I’m not a person who travels a lot and it’s been years since we traveled out of the country. We have 4 dogs and a house. It seems that once you purchase a home, that’s pretty much where all your money goes, but I got sick of hearing my husband say, “We haven’t traveled in so long!” So, I took it upon myself to do some research and then booked us a trip to Italy with The Blue Walk. The fun started when we got an alert that our flight was delayed. Then another alert that it was delayed again. Then ANOTHER alert that our flight was cancelled. How was I going to get to the meeting point on time if my flight was cancelled? I called the airline and had a long wait just to have attendant tell me there was nothing she could do. I’m not one to be defeated that easily so we put our bags in the car and went to the airport to deal with the airline people in person. And thank God we did. They booked us on a flight that night.  We were in Rome the next day and on a train north to our meet-up location in Rapallo.

(I can’t believe we made it!)

We got off the train and walked down to the water with our bags as instructed by our hosts, Suzy and Jeanette.   Within minutes we found our hotel- a short walk. Suzy greeted us out on the street and brought us inside for a well deserved cocktail and snacks, or appertivo, as she explained. We were one of the first to arrive.  Apparently, just about everyone had a delayed flight or some train issue, but we all stayed in communication with Suzy and Jeanette as they guided us into the hotel. They said this had never happened before. They had never experienced so many guests running late to meet up with the tour, but they were calm, cool and reassuring and made everyone feel hey were going to be just fine. It wasn’t only fine, it was wonderful.

(First day meet-up and cocktails)

I’m 48 years old and out of shape so I was a little concerned about all the walking, but that worry was unfounded. Our first day, we walked along the coast to Portofino- a great warm up stroll of about 5 miles. Some of us walked faster than others and some stopped to shop and have cocktails along the way. We really all walked at our own pace. It was a nice introduction to what the rest of the trip would be like. After we got back to our hotel in Rapallo, we jumped in the bay and swam around to celebrate the completion of our first Blue Walk before showering for dinner.

(Well-deserved dunk in the bay!)

On the second day we checked out the towns of Cinqueterre. We took the train from our hotel to Montorosso. Such a beautiful town. So many shops and restaurants but it was a quick visit for us because we wanted to do the hike over the mountains from Montorosso to Vernazza. Most of the people stayed with Jeanette to shop and have cocktails and take a leisurely boat ride to Vernazza, while some of us walked with Suzy over the mountain. It was a hard 2 hours. I’m not gonna lie to you. Hard, but worth it. Someone said their exercise app showed that we hiked 82 flights of stairs and we felt it. It was so cool, there was a cat sanctuary up on the mountains and a guy playing saxophone and thank God someone was selling cocktails! Way up on the mountain! We stopped for wine and limoncello way up on the old dirt trail that locals have used for hundreds of years. That was so much fun. We took a few breaks to cool down along the way and I dunked my head in a small cold stream – it felt amazing! Then we came down the other side into Vernazza.

(Another well-deserved dunk)

The town was bustling with people. Lots of tourists buzzing about. We used the bathroom at the train station and found a place to eat some calamari and had an Aperol Spritz – you are going to drink a lot of Aperol Spritzes in Italy. It’s the signature drink of all tourists in Italy and it’s perfect. Light and refreshing. You can drink them all day and feel happily buzzed without getting drunk and they are just delicious. (I’ve been home for a month and I still keep ordering Aperol Spritz everywhere I go.)

(We made it to Vernazza!)

We found all the other Blue Walk tour folks who had taken the train with Jeanette and sat with them looking out over the water. There were other towns to see but we just sat there drinking our Aperol Spritz and watching the sun set as local kids played soccer nearby. The water looked so good that my husband and I decided to take a dip. We didn’t even have swim suits but you only live once and I wasn’t going to let that keep me from getting in that amazing water. I took off my pants, laid them in the sand with my shoes and dove in in my underwear. It was amazing. We swam across the little bay to the waterfall rocks and back. We floated on our backs and watched the birds fly high over head. We watched clouds drift by at a leisurely pace with the cool breeze. The rest of the tour group watched from their seats above cheering us on. What an amazing day. It was truly a magical experience.

(Gotta get your spritz on)

Then it was time to head to Lake Como! We stayed at the most beautiful hotel in Bellagio! Holy cow! It was amazing. Right in the center of town. So many restaurants and shops. Truly the most beautiful of the towns along the lake. After more Aperol Spritzes we took the ferry around to different towns but, Bellagio is the best of them all, if you ask me. It was, once again, magical!

(Cooking class was totally worth it)

On the last day at Lake Como, we took a cooking class and my husband said, “This is the best meal we’ve had on the entire trip!” We had eaten well, but there was something about making our own food with the people we’d bonded with and sharing a meal with them in such a beautiful setting. We learned so much and had so much fun.

(figuring things out)

So if you’re thinking of taking a Blue Walk tour, don’t worry about the walking. Honestly, you don’t have to walk much unless you want to.

(The sun sets on a magical trip)

If you’re afraid of traveling to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, Suzy and Jeanette will handle everything for you. You are in good hands. You will be safe, comfortable and mostly floating around in a state of bliss while they do all the hard work and deal with any issues that come up along the way. After the tour was over my husband and I spent a week traveling around Italy on our own and you know what? It’s a lot of hard work when you don’t have Suzy and Jeanette to take care of things. After our week traveling around without them we had an even greater appreciation for what they do and how well they do it. Next time I would definitely  book the extension to make the trip last longer.

(many selfies)

Would I do this again? Absolutely! In a heart beat. My husband and I are looking at their schedule for Greece next year. Maybe we’ll see you on our next Blue Walk tour! Written by: C.J. Arabia