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Genoa, Italy May 17, 2004 Monday

Genoa, Italy

After the usual free hostel breakfast (one bread, jam, butter and coffee), Naomi and I took the bus to Righi to board the cable car down the city. It was nearly a vertical ride. At city central, I looked around me amidst all the historic monuments and the now-familiar residential apartments with Swiss-type windows. I would be hard-pressed to know if I was still in France or Italy. They were all beginning to look the same. This is where background knowledge or information about a city's history and culture provide perspective on its uniqueness.

To Naomi's chagrin, museums are close Mondays. She had been looking forward to the Reuben's exhibition. Apart from exploring the must-see tourist spots, we ventured into the bowels of the city's local neighborhoods, going through narrow streets and coming across what seems to be a dedicated graffiti wall.

Pesto Genovese
For lunch, we looked at the Lonely Planet book and chose the Maria restaurant, reputed to be one of the cheap but good places for Genoa's dish that put the city on the map - Pesto Genovese. The restaurant was a hole-in-the-wall and not at all easy to find unless you have an address and a map. The busy kitchen can be seen right from the eating tables. Only the locals seem to be eating there. We shared our table with some of the folks who seemed to take a fondness with us. We all chatted and laughed despite the language barrier. It was fun...make that a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, they were not offering pesto at that time...horrors!!!!! Naomi ordered the minestrone while I ordered the ravioli instead. They were both excellent and would have made up for the pesto (or lack thereof) until the cook, Sonny, came out. He happened to be Filipino. I explained to him that one of the reasons we were in Genoa was to try the Pesto Genovese. I asked if he could recommend any place. Modestly, he explained that we were already in the best place - that unlike most restaurants that cook the pesto, they prepare it fresh using fresh ingredients from the local market that same day. I had to beg him to bend the rules and prepare one for us, which he did, to our delight. And there it was for our palette to savor - Pesto Genovese. We were not disappointed. Genoa delivered its pesto promise.

Lazy afternoon by the docks
After a full stomach, Naomi and I walked back to the renowned port, built by the world famous architect, Renso Piano (who also built the Louvre Museum in Paris). As much as I wanted to see the city aquarium, I had to pass off considering the E12.50 admission fee. We talked towards the end of what seemed to be an extended break-water, into a floating dock, and rested in one of the many benches. The view of the city was panoramic...very much like Marseilles. We talked quite endlessly about the random thoughts that popped up in our minds. Tired and full, she took a nap on my lap. I used the moment to visually savor the sight and reflect on the peace and calm of the afternoon.

Heading Back
After that extended rest, we walked back through the narrow streets towards the city center in search of basil seeds (to bring to the Philippines, plant, harvest and make pesto with) before heading back to the hostel. It was a pleasant break from our usual routine of walking the city streets until you drop. At the hostel, we had time to have our E1.50 wine with our baguette and cheese. We noticed that below a certain price level, you get what you pay for with wine....French wine is no exception. A word to the cautious - don't buy wine costing less than E3.00. We got to chat with our fellow travelers as well. Most of them were headed to a beach area called Cinco Terra - a must-be place according to them.

--- TheLoneRider

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