Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ocean Blue

Day 99

The next morning I was up again before my alarm. I was glad that I had gotten used to the early mornings. Today I was headed to Genoa. This is another city, like Turin, that I probably could have used more than a day to explore.

The first place that I had wanted to visit was the Genoa Reale Palace. The next tour wasn't for some time so I decided to check it out on the way back to the train station later on.

At the tourist office they had given me a brochure with landmarks and suggested walking tours. Over a cappuccino I highlighted what I wanted to visit and made my own tour. I think that Genoa is actually a pretty big place, however all the sites were located in the small old town. A lot of the places to visit were the facades of eloquent old buildings.

My first actual site was the Gusu cathedral. This was pretty much a typical church, however, it had several Rubens paintings in it. After enjoying the artwork I moved on.

Nearby is the Casa della famiglia Columbo, or Christopher Columbus's house. He lived in this house from age three until he left for Spain at 27. The house was quite small. He father had used the ground floor as a shop, he was a weaver. The foundation of the house dated back to the 5th century. The house sticks out because it is the only one left in the row. All the other homes were torn down about 100 years ago. It looks a bit forlorn on its own. One of the bells from the Santa Maria is kept here. Apparently after his death a nephew of Columbus tried to sell it but the ship went down. It was later recovered.

The Porta dei Vacca, a city gate dating from 1155, is only a stones throw from Columbus's house. I imagined that climbing up it would give me a great view of the city and the port. The tower wasn't quite tall enough for this. When I climbed down the first tower and headed to the second I jokingly asked the woman at the ticket desk if there was an elevator for that one. She didn't get the joke and very seriously explained to me that the tower was 1000 years old and that they just didn't have elevators back then.

Once I had taken the stairs up I could see that even though the second tower was the same height, it was at a better angle and I had a much better view. I was also able to get pictures of the other tower.

After wandering aimlessly for some time through the cute medieval city I found a beautiful square with several restaurants and a bar with a good amount of beers on tap. My plan was to enjoy the sun that was finally making an appearance and write for a bit. The bartender asked me if I would like my beer to go. No one has ever asked me this before and I was a bit taken back. I think he thought that I didn't understand his English and he started to explain my options further. I apologized for my confusion, and just told him that no one had ever asked me that before and I was a bit surprised.

When I had finished my beer I headed to the port and the aquarium. For some reason the aquarium was ridiculously expensive and I decided that it could be skipped. I've seen fish before. I then headed back to the Reale Palace to get the next tour. To my surprise they only had the one tour a day and I had missed it.

I was at a loss at this point and decided to simply head back to Milan. On the ride I finished Catcher in the Rye. It's a wonderful book, you should read it. For dinner that night I stopped my my regular pub (at this point it was) and had the free food with beer purchase. I was exhausted by the time I got back to the hostel and simply fell asleep.

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