Thursday, June 20, 2013

Train to Cinque Terre

We ported in La Spezia on a Monday. This is generally a tendering port, but they have a highly efficient tendering service so we were able to pretty much walk on for the tender rather than having to wait. We still had to get a tendering ticket, but it was so easy, especially compared to the lengthy tendering process of the day before.

When you arrive along shore from the tender, if you want to walk to the train station through the pedestrian mall, you will head to the left and walk to the end of the immediate harbor area. You will pass the boat service to Cinque Terre and other locations along the way. There is a wide pedestrian cross walk, painted blue when we were there, so use it to cross the multiple lanes of traffic that may or may not stop for you. Once across, you will be walking through a park area for a long block and then you will enter the open air mall area. Keep walking though to the other side, then keep heading in the same direction, taking the right side of the forked intersection.

You can reach the train station in about 20 minutes at a steady pace, but you will want to allow time to purchase your ticket and validate it before boarding the train. When you arrive at the train station, walk beyond where one goes to board the trains until you see the ticketing area.

You can purchase your ticket from an agent at the window, or you can use one of the automated ticketing machines (photo left). We purchased the CT card for 10€ each from an agent as we wanted to be sure we bought the right ticket and to ask where our train would be arriving. The CT card is good for boarding the train and using the hiking trails the rest of the day.

As you head towards the track where your train will be arriving, make sure to look at the schedule to see which bin it will be at. For us, it was Bin 5. We had preprinted a schedule to know when it should arrive. Then as you head towards where you will board, make sure you validate your ticket using the validation machine as shown in the top right.

We took the 9:56 express that stopped in Riomaggiore and then in Monterosso along with a bazillion other people. We were jammed in literally shoulder to shoulder. It is always a good idea to keep your belongings close, but particularly so here because of how crowded it was. Most of the people were other tourists.

A few people got off at the first stop while most of the rest disembarked at Monterosso. There was a train that left from La Spezia stoping at each village between Riomaggiore and Monterosso that I expect was not so crowded.

We had planned the amount of time in each location based on the train station with an eye toward returning to La Spezia by 16:45. This was really enough time in each place except Corniglia where we had only time to climb the steps before needing to descend back to the station. We could have waited for the following train in about an hour's time but were concerned that if there were delays later on, we would be pushing to for our 19:30 last tender call.

Each station was similar in that whichever track you got off at was the one you would reboard the train at. Except for the original train, we had our choice of adequate seating. Most of the stations had only limited shade and seating, but our new friends with us introduced us to the air conditioning of the tunnels when it was time for a train to arrive!

The CT cards are 10€ each and are valid for use until midnight of the day they are validated. We never had anyone aboard the train to check our tickets, but we had them ready just in case. The time between each stop is only a few minutes.

When returning to the station at La Spezia, there were several taxis waiting to take people back to the ship, or you can walk the 20 minutes back (slightly downhill most of the way).

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