What are the odds?
And soon it was time to get up again and get ready for the next leg
of our journey. So we took showers and at around 8am we headed down
to have breakfast. Today there was a bit more going on, but we found
a table, got some coffee, tea and orange juice and then headed to
There were a few other items there today and we started filling our
had picked some ham and cheese, cucumber and tomato slices and
some yellow peppers, a slice of Frittata, a boiled egg that had been
seasoned with Balsamic, some Russian Salad and of course some panini.
picked ham and cheese as well, Russian Salad, tomato slices,
another piece of Frittata and some cherry tomatoes and mozzarella
balls that had been marinated. Everything was really good and
needless to say we had to go back for seconds. Tom felt like
something sweet, so he had a slice of
a Panini and some butter and cherry jam, while I went and got myself
croissant and a jam filled one.
We sat there for quite some time enjoying our breakfast and just
wasting time. Well, we just had to. We knew that we could not move
into our apartment in Vernazza before 2pm and it would only be a
short drive there. So once we had finished breakfast, we headed to
the front desk and asked if it was a problem if we only checked out
shortly before check out time, which was noon. They had no problem
with us leaving our stuff in the room and after a short visit to the
room we handed in our key (they don’t like you to take the key with
you) and went out again to have another stroll through town. First
off we headed along the beach promenade going towards where the
boats to Portofino leave.
There was a boat sitting there waiting to leave and it was already
full of happy people. We walked further on towards the far end of
the city, enjoying the view of the sea. We took our time strolling
along, stopping ever so often to take in the beautiful views. After
we finally turned around and walked back we decided to walk along
the little shops on the other side of the road. Soon enough we found
ourselves in front of a small hill with a church on top. Well, why
not walk up there. The church was dedicated to the fishermen and it
was small, but with the light colours and many windows it felt so
well lit and airy. Needless to say, since they had candles to light,
that’s what we did.
Once we left we headed along the uphill climbing pathway to another
church that was right above the one we had just visited. It was
beautiful, but really different to the one we had been in a few
minutes ago. Again we took a few minutes to look around before
heading back out into the heat again.
A few steps on there was an old tower, guess it used to be a
watchtower a very long time ago and it was sad to see that it had
been closed because of safety reasons. I am sure you would
have had an absolutely amazing view from there. We still had a
little time left before we had to leave, so why not have another
ice-cream before it would finally be time to say goodbye. Most of
the gelaterias were not open yet, but we finally found one that was
open and had outdoor seating. There was no menu on the table, so we
asked for one and what the server brought out, was a HUGE binder
with about 50 pages of pictures of giant sundaes, coffees, drinks
and everything else. Finally I ended up with just picking
three flavours inside the shop.
One was hazelnut, one was pistachio and one was cinnamon, which he
didn’t know to explain to me, when I ordered and I got a spoonful to
taste. After that I was sold. I also ordered some Diet Coke and Tom
had a cappuccino. And while we sat there enjoying our ice-cream we
pitied the server, as he had to sell ice-cream by the cone inside
the shop as well as server the customers at the tables. He was quite
stressed by it. And it showed, as when we had finished our drinks
and ice-cream and we asked for the bill it took about 10 minutes
until he had actually time to come and bring our bill and be paid.
We now only had about half an hour left, so we walked right over to
the little garage where our car was parked.
you park it there, you need to hand in your key as space is VERY
limited and they juggle the cars around to get in as many as
possible. It was just a 3 minute walk there and it still amazed me
how narrow that little street actually was. Once we were at the
garage we pointed out our car, which was at the very back, to the
attendant and he started shuffling cars around. He actually had to
move 6 cars to be able to drive ours out, but finally it was done
and we got in and drove back to the hotel. There is a pretty small
loading area for guests in front of the hotel and we parked there,
let the front deck know we were just bringing down our luggage and
went back to the room to retrieve it.
Once we had it all in the car it was now time to bid our farewell to
Santa Margherita and get on our way to Vernazza. We had rented a
small apartment there and we needed to meet someone at a restaurant
around the corner of the apartment building to get the keys and
drive our car into their garage as you are not allowed to drive into
Vernazza without a permit. So with that in mind we didn’t want to be
there too early, so the host would be there when we arrived.
Therefore we had decided to just enjoy the drive and take our time.
First off we needed to drive back to Santa Margherita and it was a
really beautiful drive all the way back to Rapallo, which was jammed
with traffic again.
