The coast means the lullaby of waves that bring peace, and a freshness, to your soul! In this case, it means blue water that looks like an over-satuated photograph, but is actually a natural, colorful brilliance. It means being blinded by the sparkling water as the sun shines down its warmth and light. Being near the water is awe-inspiring, beautiful, and terrifiying at the same time. The ocean that could swallow us whole in a split second can also provide rejuvenation and joy. God's art is my favorite art. Which is why this place was my heaven on earth!
We were greeted to the town we were staying in by a gracious airbnb host and some vibrant orange trees. These orange trees were the culprits of my never-ending citrus craving. The oranges there were delicious and I ate so many!
Cinque Terre is the name for a group of 5 villages that are nestled atop some cliffs on the western coast of Italy. The villages are old, colorful, and full of character... and gelato. We wasted no time, and hopped on to the train to visit the first of the 5 villages: Vernazza. The first thing we happily stumbled across was this small italian bread shop. We got a slice with fresh mozarella, tomatoes, and pesto and it was the perfect first taste of Italy.
A beautiful rocky beach. We took our shoes off and put our feet in the water. Rather, froze our feet in the water. Any hopes for jumping in for a swim were quickly shattered. But we were happy to soak in the rays of sunshine that we have missed so much lately!
I was adamant on staying in the village for the sunset even though it was getting quite chilly. The sunset was beautiful, but not quite as colorful as I was expecting. Jeff gave this scientific explanation as to why, which is not unlike him. Always learning new nuggets from him. After the sun set, we found a hole in the wall place where we got a pizza to share. It was DELICIOUS! A perfect way to end our first day.
The next day we woke up and took a train to the village of Corniglia. Full of vineyards that I just loved. To get to this village from the train station, we had to walk up a ton of stairs. (I think around 500) And once we got to the top, we hardly even took a second glance at the village before we started hiking to the next. Our main goal today was to hike to different villages. That was what enticed me to come here; hiking is my happy place! And I've never hiked somewhere so beautiful! Hiking on these trails was truly surreal. I told Jeff I felt like I was on a treasure hunt, with new breath-taking views around every corner. The blue sparkling sea a blissful constant. They were long, steep hikes with SO many stairs. But the promise of spectacular views and endorphins propelled us forward.
We were stripping layers real quick as we continued up more and more stairs. It was so FUN hiking with him!
This is an up-high view of Corniglia. Just beautiful!
Even though Jeff wasn't feeling his best, we set off for our next hike: from Manarola to Riomaggiore. This was the shortest of all the hikes, but also the most intense. It was about 3/4 a mile of STEEP stairs straight up to the top of a mountain. There were moments where I was scaling up steps more than walking; using my hands to pull me up.
You know how we always say at Christmas time that we wish we could have the Christmas spirit all year round? Well, italy has got it down. Check out this Nativity on this mountain. So many people all traveling in the direction of Christ, I absolutely loved this. Reminded me of the quote "Wise men still seek him."
FInally made it to the top, and overlooking the village of Riomaggiore. (side note: it was fun trying to say these villages the way the italians do; I love the way they accent their words!)
^^ the tippy top of this hill is the one that we climbed straight up and back down.
I thought the hike was a blast but Jeff kept asking to take breaks; even though I was wearing the back pack and everything! This is the guy who rucks 8-20 miles on the regular. So unlike him. He began to dwindle more and more until he finally said he had to go back to our room. I just figured that hike really tired him out; he later told me that he wanted SO badly to just say "you go do the hike yourself and I'm going to go home" but he wanted to make me happy! I later realized it was a great sacrifice because he was hit hard with something nasty. We think it was food poisoning; but it took EVERYTHING out of him and by the next morning he could hardly walk to the bathroom.
Another beautiful (maybe my favorite) view of Vernazza.
Made it to Monterosso. And that SUUUPER photogenic rock that I'm apparently obsessed with.
They warn you profusely about pick-pockets. Notice the person pick-pocket-ing has a bandana around his head. This sign made me laugh out loud.
That trip was unforgettable. For many reasons. It really was rotten that Jeff got sick but we still had a blast together and most important of all: our love and appreciation for each other grew! We had many good conversations and sweet moments I'll never forget. One day as we were sitting in the sun in Manarola, he looked at me and said "You know, you really are the most beautiful girl here. And I really do think that." He is SO not mushy, so it made me blush. He is a good man, a good partner, and I left with my cup completely full. Sometimes life drains your cup to near empty, and other times, life fills it right back up. I needed a brimming cup, and I'm grateful to God for giving me time alone with my husband, with myself, and with Him to gain clarity, gratitude, and a renewed determination to be the best I can be.
I'm so grateful to Kim for watching my girls and LOVING them. I really didn't worry about them once. I MISSED them, but worry- I did not! What a priceless gift. I was SO excited to see my girls again, and I think the feeling was mutual. :)