it’s fabulous. We watch the one lonely cruise employee whose job it is to cut the strings holding the balloons in the net. It is fascinating to me to think that these crewmembers work and live on the ship for ten months at a time, sending money home to their families. They have their own cafeterias and pool on the lower decks. And I think of the Star Trek: Next Generation episode “Lower Decks.” Meanwhile, “YMCA” and “Celebration” play as our little dancers grow tired of dancing. And then the golden, pearlized balloons fall from four levels above.Balloon Drop That was cool. The fabulous tango acrobats are performing again this evening, we are so lucky!
The eveningtime is our regular ritual: I get the girl showered and in bed first, then godson brings my dear son back to the cabin, and he does his thing. I have my black forest frozen mocha and check in with my friends and family via text. Tomorrow is our only day in France: Toulons. I think my daughter and I are going to stay on the boat, however, and watercolor.