But it gave us a chance to find a gas station to fill up the car, as
there are no gas stations in the Cinque Terre. Car filled up we soon
found ourselves on a country road going towards Vernazza. We were
chatting and enjoying the countryside and we thought of the man who
had inspired us to go on this trip, Umberto, our tour guide from the
year before, who had just captured us with his love and knowledge
for the area. And we joked how funny it would be if we ran into him
and one of his tour groups in Vernazza. We had three days to spend
in this tiny village, but what would be the odds to run into him?
And while we were still having fun talking about it we could see the
road ahead of us getting narrower and narrower.
And picture this narrow road on the side of the mountain and the
steep way going down. It was quite frightening, but none the less we
would still be early, so driving extra slow was not a problem. There
was just one more thing we needed to get done before we finally
headed into Vernazza, we needed to do some grocery shopping. I had
done research if Vernazza had a grocery store, and while I was
pretty sure there had to be one, I did not find any information if
there was or not, so we had decided to just pick up some provisions
on the way. Now, we had been driving for a while and even crossed
some villages, but there were no grocery stores in any of them,
which had us, kind of worried.
But when we finally drove through a little larger village, like 5
crossing roads large, we noticed a grocery store advertisement. At
the store there was even a parking spot and we pulled right in
without even looking around too much, but we soon found an employee
waving us toward the back, where the real parking space was. It was
even quite big for the circumstances and we soon had our car parked.
Now picture this, you are in this tiny village in Cinque Terre and
you visit a supermarket and the car in the opposite row was from
Austria as well. Small world, indeed. Well, we headed inside and
picked up some fruit, veggies, bread, butter, cold cuts and some
drinks and after loading them into the car we were on our way again.
And right as we got in, we got a text from the person we were going
to meet, that he might be late, as the trains were not running on
time and to give him a call once we arrived. Okay, we still had a
bit of road ahead of us, so we were not too worried. I got really
worried though, just a few minutes later when we finally got to the
road that led down to Vernazza. It was narrow, and I mean really
narrow and winding. Sometimes so narrow, there was only one lane. We
found ourselves behind some bikers for a while and were not able to
overtake, as the road was so narrow. I was so scared that someone
might drive in the opposite direction and one of us would have to
drive in reverse, with the steep slope right beneath you.
But finally we made it to the public parking outside of Vernazza.
From there it is still a 20 minute walk downhill into the town, so
we were happy we had parking reserved in town and we kind of let the
car roll down the street pretty slowly as it was very narrow again
and people were walking up and down there. We had checked out the
area on google earth before and soon we saw the parking area outside
the apartment complex where we had booked our small flat. There was
no parking outside available, so Tom parked in “second row” and
stayed in the car. It was so hot there, so I got out and tried to
call the “key – guy”. Yikes, there was no mobile reception.So I
walked around a lit trying to pick one up, and finally found a spot
where I could try. It would ring, and you could hear someone picking
up, but that was it. So I sent him a text. No answer. I had a
contact address in Vernazza, so Tom stayed put in the car and I
headed into town. I had walked all the way down to the train
station, when I got a call from our “key – guy”. He was on his way,
but he would be late and should police arrive and tell us to leave,
we should just call him and he would clear things up. Yikes, that
didn’t sound well. I headed back up to Tom, well, I wasn’t all that
fast, as it was hot and all the way uphill. When I arrived where I
could see our car I was a bit shocked, as there was a white car
parked behind ours and I was afraid that would be the police. But on
second look there were no emergency lights on the roof, so I was
kind of relieved.
I got back to the car and told Tom that we would have to wait for
the “key – guy” to arrive. I stayed outside the car and we talked
through the open window. And while we were waiting I kept looking at
the house we would be staying at for the next three nights and I
caught a glimpse of the white van behind us as well. Well, I had a
second closer look, then turned to Tom and asked if he could see the
white van behind him in his back mirror and if he could see the
driver. He could, but the driver did not look familiar to him.
Funnily enough he looked very familiar to me. He looked just like
Umberto, the very Umberto we had talked about that morning and
thought how fun it would be to run into him while in Vernazza. I
took another look and then another and finally mustered up the force
to walk to the van and up to the open window and ask if the driver
WAS Umberto. He looked at me and answered that, yes, indeed he was
Umberto the tour-guide and had we not been on a tour with him the
year before. I was shocked he would remember us, but he did and he
got out of his car and so did Tom and hugs were in order and we
stood there, chatting. Umberto was very happy to hear that we had
been so impressed by his tour that we had now returned to stay here
for three nights. All too soon his guests, who he had taken to the
village to explore on their own, returned and we sadly had to say
A short while after Umberto had driven off we got another phone call
from our “key – guy”. I could understand that he had arrived and
where were we? Well, we were the only car sitting in second lane. I
walked over to the house and finally we were able to say hello to
the “key – guy”, while Tom drove around to the entrance to the
garage, where we had rented a spot. Boy, was it hard getting into
the garage. First off, Tom had to back up again to finally be able
to turn into the drive and then it was very steep, with a slippery
road surface and it was winding very narrowly as well. You could see
where cars had hit the sides of the drive and with a lot of car, Tom
made it up to the first floor (second US floor) where the parking
was. The spot was tiny and our car just fit into it.
