Italy 8: – Cinque Terre – Manarola

After exploring the southernmost of the five towns, we took the train north to one of the two we had skipped on our train-instead-of-boat-ride south.  I had put in our itinerary that we would most likely only want to explore Manarola for about an hour.   I had no way of knowing beforehand which towns would strike our fancy and this one certainly did.  As I said yesterday, picking my favorite would be tough but it would be either Riomaggiore or Manarola.  When I ask the boys, Manarola wins hands down!  Actually, they have no idea which town is which, but when I ask what they liked about Cinque Terre they say the rocks.

Parker fell asleep on the train… OH WAIT!  I just had one of those random memories I want to share!  The first train we got on like any other train.  It pulled up, we lifted Parker still his stroller into the train and rode to the next town getting on and off with relative ease.

The next time we took a train we walked up to it not expecting there to be a set of bars in the door way.  Our boys loaded the train, I loaded the train and Matt lifted the stroller from outside.  We had to force the stroller through the bars to get it in, and I started to get slightly worried that the train was going to start with my baby stuck halfway through the door.  We managed, but then I worried about the condition of the stroller if we were going to have to do that several more times.  We worked our brains to figure out how to get the stroller off with as little trouble as possible.  We managed, and only one other time that day did we find that kind of train door.

I want to pause here and share about how that memory just popped back into my mind. As I was experiencing Italy with my family, I felt tinges of guilt, or disappointment, or something… not sure what, maybe regret because I wasn’t jotting down all the cute things the boys said or did.  I wasn’t journaling our experiences and I knew that I was going to forget so much. There are so many things we felt, experienced, and thought that simply cannot be captured by a camera and I wanted to bring all of that home with me.  But we were spending every day, from sunup to past-sundown enjoying each other and the trip we had dreamed of.  And on top of that, Matt and I were determined to stay on track with our exercising so we tried to run as often as possible.  When I shared with Matt how I was feeling he said something to me that changed my mindset.  “Maybe this trip is to be enjoyed and lived, not necessarily remembered.”  Honestly, that gave me permission to just live it and allow the memories to pop back in my mind later, just like that one about the train doors and the brief moment of panic.  I actually prayed that the Lord would wrap those memories up in little packages and allow me to unwrap them over the course of the rest of my life.  And as I have them, I’ll jot them down.  So, He is answering that prayer… and he did so as I was writing this post and it’s safe now on digital paper.

Yes, Parker is asleep in the stroller parked outside the gelato shop in the above picture. We were sitting at a booth right inside and we decided to try the European thing… let the baby remain asleep parked outside the restaurant while we sat and enjoyed our treat.

And now to share what made this town the boys’ favorite.  They climbed all over some craggy rocks for a very long time.  I stood on the overlook you can see in the top left picture while the boys, including Matt, had a blast.  It was dangerous but I am the mom of boys and I have to allow some danger into their lives.  I actually did very well not worrying about them on these rocks.  I’ll show you a few pictures at the end of this post on which they climbed and I was actually very nervous.

Okay, to see the platform where I was standing check out the top right picture… you can see a random tourist in a red coat.  In the same picture, look at the crop of rocks that extends from the boat ramp and you’ll see a smaller patch of black rock.  THAT is the rock they’re all standing on in the top right picture.  And in the bottom left picture I am standing on the platform taking a picture back toward where I was standing when I took the top left picture.  (Basically, the two left pictures are of each other, if that makes sense.)

Below is a picture similar to the top left picture in the above collage.  It’s larger and this time I want you to focus on the houses and apartments right on the cliffs.  So colorful.

As we followed a paved path away from the center of town the view just got more and more breathtaking.  Notice the green hills above the town.  This is where they grow the grapes to make their world-famous sweet white wine.

Parker sucking his thumb.  I am glad we caught a few pictures of this because we had no idea that he was going to give up the habit (sort of by force) at the end of this trip. Anyway, the picture of our family with Manarola in the background isn’t special only because Parker was sucking his thumb.  It was special because we were in a city that resembled the Italian (make-believe) town of Porta Corsa in Cars2, Parker’s favorite movie.  We don’t have a lot of pictures with all six of us on this trip so any picture that includes our whole family is special, even if blurry.

And as I promised, here are the pictures of the boys climbing on rocks that really made me nervous.  

Do you see Bailey?  He climbed all the way to the top of the set of rocks to the platform.  Here is a picture from the path looking back at the rocks.  I’ve put an arrow where they were climbing at this point.  To get an idea of the height/size of those rocks you can see a tourist wearing a blue coat on the boat ramp.  Maybe I need to get my boys into rock-climbing classes…

Self-portraits thanks to our iPhones.  I LOVE the one of Matt standing on my shoulder!!

What I think we’re doing today:

Mi Cocina, my parents’ favorite Mexican restaurant is our lunch destination today!  White cheese dip… my favorite.  After dark we’re going to ride to another town and view the Christmas lights set up on a golf course.  Easy, restful days.

Jetlag hit all four boys at 0400 this morning; the bigs and Parker alike, and they weren’t even sleeping together.  I fought it for about 30 minutes before finally giving in and letting Parker get up.  The bigs ate breakfast and put in a movie.  Matt and I are catching up on FB, news, and I’m updating this section of this post.  We did get seven hours of sleep so I guess that’s technically a full night.  I think I’m going to go put on some coffee.  And guess what?  It probably won’t be decaf… (Aimee… did you catch that?)

(Funny story:  Aimee bought some coffee at a German store and it tasted amazing.  She then bought some for me and again, it tasted so great.  But I noticed I wasn’t getting any ‘kick’ out of it and questioned its caffeine levels.  She finally translated the words on the package and discovered, a few weeks late, that it was, in fact, decaf.  Just goes to show that buying the coffee in the prettiest bag is not always the best way to make a selection, though I admit that I would have probably bought that one, too.  The bag really was pretty.)

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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