Crazy about the Genovese

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Okay. Finally I am back writing again. It’s been a long hard slog but I made it.  Time to get those creative juices flowing…..something about ‘creative juices’ just sounds really gross. Sorry. Umm, so what’s new with you guys? I finally have something more interesting than work to write about. Yes, I went on a trip. Close your mouths, sometimes I do write about travelling on my travel blog.

I was getting the hankering for a trip but faced with the eternal problem of having very little money. Since I arrived in Turin, my mom had been telling me to go to Genova. ‘Genova is wonderful. Genova is great. Genova is my favourite city in the world’. Me and my mom usually have completely different tastes when it comes to choosing holiday locations so I can tell you honestly that Genova was not really on the top of my list. Genova came became the frontrunner when it cost 100 euros for the train to Venice and only a smidge less to go to Florence. Genova also is only about a 3 hour drive away from Turin so it saved some time as well. The Chilean and I researched trains but in the end found the quite frankly amazing price of 1 euro on the Megabus. Megabus has been around for years in the UK, I remember my first experience of Megabus was getting a double decker regular city bus from London to Newcastle. The memory of six hours sitting on a city bus hurtling up the M1 while wrapped in my big winter coat because there was no heat didn’t really fill me with too high of hopes for the Megabus here but thankfully it has improved a lot since then.

The Megabus has improved but sadly the Italian sense of organization hasn’t. Turin doesn’t actually have a regular bus station. It has a couple of poles with numbers planted around the perimetre of a sports stadium. There is no central office or any form of information about stop numbers whatsoever. I have been to bus stations in rural Thailand which had better organization and information than here. Eventually, the bus came and any sense of crowd control or personal decorum went out the window in the mad scrum to get a seat on the bus. Due to my use of ‘crowd elbows’, I was able to secure me and the Chilean seats together…until he said that he gets sick going backwards and had to change with another guy. Seated next to our new friend and kitty corner to the Chilean, the bus started, blue disco lights flashing and air conditioning on full blast, we were on our way. The Chilean and new friend, Francesco started up a conversation, the Chilean eager to practice his Italian that he’d been learning and Francesco have no real other choice but to talk to him. The Chilean is very talkative and will just talk AT you if he feels the need. Hmmmmm…. who does that sound like?? Ha.  Having no interest in football, plus my Italian is shockingly poor after living here for almost a year, I gladly resigned myself to my old travel favourite, staring out the window and just watching the world go by. After a pitstop at the shittiest gas station enroute to the destination, a time honoured tradition of bus drivers everywhere, and another hour of driving, we arrived in Genova.

Having been to Genova before, the Chilean was in charge. He promised me that he knew the best place to have lunch and that I should trust him. After a few wrong turns and backtracking (even though he definitely knew where he was going), we arrived at the restaurant- Yoshi Sushi. Yep, we live in Italy, went on holiday to another Italian city and we went for sushi. This is how we roll. *dusts shoulder* Yoshi Sushi has quite a marvelous deal of All you can eat sushi for 10 Euros (14 CAD). My other experiences with Italian sushi haven’t been great so I went in with low expectations but it wasn’t that bad to be honest. Bellies full we started the trek to the hostel making sure to stay in the shade of the beautiful covered sidewalks.

We’d booked the hostel the night before leaving so we didn’t really expect much, especially when we stopped in front of a ramshackled rusty door which looked like it had really seen too much history and walking up the dimly lit staircase to the second floor hostel. Once we were inside we were pleasantly surprised. The Ostelin was the complete opposite of our initial impression. The reception was bright and open with huge floor to ceiling windows. There was a small lounge area placed underneath the raised loft platform that served as a ‘bedroom’ for the staff who were on duty at night. The dorm rooms were clean and spacious as well, with a lot of locked storage space. The rooms had obviously been carefully thought out as the generic metal bunk beds had wooden sets of shelving added to them to make extra storage space for the beds, something that is important, especially when you are on that top bunk. The surprisingly large kitchen is well stocked for breakfast and open 24 hours. The Chilean and I lucked out and received the double bed on the bottom bunk, and also got the ‘Oh god! It’s a couple in a dorm’ look from the Dutch guy in the bed next to us.After a shower and a nap to sleep off the sushi, we got up and ventured out into the city.