Then it was up to see the apartment. We used an elevator to go up
and then headed into a fenced off garden with a nice outdoor sitting
area with a table and four chairs and a porch swing. And while we
were taking a look we learned that these belonged to our property
only, so we were free to use it whenever we wanted to. Great! Then
he opened the door and the flat was really cute. The door opened
into a dining/living room area, with the kitchen to the right, then
a few steps up and a bathroom/shower on the right and a few more
steps up into a bedroom. It was cute. We were told that since it was
so hot the AC was working, but only on low to conserve energy. That
was okay with us and we paid for the room and parking, which was a
bit nerve wrecking as the internet connection was less than
brilliant and it took a few attempts for my credit card to go
through, but after a few minutes the “key – guy” left the keys in
our hands and said his goodbye. We then went to carry up all our
belongings and unpack. When we were back in the apartment, Tom
discovered that the AC was not on low, it was not on at all and it
would not work either. All there was, was a fan, so we took that to
the bedroom to cool it down a bit and just opened the door to the
balcony in the dining room. And then we discovered something
missing. And while it was in the apartment description there was
definitely no TV in the flat. Thankfully we travel with computers
and Tom brings loads of stuff to view, so at least we were set
We needed a little rest and a drink, so Tom had one of the beers we
had purchased earlier after it had been in the freezer for a while
and I had some Diet Coke and a peach. And after about an hour and a
half of enjoying our new home, we headed out and into the town again
to refresh our memory of it and explore. The town of Vernazza is
tiny as are all the Cinque Terre towns, so it did not take long to
walk all the way down to the ocean. When we walked down, there were
still a lot of tourists around, but many of them were heading to the
train station already. We explored the shops on the way down and
guess what, there was a small grocery store and even a butcher
there, as well as several bakeries, so we knew we would not be
starving those three days.
Soon we stood at the harbour and enjoyed to look around as it
brought back so many beautiful memories of that day in Vernazza with
Umberto a year ago. We strolled around the area for a bit and then
went to the very bar, where we had had a great break last year.
There are only three tables inside and we were lucky enough that one
was empty, and we ordered some of the
Terre wine and sat and enjoyed it. Once we had paid the bill we
decided to head back to our apartment and have an early and relaxing
night. But not without picking up a few more items on the way back.
We stopped at a few places to get some more treats. It took a bit
longer getting back to the apartment as all the way it is uphill,
but thankfully, as I mentioned before, the town is pretty small.
Once back we refreshed, then washed the plates we needed for dinner
and laid the table to have dinner. There was some
and calamari from the fry shop, some olives and
salad from the butcher, the prosciutto and salami that we had
bought earlier in the day and several pieces of Focaccia to share.
It was a really delicious dinner and when we were done we thought
that since we had a dishwasher, why not put all the dishes in the
dishwasher and while they are washed we could sit outside and enjoy
the early evening. So we emptied out the cupboards and put whatever
fit into the dishwasher, tab into compartment, close door and …….
nothing. Okay, let’s try that again. Same result. So we looked if
the dishwasher was plugged in and no it was not. We tried to plug it
in but the actual plug would not fit in the socket.
Hm, the dishwasher has a German plug and the socket is an Italian
one. Well, we do travel with an assortment of plugs and quickly
found a German one. Plugged in the dishwasher and pushed the start
button and …………. it blows the fuse!
Thankfully Tom was able to find the emergency button for the
electricity and everything went back to normal again, just the
dishwasher was sitting there, not working.
So, we knew what we would have to do later that evening, yikes, but
there was no way around washing all the dishes by hand, but for now
we poured ourselves a glass of wine, grabbed some of the
sweet treats we had
purchased as well and went out into our garden, where we saw one of
the vineyard workers using his “transport”. We sat on the garden
swing for quite some time until it got completely dark, then went
back inside, cleaned up and had an early night, which meant watching
“computer TV” in bed.