Rita poses at the fountain in Piazza De Ferrari in Genoa.
After a beautiful ride through the mountains of southern Switzerland on a clean and uncrowded train, the Milan train station was a shock. We needed to transfer here onto a train to Genoa, and had difficulty finding out from what track the train would leave. When the track was finally announced, we found ourselves in a crowd of other people who were heading to the same train. We fought our way onto the train with our baggage, and finally found 2 seats. We later learned why those seats were available when our neighbors lit up; we were in a smoking car! Smoking was a continuing problem for us in Italy; a high percentage of Italians smoke, and smoking is not prohibited in public buildings or restaurants.
We arrived in Genoa around 4PM on Friday afternoon. Rita had converted $10 to Euros at the Milan train station, and had bought us lunch, so we had almost no Euros (we did have Euro denominated travelers checks). We got on the wrong bus and found ourselves headed out of town. We tried another bus which headed in the right direction, but I was not able to read enough street signs to follow along on our map, and finally decided we had missed our stop and should get off immediately. The bus was crowded and, even thou Rita was right behind me, the bus doors closed with me and most of our baggage off, but Rita still on the bus. For a few seconds it looked like we not only didn't know where we were, but would soon be in different places, with no planned meeting place, and no idea how we would find each other. Fortunately, Rita was able to get the driver to let her off. We figured out where we were, and walked to the hotel we had chosen from the guide book, the Hotel Bel Soggiorno and they had a room available. I paid the 70 Euro price using a 100 Euro travelers check, so we now had about 35 Euros, but it was after 5PM on Friday, and we expected that we would not be able to convert any more money until the banks opened on Monday.
Our room was a little dingy, with a shower in one corner, and a bathroom in the other with the toilet so close to the door that it was barely possible to close it. The room was stuffy and noisy with the window closed, less stuffy but more noisy with it open. I felt threatened in a country where I didn't know the language or the customs and I hit the low point of the trip, wanting to go home, and wondering how I would make it through the next 6 weeks.
Rita took a nap and I took a walk, with the goal of finding the least expensive restaurant in the area - we had 35 Euros and we might have to stretch them until Monday. I found a chinese restaurant with a menu in the window that seemed to say we could eat for about 3 Euros each. We had supper there and ended up with an 11 Euro bill! That was when we learned about the standard cover charge, and that chinese restaurants in Italy charge for tea, and all restaurants charge for water.
Genoa appears to me to be right out of an M.C. Escher drawing; the city is built on several levels. Near our hotel was a block of stores, and on the roof of the stores was a church. A staircase led up from the church to a bridge that looked down at our hotel. Wild.
Saturday we walked to the Piazza de Ferrari and visited the Palazzo Ducale museum, and the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, as well as several of the shops located in the narrow streets in the old section of the city.
Sunday we made a day trip to the fishing village of Camogli for the annual fish festival, and on Monday we left Genoa for Cinque Terre.
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Page last updated May 02, 2004