The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
It was supposed to be easy, but travel doesn’t always work out quite the way it’s been planned.
We dropped off our hire car in Nice and bought a ticket at the train station to Ventimiglia, on the Italian border. That part was simple enough. Upon arrival at Ventimiglia we purchased our ticket for Genoa at the Trenitalia ticket office before heading to a cafe for our first Italian lunch. Lunch was nasty. We knew Italian food could only get better.
On board the Trenitalia train we sped past lovely little coastal beaches and with heightened anticipation of our future destinations I tried to take shots through the dirty windows in our cabin. Without much success.
After travelling for about 90 minutes, and stopping at several stations the train was stationary at Andora for an extraordinary amount of time, before a long announcement was made over the speaker system. It was in Italian so we had no idea what was said but we noticed everyone disembarking except a couple of sleeping passengers. People stood outside on the platform smoking cigarettes and waiting. We decided we may as well hop out too. We learned from a group of local passengers that there was a problem with the track up ahead and that there would be a delay.
Donie: What’s happening?
30 minutes went by before another announcement was made. This one sent everyone scurrying off in different directions. Apparently they’d been told that the train may be held up for hours and that they could either wait or look for alternative transport! What? It didn’t matter that we’d all paid for a ticket!
We followed our new-found friends to a bus stop and climbed aboard a bus which took us to Alissio where we tried to catch another train to Genoa. (We still had about 100 Kms to travel). This part was jaw- droppingly unbelievable. There was total confusion at the station. Not only with the travellers, most of whom were local Italian people, but also with the ticket master. He had no idea when the next train was coming, or where it was coming from! People were getting upset and impatient.
Once again we hooked up with a local; one who spoke quite good English and was as confused as us. He was going to Genoa too, to work! We stuck to him like glue and after some time, boarded a train headed for Genoa.There is always someone ready to assist, regardless of the language difficulties. We’ve found that locals in both France and Italy have been quite lovely when approached with a friendly smile.
Travel Advice – A Warning
Graffiti at the Railway Station at Andora
I’ve written this not only as a warning to anyone planning on travelling on an Italian Trenitalia train, but also as a reminder to myself for future travel. It is what it is. The company is poorly managed and communication is not one of their strong points. You wouldn’t be wanting to be catching a plane at the other end. You’d be likely to miss it! A journey that should have taken 6 hours, actually took us 10. Be prepared for delays!
We arrived in Genova City at around 7 pm, dumped our bags in our apartment, and headed out for dinner. We were hungry!
Genoa – Europe’s “Capital of Culture”
Genoa has always had the reputation of being a bad-ass city. Thieves, beggars, prostitutes, drug users; Genoa has it all. It’s a dirty place but many consider that this is it’s charm.
A quick read left me in awe of Genoa’s history; the longevity and magnitude of the shipping industry, the revolts, wars and crises, the importance of Genoa throughout the years as an entryway to Europe from the sea, it’s long history as a rich and powerful trade centre.
Random Scenes around Town
Where we stayed in Genoa
Our apartment was down a narrow alley, right in the heart of the Old City.
At the top of the steps of our alleyway was a church and at the bottom was a coffee shop (which we used as a “meeting point”) and various little restaurants in various little (other) alleyways.
When I spotted the mobility elevator on the stairs I thought “how apt” given the way we were feeling after humping our heavy backpacks most of the day. I also wondered if it might come in handy if either of us came home enebriated after a night on the town, but perhaps regretfully, we didn’t have to use it.
The restaurant we ate at had the most delicious mussels with arborio rice risotto. I had it twice; it was so delicious and only 8 Euros.
Our location was central to everything a visitor might want to see and experience during a 2 day stay in Genoa. It was only a short walk to the port, palaces, basilicas, museums, and church’s, although probably everywhere in Genoa is only a short walk to churches, there are so many. Representative of the plunder of the past.
The Funicular Railways
There are 4 of these in Genoa and we rode the longest one to get views from the top of the city. Genoa is built on terraces, and each level was dug by hand.
Two days is only enough time to get a small glimpse of Genoa and a very quick impression. Students of history, the arts or architecture would find Genoa a captivating place and would want much more time here.