Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Learning How to Travel: Genova

Buon giorno! This weekend, my third here in Italy, I traveled to Genova with about 15 other people from my program. Although I would call the weekend a success, I learned a few things about the realities of traveling in a foreign country.

View from Palazzo Rosso
Genova is about two hours away from Torino by train. For Italy, the best website for finding trains is When I was first looking at tickets I found some on but I couldn't figure out how to purchase the tickets for the dates. So for me trenitalia was easier, but I would suggest buying your train tickets at the train station. The benefits of doing this is that you don't have to worry about printing out your ticket or conformation and you have the option to change your time of departure. One of my three roommates, Katie, and I thought about taking the 8:20 train, but instead we slept in Saturday morning. We got to Porta Nuova train station 15 minutes before the 11:05 train, which was about 7 euros more (the 8:20 along with many other times that day was only 11 euros). We decided the extra money was worth it because it was one of the fast trains that cuts travel time down dramatically. We get on the train thinking we could sit anywhere, and choose a random compartment (like Harry Potter!...most trains, though, have normal seating.) We soon realized there was assigned seating, but also that we ended up not only in the exact compartment but each of us in our exact seats.

Once we got arrived, we started wandering around looking for some of the others that had arrive earlier in the morning. We ended up running into our hotel and decided to go ahead and check in. The receptionist asked for our passports, the one thing I forgot to bring. After panicking for a few seconds, he told us that the hotel would accept a photo or photocopy. I called my roommate, who was still in Torino, who sent me a photo. About half the group of students booked rooms with NH hotel, while the other half booked a hostel. The hostel it turned out, wouldn't accept photocopies, so everyone that had planned on staying there moved to our hotel. When I booked a week in advance, I paid 20 euros for my half of a double. The price at least doubled for everyone else. Tip: Make sure to know the hostel's or hotel's policy. I think most places do accept photocopies, and regardless it is always good to carry a copy with you.

NH Hotels are all around Europe, Latin America, and Africa. It don't know how often they have deals as good as the one I found, but it is always worth checking. My room was really comfortable (coming back to my lumpy pillow in Torino was not exciting), the continental breakfast was delicious, and they had free wifi.

The only other "challenge," you could say, was food. For me this is hard, because being a lover of food means I want to try the best food for all the places I visit. If you go someplace for a week and have a kitchen, then you can probably find a cost effective way to buy food, but for a weekend, going out is obvious. Saturday night, we asked the hotel receptionist what her favorite restaurant was. It was a little cute place that graciously accommodated nine of us. It was 20 euros worth of amazingness. On Sunday, I was on hunt for pesto pasta, because pesto originated in Genova and there was no way I was leaving without trying it. My friend and I asked at an open market where we could find some, and a man working there offered to help us find a place. Most places were closed because it was Sunday, but after walking down a couple streets we found a restaurant happy to make us pesto pasta even though it wasn't on the menu. We also tried a lot focaccia and Ligurian white wine and it was absolutely wonderful for only 9 euros. You can find really good prices and ones that aren't the best for your wallet, but I think it is worth the splurge every once and a while. Tip: Ask locals where to go.

Why go to Genova and what to see:

There are many museums, palaces, and beautiful churches in Genova and because of this I bought a museum and bus pass for 13.50 euros. I only made it to one museum, but if you know for sure you are going to visit many places in the city, the pass is a good option. I went to Palazzo Rosso, which houses a variety of paintings and beautifully decorated rooms. What made it that much better, though, was the rooftop view.

The water! Saturday was a bit rainy and cloudy, but Sunday was such a clear and warm day. The water was sparkly and bright blue. Genova seems like a great place to visit in the warmer months, but I was happily surprised how lovely it was the first days of February.

Sunday we took a bus and and then walked to Boccadasse, a small town right next to Genova. The rock beach was full of families enjoying the weather. Colorful houses winded up narrow streets, and we walked up and down them seeing an amazing view at every turn.

Christopher Columbus supposedly was born in Genova and you can take a tour of his house for 3.50 euros. I'v heard that is isn't worth it.

There are quite a few places you can get a good view of the city. I went up the main one at the old port near the aquarium called Bigo. I don't think the 4 euros was worth it, but the sun was setting and it did make for a beautiful view. The aquarium is pretty famous, and even though I really love aquariums I couldn't imagine spending 20 euros to hang out indoors. If I went again though, I would definitely visit the Biosphere.


View from the Bigo
If you interested in the program Erin and I are traveling with, USAC, here is the link: This blog, actually, is counting as an 1-credit internship though USAC. USAC offers many different internships ranging from 1 to 3 credits in design to education to marketing. They offer a lot of support to students and try to engage you in the culture of the country as much as possible.

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