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Location: Portovenere, Italy

Early wake up at 6:00 AM today to get ready for our last full day in Italy. We started the morning getting ourselves prepared for the long day ahead and ate blueberry muffins as the first shuttle left for shore at 6:30 AM. Once everyone was ashore, we all caught a bus to get to the train station, which would take us to our first destination, Manarola, which was also the first of five small towns collectively called Cinque Terre. Everyone was free to spend as much time in each town as they wanted and travel between them on the train system with the all day passes we were given. We then split up into groups and went on our way to explore Manarola. I joined the first group to up a very steep trail that weaved between Manarola and Corniglia and led to incredible views and a fun but also very steep descent. In Corniglia, there was a cove with a small rocky island that turned out to be great for cliff diving, and everyone who came through joined in on the fun as random groups of tourists filmed and cheered them on. Later on, I took the train with Gordon and Erik to Vernazza, which was the town that inspired the movie Luca, and we wandered up and down the cramped back alleys and long flights of stone stairs that led up the cliffsides.

Meanwhile, back on Argo, Amanda, Will, and Anna painted, varnished, tidied up, and enjoyed the peace and quiet while the rest of us were away. Amanda also prepared a special surprise for Joe’s 22nd birthday for us all to enjoy after dinner. At 5:00 PM, everyone was grouping back together in the last town, Levanto, to get on the trains for a final time and head back to Argo. We got to the docks after some more bus rides and then were shuttled back in groups to Argo. We cleaned our shoes, put our backpacks away, and came up to eat dinner: Chicken noodle soup with garlic bread. Once dinner was finished, Amanda revealed the surprise she had been working on was homemade apple pie, which was the perfect way to end such an exciting and fun-filled day.