Kayaking to Vernazza – July 1

The bed was hard but the cool sea breeze made for good sleeping. I was awake early, excited about the kayaking adventure planned for the day.

I finished my breakfast, packed my things, and headed over to the hotel I would be staying at that evening. Dropped off my bags and headed to the beach in search of the tour group.

The instructions provided for the meeting location were sparse so I walked over to the bus stop near the beach. I wandered around the parking lot, up and down the beach, around the far end of the parking lot, and I wasn’t seeing anything resembling a tour group. I stopped and ask some lifeguards if they knew anything about a kayak tour. They pointed me to the next beach where I found a guy that didn’t seem to speak English that was wanting to rent me a kayak for the day. Frustrated I went back to the bus stop where I started. At this point it was 15 minutes past the tour start time and I was sure they had left without me. I attempted to call the number provided and got a recorded message. I stood there awhile longer trying to decide what I would do with my day. A handsome Italian man approached me and asked if I was doing a kayak tour. I told him I had intended to but I couldn’t find the group. I thought maybe he was taking the same tour. Turns out he was the guide. I briefly felt like an idiot but that was quickly replaced by relief that my day had been saved.

There were supposed to be 2 other women from Florida joining us. He had me sit on the beach under the umbrella while he attempted to find them. I waited patiently as he scoured the beach and made several phone calls. He decided all efforts to find them had been exhausted and we headed to the water.

He helped me on to the sit on top kayak, he got into his, then we were on our way to Vernazza. We paddled through the cove and past the old city of Monterosso, passing WWII German bunkers and tiny caves. He guided me around a group of rocks where we find a little water fall and quiet water. We hopped off the kayaks and into the cool water. Initially the cold water was a little shock but it soon felt very soothing after cooking in the 90 degree heat. He encouraged me to sit under the waterfall, he said it felt a bit like a massage. Not being surefooted on a good day I opted not to try to traverse the slippery wet rocks. Better to miss the massage than break an ankle.

Back on the kayaks we made our way toward Vernazza. We paddled past the harbor to what he called a “secret beach”. Here he explained how Vernazza had suffered a bit of a landslide after heavy storms a few years ago. The beach was created as a result of all the rocks and sand that were removed from the city. At this point I was starting to feel seasick. Apparently tackling the sea in a tiny kayak while sitting in the heat was taking its toll. Fortunately we were heading back to the harbor where I would be set free to explore the village for a bit.

We ate our lunch on the beach then I headed off to see the village. There isn’t much to Vernazza, a couple of streets and a small maze of alleys. It really is a tourist town. With the limited amount of space in my luggage and the even more limited desire to chance dropping my goods into the sea, I opted not to shop. This didn’t leave me much to do. I wandered the maze a bit but decided I didn’t want to spend a lot of energy on it since we still had to paddle back to Monterosso. I stopped off and got some coffee then headed back to the beach to meet the guide.

Off we went to Monterosso. We didn’t get far from the harbor when the guide spotted a jellyfish. He scooped it up on his paddle and told me a bit about the little creature. Apparently one of the most venomous, but only its tentacles. He said you could pet their head and not be in any danger. “You go right ahead, I’ll sit this one out!” was my reply.

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As we passed the caves he mentioned it was possible to go a little distance into one so we headed that way. It was not much of an inlet but we did see some interesting critters, Sea Tomatoes.

Back at sea I was starting to feel a bit queasy again. We paddled along promptly without much conversation. I was pretty focused on getting back to solid ground.

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Success! Made it back to the beach without losing my lunch. We chatted briefly and went our separate ways. I went back to my hotel room and relaxed for a bit before starting work for the day. I snuck out around “lunch” time and got a meal by the beach. The service wasn’t great but the food was fantastic. I also tried my first glass of Chianti. Very grapey. I liked it.

I watched the sun set from my room. It wasn’t too spectacular since the city is surrounded by rugged hills, but it was serene. Even with the bats circling.

Here are a few other pictures from Monterosso worth seeing.

And still more pics the guide had taken and posted to Flickr. Yes, I deeply regretted the shorts decision later that day.

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