OUR NEXT STOP WAS CINQUE TERRE, an area along the water separated into five pieces of land that are villages touched by the finger of God. I seriously cannot describe in words my love for Cinque Terre. But the train ride there was horrible. This kid everybody calls C-Molly sat next to me and across from Serena and Taylor and he literally spent the first 15 minutes standing talking to his friends trying to find another seat. I guess we were just not cool enough to sit next to, but finally he succumbed and took a seat next to us. It probably hindered his social status but I think he’ll live. It’s truly amusing how so many of these kids are so self-entitled, cliquey and search for drama. Some of the girls choices and actions and behavior revolve around their desire for getting attention from the guys in our group and to me and Serena that is just HILARIOUS. We have tons of guy friends in the trip that we love to hang out with, but instead of trying to get all of these annoying Calabasas boys to be our friends we are having fun with the Europeans. These girls got NO CLUE what they missin’ out on as we explore cities and get amazing opportunities which turn into crazy stories and memories while all they get is a drunk night talking smack about other peeps on the trip. Whateva, it’s their loss! We woke up ONE MINUTE before the group left Cannes for our Cinque Terre train because our roommate Jacqueline supposedly did not realize that we wished to be woken up to pack ad leave with the rest of the group after our alarms didn’t work. Because obviously that’s not common sense. But other than the stressful traveling and rush of a wake up (nobody brushed their teeth and I forgot to put on deodorant and was using Serena’s cardigan to disguise my ripe stench on the crowded bus next to the boy who already didn’t like us) it was all worth what was yet to come in Cinque Terre.
^^ when you’re trying to disguise your stench and highly regret forgetting deodorant before a non-conditioned, 4 hour train ride
Our first day in Cinque Terre was probably the best day we’ve ever had, but then again I say that about practically every day I’ve had on this trip. Our residence for this part is in a house a good ten minute hike up the cobbled streets to an alleyway by the bell tower, where they ring a bell to be heard across the entire village for every 30 minute mark ( at least I think). Hiking up that hill with our luggage was a funny joke. I honestly think we burn so many calories here with all of the stair ascending and descending with luggage and moving that it counteracts the ridiculous amount of food we eat. We opened our house to find a quaint, adorable bedroom with two windows overlooking ALL of Cinque Terre and the multicolored houses with clothes on streamlines blowing in the wind and lush, green vineyards and blue skies and water and nature embracing us. It looked like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when Lena comes to live with her grandparents, LITERALLY. We slipped on our bikinis and went down the hill to the water where I CLIFF JUMPED for the first time!! My heart was nearly beating out of my chest as I climbed the rocky cliff and I waited for Serena and Taylor to go first. I am not good with heights unless it’s something I am strapped into like a roller coaster or zip line. But I jumped in like a pencil and squeezed my butt cheeks so I wouldn’t bruise and water went up my nose and two kids got stung by jellyfish so I swam outta that water in no time, but it was still awesome. Serena and I tanned and enjoyed our view and basked in happiness at the thought of staying here for the next two nights. Two very “basic” girls behind us were complaining about having to stay in this place for two more days because there’s nothing to do here. I immediately sat up and questioned them snappily. They said that Cinque Terre just “isn’t there style”. First of all wtf does that even mean and second of all how could this place sent from the Italian heavens be anything short of somebody’s liking? I gave them about 20 examples of things to do and enjoy here and her response was, “I don’t know, it’s just old and like I guess I just don’t like the food”. I came to find out that of course she didn’t like the food because she barely ate carbs and when I offered her my caprese she asked for only half of the tomato slice, preferably the half that had not touched the olive oil. Of course I am scarfing my face with starches and sweets and Nutella and wine galore and I couldn’t be happier. Serena and I notice new rolls or jiggles on our body and we smile and point to them saying, “Hey! that’s the gelati from Monaco” or “Look! Here’s the prosciutto and pesto pizza from last night and the Nutella waffle from Cinque Terre!” We pride ourselves on our foodie pounds.
