Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Genoa, Italy

May 15... our port of call today was Genova, Italy. We docked at around 8 am and the plan was to take the kids to the Aquarium. We decided to simply stick with the excursion offered by the cruise line. For €35pp adult and €24pp child, this seemed like a reasonable deal. In retrospect it was because it was raining and cold when we left the ship around 9 am. Although the aquarium is very close to where the ship docks (about a 15 min walk) it would have been nightmarish lugging 5 kids and all their assorted accessories (stroller, backpacks etc). So we headed out of the ship based on our assigned grouping and immediately outside boarded a ferry which took us right outside the aquarium in about 10 mins. The aquarium or Acquario di Genova in in Porto Antico and is one of the largest aquariums in Europe in terms of the number of species it houses. It is indeed marvellous and way better than the one in Barcelona. We took about 2 hours to tour the 3 levels of the aquarium - they even have a hummingbird forest. I was very happy to experiment with my camera settings in varying light. Got some great close ups on hummingbird, tortoise, iguana, crocodile....all very interesting. The biggest complaint though was the humongous crowds..more adults than kids and completely unapologetic when shoving kids out of the way to get a view of the shark or dolphin!! Crazy tourists!! :-)

Once outside I decided to walk the 15 min route back to the ship. We had lunch on the ship (which wasn't entirely bad!) and then headed out for a 1 hour sightseeing tour of the city offered by Genoa city tour which starts in Porto Antico but can also be boarded right at the Stazione Marittima or where the ship docks. For €10 the ride of 50 mins was completely worth it. It takes one through the city to important squares and structures but with no stops. It broke my heart to see all these lovely buildings and alleyways but with no opportunity to actually take pics! :( favorite was seeing Piazza De Ferrari (the town center) and Via XX Settembre (the main shopping street with fantastic architecture and murals). I would have loved to explore the city on foot and wondered why we didn't do that last time we were here!

We made it back before 4pm. The ship departed from the port at 5 pm and we watched the shores of Genoa from Pago Pago Cafeteria on deck 14 with some coffee, sandwiches and pastries -pix taken from Xoom while ship was departing. Dinner at Villa Verde was the usual I.e. nothing exciting but the maitre'd was kind enough to change our tables and put us friends close by on bigger tables so we could sit together. We also got to make our vegetarian meal request for tomorrow....lets see how that goes.

The show at The Strand Theater tonight was once again excellent. It was a ventriloquist show by Willer Nicolodi. The guy was not only fluent in 4-5 languages but he did a great job of entertaining the audience. DS was in splits and thoroughly enjoyed himself. After that we had a girls night out and enjoyed some mojitos in the deck 6 lounge area by the reception. They had good piano music playing till midnight and catching up with my girlfriends was extremely relaxing and enjoyable in that ambience.

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