Day 1: First Impressions
Wow, today has been a long day so far.
I’ve been awake for 24 hours now, having flown out of Florida on Saturday morning. My connecting flight in Atlanta was delayed by over 2 hours, in addition to the 4 hour layover.
On the flight, I was able to catch a bit of sleep, which I credit not to the spaciousness of my seat, but to the awesome inflatable travel pillow that I purchased. So happy I brought that!
Feeling like a zombie, I wondered off the plane in Milan’s Malpensa airport, through passport control, and towards the bus. I planned to take the bus, but couldn’t figure it out, so I bought a ticket for the Airport Express train into the city.
Trying to speak Italian when jet lagged is hard. I understand a lot and can read signs, so that is helpful.
I saw bell towers in villages, and bright red poppies decorating the gravel around the train tracks.
After struggling to stay awake on the train, I exited at the main train station and quickly found a train leaving for Genoa shortly. I purchased my ticket on the Tranitalia app – extremely easy. Once I boarded and the train started, I could self-check-in on the app. All I had to do was show this to the train employee when he came though to check tickets.
The architecture of the homes and apartments that I see from the window remind me a lot of Germany/Austria, except with orange tile roofs.
The 1 1/2 hour train ride went by quickly and as we needed Genova it looked beautiful against the hills. Hailing a taxi was quite simple, and thankfully I had some cash to pay – his credit card reader was broken. The ride reminded me of an old Disneyland ride called °Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” but it wasn’t too bad. No one died at the end. It was easy to meet up with the housing agent and I was surprised with how close my apartment was to the main squares of the city.
Honestly, the first walk around the city was a blur, as I was so tired. Beautiful old buildings, a lovely view overlooking the city, tunnels, hills, a port with boats, and a million places to eat.
We ended our evening with a lovely dinner at a local trattoria, where I tried a pasta dish of vegetable stuffed ravioli with a delicate walnut cream sauce, stuffed and fried anchovies and eggplant, and tiramisu for dessert. The rustic atmosphere of the trattoria had a classic, old world charm, and you could tell that it was a favorite with local families.
Monday morning found us with plans to meet up with Professor Rice at 10am in the Piazza de Ferrari.
As I was still recovering from jet lag, I took the opportunity of a late start to find a cafe and order my first coffee in Italy.
I had read that the locals often drink their coffee “at the bar” standing, that that there are two different prices – one for sitting, once for standing. So I walked in and ordered my cappuccino in Italian “al banco” and had it standing. Afterwards, I people watched in the Piazzo Matteotti, and browsed a used book sale. I wanted to buy everything, but then I remembered I have no luggage space, nor do I read much Italian!
Our tour with Rice was fast paced, taking us to old Renaissance buildings, including a repurposed one that is now a bank. We meandered through many different alleyways, which I will never remember how to return to…maybe I should have left a breadcrumb trail
ended up at the port of Genoa, which is a lovely area with wide walking space and many shops and restaurants.
After a visit to the Genova market, we made our way down to the train station and took the train 4 stops down to Genova Nervi. My first impression was that this area is a lovely break from the hubbub of the city center. The seaside is right there, but there is also a large park with gardens and a seaside promenade that connects you to the small fishing village. The turquoise waters splashing on the jagged rocks reminds me of La Jolla beach in California (near San Diego), but with calmer waters along the Italian coast.
Being a coastal town means that seafood is everywhere! I tried a codfish and potato piatti primi for lunch today, as we enjoyed escaping the hot sun on the promenade.
My evening included joining another student for an aperitivo, wandering by the port, and also doing a little grocery shopping at a little market near my flat.