Milan to Dubrovnik – a fairly decent mess

Well it’s 10.30am and I’ve had a hell of a morning already!! 

Up early (yuck), get to train station, missed original train. This was okay, the next one got us there just in time. Couldn’t find the ticket station, finally get a ticket, race to platform, getting hangry. Get a choc croissant from the vending machine – not bad actually. Run to hop on train. 

Hop on train, poor Sheldon gets super confused and is a day ahead, convinced we are missing out flights. Finally work out we are good, ticket man comes over. Give him our tickets, apparently you must validate your ticket (which they don’t tell you) and there is a 50€ fine each, unless we buy another, more expensive ticket. Buy ticket, frustrated. So is half the train, everyone is getting done for the same thing. 

Get close to airport, realise I’m going to need to run to make bag drop. Say goodbye to Sheldon. Run the wrong way – ha! Should have taken 5 and checked the departure board. Get to terminal 1, read board, realise, run back. Get back, find out I have to take a bus. In true Italian fashion, there’s no bus times or info about how long it takes. Sheldon is in line. Run across to ask cabbie if I’m better going with him. No English. Bus arrives, run back. Bus nearly full, decide to take cab after all. Cabbie takes off and announces it is 15€ for 5mins. I have no choice. Speedy cabbie, good man. Much further than I originally thought. Thank god I took the cab!
Race into Terminal 2 (STA Travel, this should really be on my booking info FYI), lovely man puts me to front of line. Check in, bag dropped, made it, yewww!!!

But then, boarding is super soon. Commence next round of running. Run to customs, run to gates. Stop briefly for salad (haven’t eaten any freaking greens since I arrived in Italy, body is confused) then continue run to gate. Get to gate, biggest queue everrrr, stand in line for 25mins to check in… Negates all the running but thankful I hopefully burnt off some of that pasta and wine as I’m on a boat in Croatia for a week next. 
So here I am on the plane to Dubrovnik, which is only an hour flight, and I’m truely ready for a nap! In good spirits – you just have to laugh at times like these!!

Made it to Dubrovnik, easy bus ride in. Beautiful city, I’m sure all you Game of Throne fans already know what it looks like. 

We had booked a private room in a hostel, it’s very cute and a great location. It’s like a little attic. Met up with Gemma and Asti and went for lunch. Grilled squid of course, washed down with local beer. 

Gemma and I walked the city wall. Spectacular views, it really is like stepping back into another time. Pics can tell the story. It was a very sweaty expedition – the pics tell that story too – ha! 

Inside the walls it’s exceptionally touristy which I’m not a huge fan of. Didn’t last long there other than to devour a beautiful cherry and choc gelato mmmm.

Looking for a spot to watch the sunset we toured all around (walking off the pasta still from Italy) and settled on a pebble beach at a bar with swings. I promptly got motion sick (whaaaat?!) and had to move to a barstool. Pretty sure the barman was drunk. 

Most beautiful and captivating thing I have seen was on night fall, the moon licking the ripples on the ocean a stunning girl and her German Sheppard arrived to play in the water. They swam together in the moonlight for an hour, the dog following her whenever they went and getting mighty upset when she disappeared under water. Beautiful to watch the love and fun between them… And no, I haven’t even been drinking to write this!

We also went for a late night dip. It took a long time to get us in the water but it was lovely once we were. 
Dinner, we scouted for black squid ink risotto, apparently a local specialty. Found a place, my god the service is terrible here! 

They do no give a shite about you and when you want your drink or if your main comes out 1.5 hours later (that actually happened) even after you had told them to forget about it when they realised the forgot. Anyway, the risotto was good but that was about it.

Home to sleep about midnight in our little attic before boarding the boat to sail Croatia for a week! Can’t wait. Blogging may be intermittent – not sure what wifi etc we will have. 



Riomaggiore to Milan

Our last day in Cinque Terre (cue sad face), we are up and packed and down for breakfast with a cranky Italian waiter who Is super pissed at us for coming in for breakfast. I mean, how dare we visit a restaurant and expect service! 

Finally our breakfast arrives, a croissant, fruit salad and choc pastry (sticking with my over ordering theme, obvs) and no surprises he had mixed up the orders but I was already on my laptop deep in debrief world from the Celeb Sports Quiz, which is another story entirely. 
I finish work, we grab our bags, somehow get them down the three exceptionally steep staircases and drop them at our AirBnB’s husband’s hotel for safe keeping. 
We trained to Manarola and it was pretty average (still incredibly breathtaking but visually not stunning or exciting as Riomaggiore or Monterosso…. Until we rounded the corner and found the ocean. Absolutely stunning. We were captivated. We stopped and stared at the ocean for so long. We were able to do part of the walk but the rest to Vernazza was closed off. The ocean is just so clear and blue and turquoise. You can see the fish and there’s the typical fisherman boats everywhere – just like in the pictures. 
I love watching the people taking photos and bustling about. There seemed to be an influx of tourists and people were falling over each other. The Asian tourists all create hilarious pictures and funny poses while the Europeans are much more subtle with their photography. Then there’s us! 

Notably, there were very few Australians and no Kiwis around. Only a few Americans too. Mainly Europeans and then the big Asian tours. 

Having spent a large portion of the afternoon staring at the Oceanside we were ready to hop in ourselves! 

