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    • Day 276


      January 6, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

      Mit Sonnenaufgang bin ich vorgestern auf die Fähre von Bastia nach Livorno gefahren und somit auf das italienische Festland zurück gekehrt.
      Auf meinem weiteren Weg erinnert mich nicht nur die Landschaft, sondern auch das durchwachsene Wetter, stark an die Region bei Amalfi. Die bekannten Cinque Terre betrachte ich lediglich von der höher gelegenen Küstenstraße, denn auch sie erscheinen mir zu touristisch.
      Heute statte ich Genua, der Hauptstadt Liguriens, einen Besuch ab.
      Nach den vergleichsweise kleinen Inselstädten der letzten Wochen, brauche ich ein wenig Zeit, um mich hier an die Urbanität und Menschenmengen zu gewöhnen. Meine Aufmerksamkeit wird jedoch schnell auf die prächtigen Renaissance- und Barockbauten gelenkt, deren Höhepunkt in den großen Palazzi entlang der Via Garibaldi liegt.
      Sowohl die engen, dunklen Gassen der mittelalterlichen Altstadt, als auch die großen Plätze sind noch in festlicher Stimmung, denn hier wird erst heute mir der Epifania das Ende der Weihnachtszeit gefeiert.
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    • Day 56–57

      Das Ligurische Meer und Genua, ein Traum

      October 6, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

      Von Pisa machten wir uns auf nach Genua.
      Wenn man Genua hört, denkt man an die vielen Fähren die dort ablegen, einfach eine Hafenstadt.
      Aber auf alle Fälle ist Genua eine fantastische Stadt mit einer traumhaft schönen Lage in Ligurien.
      Fast ausschließlich ist die Stadt dem Meer 🌅 zugewandt, eine verzweigte und belebte Altstadt. Wunderbare Strände und Buchten. Prachtbauten wohin man nur schaut und die schönsten Böden aus Terrazzo in der flanier Meile.
      Genua ist unbedingt sehenswert, gerne werden wir hier nochmals herkommen.
      Genua ist auch die Heimat von Christoph Kolumbus.
      Die malerische Altstadt von Genua ist die größte in ganz Europa und besticht durch ihre imposanten Bauwerke. Zu den eindrucksvollsten Attraktionen zählen die Prachtstraßen Le Strade Nouve mit den Palazzi dei Rolli, die von der UNESCO zum Weltkulturerbe erklärt wurden. Sehenswert ist außerdem der alte Hafen der Stadt, in dem Besucher viele kleine Cafés und einladende Restaurants zum gemütlichen Verweilen finden.
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    • Day 6

      Buongiorno Genua!

      July 12 in Italy ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

      Genua, ein schönes, kleines Städtchen! Viele grüne Parks und enge Gassen entdeckt und auch diesmal mussten wir das italienische Eis auf Qualität testen! Bis jetzt war das Eis auf Sardinien beim Peter Pan am Besten!Read more

    • Day 1

      Anfahrt nach Genua

      June 7 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      Nach ca 800km durch fie Schweiz, am Lagio Maggiiore entlang erreichen wir den Hafen von Genua! Nach einiger Verzögerung startet unser Schiff Richtung Porto Torres um kurz vor 23.00h! Normale Abfahrt 21 .00h!
      Naja, Hauptsache, wir sind morgen Früh auf Sardinien!
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    • Day 1

      Wow! Genova!

      December 21, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

      We had such a great Thanksgiving week with kids and grandkids, but of course that means that they are spending Christmas at the “other family.” Totally ok, but I thought that it would be depressing just the two of us, so on the spur of the moment, I booked a trip to Italy. Tickets were cheaper to Milan than to Rome, so I bought the tickets, then opened the Michelin guide to see what cities were nearby that we hadn’t visited, xeroxed a couple of pages from the Italy Michelin guide, and off we went.

      This was the first time I had asked for wheelchair service for Joe, and omg, it was a lifesaver. We had very long distances to our connections and short time frames. The service was great - once we arrived in Milan, Joe got picked up at the gate, jumped the very long line at immigration, and the nice young man took us all the way to the train stop to get us into Milano Centrale. From there we caught a slow boat regional train to Genova. We arrived in the station about 5 minutes before its scheduled departure, and the woman at the information desk told us to just get on the train and pay an extra 5€ on board. We made it by the skin of our teeth - but then the train was 20 minutes late. And though I walked through the whole train looking for someone to buy a ticket from, no luck. Seems like a bad way to run a railroad - anyone who wants to cheat can just get on and then pay a 5€ supplement if by chance someone shows up!

      21 hours after leaving home, we got to the hotel. We are staying in the Melia (Spanish chain, or at least it used to be). It’s in a renovated 19th century palazzo, very nice but a little out of the center (the price to be paid to find an elliptical). We arrived at 3 pm, about 21 hours after leaving home. I always try to power through till bed. Joe, though, is a napper. So I had time to walk to the tourist office about 1 km away. Holy moly, is it a beautiful city. I had no idea. I got lots of information about Romanesque churches and the best Nativity scenes in the city, so we’re pretty well set. This will not be a heavy duty tourism trip, but I am looking forward to good meals and beautiful walks.

