Sadly, class has come to an end. My professors were wonderful and played a major role in making this experience so unforgettable. For our last weekend in Italy, two other girls and I made arrangements to go to Cinque Terre, a chain of beautiful towns along the north western coast of Italy. We heard that Monterosso was the best town in Cinque Terre for young people to go and visit the beach. We envisioned staying in a quaint little room in one of the colorful buildings rising up over the bright blue water. The three of us pictured a weekend of leisure on the beach with maybe a little bit of luxury. When we arrived at the train station we called the “hotel” that we had booked over the much trusted website, which we had used to book all of our other rooms. Online there were pictures of nice sized beds in decent rooms, but most of the pictures were of the “scenic view” the rooms offered. When we called for directions from the train station to the hotel, the cheerful concierge offered to pick us up in his car. So thankful for his eagerness to assist us in beginning our fun-filled weekend, we helped load all of our luggage into his car for what we expected to be a short drive to the hotel. The concierge drove, and he drove, and he passed through the little town, and he drove some more, and he kept driving, and then drove a little bit more, until finally at the top of the mountains, deep in the woods we stopped. All of us, besides the driver, were a little confused. Being much further away from the beach (and civilization in general), we were still hopeful that at least the hotel would be nice. We followed with our luggage hoping to be led to a lovely oasis. We had another thing coming. Along the way to the hotel, our guide stopped at a little 6′ x 12′ peanut shell-shaped trailer. Excitedly he told us that we could cook whatever food we had brought with us on an outdoor grill nearby the camper, that we could put our nonexistent sheets that we were supposed to have brought with us on the beds, or that we could rent sheets if we forgot to bring them, and that the outdoor shower and outdoor restrooms were just up the hill, and that he hoped we had a wonderful time camping.
CAMPING. Three girly girls hoping for a glamorous weekend at the beach were accidentally camping. With wide eyes and forced smiles we thanked the concierge for his help and entered our trailer. Once the door closed we died laughing at ourselves. The language barrier had created quite the mix up. I guess it goes to prove that reading the fine print is imperative. Always. It wasn’t anything close to what we were expecting, but we made the most of it nonetheless. We had a quiet girls’ night and used the downtime to complete our final garden papers. Luckily there was wifi so were were able to change our reservations for the next night. We booked a room at an actual hotel in the next town over, Bonassola. However, there was only room for two people in the room. There were three of us, so I took one for the team and told a little white lie that I wasn’t staying at that hotel. We spent the day on the beach. It was spectacular and exactly what we were hoping for. I think after the camping experience we appreciated being there all the more. The next day when it came time to check out, I had to pay for my little stretch of the truth by defenestrating myself. Yes, I jumped from the window of our room on the second floor so that the concierge would not see me. It ended up working out well, i.e. no broken bones, and we didn’t get caught or have to pay extra. We stored our luggage and spent one last day basking in the sunlight and playing in the waves. While Cinque Terre, particularly Monterosso and Vernazza, were incredibly beautiful, they were also especially exhausting. Located in the sides of the mountains along the coast, there are few cars and steep paths to climb. Used to walking all over Italy, I somehow was not prepared for the mountain climbing necessary to get around in Cinque Terre. The beauty came with a price. There seems to be a rule in Italy that what goes down must come up, which turned out to be more difficult that usual in Cinque Terre. In the evening after our day on the beach, the three of us caught a train to Florence where all of our friends from class were staying for the very last night, and where Katie and I were scheduled to fly from the next morning at 9:30 to Zürich. We all met up and went out for a fun time – maybe too much fun. We had a cab scheduled to pick Katie and I up at 7:00 AM to take us to the airport and have plenty of time to check in and make our flight. We woke up at 8:20. We had paid $135.00 for our flights, and I panicked thinking of missing it. Check-in closes 30 minutes prior to departure. The airport was twenty minutes away, and the only way to get a cab was to have one scheduled over the phone. The concierge of our hostel wouldn’t arrive until 9:00, and I was completely lost as far as who to call and how to communicate in Italian my location. But somehow I did. There was a number for a cab service saved on my phone from the last time we visited Florence. It had not worked for me the last time because I didn’t speak Italian, and the operator hung up on my every time I tried to use English. I decided it was my only hope and to give it a shot. I was hung up on three times. Somehow I found the Italian words that I didn’t know and finally got the operator to listen to me and to send a cab to my location. The chances of making the flight were slim, but I figured it was better to have tried everything than to have given up because the odds weren’t in our favor. We arrived with not a moment to spare. The check-in was about to close as we ran through the airport. But we made it. It seemed so impossible, but we did indeed make it to Zürich. Updates will soon come on that beautiful city. For now I am in France, preparing for the USA World Cup game!