28 February, 2009

Cinque Terre, part II

The morning after our arrival, one of my friends and I got up at 5:00 am to see how things looked at about that time. We walked around in some rather icy wind for about 2 hours until the sun came up and the rest of our group was ready to head out for the day, but the area was gorgeous at that time: everything was quiet except for the sea and the wind, the moon was high over the bay, and the harbor with all its moored boats was lit only by two yellow lamps.

These pictures give a general idea of how things looked as the sun came up. I know the last one is crooked.

Anyway, early in the day we went shopping for food. There were three small grocery stores on the street which had their produce displayed out in front, and there was a fish truck on the side of the same street. We bought foccaccia and brie for lunch, and then for dinner ended up with two fresh fish (scales and everything still on them), several tomatoes, butter, a clove of garlic, pasta, zucchini, more bread and cheese, a bottle of wine, and a few other things perhaps. It was a bit tricky buying exactly enough food to use up in one night, which explains why we used butter instead of a huge jug of olive oil.

We left all that in the kitchen of the hostel, bought some tickets to get into the national park area, and went hiking. The hike was breathtaking. It still is, presumably, but our weather made it particularly nice. It basically consists of a walk (not much of a hike at all to be honest - it's too flat and easy) along the very edge of the cliffs of Cinque Terre, and connects all the towns. Unfortunately, only one part of the path was open at this time, because it was off-season, and rockslides had completely knocked the path off the cliff face in most of the rest of the park (which, to those who were wondering, is one of the reasons we couldn't have jumped the fence and walked back anyway, even had we been able to get unanimous assent to such an activity). We finished the walk and ate lunch on the way (recall the lovely bread and brie - a half kilo for only eight euro!). In the neighboring town we just strolled around the paths through the terraced areas and explored a bit before my foot began to get sore and we turned back. (Ah yes, that... for the record, I sprained my ankle playing capture the flag about a month ago: it's still sore, but I can walk on it no problem now. Then it was only a week after it happened, and my foot was still about 1 and a half times its normal size.)

We spent the rest of the afternoon reading the Oresteian trilogy and studying for a Theology test on the beach at Riomaggiore, and after watching the sunset (absolutely spectacular in itself; see below), we made dinner.

Ahhh, dinner. It was marvelous, despite the lack of basil or oregano for the sauce. We used garlic and some of the rosemary that we picked (it's used as groundcover here: it grows everywhere!) along with the tomatoes and zucchini to make a pasta sauce. The one guy who came with us (the brother of one of my roommates) scaled and cooked the fish, and other people watched the pasta. Then we roasted some garlic and mixed it with melted butter, spread it over the bread, and toasted it in the oven to get garlic bread. Incredibly simple and delicious.

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