Saturday, June 4, 2011

Heading "Home" from Italy - Genova May 1, 2011

What a surprise-We woke up to hot air balloons!

The beautiful Tuscan countryside from our patio

The town of  S'ant Appiano Italy from our patio

Andrew enjoying the fire at dawn

Genova - first stop on our way back to Montpellier

Pirate ship from Roman Polanski's 1986 film "Pirates"

The ship - The movie starred Walter Mathau
and Leslie Nielsen among others

The ship's bow

Walking around the town of Genova-The man was creating
various critters from palms

Cathedral of Genova

This was one of two lions guarding the cathedral -
I Love his face!

Inside the Cathedral of Genova

The organ - gorgeous!

One last Gelato in Italy

 Even Andrew got a cone this time!

Strolling along the water

Adam and his BIG chocolate smile!

On our last morning, Andrew and I woke up and went outside to find a familiar site from home – Hot air balloons were hovering quietly over the Tuscan countryside!  We sat outside and watched them as they floated on by and then woke the kids up to pack our bags and head for Montpellier.  On the drive home, we decided to stop in Genova for one last look around an Italian city.
Genova is a port town, with many sailboats in a marina and several large vessels floating further out in the sea.  As we walked from the parking garage to the marina district, we were amazed at the numerous yachts docked along the city – Huge, gorgeous, movie star style yachts with people cleaning and polishing every inch of them.
Agreeing on what to do once we arrived was, as usual, a struggle.   Although Andrew didn’t find an Office of Tourism in Genova, he did find an information booth with a very nice lady who spoke a little English.  He discovered that there was a large pirate ship docked nearby that we could tour but was advised that there was not much onboard to see – the ship was used in a 1986 Roland Polanski movie starring Walter Mathau and Leslie Nielsen called Pirates.  We enjoyed walking around the outside of the ship and taking pictures of the ornate carvings that adorned it. 
A large aquarium was also nearby but due to the ticket prices and the fact that we only had about 2 hours to walk around, we decided against going in.  Rather, we found a cafeteria connected to the aquarium and enjoyed a very expensive, not so wonderful, cafeteria lunch.  Afterward, we walked around the old town of Genova and found a flea market, large church, museum and many sweet little shops.  Andrew enjoyed looking at paintings from local artists that lined the streets, many depicting Tuscan scenes.
I had always heard from Tracie and Neil, what wonderful coffee Italy had to offer – I remember looking forward to trying it while we visited, however, on our way from Tuscany to Genova, I realized that I never had  opportunity!  Andrew tried to bring me coffee from town in the Piedmont and Tuscany apartments – the coffee from Piedmont was literally delivered in a Dixie cup – I've come to realize that the Europeans do NOT believe in coffee “to go”! After that experience, I decided to buy some coffee to have available in the Tuscany apartment and it was a good decision because when Andrew tried to find some coffee there, he had absolutely no luck!  During the rest of the time, we were too busy running around seeing everything and the thought of trying the coffee had slipped away.  
While walking out of the town of Genova, back to the car, Andrew saw a brasserie offering coffee and asked if I wanted to try to get some – we went in and asked if I could, in fact, get a cup-o-joe to go and we were told yes!   I waited anxiously to try real Italian coffee and when it was delivered I smiled, took the “cup”, said my grazies, and walked outside with the family wondering how I was going to walk and drink this coffee without spilling it all over the place.  I believe that the “cup” used to accommodate my American way of not relaxing and enjoying my coffee in a chair, was actually a condiment container with a plastic lid that balanced on the container but in no way was meant to keep the liquid from sloshing out, down the side and all over my hand.  Now, the other part that may need to be explained is the fact that coffee, in Europe, unlike coffee in America, is actually Espresso, so the amount served is approximately the equivalent of a shot glass – sloshing around and losing, even a little bit, was sad.  The coffee was o.k.  – it was probably better than “o.k.” but I was too worried about keeping up with the family and not spilling anything to truly enjoy the Italian coffee experience.
Leaving Genova was uneventful and we thought about other stops along the way.  Emma suggested stopping in Grasse again which I would have liked to do, however, by the time we would have arrived, all of the stores would have been closed.  On to Antibes France we went – to see the sea and have dinner along the shore – well THAT didn’t actually happen.  After several suggestions to stop in Antibes and walk around the pretty little sea city, we ended up parking on the street and eating dinner at a Chinese restaurant!  Emma and Adam finished dinner first and went for a walk to find the sea.  When they returned and announced that they had found it, we paid the bill and started walking ---- to a little body of water filled with sailboats – well, we saw water in Antibes anyway.  Everyone was anxious to get home so that was the extent of our Antibes visit.
The most humorous part of our entire Italian adventure began about an hour outside of Montpellier.  Andrew drove Mo Mo along the highway, in the dark while the rest of us sat quietly in the car and I tried to find decent radio stations.  At one point we heard a horn honk a couple of times so we looked around to see who was beeping at us but couldn’t determine which car or truck it was.  About a minute later, it happened again and then again and again until we realized that the car that was beeping was our own sweet Mo and Andrew was not involved!  Memories of the movie Herbie the Love Bug came to mind as we cruised along A9 with our spontaneously honking horn – if we happened to be near another car when Mo decided to honk, we smiled and waved at the driver – by the time we got to our exit 29, we were all laughing very hard!  It was at this point, when we got off at our exit and started driving through Montpellier, that Mo decided that she had had enough!  The horn, rather than spontaneously honking every minute or so, Stuck! Hoooooonnnnnnkkkkkk……  We pulled over, shut her off and restarted her, hoping that we might get lucky and solve the glitch that way.  Unfortunately, we discovered that the glitch with the horn was connected to the lights – if the lights were on, the horn was honking! So, the last 10 minutes of our trip home was in complete darkness unless we saw an oncoming car at which time we would turn on the hazard lights or turn on the lights and deal with the honking!  Never a dull moment with us!

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