I have never been sailing. Boating, yes. Made the transit across the Atlantic by ship, yes. Panama Canal, yes. But never sailing. Which is an absolute sin, I’ve just learned. Megan & Will happened to find a groupon for a weekend of sailing out of Genova down the Cinque Terre coast. For 250 euros a person, they could have 6 friends join the party. My name happened to turn up.
Before we set sail down the Cinque Terre coast, let me tell you a little bit about Cinque Terre. If it hasn’t made your travel list, wanderlust list, places I hope to go someday list, its time to mark it down. Located just South of Milan, directly along the coast, and on the rim of the inner loop as you make the turn up out of Italy, its definitely worth a trip. For more information better check here, here, and definitely here.
In Naples, the beauty of the Amalfi Coast easily competes with Cinque terre, but for me, Cinque terre is unexplored territory which made this excursion particularly exciting. A new place to discover and my first time sailing, my expectations and excitement were both extremely high for this trip!
The sailboat was in port Genova and the easiest way to get there was by train. I really enjoy traveling by train because you can bring snacks, drinks, a full bar if you want to and you can nap, relax, and enjoy your trek up the coast stress free. To get from Naples to Genova, it took about 6 hours. We purchased the tickets ahead of time so we could all sit together and because its always cheaper when you are thinking in advance.
We had a stopover in Rome which we didn’t have a lot of time to get from one track to the other and this involved some serious running, bags and all.
Leaving after work, we got into Genova after dark, around 22:00, just in time for an all you can eat sushi bar, and then we headed straight over to the sailboat. 15 minute walk from the train station to the port. We arranged ahead of time to stay on board for the night, as the Groupon didn’t start until that next morning.
SAILING THE CINQUE TERRE COAST
Our trek over the weekend. Sailing out of Genova we headed to Santa Margherita for the first night, from Santa Margherita we planned to sail all the way to Portovenere on day 2, however, seas were pretty rough the second day and I only made it just under halfway by sailboat (end of the red line) which is where a couple of us trained to Vernazza and hiked some of the Cinque Terre coast before catching a train to La Spezia and a taxi to Portovenere.
DAY 1, SAILING FROM GENOA to SANTA MARGHERITA
Waking up in the morning we were ready to go! Unfortunately we had to wait for the Captain that we did not maintain a great relationship with throughout the trip. He was an extremely old grumpy Italian man who I think had 1/4 of the sailing skills the guys we were with had, which was extremely frustrating and at times very dangerous.
This is the good ship Eileen, our sailboat and home for the weekend, a 43.4ft. Beneteau sailboat. With room to sleep 8 people, our captain, and his deckhand you’d think it’d be a tight fit, but actually I didn’t find that to be the case. I instantly fell in love with everything about the sailboat, our bunk room, the living area down below, the bow, the seating areas up top.
Once the captain arrived, loaded up the goods for our trip and made a few quick adjustments, we were pulling away from the pier, all topside and waving goodbye to Genova, an adorable little port town.
Just feeling the wind rushing through your hair is quite a liberating feeling. We sailed along for a couple of hours just enjoying ourselves and taking in the scenery. Then we slowly came up the coast and around the bend to the area where we would be spending the night. After a chat with our captain he reluctantly agreed to take us into Porto Fino to have a quick look around before heading over to Santa Margherita where we would be docking.
Well hello boys..! They were trying to take control of the sailing situation although the captain was holding a very tight reign on his ship.
After walking around the town and heading back to the sailboat to relax and prepare for the evening, we headed off to dinner, which was filled with seafood and wine. Afterwards the ladies ended up at a night club for some dancing.
DAY 2 SANTA MARGHERITA TO PORTOVENERE
One of my favorite places to wake up to in the morning was sitting at the bow right after finishing a cafe, book in hand. If I had a sailboat I would find myself there regularly. This is where I would haul up until we started bringing in lines to get underway. Then it was book stored, camera in hand.
On that first leg, I knew I was doomed. There was no way around it, I was going to be sick. I hauled up in the back, white as a ghost and so nauseous I couldn’t move. Which reminds me of a buzz feed article I saw once depicting “what you think is happening” on instagram vs. “what is really happening” with travel blogging all stars. I’ll give you an example at my own expense.
“What is really happening on the sailing trip.”
Yep, I’m the SWO that gets sick. Ugh.
For me it was obvious that I wouldn’t be able to continue on. I petitioned them to just drop me off near land and I would swim to shore, catch a train down the coast, and enjoy the sea from afar, hike part of Cinque Terre, and end in Portovenere. I was resigned that I would spend the rest of the day alone but after a frustrating hour of the captain trying to illegally moor to a buoy close to land, a couple of other people decided to join me. The guys who ended up staying back told me the seas got way worse and I’m so glad I decided not to stay on board.
HIKING CINQUE TERRE
I honestly don’t know the name of the town we got off the sailboat at, but that town had a train and within an hour we were in Vernazza, buying snacks, stocking up on water, and beginning our hike.
Once we got to Corniglia we decided to have a look around town and stop for a group pic. Here’s where things got a bit sticky. We weren’t sure of the train schedule and a train flew through minutes before we arrived. Now there was an hour wait to get to La Spezia. There are no roads down the mountain pass. Luckily we were able to catch the train to La Spezia an hour later and after looking at our transport options to Portovenere we grabbed a cab and drove down. There was a small chance we would have had to spend the night!
Portovenere is not part of the Cinque Terre route, it just happens to be at the tip of the peninsula and a very nice stop on your journey if you have time. There were tourists, but it wasn’t overwhelming.
DAY 3 BACK TO SANTA MARGHERITA
While dudes are being dudes.
- Monterosso al Mare
We may not have been able to hike all of them but we certainly sailed past them stopping for a swim break and some lunch along the route as we sailed (drove) North.
DAY 4, BACK TO GENOVA
In the morning we decided to hike from Santa Margherita to Portovenere which was about a 1.5 hour hike around. At first we were going to just swim out to the sailboat but everyone wanted to walk around and enjoy the town so the sailboat pulled in and then came to pick us up shortly after.
Another relaxing day with frequent breaks for swimming and food, we took our time heading back. Even came across a couple of kids and a buoy that we would try to tip over and fling the boys with. Their mothers were probably having a heart attack from shore. We had even come to a truce with the captain and there were no debacles as we sailed in the port of Genova. Sliding silently into the docks we unloaded our stuff and were headed back to that sushi place for round 2.
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.