Mosquitoes and servers and menu’s – oh my!

Portofino harbor. © Carl Amoth

Train travel is one of the best modes of transportation, hands down. However, just as on airplanes, you do encounter some strange and rude passengers. I know that Americans have often been given a rap as being “ugly Americans” when traveling. But, quite honestly, all cultures have uglies. Case in point: on our train ride yesterday from Milano to Genoa at the very first stop a large group of, let’s say, non-Americans and non-Italians got onto the train and were just incredibly bossy, rude and loud for the first 30 minutes as they yelled out all of the seat assignments they had purchased and tried to figure out where they were supposed to sit. You could visibly see people bristle as they observed the behavior. I nearly got beaned in the head by one of the men’s backpacks as he was completely oblivious to the fact that he was swinging around into my seat. I literally had to lean all the way over into Carl’s seat to avoid getting hit.

Portofino harbor. © Carl Amoth

Looking across the Ligurian Sea from Portofino harbor to the lights of Zoagli. © Carl Amoth

So, I know I mentioned ear wax guy, well, yesterday it was skin chewing girl. This girl across the aisle from us on the train was actually biting off all the skin from the ends of her fingers! Methodically. Routinely. Again, disgusting. However, I never did see her spit the remains onto the floor…

Other than that, train travel is superb.

Once we reached the Genoa train station we took a taxi to the airport to pick up the rental car. From there it was smooth sailing to Santa Margherita Ligure. Between Carl’s great driving and my navigational skills, we made it without a hitch. It is important at this juncture for me to point out that Carl did a marvelous job mapping out every single route we would encounter and downloaded ALL of them to our iPads. Every guide book, every hotel, turn by turn directions to every single location including Google 3D maps,  hotel check-in hours and services,  town maps, itineraries etc.  Absolutely priceless.

We checked in quickly to Hotel Jolanda in Santa Margherita Ligure and headed out for Portofino. Little did we know at the time that it had rained all day long but, by the time we reached Portofino at about 4:30 it was dry and calm without any crowds. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast so we stopped at a café for a snack. It was there that we met a beautiful little Hebrew girl, Amad. She had the most unusual and gorgeous eyes that were grey and blue with flecks of green and—as her father said—“she loves to play.” She and I played peekaboo (she behind her father’s legs) for quite some time. Hearing her little girl’s giggle and seeing the joy and surprise on her face, as can only come from a young girl new to the game, was such a pleasure.

After we were fortified we headed out to find good photography locations for Carl. We saw a castle and church up on a hill and started hiking. Invariably, anything in this part of this country is going to involve hiking up hill – just look at Carl’s photos. The only way to get shots like that is to get up higher than the locale.

Once we climbed to the top, the sights were beautiful and Carl “set up shop.” As I have learned to do, I brought my iPad with me so that I had plenty of reading material to entertain myself while Carl was busy. However, after about an hour and a half, I realized I am getting bit to pieces by mosquitoes and it had also become quite cold. I love my husband, I really do, but for us to find rhythm traveling together, there must be balance. So, instead of sitting in the cold with a mosquito attack assaulting me, I chose to NOT be a martyr and, instead, told Carl I was going to head back down the hill and find a lovely café to have a glass of wine and read my book. I think he was a bit taken aback and at first I think he thought I was upset. But I wasn’t. Not in the least. I just had the maturity to realize I didn’t want to sit in the cold and be uncomfortable on my vacation. (Carl is completely unaware of cold, heat, bugs, etc. when he is in the photo zone).

Portofino harbor. © Carl Amoth

I found a lovely restaurant at the bottom of the hill, got a great glass of red wine and sat INSIDE in the lovely warmth by the window so I could see Carl. There was a very accomplished piano player providing lovely music and I settled in with my book. The bartender asked if I had reservations and I told him “no, I am just waiting for my husband who is out taking pictures” (all of this included hand gestures so he knew what I meant). It didn’t appear he was quite convinced I actually had a husband and since every single server in the restaurant was male, they all apparently made it their mission to keep an eye on me to be sure I was ok. At least that’s what I think they were doing.

So, I finally see Carl walk near the restaurant—it’s been about an hour—and I jump up from the table (all the while the servers are eyeing me) I tell them uno momento! (somehow I slipped into Spanish, which I now realize is the same as Italian for this phrase) and called out to Carl. He saw me, waved, turned around, and promptly headed off for more photos. Imagine if you will, the look on the faces of these poor servers. They have watched me sit alone reading by myself for an hour and finally my “imaginary” husband appears only to have him wave and walk off! Now, I knew what was going on. Carl wasn’t done yet, and now he knew where I was, so all is good. The servers actually said to me “he left you?” I had to explain he is still taking pictures. They looked so sad for me, like you poor thing how could he do that to you? Is he really your husband?

Fortunately about 15 minutes later Carl came back to the restaurant and my “watchers” quickly told him, “yes, she’s right inside.” They were clearly so very relieved. We stayed for a lovely dinner and were both quite amused to discover that in this part of the world there is still a “man’s menu” and a “ladies menu”. His had prices, mine did not. I kind of liked that. To top off the evening, the piano payer, upon hearing that we had been to the Andrea Bocelli concert the night before played Bocelli’s “Time to say Goodbye” for us right before we left.

And a perfect closing for us as well…

Tomorrow we will update with Cinque Terre!


Portofino marina. © Carl Amoth


  1. Pamela
    Posted October 2, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

    The most beautiful photos ever!!!! And Bev your storytelling is wonderful!! Thank you both for taking time to record and share!

    • Posted October 5, 2010 at 12:08 am | Permalink | Reply

      Grazie Mille Pam! We appreciate your comments AND for following along on our journey! It’s a great adventure for sure.

  2. Beverly Chase
    Posted October 3, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink | Reply

    I almost feel like I am there, the pictures are so beautiful and your descriptions so wonderful!

    • Posted October 5, 2010 at 12:09 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Mom! It is so beautiful and as usual, Carl is capturing the essence of the beauty.

  3. Dad
    Posted October 5, 2010 at 6:02 am | Permalink | Reply

    I think everyone who has traveled knows the nationality of the noisy ones.. They are the same in France and Canada. Enjoyed the story. as for those pesky insects, in two weeks it is said that one become immune to the bites. Love; Dad

    • Posted October 7, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I imagine we are both on the same page Pete. I have chosen to ignore the bites! thanks for following!

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