Camel-milk and caves by the Med

Manerola terraces.

Camel-milk chocolate for breakfast. That’s what we had at 5:30am in Milan Centrale station.

Our overnight trip fell well short of our fears. I think we, or at least I, had been made too scared by our last overnight on a train in Egypt. The couchette was relatively comfortable and we all managed some sleep before our arrival in Milan. Unfortunately all the food shops in the station were closed and so we fell back on the chocolate brought by Grandma from Dubai. Luckily, we can now report that camel-milk chocolate has no overtones of camel – a worry thanks to another Egyptian experience that had left us disinclined to sample the chocolate earlier.

Our kitchen cave.

We got to Manarola about 10:00am and settled in to our new house. Manarola is one of the five towns that make up the Cinque Terre. The whole area is perched somewhat precariously on cliffs above the Mediterranean. The hills are terraced to allow for some farming, and the tall, thin houses follow the terrace lines.

A roof terrace view.

Our house is very tall and thin. The ground floor, which has kitchen and a living area, is largely carved out of the cliff. The kitchen is quite literally a cave, its walls are carved out of the cliff-face. The next level up is the boys’ bedroom and a bathroom; then comes a floor with Jennifer and my room and another bathroom; next is a floor with a second kitchen and living area. Finally a narrow spiral staircase leads up to a roof terrace with a fantastic view of the coast and the Sea.

Ours is the thin dark red one at the top of the cliff.

Callum has been looking forward to the Cinque Terre because Mrs Sinclair chose it as the subject of one of his class’s artworks last year. Every dream has now come true because our house is actually one of those that was in the artwork. That’s really quite cool.

We slept and read our way through the afternoon and then did a little bit of exploring. This place is chock-a-block with walkers – the spectacular scenery and lack of cars makes this a walking Mecca. It’s a bit like a moving advertisement for walking clothes and accessories of all types; which makes our round-the-world-traveller-clothes fit right in. The other group here is Italians who come to soak in the Sun. The boat ramp and breakwater were completely filled with sunbathers this afternoon – in all possible stages of undress  It will be interesting to see what tomorrow is like once the weekend is over.

We had dinner – pizza of course – on our roof terrace watching the fishing boats return to harbour while the sun gradually lowered over the Mediterranean. Thanks to having slept through much of our trip here we’re suffering some culture-shock. We started out yesterday in the French countryside and have ended today in a hillside town by the sea in Italy. Via camel-milk chocolate.

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