Europe 5. Margherita eats margherita

day by day, train by train: the story of our European adventure

***

One long and glorious sleep in our own little haven later and we were up and out for our first (but of course not first pastry-based) breakfast two doors down in Lerici. I couldn’t tell if my  saturated appreciation of this coffee and croissant combination was down to my previously deprived comfort and lack of lifestyle or, less cynically, a testament to the renowned Italian cuisine. 

***

With this artificial energy dripping through my veins, Flo, Mad, Larissa and I headed towards the castello (castle) on the edge of town as our first checkpoint to find Kaila’s recommended beach. As with most aspects of my life, we came to an initial dead end, but it was still visually worth a few snapshots and selfies by the crashing waves of the water’s edge tickling our shredded toes.

Using an initiative typical of our now internationally practiced DofE navigational skills, we took a scenic but  convoluted route through to the beach, circumventing round a semi-circular route of the castle. The best way, as we quickly and nostalgically learned, would have been to ‘go through it’ via an underground tunnel.

I did not regret the extra melanin absorbed in this quaint deviation; I was desperately hoping that my consistent time in equally consistent solar exposure might become evident on my pastey or otherwise blotchey skin soon enough. The achievement of this hope would proudly prepare me for the  public examination of our personally documented travels.

or, less pretentiously put, the judgement of Facebook photos

***

Once we had reunited with our resident Italian who had slithered off to meet an old friend, we settled on the first beach we encountered, shunned by the further beach because of an esoteric barrier of water.

The next few hours were spent in the beautifully bath-time temperature of the salty sea. Though the storm of the previous few days meant we couldn’t view the warped image of our bodies through the looking glass of the water, it was still one of the nicest swims I’ve had in the ocean, gently ‘koala-ing’ my externally and internally golden friends and re-baptizing Flo.

To koala (verb): 1. to wrap both your arms and your legs around another, mimicking the way a koala hugs a tree. 

***

Kaila, Flo and I rebelliously swam to the next beach on, battling against the waves and the rocks and accumulating a few cuts along the way (Flo’s being naturally more impressively severe than mine). When this short-lived adventure had been thoroughly completed, indicated by running blood, we returned to the others, being kindly helped by the locals in a collaborative effort across the rocks.We then took part in the necessary ‘gals facebook photo-shoot to make everyone envious of our lives’, combined with complaints about the state of our bodies too.

I now look back over these photos and cry about the attempt to rediscover the only partial bikini body I sported back then.

***

As the sun was high in the sky but not a strangling temperature, we went for lunch in the main piazza and I ate a flatbread/calzone/italian with pesto thing followed by my first gelato of the trip (a greatly anticipated event), reachable just next door to where we were eating. I had a dark chocolate and a flavour composed of basil, lemon and cinnamon which was really weird but  nicely matched and cuddled hand-in-hand with the chocolate.  Although we craved for more (or at least… I did), we saved ourselves for the evening where we would be spending ‘the best €7 of your entire life’ (Kaila C.C. 2015) on pizza.

***

The afternoon consisted of lounging on smoother parts of the edgy rocks and enjoying the blue hues of the water next to the harbour. I was fully experiencing that feeling of materialistic satisfaction, having just purchased some high-waisted summer culottes for  €5 from a little antiques market which is only set up in Lerici every 3rd (4th?) Sunday of the month.

Kaila and I swam out to a crowded diving platform and engaged in a healthy continuation of sunbathing and idle chatter. The other girls went back home to freshen up while Kaila and I squeezed the most out of the sun’s heat. Kaila made a start on ‘A Room with a View’ in Italian but ended up with a sunburn on the front side. I made a relatively lucky escape with weakly reddened shoulders.

***

Finally, as the sun was low and hazy, the time had come to order the pizza. As we were waiting for it to be prepared, we had a drink from the café directly below the flat and met the beyond ridiculously beautiful Margherita. She was wearing a white top, matching shorts and neon pink trainers and logically should have looked terrible by British standards, yet she made it look like an obscure branch of Italian chic. The worst part was that she also had a warm heart, emphasized by our own heartless British cynicism.

Maddy: (aside) ‘what would it be like if one of us was that attractive?!’

We collected our pizza and ate at home, declaring ‘chin, chin’ in authentic, Italian style. These Goldilocks-worthy pizzas weren’t too thick or cheesy but still stuffed me to the fullest I could be, but by no means in a bad way.

And Margherita ate a Margherita, of course.

Finishing the evening sprawled on the bed, listening to Kaila’s music, heads low and tummies high from the pizza, we thought about how most travelling teenagers would be out in the clubs, drinking and partying until the sun came up and the sick came out.

But I preferred it our way.

Memory sparks:

  • Flo got a pizza food baby
  • Trying to communicate ridiculous stories to Margerita through mime and basic English (plant pots)
  • Kaila’s favourite song

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