Category Archives: beach walks

Top 10 Cinque Terre Tips

1. Visit each of the 5 towns and note the differences! My recommended order is Monterusso, Vernazza, Riomaggore, Manarola then Corneglia, going from busiest to most relaxed towns. The train and water taxi are priced similarly, so I recommend both options.

Riomaggiore from the water taxi

Riomaggiore from the water taxi

2. Move base camps, staying a few nights in each town, in addition to day tripping to Portoverne, by water taxi. We adored our Aria di Mare room with a patio in Manarola. 14390675_804617398602_7290652896719854642_n I highly recommend staying here. 14364723_804614519372_425347319447043177_n

3. All the vino bianco (house white wine) is shockingly good, but consider  14448808_805287730252_6734439248593193465_n    splurging on the single vineyard Cinque Terre white wines, to try the difference. img_7183 While in Vernazza, try the Vineria Santa Marta. They have 3 Cinque Terre wines in their tasting and the brushchetta is wonderful too!

4. Try the fresh anchovies, since it’s a regional specialty, however, it’s unlikely to win you over canned anchovies, if you’re not a fish person.

5. At most restaurants, pasta is the supreme choice and secondi (entrees) are not given as much priority or presentation. You must try the spaghetti al pesto 14370356_805020231322_3483084539749973574_n and if you’re adventurous, try the spaghetti nero (squid ink black pasta with seafood!) img_6934  We thought the best presentation was at Trattoria dal Billy in Manarola.

(Side note: it would be very difficult to be gluten free and eat well in Cinque Terre, unless you exclusively ate seafood and only had coffee for breakfast.14333730_805277545662_769157491905239618_n I rarely saw fruit and yogurt as an option for breakfast. Eggs are not an Italian thing.) 14364803_805277500752_5380460152359192664_n

6. Always try restaurants off the beaten path and with more Italians than tourists eating inside. We had a great experience at Osteria Baracco, near Cinque Terre in Portoverne, and were super happy we ordered in Italian! 14354896_805287680352_4137932634649450375_n

7. Try stuffed mussels and all the fresh seafood that you can! 14441082_805288848012_2342129749336324368_n

8. Swim in the Ligurian Sea especially in Monterusso and Manarola! Bonus points for swimming in all 5 towns! We swam in 4 of the 5 since Corneglia isn’t directly on the water but one could swim near the train station.

9. Hike between at least two towns. We hiked between Manarola, Volestra and Corneglia and it was a vigorous hike for us, with our 35-40 lb backpacks. 14292251_805018390012_6046303426147600117_n Via Della Amore between the towns was closed but I hear this is a less strenuous hike and shorter too!

10. If you’re busy and you want lunch on the go, the Ligurian region is the birth place of focaccia. It’s thinner and more varied than anything I’ve had in the US! We frequently grabbed a focaccia with different toppings, or piece of pizza mid-day, or for a snack! 14390937_804614788832_5608074694926474075_n

 

 

Monterusso is a must!

Wow, Monterosso is our favorite Cinque Terre town and we wish we had visited it sooner! We took the water taxi from Vernazza to Monterusso OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAfor the day and it was so much fun. We walked through the markets, windy cobblestone streets that were surprising not has steep as the other Cinque Terre towns,  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA and got pizza before going to the West side of town and renting an umbrella and chairs. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It was totally worth paying for the space because there were very few people and a spectacular view. The warm was perfect and we could swim along the shoreline for 40 minutes end to end without obstruction! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We highly recommend that anyone wanting to vacation in Cinque Terre get a room in this town, especially if they’re interested in beach time!

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This is the perfect beach setting and the weather was equally as nice!

On the South end of the beach, there was a World War II bunk in the rocks OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA that also had a great view, especially from the top!

We didn’t want our amazing beach day to end, but when we ran out of water, we decided to go back to Vernazza, to change for dinner.

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On the water taxi back from Monterusso

img_7635 Before dinner, Mr. F and I had fun taking pictures of the main piazza of Vernazza from our room! It was like playing, Where’s Waldo?

My college room mate, Emily, recommended this place!

For dinner, we returned to the lovely Ristorante di Castello for a great table and excellent service. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This time we tried the pesto lasagna and the frutti di mare! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My absolute favorite things on the menu is the dessert. We had the tiramisu last time as well as the pistachio mousse, so this time we got the coffee cake and the mousse again! This is one of top favorite desserts of the trip! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Dinner at Ristorante di Castello one more time!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Our last sunset in Vernazza was beautiful and we couldn’t be happier!

