Monthly Archives: August 2010

Next stop Corniglia

Then we were off in the other direction, to Corniglia.

Another great hike followed by dinner, where we met the only Italian who doesn’t like babies. He was our waiter. That’s really all I have to say about that.

After dinner we swirled through the town’s basil festival then raced to the train station in time to catch the last local. Then we were the Americans running up and down the stairs, darting back and forth between the platforms asking fellow travelers advice in Italian, asking in English. We finally settled on a track, the correct track, and made our way back easily after all.

Every day was sun-soaked. We walked, Phoebe rode and sometimes slept.

When we arrived in Manarola we bought two colorful prints (awaiting frames in Rome) from a lovely art store. Then it was gelato time.

Phoebe had just started walking that week and was a hilarious site to see, teetering through the villages, ice cream dripping from her happy little chin.

Finally we strode the easy 20-minute path to scenic Riomaggiore where frozen lemonades were quickly devoured along the boardwalk.

When we’d visited all five villages, we spent time at the Vernazza beach. Phoebe loves the water, waves and sand. And who can blame her? It was a great trip.


Filed under Trips

Cinque Terre (A belated recap)

We did it!

With a baby in a backpack!

In July Paul, Phoebe and I hiked all five cliff-side towns of Cinque Terre and loved it. It’s actually five villages bound together by an ancient hilltop trail. As Wikipedia says:

The Cinque Terre is a rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera. It is in the Liguria region of Italy. “The Five Lands” comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.

The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Cinque Terre is noted for its beauty. Over centuries, people have carefully built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea. Part of its charm is the lack of visible “modern” development. Paths, trains and boats connect the villages, and cars cannot reach it from the outside. It is a very popular tourist destination.

We stayed in Vernazza (above), which is known for being small and quaint. And it was. Except for our hotel. I’d booked us a room, after carefully combing the Trip Advisor site and selecting the Number 2 most popular hotel, but now I’m not sure why.

Our room was located atop five stories of steps. But in order to climb the steps you had to carefully navigate the obviously much remodeled staircase, sometimes including narrow interior doors belonging to other guests, sometimes getting smaller, sometimes getting bigger but always extremely steep. When we did arrive in the room, we found no AC but instead a lonely old fan whose plastic cover fell off immediately.

On the bright side, we had a balcony and a bonus room where we set up the crib for Phoebe. Unfortunately, the room was separate from ours and included a external lock from the hallway, making it necessary for one of us to sleep in the room with her at night. No matter, she had the fan. But the really crazy, and I do mean crazy, part of this set up was its proximity to the train track. We were about 20 yards away from the Grand Central Station of the Italian countryside. Night and day, day and night, trains would whiz past at such a speed that the entire building shook, windows rattled and doors actually slammed. It was nothing short of thundering. All day. All night. All I can say is, why? Why, dear Trip Advisor readers?

The hiking however, was worth it. We really had the best time climbing the paths together. Our first stop was Monterosso (above and below), the largest of the five villages. And the beach was especially refreshing after our 1-1/2 hour hike along the hills. Gorgeous but hot. (Phoebe got to wear Paul’s water-soaked bandanna to keep cool. He did not.)

Saltwater, sand, and lunch with gelato followed.

More in a bit.


Filed under Trips

Say it with a shirt: Phoebe’s big news

We had big news and wanted to surprise our families…

Since we’d be in the States soon, Paul and I bought a t-shirt for Phoebe online and had it shipped to his parents’ house. But the name on Paul’s account is under Robert Mathews, who promptly opened the package when it arrived. What followed was an email from them including a photo of the shirt and many of these: !!!??!!

Paul’s mom and dad thought this was our way of telling them. No wonder they were surprised.

They were great sports though and kept our secret until we could get to Florida and parade Phoebe around in her new shirt. The funniest part though was that neither of Paul’s sisters, Holly and Heather, really got it. They were trying to be so polite and didn’t want to “assume anything”. They must have thought I really needed to get serious on the post-Phoebe weight loss plan (which is probably true but another story).

A week later in Seattle my mom caught on immediately. Right there on the curb of the airport pickup area she saw the shirt, saw me and squealed. Apparently my lack of blogging was a big hint to everyone at home as well.

One more week passed and we made it back to Italy in time to join friends for a long weekend at a seaside town called Pineto, where Paul’s friend Dante visited every summer as a kid. His family still lives there. We tried the shirt again but only one person really saw it, then the rest of the crowd was just sort of confused. Even though they’d all had suspicions for months, it wasn’t really the announcement we thought it would be. So, the shirt is now retired. I’m afraid this is what we get for trying to be clever. Next time we’ll just call everyone.

By the way, if all continues to go well Baby Mathews Due should be coming in the first week of February. No t-shirt required.


Filed under Life

We did it again

We flew from Rome to Florida this week, 21 hours of travel. With a 14-month old. Who walks. A lot.

There were some laughs, some tears and a few other fluids involved as well. I wouldn’t say it was our easiest trip but we’re in Palm Bay now and it’s been very fun ever since we arrived.

Photos to come (beach, pool and cousins!) and Seattle is next. Wish us luck!

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