Cinque Terre or “I’m the Man!”

I've been remiss in telling about the trip to Cinque Terre that Matt, Anna, Leanne, Brandon, and I took over the fourth of July weekend. The trip started well with shots of Jaegermeister to celebrate how much we loved America as we flew from Frankfurt to Pisa. We made a very quick stop at the leaning tower to take pictures, and then jumped on a train to Spezia, which is about 10 minutes from Riomaggiore, the town we were staying in.

In Spezia, we made a mad dash for our train platform to find the train on the tracks. We tried to jump on and a man in the doorway shouted, "NO!" and

many other things in Italian that we did not understand. So we just went to another car, jumped on, and the train started moving. Pretty much immediately, we realized something was wrong. Everyone was staring at us. All the seats were full. Suddenly a big man comes in and starts telling me something quite urgently in Italian. I get enough to realize we're on a 'special train' and that the next stop is Genoa. Someone comes who speaks English. He informs me that it is a train full of Pilgrims on their way to France, and it will not be making the normal stops. In fact, it will not be stopping for over an hour, in Genoa.

 

We just stood there slack-jawed, and luckily, he was quite friendly and took us back into what I can only presume was the staff break car. It looked like a cattle car and just had a few benches on the side. Folks came and went and tried to speak with us. No one was very successful, but they were Neopolitain and very friendly. It was not long before Matt had started a singalong.

So you know how different cultures have slightly different senses of time? I forgot about that. One hour to Genoa turned into an hour and a half, then two. We sort of thought we had been kidnapped. Depression started to creep in. But then, after two hours and fifteen minutes, the train started to slow, and our spirits returned! We were in Genoa! Only 150 minutes from the town our hotel was in! Luckily, we got a train back right away. We made it to Spezia, then took a taxi to Riomaggiore.

The good news was that the place we stayed was awesome. It was an apartment, and we could have fit 12 more  people in there. We even had a big rooftop balcony with a table and chairs to lay out on. I brought my ipod dock, and we were drinking wine and listening to music in no time. Matt did an awesome dance move to Joe Jackson's "I'm the man" that eventually resulted in a chair breaking and him officially being a rock star.

Cinque Terre means 5 cities, and they are all coastal towns connected by a rustic trail that you can hike. Each town is breathtaking and quaint and has great places to swim and eat. And that is precisely what we did for the next two days. On Monday there was a train strike so we had to take a taxi all the way back to Pisa, which was not cheap, but was a heck of a lot more direct than our ride in. I loved watching the landscape change on the flight back, and was happy to be home with plenty of time to rest before heading back to work on Tuesday.

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J’aime le fromage

One of my favorite things about living here is that when I randomly get messages from people saying that they're going to location X (in this case, Paris), more often than not, I am close enough to just jump on the train and come meet them for the weekend.
    Which is precisely what happened with my cousins Dan and Jennifer. It was so great to be able to spend time with them and we really made the most of our 24 hours. We went the the Musee D'Orsay, the Rodin Museum, Montmarte (to see Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge), and consumed at least 5 different types of sweets, to include crepes, toblerone, ice cream, creme brulee, and a doughnut. Needless to say, it was great!!!

Edit: I changed the photo when I realized I looked terrifying in the Eiffel Tower one. But you still get jumping!

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Update

Sorry I haven't posted in so long! As you all know, my life has changed quite a bit, but I am doing well. Jenn moved in with me, and we are having a blast. She's the best roommate ever, and Heidelberg is still my favorite city on earth.

Plus, as of today, I am the Director of Downrange Operations for the University of Maryland – Europe. Up until now I've been interim. I'm going to have some friends over tonight, wear my new dress, and drink Prosecco to celebrate! Yay! I did move to a smaller office, but it's quite cozy. Here is where I sit all day long:

 

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