abroad travel

Hiking in Five Towns

Back in 2010, Wife and I took an awesome trip to Switzerland and Italy. Below is one of the days from our adventure.

After sleeping in until around 8, when Manarola begins to stir with speaker announcements, Wife and I prepared for some hiking through the national park.However, we first needed breakfast and once the bags were packed, we walked down the hill and found a little café close to the water.

The woman behind the counter took our order in perfect English (it might help to point out she grew up in New York). As learned from our friend Ricky, Italians have some bread and coffee in the morning, that is it. So Wife enjoyed the toast while I enjoyed the coffee (with some ham and eggs).

With a few calories settling in our stomachs, we began the short hike across all five towns. The first part of the hike, between Manarola and Corniglia, was quite nice until we reached the steps that took us up to the cliff-side town. I don’t remember how many steps there were, but both of us were quite winded and sweaty by the time we reached the top. Before we go next time, we are definitely working on a stairmaster!

The trails became smaller as we left Manarola and made our way to Vernazza. Once in Vernazza, we decided we wanted lunch and found a cafe near the water (you can tell the town was getting bigger with all of the cruise ship visitors). Once the pizza and beer was gone, Wife and I discussed our next move. I said we should continue while she argued that the views would be the same. Lucky for me, I won in the end.

Well, not really lucky for me. Rick Steves suggested to make the hike between Monterosso and Vernazza first and we were doing it last. The trail (if you can call it that) was large enough for one. It was difficult and the hike down the side of the hills into Monterosso went on forever. But we made it!

We arrived in Monterosso in the late afternoon and decided to take a boat back to Manarola. The cool ocean breeze felt great along with the slight spray from the boat. Once back in Manarola, we enjoyed some gelato and walked the La Via dell’Amore to Riomaggiore just so we could say we walked the entire trail in one day.

After a shower and dinner, we relaxed on our balcony, once again enjoyed the view, and fell asleep dreaming of hiking trails and our next destination, Florence.

Out & About

Bocce Ball and Reminiscing

On Sunday afternoon, Wife and I headed out to El Cajon for Killian’s play date with Kona and to visit the Gennas. We enjoyed some drinks, food, hearing about their trip to Italy, and wishing we were all back in Italy (and yes we know that Italy seems great because we were not working, but still, I think we could all work there and be happy).

Just to keep that Italian spirit alive and to ease the Gennas back into American living (they returned last Tuesday), we played a few rounds of Bocce ball. I believe as couples, we each won a game. Vince suggested we should practice and possibly attempt to play with the pros up at Dana Point. I suggested he should dig up some grass and save water by building a regulation Bocce Ball court in his back yard.

abroad travel

Arrival in The Five Towns

After our week in Switzerland, Wife and I boarded another train and headed south to Cinque Terre. After six hours and chatting with some American Royalty (we spoke for a few hours with the daughter of the former Walmart president who brought us the bar code) we arrived in Monterosso.

Another short train ride brought us to our town for the next two days, Manarola. It was nice to finally arrive and have the ability to stretch our legs…once we climbed the huge hill to our hotel (at least it felt huge to us, the 80-year-old women we saw begged to differ). Tired and sweaty we checked into our room and passed out for a few minutes.

Once up and ready again, we explored our village, purchased our trail pass (Cinque Terre is a national park), and walked along La Via dell’Amore which led us through some beautiful views and to the next town, Riomaggiore. Wife also informed me that the thousands of padlocks along the trail were put there by young lovers in hopes of eternal love. Can someone please do a study to see how well that has worked out for most people?

We made the best of our time in Riomaggiore by searching for an ATM and a bottle of wine to enjoy on our balcony. While we did find many bottles, none of them had a screw-top so we could not open any of them, but more on that later.

Back in Manarola, we sat down for dinner (at a Rick Steve’s recommendation) and chatted it up with a couple from San Francisco at the adjoining table. They had just finished the hike we planned for the following day, so it was great to get some real world opinions. Later during the dinner, Wife thought it would be nice to spill her glass of wine on our neighbor (she did not really mean to, but still).

At the end of our dinner, on recommendation from our new friends, we ordered a bottle of wine (only 15 euros) to go. The hostess brought me the bottle and a wine opener. I decided she wanted me to open it myself and proceeded to do so. She came back telling me not to and to take the wine opener with me and bring it back the next day.

At that point we learned we could be gods in the tourism world of Italy. We now had a way to open those corked bottles of wine. Our new friends, now jealous, asked if we could escort them back to their room so they could open their bottles. Luckily, their place was only a few buildings away, and after they opened their bottles, they profusely thanked us. Wife and I then headed back to our B&B to enjoy our bottle on the balcony.

For the rest of the evening, we enjoyed our wine and the breathtaking view (and I do mean breathtaking- I could have sat there all night). The relaxation was definitely needed to prepare for the seven mile hike the next day.


The Road to Italy


A dream of mine has been to live in a European country. The biggest problems, which Wife pointed out each time I brought this up, are finding jobs and having the paperwork which allows us to legally reside in Europe for more then 90 days. Luckily I discovered a way around the paperwork (with some paperwork) through Jure Sanguinis, which is Latin for “right of blood.” My great grandparents (bisnonnos) were born in Italy, which means that through Jure Sanguinis, my family and I have the right to obtain Italian dual citizenship.

Italy did not make this process easy and requires a good amount of document collecting, translating, notarizing, and waiting. The process was overwhelming and I had no clue about all that needed to be done. So, one day my boss brought in an article about a local reporter who just obtained Italian dual citizenship through his wife. In his article he happened to mention the lawyer he hired here in San Diego.

A few months ago, I contacted this lawyer and my father and I met with him. He went over the process, pricing, and the documents needed, and sent us on our way to begin the document collection process. We need marriage certificates and birth certificates from San Diego, San Francisco (good thing two of my siblings live up there and that we noticed my Bisnonno horribly misspelled my Nonno’s name on his birth certificate), and Italy (our cousin already sent those to us).

Once we have all the documents I will hand them over to the lawyer and he will do all the rest (I hope). I will keep you all updated on when this happens.

So, in a year to a year and a half from now, Wife and I might flee/slowly walk away from San Diego to live in Europe (Okay, maybe a little longer because I do have to finish grad school).