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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 9
Europe 2007
London, Tuscany, Paris


Day 11
Lucca - Monterosso

It was pleasantly silent in the hotel last night. Absolutely no street noise. All we heard through the night were the murmurs of pigeons outside our window. The evening air was cool.


We woke and packed for today's train ride to the Cinque Terre. Then down to the Piazza San Michelle for cappuccino and croissants. The morning is cool and a bit overcast, perfect for more bicycle-touring around Lucca.


We rode one lap (about four miles) around the top of the ancient wall surrounding Lucca in the cool morning air. It is Saturday and all of Lucca is teeming with sightseers, tourists, families and lovers. There is a unique flavor here and we feel as if we've been transported to an earlier, easier time.

Lovers in Lucca
Woman with two cute dogs in her bicycle basket
Taking a break

After returning the bicycles, we strolled through the countless winding narrow shop-lined alleyways, then stopped at Turandot Cafeteria one last time for a quick lunch and great people-watching at the large Piazza San Michelle.

Paolo, our concierge

Picked up our bags at the hotel, said "arrivaderci" to our incredible and helpful concierge Paolo, snapped his photo, then slowly wound our way through the ancient village under the 1400-year-old stone walls on our way to the train station. Caught the 1:30 train to Viareggio, then switched to the Milan train en route to Monterosso in the picturesque Cinque Terre, where we will rendezvous with our dear friends Marc and Muriel.

Waiting for another train

It is fantastic to stand in these bustling European train stations and hear no English.


Soon the train burst out of the tunnel and we could see that we were in the hills lining the Mediterranean Sea along the west coast of Italy. We finally arrived at Monterosso al Mar, one of the five Cinque Terre. Monterosso is a picture-postcard village hugging the sea at the bottom of steep mountains, one of five such villages that encompass the "Cinque Terre."


Our hotel is terrific - the Hotel Margherita. Large room, large bed, air-conditioning, clean, large modern bathroom.

Our hotel (Hotel Margherita) in Monterosso
Our room at Hotel Margherita
Welcome to the Cinque Terre

We unpacked, settled in, showered, hit the local Internet café and set out to connect with our friends Marc and Muriel. We arranged to meet them at our hotel at 6:30 p.m., so Carol and I wandered the shop-lined narrow the streets of Monterosso and sat outside at the bar outside our hotel and sipped a delicious local white wine.

Waiting for our dear friends Marc and Muriel

At 6:30 Marc and Muriel arrived at the hotel. It was a warm reconnection. The four Wandering Jews are back in the saddle.

Our wonderful friends Muriel and Marc

We found a restaurant called Ciak, where we enjoyed local white wine, ravioli with seafood, antipasto and a whole sea bass. After our second bottle of wine, Muriel noticed that we Americans, enjoying each other's company, the ambience, the food and the wine were making too much noise for an older woman nearby. When she and her husband left, he made a rude comment to Marc. We all immediately toasted to their departure and everyone else in the restaurant seemed to be having the same sort of fun as we were. Perhaps their nursing home had closed early, and they were forced to mingle with lowly vacationers. In any event, we continued to thoroughly enjoy the evening and each other's company.

Dinner at Ciak
Muriel points out the many dishes we enjoyed at Ciak
Marc ready to enjoy ravioli at Ciak

At 10 p.m. we walked to the docks and enjoyed the cool ocean air. It had rained while we were inside the restaurant and the streets were wet and the air was cool and crisp. The storm moved out into the Mediterranean and we watched lightning far off at sea for several minutes.

Liquid Viagra
Interesting labels on wine bottles
More interesting wine bottle labels

We found a gelateria and enjoyed chocolate ice cream, then we walked Marc and Muriel to their B&B, bid them buonna note, and then Carol and I strolled to our hotel for a good night's sleep.

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