Wednesday 13th March 2019
I slept well in my delightful bedroom and enjoyed breakfast down in the Restaurant. I had time to myself this morning, as my travelling companion was arriving by train at lunchtime. I had decided to walk to the ferry terminal (Traghetti Terminale) for exercise and pleasure to see what I could see. Not a lot, was the general answer. The pavements were uneven and I had to watch my step, but once inside the public part of the building at least I could see the Arrivals and Departures boards.
These showed arrivals as ATHARA from Porto Torres, BITHIA from Olbia and LA SUPREMA from Palermo. The departures were to be GNV FANTASTIC to Tunisia, Tirrenia's ATHARA back to Porto Torres, Tirrenia's BITHIA back to Olbia and GNV'S LA SUPREMA back to Palermo. Ah, memories, memories.
I could only look out at the ships from the main passenger terminal, and that view was through glass, and above concrete balcony edges outside the glass, but I managed a few photos. I liked seeing the list of things of things Forbidden to be taken on board: Tortoises, parrots, monkeys, chameleons etc.
Then it was time to walk back to the hotel to meet my friend and wish him a happy birthday for today before we set off to see some sights. His train was on time, his check in was easy, and we were soon ready to set off for the delights of the funicular as he requested, followed by a taxi ride east along the coast to the little village of Boccadasse. This visit had been suggested by the Bar Royale Steward during a chat the previous evening. A friendly local taxi driver took us to the end of the promenade near the village, and we could then descend numerous cobbled steps down to the beach and find somewhere for a late lunch.
The views were beautiful around us and of the sea and the far mountains around the coastline; we could hear the sound of the sea crashing onto the rocks and beach below us before we arrived at the bottom of the steps. I saw confetti blown onto the steps outside several homes on the way down.
At the bottom we decided to walk around the little beach and then up part of the other hillside, before coming back for a very late lunch at one of the beachside restaurants. We enjoyed all of that in the sunshine, but a brisk wind later sent us back up to the street-side promenade where we could call the taxi to come back for us. Out in the sea we noticed EUROCARGO SAVONA was at anchor, and then a Grimaldi vessel was sailing towards the port of Genoa.
The day ended back at the hotel with drinks and dinner and chat about the day's events.
Tomorrow is the day MSC BELLISSIMA is due to arrive in Genoa, for us to check in and sail away for 3 nights on board.
Ships seen: Bithia, Majestic, Fantastic, Athara, Eurocargo Savona, a Grimaldi vessel
To be continued...
12th March 2019 p.m.
My hotel front doors were firmly bolted, but then I noticed a large sign inside one of the doors pointing me in the direction of an hotel a few steps up the road. Outside that one I walked up the three steps covered in a little red carpet and found myself in a Belle Époque style reception area with smiling staff behind a desk. A little poster on a wall told me the hotel was built in 1897: Grand Hotel Savoia.
I was welcomed and told I had been upgraded from the booked hotel, and was soon checked in and shown to a lift up to my room. The room was large and beautifully furnished in what must be the style here - and the room number was the same as my own little home in the South of England. That seemed like a good omen.
I unpacked, read the hotel book details
and discovered that on the 7th floor was a terrace, with views. That needed to be seen before going out to the Porto Antico and proved really worthwhile.
I could see a great deal of the bay around Genoa and, hooray, ferries down in the harbour and shipyards. I could see the airport runway and even the back half of a plane taxiing back to the terminal, as I had done a few hours before. The sky was a glorious blue and the calm around me was such a contrast with home, and memories of being almost blown off my feet a few times when walking back from my village recently.
Before leaving the 7th floor terrace I noticed that the room behind it contained several ship models, and I imagine this was part of the hotel's conference room facilities.
My next plan was to go down to the waterside and walk along to the Porto Antico part of this little city, get something to eat and then walk up to the funicolare station that I particularly liked, which goes between Zecca and Righi. It costs just Euros 1.50 each way and celebrated being 120 years old in 2017. I enjoyed walking amongst tourists and locals, before buying my ticket and admiring the posters.
The ascent is in a tunnel at first before emerging into daylight; it is very steep with calls at 5 stations. The 'down' funicolare is balanced with the ascending one and they pass at the stations in the middle where the track divides for short distances. I read that the rise from bottom to top is 915 feet.
The views from the top were wonderful; I could see across the bay in one direction and then down into the shipyards in another.
I enjoyed seeing one of the posters on the outside wall, and noticed the ship belonging to Quail cruises shown. I can remember that ship actually being there in the harbour many years ago and taking my own photograph at the time.
I walked home again along Via Balbi and remembered staying in a small hotel along here once. I had been astonished at seeing the pictures painted on the ceiling of my room in what was once a small palace. I think it had suffered water damage over the years but most of it was lovely. That little hotel seems to have disappeared, perhaps amalgamated into the University buildings that now line part of the street amongst the coffee bars and shops.
Back at the hotel I took photographs of my surroundings and then enjoyed some offerings from the Bar Royale, whilst listening to the talented pianist in the main Lounge playing to hotel guests and visitors.
Ships seen: Scarlet Lady, of Virgin Voyages, GNV vessels in the ferry terminal area, yellow-hulled Corsica-Sardinia ferries down in the shipyard.
To be continued...
14th March 2019
Over a year ago, in February 2018, a plan was made to try the new MSC BELLISSIMA in March 2019. She offered a 3 night trip from Genoa, Italy, and four of us made bookings for single studio cabins. Time passed and subsequent work commitments meant that two of the group had to back out but two of us decided to go ahead.
Monday 11th March 2019
I stayed overnight at Gatwick Airport, ready to check in for a very early flight to Genoa the next morning.
Tuesday 12th March 2019
My alarm went off incredibly early, and I then set off to South Terminal ready to check in my rucksack for the BA flight at 7.30 a.m. This gave me time for coffee and a snack at one of my favourite food stops before boarding my flight. The UK weather had been atrocious for the previous couple of weeks, with heavy rain and high winds over most of the country. This morning was no different, although theoretically it was becoming daylight.
The plane pulled away from the stand and we were told that the flight would go south over Bognor Regis and that the plane would then climb to 39,000 feet. I knew that the more usual flights were at about 34,000 feet so the thought of 39,000 feet said it all as far as I was concerned! We were soon lined up for take-off and could feel the strength of the wind, and that huge engine power was being prepared. Take off certainly concentrated my mind, as we lurched along and then we were up and away. We climbed and climbed and climbed, and couldn't see a thing from the windows, but then suddenly we were up above dense cloud and in sunshine under a clear blue sky at 39,000 feet. Our female pilot did a wonderful job in getting us up and away.
Everyone relaxed or dozed, and I took a few pictures of snow on the Alps going south, then of the Italian coast as we headed for Genoa. We landed at 11.00 a.m. and as we taxied back to the terminal I could see the new Virgin ship being built in the nearby Fincantieri shipyard. I was able to get a quick picture of it.
We had flown 625 miles here and it looked as if I was in another world. On the bus to the city I noticed a chemist's sign saying it was 21 degrees C outside, although later this dropped to 15C. I got off the bus outside the main railway station and then headed up towards my hotel.
To be continued...