Our second day in Italy

We were still battling jet lag and woke up at 2am and then didn’t fall back asleep until 4am, thus I wrote most of yesterday’s blog post. Unfortunately that meant we slept in until 10:30am on our second full day in Italy. This dashed our long hiking  plans for the day so instead we went to lunch at Nessum Dora overlooking Manarola. It was a lovely view and great food. We really enjoyed the salumi plate or tagliere.

Nessum Dora

Nessum Dora

Best salumi and cheese plate ever!

Best salumi and cheese plate ever!

We went for a brief hike around Manarola before getting too hot and then went for a swim in the Lingurian Sea.

Overlooking Manarola

Overlooking Manarola

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It was so salty that we felt lighter than swimming in the Puget Sound.

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Manarola’s harbor

Mr F swimming in Manarola

Mr F swimming in Manarola

Manarola coast

Manarola coast

After swimming, we walked through the vineyards before

Manarola vineyard hiking

Manarola vineyard hiking

getting ready for dinner at Trattoria dal Billy again. This time we ordered their house specialty, the pasta frutti di mare, or cuttlefish ink black spaghetti with seafood!

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We were so full that we decided to go for a second swim and it was bellisima (beautiful) with the sunset!!

Our evening swim

Our evening swim

Our last night in Manarola was capped off by pictures on the other side of the harbor and now I know why all the tourists camp out on this side for the best pictures!

Manarola after sunset

Manarola after sunset

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Our first two nights and day in Italy

We landed in Pisa at sunset and the thunderhead clouds looked amazing as we flew in over the Lingurian Seaimg_6429 and Arno River.img_6435 Customs was a breeze and all of a sudden, we were in Pisa. We considered walking the 30-40 minutes to our hotel but instead we got a taxi.

After showering for the first time in nearly 24 hours, we had a nice dinner at Omobono, directly behind the hotel. img_6448They had a wonderful bianco vino dalla casa and the pasta and veal was just alright. We wandered around the river and a few streets before calling it an early night.

Our hotel was on a busy street so it was pretty noisy on a Saturday night. However, the river view in the morning was quite stunning.img_6479img_6465 The Royal Victorian Hotel had a lovely breakfast buffet consisting of lots of pastries and endless coffee. We felt like zombies until the 3rd or 4th cup of black coffee. I started with a lovely cappuccino but needed to mainline it, in order to wake up.

Once we felt more human, we braved the rain and walked to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We were fortunate to have brought our Gortex coats and hiking pants, however we still had fun taking pictures.

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Since it was still raining consistently, we decided to go directly to the train station to Manarola, in hopes the rain would clear up on the coast. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe train from Pisa to La Spezia took us through pretty countryside, near mountains and by several marble quarries. We then took a regional train to Cinque Terre and met an extremely talkative young Texas kid, who was also hiking the trails. Foruntately, he confirmed we were on the right train and reminded us when to get off, when it wasn’t immediately obvious.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAimg_6503  Manarola does not disappoint. As soon as we arrived the weather continued to get better just in time for a glorious view on our private deck and a gorgeous sunset over dinner. Our hotel, Aria di Mare is perfectly situated above the tourist zone and high on the terraced hillside for extensive views. We like the clean accommodations so much more than the dated, rustic, first hotel.img_6764img_6772 Before dinner, we enjoyed our panaromic deck with local white wine. img_6766img_6775 At sunset, we walked a few doors down to Trattoria dal Billy for phenomenal antipasto frutti de mare. img_6777img_6781 My favorite was the black crab! img_6786Trattoria del Billy is so amazing that we made reservations to go again!

[Disclaimer: I wrote most of this post due to jet lag,  so please excuse any enthusiastic typos!]

Our new house and neighborhood!

I’ve been meaning to post our exciting news for more than a week now! We closed on our new house, August 31st and officially moved in the next day! Our wonderful real estate broker, Jeff Stegelman, gave us a fantastic welcome home present when we got our keys too. 14192779_801614616202_7604192074068755785_n Of course, we were so excited that we started moving immediately!  14114851_801231484002_8661578154322334531_o  By the end of the day, we had all our paintings, fragile boxes, and our cats. Luckily, our new mattress had arrived, so we didn’t have to sleep on the floor. 14212111_801700618852_666590438002579445_n On September 1st, the movers brought our heavy furniture and the remainder of our boxes. 14141855_801716641742_2176219268717903231_n Our adventurous kitty, Lily, has enjoyed finding new hiding spots and checking out all the rooms and sun spots. 14264078_803160094052_3422694360935904502_n 14183797_802566832952_3319162069535543274_n Lyra is a little more cautious but loves looking out the windows. 14317502_803160089062_4097689655652241671_n We unpacked all our boxes within a few days of moving in and our house is really coming together! We’ve really enjoyed our new rooftop. 14233266_802578843882_6919173865163836833_n We just got a new hammock for two, as well! 14322391_803160143952_6465231377998772023_n Lily even tested it out with us! 14264971_803160138962_8397450657141136394_n

