strikes

Again, I wrote this last week and did not have time to post, so here’s about my beautiful journey to Cinque Terre!
Strikes. I was told on arriving to Italy that strikes are a commonplace here. That here in Italy they’re scheduled and occur often and will often affect everyone’s everyday life. I had never personally experience such kinds of strikes, until now. This weekend I had a two day trip to Cinque Terre planned. I, as I had learned on the Camino, definitely anticipated that there would be minor issues but I wasn’t too concerned. My friend Lindsay and I set out around 5:45am for the Florence train station for our 6:08am train to La Spezia. After a very peaceful train ride, we arrived in La Spezia. On our arrival we were informed that that night at 9pm there would be a 24 hour train strike that would not end until Sunday night at 9pm. I was pretty unconcerned, worst thing that could happen would be I wouldn’t be able to take a train back to Florence until 9pm which would only equate to more time in Cinque Terre, which was a plus to me. After arriving in La Spezia we took a 5 minute train to the first city of Cinque Terre, Riomaggiore. On arriving to the city I was taken aback by the small, quaint, seaside village before me. After exploring we headed to the central plaza, where there were adorable shops and multiple breakfast cafés! I was so shocked, since coming to Italy I learned quickly that Italians don’t typically have breakfasts, or at least ones that I, an American am used to. An Italians breakfast is typically consists of an espresso or cappuccino and a quick pastry. However, in Riomaggiore the restaurants had crepes, fruit smoothies, and various other breakfast foods. Lindsay and I had a wonderful breakfast and I enjoyed our time together dearly. Afterwards, we planned on hiking to the next village Montarolo, however, we found that the trail to the second city was closed, so we went by train. Montarolo was quite different than Riomaggiore, it had a gorgeous rock/cliff area where we could swim in the crisp, translucent blue Mediterranean water. We explored the city then we swam for around 3 hours. After swimming I sat upon a beautiful cliff over the clear water and wrote in my journal. The feelings, the energy I felt there, the connection I felt between myself, earth and God was remarkable. I felt renewed, refreshed, revived. Two other friends met Lindsay and I there and we all headed to lunch. At lunch I had homemade ravioli, which was probably the best meal of my life, which just made my day even better! The path from Monarola to Corneglia was also closed due to land slides so we unfortunately were unable to hike that as well. But we did, however hike every area where we were able to do so. My friend Zoe and I trained to the fourth city and checked into our hotel in Varanazza. I booked the hotel very last minute but it was an adorable place in the city that I now consider my favorite in Cinque Terre. The energy of Varanazza was unique. Children running everywhere on the cool brick roads, gelato shops, pasta and pizza filled resturants along every street corner, filled the city with a sweet aroma. From there, around 7:00pm we decided to take a sunset hike to the fifth and last city of Cinque Terre, Montarosso. The hike was not too difficult or long, it was uphill for half then downhill and very relaxing. After feeling trapped in a city these past weeks, walking along the costal mountain path freed me and brought me unexplainable joy. We arrived to Montarosso and explored the city there as well which was absolutely adorable at night. Children playing in the piazza, sea food restaurants along the coast crowded with happy travelers, amazing gelato shops, it was a beautiful sight to see. After a short time in the adorable city we had to head to the train station so that we didn’t attempt to take a train after the train strike would begin. We met up with our two other friends with whom we got on the train towards La Spezzia, which we thought would stop at Venanazza. After boarding, however, I realized that we took the wrong train, one that would not stop until Riomaggiore, it was 8:46pm and the last train before the strike from Riomaggiore to Vananzia would leave at 8:49pm. We got off the train quickly, searched and ran frantically throughout the station to find the correct terminal. We found the terminal and the train doors were about to close, two quickly jumped on and the train and arrived in Vanenzzia around 9:00pm. We were so thrilled to make it back to our hotel! We went out to a pizzeria near the beach when we made it to the city then went to bed. The next morning (today), I woke up, checked out of the hotel and we headed to the beach again. The beautiful beach actually has black sand and hundreds of uniquely designed rocks and beach glass. After the beach, we hiked from Vanenzzia to our last city, gorgeous Corniglia. In Corniglia we looked around quickly then headed to the station to find out how we would get back to Florence. After talking with a worker, we decided to buy a ticket and possibly happen to get a train to La Spezia with a conductor who did not participate in the strike. After about an hour and a half wait, the train came! We took the train back to La Spezia, where the fun began. All trains to Florence were canceled. So we bussed to Pisa. In Pisa we bought a train ticked to Florence, thinking we may get lucky like we had in the two previous cities. We were not so lucky. We headed to terminal 2 for the train, waited for 45 minutes to find that the train was canceled, then we headed to terminal 8, then 4, and back and forth at least 3 times, running frantically through the station. All three of the trains to Florence were canceled, the only one that was available was at 11:45pm, which would be late for a school night. I had an idea to find a bus to the Pisa air port where we could possibly bus to Florence. Zoe agreed and we headed outside with the mob of angry travelers. We packed into a bus to the airport, leaving no breathing room. Once at the airport we got on a bus to Florence, where I currently am now. We’re not too sure where this bus is taking us, but I will find out shortly. I am so thankful for getting back in such a timely manner. This trip has been amazing and I laugh at all the drama that the strike has caused. I now can say I made it through an Italian train strike, which is something I never thought I would say. I actually enjoyed all the commotion it caused and it made my weekend even more exciting! I have definitely learned to embrace unexpected events with ease because I know in the end I’ll make it to my destination and it will make for a good story in the future. So, why worry? I am about to get to Florence now and I couldn’t have asked for a better travel weekend before a week of school. Every time I get overwhelmed by the city this week, I’ll think back to my blissful moments spent in Cinque Terre and remember how this trip captivated me and allowed me to see new things, meet new people, and allowed me to live and be free. So, here’s to the next Italian strike, I just hope it doesn’t affect the transportation system next time! But for now, I study but next weekend.. Well, then there’s a whole new set of adventures! Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and love.

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