Buzz is a VERY big advocate of singing with the locals, and I have already sung publicly in London with my guitar and enjoyed it so much. He told us we had to meet Paolo, a local Cinque Terre musician who would let me come up and sing with the band at his bar and of course I was all for it. So, after a DIVINE dinner of fried calamari, spicy octopus pasta, bruschetta, pesto pasta and pizza and the most delicious mussels I’ve ever had plus a 15$ cover charge for water and bread ( these are the times I like to give a “fuck you”to Europe) we all headed over to the bar to check out Paolo and the music. Serena was in heaven and so was I to see that they were busting out the blues (harmonica and all) and playing anything from The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” to Rolling Stones to old time classics. The guitarist/singer was named Paolo and so was the incredible harmonica player. They had a hot guy on the drums and another dude on guitar as well. I am sure they were skeptics when Buzz told them I had a good voice and wanted to come up to sing, I sure would be hesitant to let somebody else interrupt the show if I didn’t even know what they sounded like. I looked through their song book and found “Stand by Me” and asked them if I could perform it and they pulled up a stool and starting strumming for me. It was awesome to be up there and perform with my friends watching and cheering me on. They loved it so much they asked me to perform more so I also did “Rehab” by Amy Wine house, an “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” duet with one of the guys, some more recent radio songs like “Let Her Go” by Passenger which was their choice and my favorite, “Don’t Know Why” by Nora Jones. I felt like a princess singing Nora in a small Italian village of Cinque Terre with locals and wine and good company. This is what life and trips like these are all about.
limoncello and orancello that Serena and I bought
After really gettin’ groovy and soulful with the band they sat with us at our seats and we kept performing and clapping and singing just without the mics as a fun casual thing. After more wine Serena, Taylor and I joined the three musicians, an older Canadian couple and two 20-something girls out to the water where we hopped on Paolo’s boat and cruised all the way out into the middle of the ocean. It was midnight and serene and perfect and we had a panoramic view of Manarola (the small village of the five that make up Cinque Terre) that we were staying in. Paolo brought his guitar and we sat on the boat and sang and harmonized “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran and “Sweet Hone Alabama” and anything else that came to mind. We brought wine and a speaker and we blasted Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival and everything funky that we love. Shine on you crazy diamond is one of my all-time favorite my lyrics. I danced and Paolo danced and he said I danced like I’m from the 70’s and that made me very happy because you know ya gurl was born to be groovy. Paolo told me I had an amazing voice and that it will only get better and that I should continue singing. He used my arm as a guitar neck and riffed the entire beginning prelude part of “Wish You Were Here” or maybe it was another crazy long song but it was cool. This is swiftly turning into a personal diary entry. He was also like 40 something years old and smelled very European if you know what I mean and was being a little flirty; I guess he was so happy to meet an American girl who could harmonize with him. I kept his favorite guitar pic with David Bowie on it I hope he doesn’t mind when he realizes it’s gone. We had such an incredible time all dancing and then Serena, Taylor and I hopped off and headed back up to bed. As we walked up to our room we realized that Isabel and Claire and Sara had the only keys to our place, and they were ASLEEP. We stood outside of our house sitting on the cobbled street like homeless girls scared of cats that randomly walked by and the unusual silence of the village. We were desperate, so I clumsily tried to get on Serena’s shoulders and climb into the window of our room to no avail but a lot of laughter. We pulled down the towels hanging from the window sill and wrapped them around us like blankets as we called every kid on the trip we knew and hotel around to see if we could get a place. There was NO WAY we were going to knock on the door and wake up the lady who was letting us stay here at 2 am. Of course we ended up doing so because we had no other option, and luckily everything was fine. In fact, Buzz and Janice were thrilled to find out about our boat adventure while they yelled at other kids who were being loud drunks that night, figures. It was one of the best days of my life.