Some of our other favorite features are the quiet neighborhood, fantastic water views, 14264187_803295682332_2636525481731716283_n  and the amazing kitchen. 14225405_802626538302_5066006294840173706_n Mr. F made my favorite the other night, grilled lamb, salad with creamy Moroccan preserved lemon vinaigrette and Charles Smith Wine, the boy! 14231305_803354579302_3038526232319987640_o We’re looking forward to getting to know our neighborhood more and enjoying the sunsets from our roof. We’ve definitely become homebodies and love spending all our time at home now, especially since the weather trend is more fall-like. We went swimming in the Sound today and it was fierce. It was a clear day and almost 70 degrees, but it was breezy and the water felt a lot colder than a few weeks ago. Even when we went on Saturday, the season has already changed and it was harder to warm up on the beach. image Luckily, we also enjoy long walks around the North Beach/Blue Ridge neighborhood, and we walked all the way to Carkeek Park and back over the weekend (almost 9 miles). There’s a neat trailhead through Blue Ridge to this amazing park. I highly recommend, to everyone in Seattle, to discover new trails through Carkeek! image It’s phenomenal to experience the Seattle on a sunny day, especially on the Sound! image

A fun foodie and outdoor adventure day!

Today was pretty awesome. It started with a 7am swim with Mr F. Sunrise swims are always gorgeous with the pastel colors over the Olympic mountains to the West. Since I didn’t take a picture, I highly recommend everyone go to Golden Gardens beach in Seattle when the sun is rising on a clear day, however sunset in the summer is even more glorious at Golden Gardens.

After we went swimming, we went to one of our favorite yoga classes, which is a great slow flow at the Yoga Tree.  We love going to this class, especially after a long week of work.

Mr. F had to work today, so after lunch, I met my friends for paddleboarding in Shilshole Bay. I rented my favorite displacement paddle board from Surf Ballard and we decided to paddle through the marina. I’m so glad that we did because we saw a baby harbor seal!! (I really wish I had brought my waterproof camera.) It was chasing a fish and circled our boards. It also popped up next to us, repeatedly, over the course of several minutes, super curious and adorable. It was only about two feet long! We almost thought it would climb onto our boards! We also saw my family friends on their boat, the Arkenstone as we paddled through the marina. Before we got to the North end of the marina, the wind came up, pushing us backwards, so it made it pretty easy to be blown/paddle back.  As if this wasn’t enough exercise, I went for another swim after, since it was nearly 90.

Mr. F came home for dinner and we got awesome barbecue at one of our favorite places, Bourbon and Bones. We love splitting a full rack of ribs there. We also got dessert at Cupcake Royale, specifically for the Blueberry Balsamic Goat Cheese ice cream. 14068465_799865805832_5280912603906593615_o The best part of this culinary adventure is, we know the goat cheese farmer!   13987441_799865077292_9053374230481843509_o Gothberg Farms makes the most amazing goat cheese and I HIGHLY recommend a trip to Bow to get cheese, or buying it at Metropolitan Market, or the Bellingham or Anacortes Farmer’s Markets.

That’s all for today! Tomorrow, I’ll prioritize packing more and hopefully get a few swims in, too!

 

 

Weekend plans=packing and planning!!

13882614_796362266952_3972238352145484534_n Seattle has been amazingly sunny and warm this summer, with only a few grey days. Our weekends have been filled with swimming and yoga. However, this weekend, we’re starting to pack our house, collect boxes, and run errands to complete our house buying process! We’re going to check out washer and dryers, mattresses and bed frames too! Hopefully, we’ll still have time for a few swims a day and at least, one yoga class!

Besides swimming, we’ve really enjoyed biking along the Burke Gilman from Fremont to Shilshole Bay and around our new neighborhood, North Beach. We’ve even challenged ourselves to bike up the Golden Gardens Drive NW, which is a steep incline, a mile long with about 300 feet change in elevation, and we made it! Our new house will be closer to our favorite swimming/wedding beach too! I can’t wait!