The best part of area (and all of Monaco) was the outlook of the cove, with its brilliant view high above the city. I wandered a bit more and found some interesting buildings and other high outlooks of other coves in the Monaco area. After a couple of hours of walking around, I had my fill of Monaco and was ready to continue on for the day to Ventimiglia, where I had to catch my train to Genoa. I was told that Genoa is a great place to stop for the night, before I head south to Florence. When I arrived, I went straight to my hostel, since I was so tired. It was located up in the hills and took nearly an hour by local bus to reach it. It was hidden and the directions that I was given were useless. Luckily for me, another traveler had hopped off at the same stop and inquired if I was looking for the hostel. I followed him up some hidden steps to a flat landing where a large building stood. It looked like the remnants of an old school, and when I walked in, the place was so white and dull that I thought I was in a hospital.
The next morning, I woke up a couple of hours before my early train and I walked from the Roman Arch to the port and then finally to my train station. I’ll be honest and say that I should have just went on to Florence and skipped Genoa. I fell instantly out of love with it. I felt that the city was dirty and sprawling like a large city – it actually reminded me of a European version of Cleveland, and I wanted nothing to do with it after a few hours of walking around it. Perhaps my experience was circumstantial, as are many traveler’s experiences, but I will have to be seriously persuaded to return.
My train went Genoa to La Spezia and then to Florence – the train was sluggish and stopped every ten minutes, and I felt that I may never arrive. I was tired and from so much travel the past week and I wanted nothing more then to relax in a nice quiet bed. But of course, I booked a hostel, since I had no luck finding a CouchSurfing host, so a quiet bed was out of the question. I’ve been traveling frugally, as frugal as possible, so I booked a room with 22 people in the dorm. To save money on buying maps, I started wandering until I found a hotel, where I would enter and then ask for a map – this tactic always worked and has saved me anywhere from 2-5€ each place I visit.
I visited Florence once before, but to be honest, I ran out of time and didn’t get to see much of it – I even missed the Duomo – due to bad planning and bad circumstances. I wanted to give recompense to this great Tuscan city, so I returned to give it another chance. Wandering the various streets of Florence, I couldn’t help but feel a little annoyed by the ever-present tourist shops. It almost felt like there were more shops and restaurants setup for tourists, than there were actual tourists in the entire state of Tuscany – while I’m sure that’s a bit dramatic, I couldn’t help but feel unconnected from the place. I caught myself thinking that I couldn’t wait until I was somewhere else, more authentic. Over the following few days, I made friends at my hostel and wandered and drank and wandered some more, and of course, drank some more. The time flew, and I found myself feeling nearly the same as I had arrived, but perhaps with a little less feistiness.
More travel updates coming soon! Next update = Rimini & Cesenatico, Italy
Other travel updates:
Travel update I – Barcelona, Spain
Travel update II – Madrid, Spain
Travel update III – Granada, Spain
Travel update IV – Ronda & Sevilla, Spain
Travel update V – Marrakech, Morocco
Travel update VI – Marseille & Nice, France