Cinque Terre: Beverages and Bathrooms with a 7 year old in tow

The following is a guest post courtesy of my sister, Aunt Kat.

There will be pee.

Our day trip to Cinque Terre started with 3 short train hops. In the movies there would be a flashback of me being on the train clutching my 7 year old niece’s hand while we watch her father run to catch train 2. Sadly he didn’t make it.

So the adventure begins with my parents and sister (aunt Karebear) camped out at the cafe in the train station at the last of the 5 towns, Monterosso, while we wait to see if Papa Bear is close behind. The train station has a small touristy cafe with a single stall bathroom. We are in heaven since we can smell the public bathroom around the corner a mile away.

It is very difficult for Sister Bear to remain still and patiently wait for Papa Bear since the ocean is oh.so.close. However, PB has the backpack with her bathing suit. When it becomes evident that PB was probably not able to get another train, Aunt KareBear and I hatch a plan to let SB dip her feet, ostensibly up to her knees, in the ocean. Dummy aunties! Neither of us have our own kids so we were oblivious to the fact that SB would NOT be able to resist the urge to swim even though she was wearing street clothes. So, there stands SB…dripping wet and cold. Suddenly she announces that she’s gotta pee.

Now let’s take a sidebar here to congratulate me for not immediately sending her back into the ocean to pee. I’m not squishy about bodily functions but I have to admit that it never even occurred to me that was an option. It was, however, Grandpa No-no’s first suggestion. In spite of the great big ocean behind us AKB and I truck the darling off the sand, up the stairs and back to our original cafe. Potty break number one.

And with that, we are on to plan B. AKB and I purchase a bikini and beach towel so SB can swim again. The cute little bikini becomes her new outfit du jour since her clothes would remain wet/damp all day. This, for the record, is where the grandparentals bail on us and decide to move on by themselves leaving the aunties on their own with SB. Once SB announces she’s too cold to swim any longer we set off to explore the little town of Monterosso. We spy a little playground right across the street from a sidewalk cafe. Score the first adult beverage for the aunties. If I recall correctly it was noonish. That’s a respectable time for a beverage; and it’s not like we actually were in a bar contributing to the delinquency of our niece; and the child was happily making friends on the monkey bars. The best bonus of purchasing beverages is that you get to use the facilities in the establishment which are always nicer than public ones. So, we all potty in relative comfort and only minor smelliness before moving on to the next town.

Having purchased the local train pass, the three of us head to the next town with SB wrapped in her newly purchased beach towel for warmth. Verrnaza doesn’t have beaches per se but it does have a harbor with lots of rocks suitable for scrambling on. This makes SB happy. We decide to have lunch in Verrnaza with another adult beverage. This makes the aunties happy. Lunch was on a lovely roof top terrace overlooking the harbor. The potty break induced a small bit of panic whenSB locked herself in and then could figure out how to get out. AKB talked her thru it and we all made our way to the train to the next little town.

Corniglia would hold several little adventures. Fortunately we averted what could have been a misadventure when we ran into the grandparentals. They were boarding the train on to the next stop as we were getting off. Grandma suggested we forgo walking the 350 steps up to the town in lieu of taking the little shuttle bus. We bussed up to the top where SB announced she had to pee. Lord, that child has a small bladder. I try the old “lets get gelato and use their bathroom routine,” but the gelato store didn’t have a public WC. They did have beer so the aunties enjoyed another adult beverage until we couldn’t put off the potty excursion any longer and headed around the corner. This potty was a “squatty.” This means no actually toilet so we coached SB on now to squat and pee. A little pee may have made itself onto her bikini bottoms. Or a lot. It’s a good thing Auntie Kat is not squeamish. We washed off the bottoms as best as possible in the sink, put on the soaking wet drawers and headed back down the hill on the little autobus.

By the fourth town, Manarola, Auntie Kat was losing steam. SB was still going strong. As a matter of fact, through the entire 14 hour day SB never stopped talking and she never stopped moving. Even though SB would have liked to scramble on more rocks, the aunties didn’t have enough energy to appropriately supervise her so we settled for visiting another squatty potty, forwent the adult beverages and moved on to the last and final town.

Rio Maggiorre is by far the most touristy of the towns. We had been promising SB that we would try to find her a little dress as she had tired of the bikini 3 towns ago. After suitably dressing SB for the ride home we still had an hour to kill so we settled in at another sidewalk cafe (with acceptable facilities) for some adult and child suitable beverages….sangria for the aunties and fizzy water for SB. Potty breaks all around, we headed for the train and started the journey home.

Once safely ensconced in our rented apartment the aunties enjoyed a well deserved glass of wine while we savored a successful “aunt day” with our 7 year old charge. We all survived remarkably unscathed and will have fabulous stories of our grand adventure.

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