Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Back from Cinque Terre

View of Vernazza, Cinque Terre, from the hiking trail (enroute from Corniglia to Vernazza)

Two days after being back from Rome and Cinque Terre, I was shortlisted and attended an interview for a programme I had submitted some photos for - A photography mentorship programme. I will know the results in a week or two, and even if I don't get it, it is a first experience for me.

Thinking back to about a couple of months ago, in Da Lat, Vietnam at the end of December. I met, in my hostel, a couple of Lithuanians and one of them created e-books as a freelancer. Perusing through one of the e-books he designed, a black and white photobook of a photographer's travels through a few months in China, I was motivated to have this idea to launch a photobook (or a novel, but that's another story for now), and in the wildest of dreams have my photos in a photo exposition. I've always felt more strongly about having my photos seen in print, as opposed to being seen online. Of course, I don't have such an amazing portfolio of photos yet, just the few rolls I have on the 3 trips I've been so far. I've been lucky that in every trip there are at least a few photos that turned out well or at least captured the concept of what I wished to see - the fragile moments of everyday life, the boy selling groundnuts who rested and sat beside me at the riverside, the farmer lady at the end of the market with her two panniers' full of aubergrines, and long bamboo balancing pole. Also, I'm constantly following my Portuguese friend Pedro and I admire his quest for learning more about photography and constantly attending courses, being a part of a photographic community, to learn from others and to learn from masters. Through looking at his determination, I found the courage to ask others to introduce me to those masters, and also submit my small portfolio of the few photographs from France, Cambodia and Vietnam (really few) and see if I can be able to enter the programme that concludes with a small exhibition at the end of the 10 weeks' project.

I already have in mind what I want to do should I have the chance to do this regularly. =) It's a thought-in-progress for now and also a little secret, but I think it will be interesting. I've always wanted to let others feel a positive spirit after seeing my photos, be it to travel more or to do something amazing, as this hobby was birthed from a time when I was quite hopeless and it gave me something meaningful to do.

Here are some iphone photographs in Cinque Terre, there are so many picturesque ones but here are my favorites. Below, these photos will be the description about the place we stayed and the journey/treks throughout the area.

Hiking paths in Cinque Terre

First day: Hiked the path from our 'home' (The Heart of Cinque Terre), in between Corniglia - to Vernazza, had a morning coffee there, went to Monterosso and took the train back to Corniglia, and hiked from Corniglia to Cinque Terre.

These photos will show the path & hiking trails, they were incredibly beautiful - some laced with groves of olive trees, old bridges, slate walls and mediterranean shrubs and different flowers and plants. It wasn't difficult (ie, I didn't need to use my hands at all), but some of the paths are narrow (could be difficult if you are not sure-footed or if there are many people in summertime.) As it was winter season we only encountered less than 10 trekkers in one trail =) it was the most beautiful trails I've ever been on.

On the second day it was raining so we only started out in the afternoon, walking sometimes on the main road, but we visited the mountain behind, 'San Bernardino'. The trail from Corniglia train station and towards Vernazza is the greenest & wildest and also the town feels like the most 'natural' of them all. Julien liked this trail best! For me, the most scenic would be the first trail we took from Vernazza to Monterosso - except from the vast number of steps at the end, the initial walk was pretty flat - and I was pretty happy! Some parts of the trail at the first two places, Riomaggiore and Manarola were closed as it was not 100% safe - rainy weather made some landslides, so there's always the option of taking the train to each of the places as well.

So happy to be walking in such a natural, alive place!

Walking in one of the towns - I think its Vernazza.

Staying in Cinque Terre

I was always lucky to be staying in amazing places and this time it was no exception - looking at the location and knowing that J likes walking very much, I chose without much hesitation, 'The Heart of Cinque Terre'. Here we stayed with our quiet and intriguing owner, Pierpaolo, who is an amazing genius! Our room's toilet window was a mirror that was shaped like a ship's window (round with gold metal edges) and could actually be opened exactly like a ship's window!

We also stayed with his very famous dog, Leo. Leo was adopted from a Serbian shelter otherwise he would be killed, and saved his owner's life from a sure death by jumping onto his lap in the car just before the mountain in front of them collapsed. This dog brightened our rainy day where we had to stay in and he is a charmer!

There were a few cats in the locale from time to time and I think we spotted 3 of them during our stay. =)

J with Pierpaolo at Corniglia station

The amazing terrace area and Leo!

Place where people attach locks, as a symbol of love, on the Corniglia - Vernazza trail.

After the rains, some wild asparagus 'hatched'. Hehe... They look like mini versions of the regular ones found in the supermarket. I couldn't spot any on the trail, but J managed to collect quite a few for our dinner. They work best in an omelette! And also could be eaten raw =)

Simply delicious, I've never had food that was plucked from the wild before, so not only does it taste well, there is a great feeling of eating something like this.

I didn't need to lift a finger for this meal (not feeling guilty... okay, a little)...

This is the amazing path to our 'home' from Corniglia station.

Amazing hand made bowl souvenirs found in Manarola.

Sights from the rainy day (low clouds) at San Bernardino

View of Corniglia about 1/3 of the trail away.

Cats galore!
I've never seen such picturesque cats + the environment + they are always ready to pose! The one below was drinking from its waterbowl and when I was spotted, it calmly sat beside. It was actually drizzling, and cold, but it wanted me to take a nice photo!

The walkways off Vernazza led to a great place full of pebbles and rocks, we had fun just walking through the area.

This trip to Cinque Terre was unexpected - since the last quarter of last year I've wanted to go to Sardinia (Italy) and thought that it could be feasible to go to both Sardinia and Rome, but after seeing incredible photos of Cinque Terre decided it was a much better trip to spend 4 full days in Rome and 4 in Cinque Terre, Cinque Terre was about 4 hours away from Rome on the fast regional train. Did not manage to do much reading up or planning about both places, and enjoyed it unplanned! I can truly say it's the most beautiful place I've been in and could spend a long time wandering about the little villages. Being my first time to Italy I didn't think that I would be that impressed, but I was, and now, I want to go to Italy again!

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