We were to visit Santa Margherita where we will spend the day onboard a private charter boat to tour the world-famous Cinque Terre or the rugged portion of coast on the Italian Riviera, stopping in the town of Portofino, where we will be treated to an Italian lunch with wine.
As the Noordam approached the bay just off the town of Santa Margherita, and our anchorage there, the skies were filled with black clouds and the seas were running quite high. Tor, Judy, and I were witnessing our arrival with some consternation from our comfortable perches in the Observation Lounge. We knew this was a tender port and we were scheduled to spend a lot of time on the water – but these waters? Wow – worry, worry. Then we noticed an almost 180 degree shift in direction of the Noordam and it seemed as though we were headed back out to sea, for what, we wondered. Just when the speculations started spreading, our good Captain, John Scott, came on the ship-wide address system to inform us that due to “heavy” weather in the bay and a forecast that didn’t sound so great, we were aborting our visit the the area and heading for Genoa, just up the coast. – WHAT?
All cruise ship captains are well aware that loading their aging charges onto tenders with 2 meter waves thrashing them about, does no make for safe conditions and even from our location we could see the “2 meter” waves crashing on the beach. This was going to be an exciting day, as Genoa, our alternate, was unknown and had not been thoroughly “researched” by Barbara.
The following is a link to some pictures I took during our day there. As you will notice, the weather did turn out great for our visit, although we did have some doubts, as we proceeded off the ship and into some pretty windy conditions.
We decided that we would just explore Genoa on foot, so we struck out along the main thoroughfare that paralleled the harbor area. As we proceeded to that part of the port where the original port warehouses were, we passed by many itinerant vendors that had set up their portable stalls along the waterfront promenade. Most of these individuals were obviously not indigenous to the area as the color of their skin belied the fact that they had probably originated on the African continent. Umbrellas and sunglasses seemed to be the product de jour and they could be gone in a minute if it looked like the local police were interested in their activity.
As we passed by the aquarium, there were extremely long queues of local families, as it was Sunday and the aquarium seemed to be the main local attraction. The wind was still blowing quite hard and as I was lollygagging along, the wind ripped my coveted Prinsendam Grand Antarctic Voyage Cap from my head sending it spinning toward a waterway. To my amazement, a young Italian lad was in hot pursuit. After capture he proudly handed me my hat and continued on his way with his mom and dad. This incident sort of set the tone for the day, as we felt so good being among these friendly people.
As we continued our “stroll” with no defined destination in mind, we found ourselves at the entrance to the “Porto Antico de Genova” old port warehouses, which had been restored and modernized to house various public venues. In the photo on the right is the old port building I am referring to. I took this photo as we sailed into the harbor. The the right of this building is a modern structure of roughly the same size. As we walked down the narrow space between the two we noticed banners for “La Fiera del Gusto” – “Food & Wine Selection”. Not knowing what to expect and after strolling through a “gem” market, we were advised that the venue we were looking for was on the third floor or “Magazzini del Cotone – Modulo 8”. There our eyes and taste buds were treated to all these booths that were offering samples of their wares. I am not sure how many cheese, meat, bread (crackers) and sauces we tried that day but it was a substantial number.
Before partaking, we noticed two young women who were manning a counter advertising a wine and cheese tasting “class”. One of the women spoke excellent English and advised that we needed reservations and payment of 5 euros each for the next class, so we signed up – wow what a surprise. Along with the reservation we were presented with a nice wine glass and a small bag to hang around our neck to carry it in. I’m sure that sight must have caused some polite giggles from the locals.
At the appointed time we entered a private room where there were several tables set with three wine glasses at each place. For the next hour we were regaled, in Italian, on the virtues of the three wines and three cheese samples that were placed in front of us. Now please understand that we don’t feel uncomfortable with the language, but we were completely out of place here! Later we found the booth that was selling bottles of the three wines, and the one we liked the most had a price tag of 25 euros (about $38)! No we did not buy a bottle. Before we left the area, we found a Gelato shop that just happened to have “no sugar” added selections. They were so good I ate two!.
Barbara was interested is seeing some of the local religious edifices so we left the port area and headed in to the old part of the city. I have included some of those scenes in my link above. Two of those pictures, one of what looks like a silver statue is actually a street performer (A La Barcelona), and a picture of a restaurant sign for what is obviously translated as the “Three Crows”. Why did I find this so “photo-worthy”?because we have a family of crows who seemingly own our little corner of the world at home.
Strolling can be hard work, especially when one realizes how far you are from the comfort of your floating accommodation’s. By now the sun was blazing and our bodies were on the verge of failing, but we somehow made it back.
Next: Our return to Barcelona – I think