We headed to Corniglia but soon realised there were 259 (or something ridiculous) steps to the village and we were all helllll no. Bus was too hard work so we were right back over to Monterosso. 

Right by the beach was a restaurant, we waited for a table and got one with the best view. Lucky us! I had been wanting to try anchovies for the whole trip and took my chance. They had been marinated in lemon and weren’t at all what I expected, they were quite delicious! I also had the cured meats plate, two delightful glasses of proseco and a tagliatelle ragu. Gotta keep up the over eating tradition. Remembering of course, every Italian meal is served with bread. 

We snuck onto the private beach for a swim but got caught out so it was onto the rocks at the end to ditch our stuff and hop into the clear blue. 

Feeling refreshed we trained back to Riomaggoire to grab our luggage then hop back on the train to Milan. We were early and so changed our tickets to get back earlier. Wrong. Bad idea! Should have stuck to the plan. We got to Levante where we were to change… Except all the express trains had left. So our ride went from three hours to five with a change over in Genova and a half hour delay… All up we arrived in Milan two hours late.  

Thank god we had bought snacks… In the form of a giant piece of buffalo mozzarella, some strawberries and water. Gotta stay hydrated! I’m so thankful for the Italian’s love of fizzante, or rather, sparkling water. I can’t get enough of the stuff! 
So this giant, delicious ball of cheese is served to us in a bag full of fluid to keep it fresh and moist. I happily drain most of it at the station before we leave. Except, I underestimated the amount of liquid the ball held.. And I placed it in a container that had held some very oily artichokes…. So now we have a big wet ball of cheese in a bag covered in oil in a container. Fast forward and we were trying to eat the cheese on the train… Can you imagine the mess we made?! Times that by ten and you’ll have a rough idea. Tasted bloody good though. Sheldon’s brand new pants shall never be the same again. 

We took a cab to the hotel even though it was a quick walk, we heard it wasn’t very safe. The hotel itself was amazing! One of the best for communal facilities I have seen. Intimate, cozy and modern spaces (just what you’d expect in the fashion capital) with, wait for it, fashion magazines everywhere. I was most impressed with their business centre which had three plugs for each person in an octagon shape. 

It was about 10.30pm when we arrived and we discovered (what we had predicted) that there was an Italian holiday from 14-18th August and hence why everything was shut and Cinque Terre was incredibly packed. 

La Gare by Sofitel – highly recommend if you are just stopping over as it is right by Milano Centrale Station. It’s hard to miss with all the beautiful, vibrant multicoloured lit Windows. 

I booked for the rooftop which was unfortunately closed due to the holiday. Grrr. Room was stunning though, I have a membership so we were upgraded, given welcome drink tickets and well looked after. I had a beautiful house Italian merlot for my welcome drink, the barman was very generous and explained it was similar to a chianti (my fave) but better – he was right. 

We FaceTimed my parents and were in bed about 1am which wasn’t ideal as we had to be up at 6.45am – yuck. 





Riomaggoire, Day 2

We found a quaint breakfast spot and through a little language confusion ended up with some of what we ordered and some of what we didn’t! Beautiful little place off the main road. 
We took the train (hot tip, buy your tickets online, the queue in Riomaggoire was crazy with only one ticket machine) to Monterosso which is the first town of the five that make up Cinque Terre. 

We wandered around and decided to take out a kayak for an hour. Best thing we did! The township looks stunning from out on the water and with the sun shining down on us and the water (with zero waves) lapping around it was incredibly relaxing. So relaxing that we lost track of time and was out there an extra 40mins! Luckily the man at the hire place was absolutely lovely and didn’t even charge us the late fees (which run in ten min increments.) He did tell us however, there was a big party on that night in Monterosso (Maggoire is thumbs down) and we could stay at his place and we could sleep in a triangle….. 

I had a chat with the man, he has lived in Monterosso his whole life. He doesn’t seem to leave… He couldn’t even recommend a restaurant in the next township. Maybe he was just playing with a gullible tourist. 

We walked into the township from the beach and settled on a restaurant after walking by and seeing some delicious looking pasta. We over ordered, again. Sheldon chose a pizza and I ordered a pasta with calamari, a swordfish skewer (which was the stand out), an apperol spritz (definitely not to my palate) and of course fresh breads with balsamic and oil. We were incredibly full. 

We tried to walk it off and hoped on the train to Vernazza. While Vernazza is still stunning and looks incredible from the train, it wasn’t as great as the other two townships we had visited. We wandered the shops and Sheldon bought 12yr old balsamic vinegar and I bought some truffle oil. Delicious. 

There were people jumping from cliff faces so we stopped and watched them for quite some time. 

Exhausted, we trained home and I promptly fell asleep for nearly 2 hours. I guess that’s the jet lag keeping up. 

Awake again, we found a restaurant with wifi, ordered wine and I did some consulting work for Queensland Olympic Committee I had booked in. Perfect. And yes, I’m finish it hard to shut off from work. I love my job and what I do and the people I do it with, that goes for Wiley and my consulting gigs! 

Food was average (Giammi’d Caffe), we paid the bill and walked up the hill

To another pasta restaurant. We shared the calamari and ‘green salad’ (read rocket with zilch) and a trio of pastas. 

Home to bed, surprisingly it was midnight! 

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