Monday, June 9, 2008

Italy to Germany

Ok, I know I haven't finished Spain, but I am going to put on a few photos from our port in Italy to arriving in Germany. When we got into port in Savona, we thought we had prepaid for a transfer from the ship to our hotel. Well, I was dumb and didn't reserve our hotel through the ship. Somehow I thought I could get us a better deal on line. So because of that, I think, they were only willing to take us to the airport or the train station in Genoa. So we ended up being taken to the train station and then having to catch a taxi to our hotel. We found out that first, the enterprising Italian cab driver vastly overcharged us. The girl at the hotel, just shrugged her shoulders and said "that's Italy." It was very frustrating.

Our hotel, while beautiful, was not in an area of town where there was anything for tourists to do or any place to eat dinner except at the hotel which was very overpriced. We had an amazing bathroom that was ENTIRELY covered in a beautiful dark green marble.

I know I should have had the toilet closed when I took this photo, but I didn't. But look at the marble. It was amazing. The room was all done in a very modern style, with warm woods and frosted glass.

So, we were kind of stranded in a suburb of Genoa. We decided to try and find somewhere else to eat dinner. The girl at the front desk told us to take a city bus to another area (I don't remember the name of it). She said there were lots of shops there. We had to buy a bus ticket first in some kind of shop. We weren't able to locate the shop the had directed us to. So we go up to people at the bus stop to ask them. Well since we weren't in a tourist area, no one spoke English. I can sometimes understand a little Italian because of the little Spanish I know, but we didn't seem to be getting very far. We went into some shops, where no one spoke English either, but finally figured out enough to be able to locate a place to buy bus tickets. We were very proud of ourselves. So we get on this city bus and then realize that we don't know when we are supposed to get off. We keep looking carefully and manage to get off in what I think was the right place. The shops there weren't like anything I was expecting, little places that were hardware stores, a nursery, a flower shop, some high end designer stores mixed in. Not much in the way of resturants. We did manage to find an Italian bakery. Edith and I make it a point of always going in an Italian bakery and we managed to find some little cookies and treats for later. Language isn't much of a barrier there, you can just point.

We kept walking and finally found a couple of restuants but they wouldn't be open for dinner for until 7pm and it was 5:30. Edith was concerned about finding our way back in the dark, getting a bus and all in an unfamiliar place and so we decided not to wait. There really wasn't anyplace to wait anyway. So walking back, we came to an Italian grocery store and decided to see what we could get in there. We were able to get some sliced meat, cheese, foccacia, fruit, etc. When we got to the check out though, the young man who was the clerk kept saying something and gesturing to the fruit. We weren't sure what was wrong and he finally took our fruit in disgust and when over to the produce department. Apparently we were supposed to get it weighed somewhere over there and an official price tag put on the bag. So we were the people in line you didn't want to be behind. You also had to buy your plastic bags. So we put the bags we thought we needed in with our stuff on the belt. There was an older woman in line in front of us, who stole our bags while the clerk was gone. She looked right at me, grabbed our bag and stuffed it inside of her sack. I couldn't believe it! I guess that is more evidence of the Italian entrepeneurship, taking advantage whenever possible.

We made the bus back to our hotel and had a little picnic in our room. Edith tried to watch tv in Italian, but it wasn't very satisfying for her.

The next morning we had to take a taxi back to the airport. I checked with the desk clerk how much it should cost for the trip and tried to establish this with the cabbie before we left. We pretty much got ripped off again.

While we enjoyed our trip to Italy 4 years ago, this time we were pretty glad to be leaving after our experiences.

We flew to Paris and hung around in the airport for about 4 hours before our flight to Frankfurt. I bought a nice Swatch watch at a duty free shop while we were waiting and we both bought some perfume.

When we got to Germany, my friend Robin was there waiting for us! It was such a nice feeling to feel like we had some order and simplicity back in our lives after the chaos of Italy. Robin and I had been roommates back in college and had maintained a friendship over the years. She is a Lt. Colonel in the miltary, a veterinarian and a commander over a food safety lab. She and her husband live off base in Kaiserslautern. Their house is huge, 14 rooms and up many flights of stairs just to get to the house and a big hill garden up behind the house. Here is her dog Kiwi.
Kiwi is an Australian Cattle Dog and is pretty high energy and intense. This is the second one Robin has had and she really likes the breed. She takes Kiwi pretty much everywhere with her. Even to work. Pretty nice having a job where you can take your dog with you, huh?


Cynthia said...

I feel anxious just reading about your street travels in Italy.
I am enjoying your trip in weekly episodes. Thanks for sharing.

Bandanamom said...

It's very interesting hearing about your trip Suzanne. So do you think your advice would be to stay somewhere touristy when in Italy?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, more truth than fiction unfortunately!

Suzanne said...

It wasn't too bad, just the taxi rides really. And it just made me mad.
And I guess it depends on your comfort level about where to stay. For me, the language barrier isn't the worst thing in the world, but transportation can be much easier in the touristy areas and there are certainly more things that a tourist would be interested in as far as shops and food. There were some different tourist bus things going on in the tourist areas.
We never felt unsafe, Cynthia, just ripped off!