      Just finished on the elliptical, and we’ll be going out in about an hour. Reservations for dinner are hard to come by, so I’m glad I got Christmas Eve and Christmas reserved. The staff here is great and found us a table at a place right around the corner. A newly opened trattoria run by a Genovese chef with a one Michelin star restaurant. I think its name is Isi Bistrot.
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    • Day 2


      December 22, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

      I'm sure the Bistro Isi has great food and maybe we will still eat there, but last night it didn't happen. We got to the restaurant and ordered, but Joe started acting really woozy, closing his eyes, unable to stand up. There was a doctor at each of the two tables on either side of us and they spent some time talking with him and me. Their assessment was that it was probably exhaustion (21 hours of travel must have been too much) and dehydration. My choices-- call an ambulance and go to the ER (where they said we would have at least a 6-7 hour wait) or go back to the hotel and let him sleep. In hindsight, I can say I'm extremely glad I opted for the latter. A woman in the breakfast room today said her father just spent 20 hours waiting to see a doctor in the emergency room of that very hospital.

      As we started to walk back to the hotel, very very slowly, a man stopped and insisted on carrying Joe the two blocks to our hotel lobby. I was pretty gobsmacked. Getting to the bathroom and into bed was quite the ordeal, but the night went pretty smoothly after that. Today I brought him up a plate of food from breakfast and have been insisting he drink. He is walking much more steadily and has slept nonstop since 11 am.

      I have popped in and out to see bits and pieces of the old town a couple of times. Never for more than an hour out of the room. This morning, I went to a romanesque church and ran into Columbus' (supposed) house on the way to a gorgeous little romanesque cloister (no church left). I've done my elliptical workout, and I have been over to the store for some food and juice and to the bank for some $$$. Then another quick jaunt back to the old town (only about a 10 minute walk from here) to another romanesque church where I again lit candles and sat quietly for a while. This city is just gorgeous and I hope Joe will enjoy it in the next few days.

      The hotel recommends a doctor who makes house calls. He came at 5 pm, checked for all the major catastrophes and found nothing. No BP problem, heart ok, no temp, no evidence of stroke. He prescribed two meds - one for digestion, one for strength/clarity and agreed with me that the best thing to do is see what it's like in a few days. We are booked here through the 26. At that point, we'll either go to Bergamo or back to Champaign.

      To celebrate the good diagnosis, Joe took a nap and I went back to see the old town all lit up for Christmas. After that, a trip for a take-out hamburger (what he wanted) to a very highly rated hamburgueria (conveniently in the old town) and soon to bed. Joe is still very tired but in good spirits and getting stronger. I am optimistic. We'll take it one day at a time.
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    • Day 3

      Second rest day

      December 23, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

      I had hoped that Joe would want to go down to breakfast today, but he said he was still too tired and prefered to stay in bed. I didn’t push it, so I brought him up a plate. Thus began another day of quick trips out to the Centro Histórico and then back to the hotel to check in.

      First I went to the cathedral. I’ve seen several similar romanesque Italian churches, and this one was just as nice. In a very nice little square with all sorts of little shops and cafés. I saw the supposed relics of St. John the Baptist, enjoyed the Romanesque interior, and lit a candle while sitting and pondering our situation. No great revelations arrived at my doorstep. Walking through the narrow streets is something Joe just won’t be able to do no matter how strong he gets.

      Second trip - down to the Old Port. I saw the Santa Claus marathon revving up. And I walked through a total maze of tiny streets and alleys.

      Third trip - on a city-sponsored walking tour of four palaces. Genova had hundreds, all built in the 1600s, when the gold was pouring in from Spain and the Americas. Some are still privately inhabited, but most have been turned into banks, commercial offices etc. We were able to go inside to see how the other half lived back in the day. Lots of gilded nymhs.

      I am still contemplating what to do. I’ve added a third option for December 26th — go home, go to Bergamo on the train tickets I bought, or go to Bergamo in a private transfer. Joe says he very much prefers the latter and does not want to go home. He insists he is feeling “nothing unpleasant” and is just tired. And as a dear camino friend, who is also a pulmonologist, pointed out — he will have a better trip home the more rested he is.

      I will bring in another dinner soon. Hopefully another night of good sleep will mean he can make it down to breakfast tomorrow.
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    • Day 4

      Rethinking and Rebooking

      December 24, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

      It all started at 6 am, when I realized I hadn’t slept more than a few hours. I went downstairs to see if the hotel gods had found a way for us to extend our stay here in Genova. YES!!! Cancellation of the Bergamo hotel was quick and they were very kind (I am so glad I booked all of these hotels directly and not with booking). Back up in the room, I couldn’t sleep much and at breakfast had a good long chat with myself. It makes no sense to stay here hoping that Joe will recover enough to enjoy any of this trip. As I write, he has now spent three full days in bed without leaving the room. SO, time to cancel the trip to Verona and rebook the flight.