Being an Italian port city, Genova gets compared to Naples. Wandering around in the dark, twisted streets of the historical centre, I can see where this comparison comes from. At the end of one of the streets, there was finally a bright light. When we exited the alley we were confronted with a mass of multicoloured running people and when I say multicoloured people, I don’t mean racially diverse, I mean freaking purple, blue, green etc. We had inadvertently stumbled into the middle of the Genova Colour Run and it was our turn to shine. After carefully, picking our way through the crowd and trying to wipe some of the coloured dust off our clothes (the Chilean was very upset that his new sneakers now shimmered in the sunlight because of all the coloured glitter on them), we tried to get to the pirate ship floating in the harbour. I love random stuff like this but I am also cheap so I didn’t pay to actually go on the boat itself. YARR!!

It had begun to get dark and the sushi bellies were beginning to empty so we decided to head back into the labyrinth and find the Taverna di Zacharia, which had come highly recommended from the girl at the hostel. I seriously don’t know how people find this place without Google maps and/or a homing pigeon. It is hidden in a courtyard of an old disused church, which is 3 turns down 3 increasingly darkening alleyways, that said, it totally adds to the charm of the place. There is an inside restaurant/bar but it being a steamy summer night most people were sitting at tables or on cushions on the steps of the church. In true Italian service it took a good 20-25 minutes for us to get the attention of someone who worked there and about 15 to get them to come back and take our order and about 20 to finally get our beers. I don’t recommend this place if you are in a rush, I do recommend it if you want to have a truly original experience. It’s not everyday you can drink beer on the steps of a church and not get moved along by the police.

Taverna di Zacharia
Taverna di Zacharia

Before leaving Turin the Chilean asked me if I could do him a favour and come with him to a small town outside of Genova called Sori where his great-grandfather had lived before moving to Chile. Sori os on the main route between Genova and the seaside town of La Spezia. Being a total history/genealogy nerd, I agreed on the spot. Sori is a small seaside town about 25 minutes by train outside of Genova. It’s placed on the floor of a valley with a dry riverbed splitting the town in two. There’s a few beachside restaurants and not a lot else to do or see in Sori. Actually that’s not entirely true, on a steep street leading from the main road into town we stumbled up the house of Pablo Picasso’s grandfather. Apart from the obvious appeal of the beach, there is no real reason to get off the train here.   But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a very nice little town.

Sori
Sori

Getting back into Genova, we did what everyone must do at least once when they are in Genova and eat pasta and pesto. Pesto is Genova’s speciality and we went for dinner at Cavour 22, a restaurant which won the World Pesto Championships. Yes, folks you heard me right…..WORLD PESTO CHAMPIONSHIPS!! The girl at the hostel recommended that we got there before 7pm as it filled up fast and she was entirely correct. We arrived just before 7 and joined the 10 or so people milling about outside the restaurant. At 7, the doors opened and there was a mad rush for the door- needlessly so- as the restaurant has about 4 different dining areas and there were only 10 people waiting outside. Food ordered, we patiently waited for the world’s best to arrive. In the meantime we were entertained by a man who was probably the owner of the restaurant helping out and serving some tables. He clearly hadn’t worked as a waiter in sometime and had forgotten table numbers and proceeded to serve the wrong food to people. The regular waitress exasperatedly followed him from table to table and corrected the mistakes. I’m sure the vegetarian with the King Prawn staring at her was glad of this. When our food arrived I gladly tucked in. I don’t know what makes it a ‘world’s best’ pesto but it was still pretty good. The Chilean didn’t agree and said that he wanted to sign his mom up for the next pesto championship.

Peace K xxx

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