^ Stand By Me – Ben E. King
^ Rehab – Amy Winehouse
^ Don’t Know Why – Norah Jones
The next day, Serena and I slept in while many others went with Buzz on a hike from Corneglia village to Vernazza, an approx 2 hour 5 mile hike in the heat. Serena kept sleeping and Sara and I headed over to Monterosso and beached it. Monterosso was the first stop of Cinque Terre we got off at when we first got there and is where you go to beach and swim and where I got INCREDIBLE pesto pasta. We had a ton of pesto in Cinque Terre because it is the place pesto was INVENTED! Sara and I hung with Isabel and Claire and this girl Alex and some of our Chaminade boys and the Calabasas guys. I had a Virgin piña colada (of course) and they all ordered these drinks called “Drunk ass buckets”. I didn’t think it was a good idea to drink so much in the middle of such a hot day on the beach and this really payed off the next day for me, not so much for the rest. Serena and Taylor eventually came and met us and we along with some other girls rented paddle boards and swam out and played games on them and tanned topless. This topless tanning only lasted so long though, because a group of our guy friends started swimming to meet us, unaware of the fact that we were shirtless. As we saw them coming we jumped in the water and put our tops back on. I also bonded with two girls from Agoura named Natalia and Lauren and later that day we walked around Manarola finding cute alleyways to take pictures in and laugh. Afterwards we had dinner with Preston and a couple of other kids on our tour outside with a view of the water. I had the most delicious seafood risotto of my ENTIRE LIFE. Then we topped it off with gelati and walked to the edge of Manarola to watch the most beautiful sunset ever. That night was another night spent at the bar singing yet this time about 25 more kids from our tour came. They were obnoxiously yelling and drinking while the band was performing but I was enjoying it. I got up and sang Proud Mary and some other songs and Serena and I went back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep for an early morning and BUSY day to follow.
This next day was quite possibly the best day of my entire life. Serena and I got up at 8 and walked down to the Manarola water and hopped in for a morning snorkel and swim. By 9 we dried off and sat outside eating waffles and drinking cappuccinos. We then brought Emma and Taylor pastries in their room and we all changed into hiking gear to start our 5- mile trek from Corneglia to Vernassa. It was 11 something-ish and the heat was menacing. We were greeted with hundreds of stairs and Taylor and Serena complained a bit but I told them they’d be happy about it later. The hike included gorgeous views of the water and other lands, nature peeing, nature other things by Serena who is extremely lucky I brought napkins in my purse that day, sweat everywhere and lots of laughter. It made me gain a new appreciation for hiking and I am excited to go home and hike Malibu trails all the rest of summer.
9 am waffles and cappuccinos after our swim/snorkel in the water
Once we hit Vernassa we were soaked with sweat and our ankles were dirty and we were HUNGRY. We got the pizza Buzz took the rest to get the day before because apparently it’s the best pizza ever, and it WAS. We got pesto pizza and a pizza with artichokes and meat and olives and deliciousness. We then got awesome gelato, Serena and I bought cute necklaces and they all headed back to Manarola to nap as I took the train on my own to Monterosso to meet my other friends at the beach. I paddle boarded with Preston and Chad and others and then tanned with them and Matt for a while trying to soak in the last bit of beach I would get on the trip. We all took the train back to Manarola and I showered and got ready for dinner with the girls. We ordered more food than we have for any other meal in terms of food and drinks and desserts and Serena and I together only had to pay 20 euros because we knew the waiter from the BOAT the other night. Seriously the luckiest thing ever. After limoncello I went down with Rachel, Preston, Matt, Chad and a group of other kids to a beautiful place by the rocks and the sea. We all sat for about and hour singing Bohemian Rhapsody and Pitch Perfect songs and Colt 45 and Journey and just having a really good frickin’ time. I went back to the room and slept and said goodbye to Cinque Terre, the most magical place on earth.
Serena posing with the fish decal on the wall that is pretty much identical to her Pisces fish ankle tattoo
true happiness right here ^
^ Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater/ Tina Turner because they both rock it
waving goodbye to the final Cinque Terre sunset
~ xoxo Ali ~