Nicole O'Neil Photography
Back in May, I came to Italy. The decision was made only two months before. I had a credit for Aer Lingus that I had to use. I was supposed to go to Ireland for 17 days on April 28, 2013. After being witness to the marathon bombings and having a difficult time, I canceled my trip, afraid to fly and knowing I needed to deal with things at home. I was anxious to travel even in May and my sister came with me. Once we were flying, I already felt some relief. 13 months of anxiety, strong emotion, and many other things had caused a heavy feeling inside of me. In Rome, I enjoyed it, but it was still a busy city with noise and crowds, so it triggered a bit of anxiety.
When we got to Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre (my favorite place in the world after two previous trips), we did the only thing I wanted to do. This was grab food and a drink and sit in the harbor watching the sunset and listening to waves. As we sat there, I realized my head and body had gone completely calm and felt at peace. This was the first time since the marathon that I had felt it and it was amazing. I like to say I found my peace and happiness again that trip, and most important, I found the pieces of "me" that I felt had been missing or at least pushed down under the anxiety. It was an amazing trip and one that helped me tremendously. I was anxious and sad to go home and decided that I would return again soon. I also decided that since i'd been saying for years that I want to spend more time here, that I would spend at least a month in the winter. One thing i've learned is just how short and precious life is and you can't keep saying "someday".
So, over the summer, I decided I needed another trip. I was sick much of the season and knew Fall would be crazy busy, so a trip right in the middle of it would be necessary. I also knew it would help me to figure out some things and keep going on my journey of peace and happiness. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to this, my first solo trip in two years. Things that never bothered me before now have me nervous like hijacked planes. However, once I was in that plane, it all went away.
So, here I am! I arrived yesterday, after SO MANY hours of travel, no sleep, and delayed and canceled trains. As I was awake and it was still dark on the first plane, I was frustrated since I was SO tired. But then, I looked out the window and saw this.
You certainly forget your frustration when you see a sunrise like that above the clouds. It was a beautiful welcome to Paris, my first stop. Then, in no time, I was in Italy.
After a train cancelation and then a delay, I was starting to feel worn out, but then I met a lovely couple from Georgia. They are retired and traveling for a few weeks. We were heading to the same place, so we ended up chatting and sitting together on the train. I love meeting people when I'm on these trips. They were staying in the same village so I would see them again last night and share anchovies. Yes, anchovies. They are not what you get at home. They are not salty and they are very good if you like fish. They are fresh and awesome.
Once I arrived, I found Amy, who is a woman I met last time when we rented one of her rooms. She is awesome, a California native who has been a Riomaggiore resident for many years. (Follow her blog if you plant to visit here! http://cinqueterreinsider.com/about/ )
Amy has helped me tremendously plan for this trip and for a winter stay in one of their apartments. I am not renting from them this trip, but she helped me find an apartment that is just perfect and very spacious. And bonus, tomorrow evening, I get to take pictures of her adorable son and her family.
After I settled in, I got ready to head out. I always luck out and get rooms overlooking the main street, which I love. There's so much going on and the people watching is great. I especially love the older italian women sitting on the bench and chatting.
Where else would I go near sunset, but the harbor. I sat there chatting with a few people in passing and just taking it in. After sunset, I walked around a bit and then settled in for the night hoping to sleep well, which I did, though not as fast and long as I expected having been up 33 hours. Here are some of the pics from last evening.
Today, I woke up a little tired, but ready to enjoy! I was torn between jumping right into hiking or exploring some other villages to find things I haven't before. I decided to walk around a bit here in Riomaggiore. I went to some familiar areas and then went up the other side of the village that, for some reason, I hadn't done much of before. Here are some pics. Many more to be shared via social media and my website later.
Beautiful flowers for sale. Beautiful!
Bikes in Piazza del Vignaiolo just waiting for kids to come back and ride.
After exploring, I decided it was time to relax. I've been working like crazy and was sick for a while before that, so I definitely needed some down time. I got ready and headed for the beach at the bottom of the village. It is rocky and sort of off to the side, away from the harbor. You would think laying on the rocks would be uncomfortable, but as I learned on a previous trip, they are smooth and even though you may have to adjust a few, it's not bad at all. It was not too crowded when I arrived but filled up quickly with locals and tourists. I loved watching and listening (I will learn Italian by next time! It's so hard to learn when you're older) to the locals and watching the kids have fun. I went swimming which isn't an easy task, not necessarily hard either. The water, just like the beach is all rocks, but most are very slippery, so you certainly have to watch your footing and eventually, when you're deep enough to just swim, you should. The water was a little cool at first but was great to cool off. It is so clear and beautiful.
After going back to change, I went back down to the harbor, spotting some local men in their usual evening spot and then walked around to different sides of the harbor, meeting and chatting with people along the way. And even taking a selfie, which I don't usually do. Borrowing a friend's GOPRO helped.
This time I made my way out on the rocks that curve out like a half moon around the harbor. It is a perfect spot for a view of both the sunset and the village.
As I made my way back along the rocks (this takes some skill and two hands in case you slip), I saw this perfect photo op, so of course, I took it.
After a small bite to eat, I decided tonight would be a good night to pull some photos and blog. Now, off to bed to be rested for more wonderful things tomorrow. Hope you enjoyed the photos!