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Cinque Terre

Pallavi Mahajan
(c) Our day trip from Florence to Cinque Terre which is a string of centuries-old seaside villages, Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline, was more than adventurous. Captivated by the beauty of islands we took a wrong train which instead of taking us back to Florence, took us further away. We realised this when a brown skinned elderly man in the train came to us and said 'Indiano' and we smiled and said 'Si' (by this time we had picked up the essential local Italian words.) He pointed towards himself and said 'Bangladesh'. He asked us 'Where are you going'? We said, 'Florence'. Shocked, he started murmuring something in Italian and said 'Wrong Train'. We were aghast. It was the last train. He told us to get down at the next station which was 'Portofino'. And catch the next train in the morning at 5. It was 12.30 in the night. The Portofino station had just we three women. In our heart of hearts we all were scared but just to keep the Euro Trip mood alive, we joked and sang.
Pallavi Mahajan
Travel is about pinning the countries visited on the world map or showing off the visa stamps on the passport but going out of your comfort zone, abandoning the stereotype beliefs and reinforcing the nurtures that we were born with. The belief that goodness is not dead, the belief that we all have the potential to make a difference in this world, the belief that everyday is an opportunity to make a positive mark in someone else's heart, the belief that human is divine.
Sara Suri
Cinque TerreFor the next day, we had booked a day trip to Cinque Terre (Pronounced as CHIN-QUAY TERE- literally meaning: 5 villages) and this has to be the best decision of my life. Google the prettiest places on the planet, and it’s on the list. Cinque Terre is not that accessible on your own as it involves hiring a car plus a 2-hour drive from Florence. Also, no cars are allowed inside the 5 villages so the car you hire/drive must be parked outside the 5 village gates. To commute between the villages, there are local trains and even ferries!I really don’t like group tours much maybe because of past experiences but trust me when I say this was worth every single penny. The tour consisted of about 8 people in the minivan and is fairly expensive but makes sense cause less people means you have your own space. The good part is that there isn’t really any “guide” as such but basically the driver of the luxury car who’s super knowledgeable and will give you as many details as possible/answer your questions. This trip also gives you tons of free time. At every island we got, at least, an hour or two to do our own thing- eat/swim, etc. If you don’t have Cinque Terre on your list, you must add it. It’s one of the most charming places I have ever been to.