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Cinque Terre: La Spezia and Biassa

Written on: Thursday March 22nd, 2007

A journal entry from: Rouen

Today I am headed for the Cinque Terre.  I am super nervous because I am travelling by myself.  Hannah went to Valencia to meet up with some friends, and since I just went to Spain I decided to explore Italy more, also I didnt want to waste the long week and just return to school.  I had debated between Venice and the Cinque Terre.  Through research and advice from my friends, both sounded pretty amazing.  The decision process was very difficult, but in the end I chose the Cinque Terre because I envision myself going to Venice in hte future.  So I took a train to Cinque Terre.  Before boarding the train, I encountered an near scam.  A man asked me if I needed help, and I politely declined his offer because I knew which train section I was in.  However, he asked if I needed help with my bag, and again I declined, but he took grab of my bag.  It was a little awkward, but I kept saying "no grazie" and kept a strong hold on my bag.  After awhile he gave up and swore at me.  Luckily, I was smart because in retrospect if I gave in, he most likely would have stolen my bags or forced me to pay him for carrying my bag.   Finally I got on my train and tucked in for the six hour ride.  The train arrived in La Spezia wich is twenty minutes away from the five towns that comprise of the Cinque Terre.  At La Spezia I had to take a bus to a little town where the hostel I booked was located.  First I decided to ask some information about the Cinque Terre and trains getting back to Florence to catch my return to Paris.  I went to the Station's information place and asked when the earliest train leaving from La Spezia to Florence was on saturday.  He said that the earlies was at 5pm arriving in Florence at 9pm.  This made me nervous.... my train back to paris left at 8:50!!! I was a little panicked, but I forced myself to hope for the best and perhaps rearrange my plans a little.  Then I asked him where I could buy a Cinque Terre card, which would give me access to the paths and trains that connected the five villages that comprised the Cinque Terre.  He then proceeded to explain that there were none left, and my heart dropped.  He explained that there were no more cards, but if I needed information I should go to the Cinque Terre office at the other end of the station.  As I thanked him, I will admit, I was close to tears.  The whole reason I came here was to hike the trails of the Cinque Terre and there were no more tickets.  As I dragged my bags to the tourist office, I feared for the worst.  I asked the woman at the desk if she had info on the Cinque Terre, and then I asked if there was any possibility that there were any cards left.  To my surprise, she said of course, and she pulled out a HUGE packet of cards!!!!! She ripped one off and gave it to me and explained that when I began my hiking I would have to validate it.  I was very much relieved.  

After thanking the woman for the cards, I then went to an automatic ticket booth to search for train schedule times.  On my search, I found that there were NUMEROUS trains leaving from La Spezia to Florence on Saturday with the earliest being 9am.  After realizing this, I felt much better.  Also, I took note to never take one person's advice as the whole truth. After sorting everything out I set off to find the bus stop to the town Biassa where my Hostel was.  I found the stop but the bus was a good 20 minutes late and it was tiny.  The bus ride to Biassa was a good 15 minute ride up a long windy road.  Biassa was a very small town situated on a hill that overlooked the port of La Spezia.  After arriving it was very easy to find the hostel because the town was very small.  I had a dorm room with two other girls.  After dropping my bags off I explored the town a little.  It was very tiny, and I stook out like a sore thumb, probably because everybody knew who was who in their town, and I was definitely a tourist.  I enjoy visiting small unknown towns because they are less crowded and you are able to get a sense of what the culture is really like.  I enjoy watching the daily lives of others in these small foreign and untouched small towns and observe the routine of their day.  After some exploration I headed back to the hostel before it got dark, because I was still uncomfortable with the fact that I was travelling alone.  When i got back tp the hostel I had a little dinner and I met the two other girls in my room.  Their names were Tina and Jessica and both were from Kentucky.  They graduated from College in 2004 and were travelling in Europe for 3 weeks.  We eventually went to the common room and watched Bourne Identity with another guy they had met eariler in the Hostel, named Ryan.  Ryan was from San Francisco and he was travelling for a couple of weeks before he headed to Paris for a French Immersion program.  He explained how he graduated five years ago and was working as an engineer, but he wanted to change his job, and eventually end up in the UN, so he decided he needed to learn a language and he chose to take a French Immersion Program in Paris.  It was fun to meet these fellow travellers because I was nervous about being alone, so it was good to have some company in the small town.