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'I can't feel my legs' Ashton Nicole Walton Hiked - and kind of enjoyed it...

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Second day of Cinque Terre - first full day anyway, I will explain it to the best of my ability but I do warn that I am sitting by myself and sinking Heinekens by the minute. So we woke up quite early as we were to meet the crew at 9am for a hike but we also felt that we should eat before this. So we woke early - it's a bit hard not to with the church bells every hour, and now I am pretty sure this has been downgraded to 15 minutes..

We went to the local mini mart and got yoghurt, bananas and muesli bars which was pretty awesome when we came back and had it in our dorm - all washed down with a powerade. We met up at 9am and Jeff said we had to buy Nature Park tickets from the train station - which is the 15 - 20 minute hike up and down a million steps. By the time I got back I was pretty tired and couldn't comprehend that the stupid hike hadn't even begun yet. It cost 5 euro each for a one day pass to hike through the park, we would come to find that it was definately worth this! It was a little shattering to find that they sold the tickets at the enterance to the park also but anyway, you get that. Plus, I could feel my legs transforming into Elle McPherson's by the second - at least that was what got me through. So it said it was 1.5 hours to the next town which was Vernazza. This may not sound like much but never underestimate the conditions of the Cinque Terre hikes. The whole thing is steps - up, down, up, down. It was crippling. The first thing I made Sarah do was take a picture of me in my hiking gear as I said my family would never believe it, they all had a good laugh at that. Unfortunately the camera put a line through my awesome hiking shoes which were definately the highlight of the pic (pilates shoes actually, another laugh shared by the group). Anyway I said this would be my father's favourite blog and he would be ultra impressed that I, Ashton Walton, was attempting a hike.

It was absolutely awful, the cliffs were so narrow and at times there were groups going the other way and it was so hard to stay on a ledge. I kept joking that people must die everyday; was kind of funny until a guy told us today that a girl died at Vernazza early this morning..whoops. So anyway, scary and ultra physical demanding stuff. For some reason Sarah and I led the group by many metres for the duration of the journey. Jeff is a tennis coach so he was in charge of motivating everyone. Yes Tennis coach, but unfortunaly he coaches in a city location so probably not worth the travel for me. Did give a tip on the serve though. So we walked...and walked...and walked.. it was awesome when you got to look out over the ocean as you can probably tell from the million photos. We finally made it to the first of our 2 villages - Vernazza. This was a cute little town with lots of market type stalls. We got amazing granitas which included fresh crushed strawberries - ultra refreshing. I bought bandaids and sat on a bench seat to patch up my already butchered feet. I was kind of keen to get to the 5th town - Monterosso, which was the town of the beach! woooo. So we left (in the wrong direction at first but we made it eventually!). Another 2 hour hike apparently! Much the same as the first leg - steps, steps, steps. And these are no ordinary steps - these are 'jumps' at times! We found out later that we did the hardest 2 walks of them all, you could definately tell. We had been hoping to catch up with Chloe, Sam and everyone and we did pass them on the hike. They had caught the train to the top and decided to walk 'down' to our village - very smart of them!

So we kept on going and were rewarded by reaching Monterosso just after 1pm..after a 9am start. I cannot even begin to explain how hard the hike was, hopefully you are getting at least half of the picture. So pretty sure I mentioned the words 'beach' and 'water' at least 55 times during the hike - pretty sure you know where I went as soon as we arrived. Jeff, Robyn, Vic and Tom all went to get food but Sarah and Ashton - first stop 'Aqua'. I have to say that I was slightly dissapointed. After looking at the amazing bright blue water the whole journey, it was quite horrible to step onto gravel when we arrived on the beach. It was also jam packed so we had to get a seat right up the top near the stairs. So crunch, crunch I went on the way to the water for a swim. Not only did the stones cut up your feet, they were extremely hot and uncomfortable. Anyway, the water was well worth it! It was so amazingly blue and warm so well worth it. We swam for quite awhile - I got in like 4 times but had to drag Sarah in the once! We then got a little peckish so we went to the nearest restaurant which looked out over the ocean. We got almond encrusted salmon (yum) with a side of veges. The waiter was so gorgeous and LOVED me. He asked what we wanted to drink and Sarah got lemon squash. I was like 'do you have beer??' as it was a slightly fancy place and every table had an expensive bottle of wine. He laughed at how I said 'beer' and I got all sad but then he was like 'NO, I love beer - it's my favourite too' and he was dancing around all excitedly! Anyway Italian beer was average but his reaction was well worth the extravegant price I paid.

So by the time we got back down to the water everyone was packing up. We decided to have a little walk around the shops of Monterosso. Sarah and I got an amazing bottle of champers for 7.50 euro. We then caught the train back and Sarah went straight to the showers while I stopped at our shop to get strawberries to enjoy with our new champagne. Unfortunately it was not to be and I had to settle for rasberries. Equally as good. We were both pretty stuffed so we drank the bottle and went to get some cheese and crackers for dinner. We found some and decided to get a beer each and go to our lookout to eat/drink beer, cheese and crackers. Our friends, Tom and Vic found us and decided to join. We consumed all of that and decided to call it a like 7pm! Hiking really takes it out of you! The boys tried knocking on our door all evening but we just ignored it, lol. We had to leave the next day anyway. Thankfully the bus wasn't to arrive until 12.15 at La Speizia station. So off to bed it was for Sarah and Ashton. Okay so the walk made us a bit hungry and we did make a quick trip out for pesto foccaccia..and some chocolate.


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Cinque Terre - the town of 'chillaxed'

la spezia, Italy