Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Long Awaited Road Trip | Episode 2 - Italy

Click here for Episode 1 

Germany and Austria: Covered! Now, off to Italy to went...

Day 3 of le road trip | Monday, 15th August, 2016

          The journey was long; everyone was tired with the occasional dozing off during the 3-hour long drive, well, except for Anup and myself. The driver didn't have the luxury of sleeping and as for Anup, whom I have introduced you to before, he had his own paranoiac reasons. When I encouraged him to sleep he replied, “Bro, if I close my eyes, I might not wake up. Who knows what’ll happen.” That was a kick of confidence boost for me. Thanks Anup.
After a while, I pulled over at a small service station to stretch my legs and get myself a cold drink. I asked everyone if they wanted anything from the shop. Manish was fast asleep so, being the good friends we are, we nudged him, and with his eyes half open/shut, he said “Cheese”One of the most random moments, hahaha .

        It took about 4 hours when we finally reached Lake Garda. Within these few hours we witnessed the transition in our surroundings from the luscious green of nature to terraced golden fields and then bursts of vineyards. The whole ride seemed familiar and nostalgic, as some parts resembled my village back in Nepal.

            Regrettably, these are the only photos I have of Lake Garda, which I took from my phone.
            Around 4pm, we reached Lake Garda and the lake was freaking huge! We were planning to swim in the lake and again, my good friend, Anup said. “Bro, this isn't a lake, it’s a freaking sea. I will not be swimming in this.” Which to be honest I did understand as the magnitude of that lake is just huge. So, we decided to hire a boat to explore and find somewhere suitable to swim anyway.
The level of excitement was high with anticipation of good times, especially for Manish. There is this where the story of Manish and his boats comes along. Whenever there is a boat involved anywhere, his level of enthusiasm goes off the roof. Not long ago, we bought an inflatable boat for our camping trip which was only used once. No one knows where that boat is now.

        Anyway, with hopes and excitement, we started to walk towards the lake. Boy O boy! The whole shore was jam-packed with tourists and to make matters worse, all the boats were booked. Although disappointed, we tried not to let that ruin our holiday, Manish, on the other hand, was not having it. He wanted a boat! So he went for a boat hunt, asked almost each and every vendor on our side of the lake yet, he couldn't find a single available boat. This place was super busy.

        After all the swimming and sunbathing, we were pooped. As for dinner, Sumit and I decided on steak burgers and Manish and Anup picked some random dishes from the Italian menu. It was a gamble for them (because we don't know any Italian) and Manish felt victim for having oysters only. 
We bought some wine and some banana alcohol…yes, banana alcohol (which no one liked) and had our dinner overlooking the lake. One would really like this ambience. Drinking with a group of friends, enjoying the view of the grand lake and chatting about random things... but it was short lived.
Manish and Anup now wanted to go on the lively part of the lake. They even asked me to drive them there, while we were drinking alcohol. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friends for their consideration.


Day 4 | en route to Cinque Terre, Italy: Cinque Terre, I have always wanted to witness the beauty and culture of this little village with my own eyes. It’s amazing how those colourful houses sitting on top of an Italian riviera overlooking the azure sea, it can be alluring to many. I am one of those fanatics who wanted to immerse in its beauty. Ever since I saw the picture of Cinque Terre, I’ve always wanted to go there.

        It’s a 4 hour drive from Lake Garda to Cinque Terre. The road to Cinque Terre is no joke, numerous mountainous winding roads dotted with steep hairpins, which required extra attention and space for oncoming vehicles, as you get closer to villages. One side is inclined and the other, a sheer drop to the bottom. Whatever it is, this road was deteriorating Anup’s confidence and enhancing his paranoia. After a while, he had enough and suggested I should just drive to the inner side of the road even if we were to crash with oncoming vehicles, and not to drive on the edge of the mountains. His reason was; ‘It’s better to break a few bones by colliding than losing life from falling off the cliff.’  Great words of wisdom from our legend? Haha, funny fella.

I thought Cinque Terre was just one village but it consists of 5 villages; they are Monterosso al Mare, Cernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. If you translate Cinque Terre to English, it literally means 5 villages. Duh, should’ve done more research before visiting.

         After we checked-in we decided to just chill on the beach but does a trip ever go as planned? Of course not! As soon as Manish saw boats, he went ballistic and wanted one. His unquenching thirst for boats had taken over him. Like a mad man, he enquired every boatman on the shore and fetched the price details. Sumit wasn’t in the mood for a boat ride, Anup wasn’t keen either and as for me, I drove for 4 hours, I just wanted to lie down and sunbath. But Manish was adamant and we lost to his stubbornness. So we hired one wooden boat, which included a panoramic tour of the 5 villages (we only hired for 2 hours), some swimming in the sea and to a cliff jumping spot.

           Ok, I think I should explain now about Manish's love-hate relationship with swimming.  He has very unpredictable swimming skills. He can swim fine… however, there are numerous occasions where he doubted his own skills while underwater and PANICKED. I don’t know how his mind works but he is adventurous, fearless and eager to swim or jump off the cliff and that’s where it all goes downhill. After swimming for 5 minutes, he starts to panic and scream, “I CAN’T SWIM!”  But that never ceases to dissuade his determination to have fun. Now the question is, he sure is having fun but what about his compadres?? O_O

Except for Manish, everyone was meh... about the boat ride but soon, that all changed when the boat started to move and we felt the fresh but salty breeze and saw the magnificent view of the little villages from afar. It was freaking amazing! Everyone loved it. If it weren't for Manish, we would've missed big time. Bravo to you Manish. I won’t resent you on this.  AAAaannnd there was Anup, who got seasick.

         After a while, the boatman took us to a diving spot and we dove like crazy. By the way, upon diving, Manish and I got stung by a jellyfish. Aaaaannnnnddd of course...Manish was panicking while trying to swim towards the boat. As we were swimming or shall we say splashing water with panic, the boatman leans towards us and with a gentle smile (to me it looked more like a smirk) apologised and notified of the jellyfish's existence around us. That was some experience...

So what do you think we did to counteract the jellyfish sting?............nothing lol J

A church painted with black and white stripes! 

          By the way, if you are driving it’s advisable to park your car in La Spezia and use the train to visit these villages. We made the mistake of taking our car.  The villages do not allow any vehicle entry except for governmental purposes or if you're a local so, parking is scarce. Consequently, we parked just outside the village on a road and for that brilliant idea the Cinque Terre municipality left us a little souvenir in the form of a parking fine. And this is the municipality office where we paid for that little souvenir.    

The only place where pizza is both cheap and good.  Thumbs up.

Seafood platter....

All the platters gone...nom nom nom.. 

So, there is going to be a third part as well. I will try my best to finish it next week or you can judge the time for my power of procrastination. J

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