day by day, train by train: the story of our European adventure
Being the morning lark that I most famously am, I forced myself awake at 8:30am for a lonesome stroll along and around Lerici and then into the next village of San Terenzo. I ventured up to the supermarket, finally conquering the European fruit & veg purchasing system of which I had encountered previous difficulties. I bought an overpriced but zangy orange & carrot juice, sat by the harbour and then, whilst munching my apple, walked away from the main town, appreciating the cooling spray on my way as it out-stretched its tickeling fingers over the trembling seawall.
The next town onward was not nearly as quaint or as pretty as where we were staying, but it meant that I had a gorgeous view of Lerici from where I sat on the comforting maze of rocks at the foot of San Terenzo’s castle. I ate my banana and called Jane (my mother), thankful for a little quiet time to think in myself.
As I told Flo later that day: the world is so big and we spend so much time worrying about what macrocosmic feelings are trapped inside the tiny space under our foreheads that it’s really not helpful to waste even more time thinking and worrying about what’s going on inside someone else’s completely disconnected head. The waves and spray were cleansing, peaceful and forgiving, all the things that I had to try and be myself.
Philosophy with Phoebe
When I fulfilled my optimum thought capacity, I made my way back to my little haven and called Gu and Lindy (Nan and Aunt) as I went, coincidentally bumping into Larissa, Maddy and Flo as I reached the outer perimeter of Lerici. The nicest part of this particular day, aside from the relieving solitude, was the fact that we could all have our own space, yet could still run into each other without expecting it.
We then went on the search for a birthday gift for Kaila, buying her a little thatched pot from a street seller and a pink and blue beaded necklace that would match a couple of her evening outfits. The present was completed by filling the pot with beach glass (or ‘precious stones’ as I used to call them) along with pretty shells that we collected on the beach.
After our appropriation of nature was over, we sipped and slumbered under the roof of the blue faded beachside cafe. The only hitch of the day was accidentally paying for both mine and Larissa’s coffee instead of just my own (thinking four euros was strangely expensive for just 1 coffee).
There goes convincing myself that I was italian
I left the waterside gloombar and went on the hunt for the gelato that Kaila had praised, leaving Larissa playing Soduko and Flo listening to Christian music, being sprayed by the holy waters as the song reached its climax.
I ran into Maddy in the Piazza and together I showed her the supermarket where she bought lunch. As Maddy and I parted, I then ran into Flo and we talked about forgiveness and Christians and Psalm 139 as she came with me to get the gelato for which I was still searching. I had the local ‘Lerici’ flavour snuggled with strawberry. I was left a little disappointed in terms of the portion size, though it was still refreshing. To make matters even more exciting, we both bumped into Maddy again and, as three united amigos, we searched for our fourth companion, Larissa, who was no where to be found – Kaila was away ‘running errands’/beaching with her friend.
Hot and needing the toilet, I left Flo and Mad in the shade and found Larissa exactly where I thought she would be: at the place where we had lunch yesterday. I fetched the keys and let Flo and Maddy in to freshen up. To my delight, I managed to track down my old brand of eyeliner that I had lost on ‘messy beach night’ – I could now cover my face again! We spent the next few hours lounging in the flat, eating crackers and waiting for Kaila to return – she looked absolutely beautiful today.
and the others did too, I suppose
It was time to catch the bus to La Spezia to meet Kaila’s old babysitters for dinner. We dressed up for the evening and met Nati & Fabrizio who, although I was in their company for only a short time, seemed to be two of the kindest people I have had the pleasure of encountering. They made for us, two technical strangers, an entire and entirely beautiful dinner. (Fabrizio grows a lot of his own food, specialising in lemons, lemons, lemons, lemons, lemons).
- pasta in tomato sauce (with a selection of bread/focaccia & nibbles)
- cotoletta and salad (with a selection of cheese)
- apricot tart & Kaila’s pasticcini
- Panna ice-cream & cherry(-ish) syrup
Stuffed to the brim, we all managed to find room for a little glass of orange & lemon aranchino which was a (diluted) 95% alcohol percentage. Despite the feeling of potentially disintegrating into a burning hole of oblivion, it tasted fantastic.
Kaila was anxious about the language barrier, but I thought it made the evening even more wonderful in being able to experience another culture’s way of living through a different language, yet still being able to emotionally engage with them (& bond over food).
Their house was situated with a view of the sea on one side and the forest and rolling hills on the other; it was as idyllic as the word can possibly allow me to describe, as well as feeling cool and airy being out on the tarpoolined patio.
What was loveliest was seeing the way Kaila was with them; you could tell that they were like a second set of parents to her. Nati told us that she had her eyes tattooed for a permanent effect of accentuated eyeliner! I don’t think I could bare the pain in that situation, but now I have my own eyeliner again, I won’t look like a fatigued zombie so much now.
After being loaded with leftover food and tomatoes, Fab Fabrizio kindly gave us a very rocky lift home, passing by Porto-Venere on our way , which lived up to its name of ‘Port of Venus’.
Although it was dark and I was feeling a visceral mixture of full, tired and a bit ill, it felt like I was driving through a half-conscious ditsy dream. My wavering and dwindling vision was lit up by a large ship which reminded me of the flying ship of fairy dust that graces the end of Peter Pan. The houses were individually lined with quaint little pixie lights. These were brief moments that were special for exactly that reason. I would like to see this town in the day-time sometime, though it was nice to cast up a memory based purely on a few, almost intangible minutes, rather than a consciously finite experience, which are weighed out by our other destinations.
If any of that makes sense
An hour or so later, we made it back to the apartment and fell swiftly to sleep, filled with wisps of light, heavily deep-end swimming memories and, of course, good food.