      That took several hours, but fortunately Amerian has an office in Milan, and even more fortunately, it was taking calls on Christmas Eve. The first news was pretty bad — rebooking for the next few days would cost, I am not kidding, about €9,300 more than our original ticket - and that was per person! The person on the phone was very kind, and insisted she’d find something less awful. 90 minutes later, she had rebooked us on the 29th Milan-JFK-Chicago-Champaign, for a far more reasonable supplement. No London connection is an added bonus.

      That means staying here till the 28th, going to the Sheraton at the Milan airport, and then getting a 10 am flight to JFK on the 29th. I think this is definitely the best plan, though I would have preferred going home earlier. But hey, not for 18,000 euro!!!!

      In between all the rebooking and cancellations, I took a few quick trips with one major purpose - find a quiet church with real (not electric) candles, both for me and Sra. Pila. First I went to Santo Stefano, another Romanesque church and one I hadn’t seen, but a high Russian Orthodox mass was just beginning. By the time I got to the centro histórico, all the churches had closed for the midday break. I did get to climb the cathedral bell tower, though! Back at the hotel, I got every last detail ironed out, and by 5 pm was on my way to Santo Donato. Nothing left to rebook, nothing left to cancel. Just time to breathe. It was quiet, open, and had real candles. I came back feeling very good — for me, Romanesque churches have strong soothing powers. Very humble and simple places.

      So for the next three days, I guess there will be a few more jaunts through Old Genova while Joe hopefully gets stronger. He is in good spirits and keeps insisting he feels fine, just tired.

      I can’t say it feels much like Christmas, but sending lots of merry wishes to all my buddies.
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    • Day 5

      Christmas in Genova

      December 25, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

      Merry Christmas! Joe still did not want to go down to the restaurant for breakfast, so I brought up another plate. I am getting very good at room service. I am thankful for all of the people who give up their Christmas Day to take care of me, and I surely don’t deserve it!

      Two jaunts and a visit to the fitness center, that’s how I fill up my time in between encouraging the patient to eat and accompanying him to the bathroom. Today was a grey day, drizzly at times. My first trip was down to the port and on to the Royal Palace. The port is huge, very busy, a weird mixture of gritty port scenes and attempts to spruce it up with a couple of new hotels and a huge aquarium. There was a lot of activity along the docks, mixtures of families and many I would describe as scruffy. The Royal Palace is nearby, and I know I’ve been to a lot, but hey it was free on Christmas! Hall of Mirrors, throne room, royal bedrooms, you’ve probably all seen lots of these.

      For the second trip, I walked to a funicular (Genova has many of these going up and down the hills surrounding the city). Went to the top for a good view, but the weather didn’t cooperate. Then halfway down, there is a small modern church with a very wonderful nativity scene. Lots of kids and families enjoying it.

      I cancelled both our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners, sadly. The only good meal we’ve ordered so far here is one we never got to eat on the first night. I went back to pay for it yesterday, and they told me they hoped to see us again. Wishful thinking. Since then, it’s been takeout all the way. Nothing too great, but nothing inedible. I am not a foodie, so I am not complaining!

      Although Joe would have preferred to stay in bed, I pushed. Up for a shower, dressed in real clothes, out for a 6 block walk, then to the hotel restaurant for dinner. My first pesto genovese, and Joe had a very filling minestrone. I am glad that I pushed!

      Talking to the kids was great and left me smiling. Two more days in Genova, then home.
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    • Day 6

      Happy St. Stephan’s Day (aka Boxing Day)

      December 26, 2023 in Italy ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

      Joe is the same. Able to get himself up and to the bathroom, pretty good appetite, drinking juice and water, but no energy to go out. I have not once returned to the room to find him awake. I decided not to tempt fate for the last two days here, so I gave up on the idea of us taking a cab out to a spot along the coast.

      I set out alone, basically on a beach promenade walk to Boccanasse, which used to be a fishing village and is now a place for ice cream and strolling. I was told not to miss the Gelateria Amadeo, so I dutifully complied and got a cup of my favorite, pistacchio. It was very nice to see so many people out and about enjoying the day. There is a lot of construction going on, and it looks like they are trying to improve the pedestrian amenities along the entire promenade. Lots of old palazzos and beautiful apartment buildings. At one critical juncture on the way back, I had to leave the water and loop up and around a huge construction project. This took me past the hospital where Joe could have gone. As I watched ambulances arriving, worried families congregating, and dedicated responders rushing to and fro, I was very thankful that we had avoided that option.

      My afternoon walk was back to the old port- This time I turned off google maps and just wandered through the incredible maze of tiny streets and alleys. Every now and then I would arrive at a spot described by the hotel staff as a “critical area,” which meant that I would turn around and get back into more bustling territory. It’s not a huge area, so you’re never far from streets with cars. As I passed the main square, I saw that the Christmas market had been totally dismantled and a group of men was already busy working to put together the stage for the New Year’s Eve extravaganza.

      Joe wanted a hamburger again, so I found my way to another highly rated hamburgueria. We are surely not breaking the bank with our food expenses!
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