Wow. If I could relive any day over and over again, I would have to make a top 3 list of days because I’ve had some pretty incredible experiences in the last 19 years, but I know without a doubt today would be on the list. It was perfect. As a perfectionist who battles daily at learning to go with the flow and accept things the way they are, I do not use that word often. One of the reasons I did not post the link to my blog site on Facebook, unlike most of the other students, is because I am not very confident in my ability to creatively organize my thoughts and build well-written reflections. So, I’m working on learning to accept and love my flaws rather than beat myself up over them.
However, today had no flaws!!! 😀
Last night, all anyone was talking about was what they were going to do on their first free day. During second semester, one of my friends told me that his favorite place in Italy is Cinque Terre. After days of googling and fawning over pictures of the beautiful mediterranean, I had definitely set my hopes on spending a free day in the blue sea. Thankfully, there was a group of PCS pals waking up at 7:30 in the morning and heading for the train station to purchase round tickets to the beautiful island. I asked if I could join and, to no surprise, they all welcomed me without hesitation. I seriously adore every sweet soul that had attended this PCS trip. What an incredible group of people.
This morning, I was so excited that I woke up about 5 minutes before my alarm went off (love when that happens !!) and began packing for the day. I took essentials and nothing I would die without, in case my things were stolen or got lost. 12 of us gathered in the lobby, headed for the train station, bought our tickets, and piled on board with big grins on our faces. The train ride ended up taking longer than we expected and began to drag, causing us to develop a weird combination of restlessness and exhaustion. Then, all of the sudden, we saw a streak of blue before the train went underground. THE OCEAN!! Wow, what a tease. But that brief view of the ocean was all it took. We all started to giggle and smile with excitement, our stomachs growling with hungry and our brains screaming, “Let us off this train and into the beautiful, crystal blue water!”. Screech! The train stopped, doors opened, and we bounded out and hustled for the exit.
The air!! So fresh and salty. It was perfect. We grabbed a bite to eat, asked a local for some insight, and then headed across a large bend that was to the right of the cliffs where most people were swimming. I was so thankful we decided to explore a different location because when we rounded the bend we were hit with the most incredible view. To the left of us, beautiful, multi-colored homes stacked on top of each other, and to the right, bright green mountains and a more isolated area to jump into the water. We hollered and cheered in excitement as we approached the cliff. We chose a spot for our things, snapped a few pics to smile at on way home, threw off our clothes and ran for the water. There was a fun ledge to jump off and into the mediterranean.
That first jump in was my favorite moment from today. I jumped, hit the ocean, felt the cold water envelope me and then I kicked my way up for air. After days of sweating in the heat and humidity of Arezzo, Assisi and Florence, the cold water felt like heaven. After only a couple minutes of swimming, my body adjusted to the temperature. We explored a cave near us, climbed on top of rocks and cliffs, and floated in circles, taking in the view around us. I can feel that moment, the water, the view, the smell, everything as I type this post. It was a perfect moment and one I will cherish forever.
I remember boarding the train, worried that I had wasted my day because we would end up spending more time on the trains than we would in Cinque Terre. I hate myself for those pointless, negative thoughts. I would do the train rides all over again in a heart beat. Because we swam most of the day, we got tired fairly quickly and were ready to head back when it came time to board. I love how I was worried we wouldn’t get enough time there and it ended up being just the right amount. Silly me 😛 On the train ride home, Ross and I creatively set his notebook up to connect our small tables together for us to play cards games. It was fun and helped pass the time until we had to board the second train.
We all grabbed food and played games during our layover before our final train ride to Arezzo. When we reached the train station in Arezzo it was about 12:45 and we had to get back to the hotel by 1. We reached the hotel at 12:57, so we all jumped up and down, embraced each other with our time to spare and then walked in right at 1 🙂 ! What a day.
I really needed today. I had been spending a lot of time with a group of people that I already knew going into this trip so it was nice to take a day trip with people I was still in the process of getting to know. I love my friends but I definitely needed the break from them. I had been wanting to branch out without hurting their feelings and today was the perfect way to because they knew how much I had been wanting to go to Cinque Terre. It makes me want to get to know everyone even more and utilize my time to invest in new friendships while maintaining the original ones.
Man oh man am I am going to sleep so well tonight after all that swimming!! Plus, I get to sleep in… hallelujah 😀