Monday, June 30th
After my last wonderful breakfast at Hotel Jolanda in Santa Margherita Ligure and some last minute packing, I gave the front desk the key (I already paid my bill the night before), was refunded for the internet access problems (which really worked out in my favor), and headed to the train station. The walk was not far although there was a steep hill at the end of the walk just before reaching the train station. I figured out a way to hook all my bags together. I have been very happy with my new system of 2 rolling bags (both a bit smaller and lighter) rather than a larger backpack on my back and a larger rolling bag. So far, I have always been offered help when getting on or off a train and it has not been that difficult carrying the bags down and up the stairs in the underpasses at the train stations.
When I arrived at the train station, I was very glad that I purchased my ticket the day before since the ticket window was closed. I read on the monitor that the train would be 5 minutes "in ritardo" (late). I found a nice bench to sit on and waited for the train. A few minutes later an older but very feisty woman sat next to me. As the mystery woman announced that the train we were both taking to Genova would now be 10 minutes late, she started rambling on to me in Italian about how all the trains in the area are always late and that the next announcement will tell us that the train will be 15 and then 20 minutes late. She must have taken the train that was 30 minutes late on Wednesday since she was referring about that train while telling me about the Italian train system.
After a few minutes of train conversation, she asked where I was from and then started talking politics. She wanted to know why the US did not want a woman to be president. Then she wanted to know what I thought of Obama and his wife. She then asked me what the name of the "vecchio" (old) man was that was also running for president. We talked politics until the train arrived. She said it was a miracle that the train was only 10 minutes late. That was perfect for me since I would be able to still catch my connecting train if my first train was only 10 minutes late.
As the train arrived, we both went to board. She boarded first and then grabbed one of my rolling bags for me. I was surprised with her strength. Another kind man grabbed my other rolling bag. I followed the woman into one of the train cars. I debated whether or not to sit with her since I was ready to move on from the converstation about politics. I thought it would be rude though to not sit with here. The train was a regional train and so there are only 2nd class train cars. It was not very full so there was lots of space for luggage to be kept right by your seats which was nice.
I changed the subject to Genova once we sat down. She wanted to know what I did when I visited Genova. The train ride was quite pleasant. As we went by each station, she told me more about that area.
The train gods were looking out for me. We arrived on binario (platform/track) one! I LOVE binario uno because that means no stairs!! My connecting train was at the tronco place - a walk down to the end of binario 1 where two more little tracks were on the left with no stairs! My system of hooking my bags together worked perfectly for the short walk.
As I walked toward the tronco, I saw that there was a train at binario 2. I asked a train person (you can tell who they are by their green and blue outfits) if that was the Acqui train. He seemed to think it was and I figured that it had to be since it was set to leave in 10 minutes. I boarded the trian and found a seat by the entrance inside one of the train cars with a space for my luggage. A woman and her little dog got on board and asked me if this was the train to Acqui. I told her I thought it was and hoped it was. She sat nearby and placed one of those little diaper paper things on the seat and then her dog hopped on. I snuck a cute photo of the dog while she was busy talking on the phone. She probably would have posed for me but I was too shy to ask.
The train ride was very pleasant. I worked on a couple of sudoku puzzles until we arrived. Jan (jgk) called me the day before offering to pick me up at the train station. I was thrilled since I was not sure how to get to the little place where we were both staying. I am still lost today (Wednesday) after being in Acqui Terme for 2 days and so I am sure that it would have made for an interesting time if I had to find the place on my own. I don't remember seeing any taxis at the station when I arrived.
I met Jan at the entrance of the train station when I arrived. We drove to a parking lot near our place. We are staying in rooms above a restaurant called La Loggia. Jan got the single room (booked ahead first) and I have a double room. My room is huge and quite comfortable. There is a great bathroom and a wonderful hairdryer!! Having a good hairdryer is not something that often happens, even in the nicest hotels.
After unpacking a few things, we went out to have a gelato. The gelateria had huge mounds of many flavors, both fruit and creme flavors. I introduced Jan to peach gelato. It was my first time having peach on this trip. We walked around the town some and then headed back to our rooms since everything was closed for the afternoon.
Later in the afternoon, we went out to Diana's for a short visit. I was so impressed with her new kitchen. It was great seeing her again. For dinner, we ate at a place that had a wonderful pesto, pomodoro (tomato) and creme sauce. I ordered spinach and ricotta ravioli with this sauce. I also ordered a caprese salad. This caprese salad was missing the basil. The buffalo mozzarella was one big mound in the middle and the tomato slices surrounded the cheese. It was really a meal in itself. Jan talked me into a glass of white wine. I have not drank any wine fearing a headache. Unfortunately this wine did the trick. I woke up in the middle of the night with a definite wine headache. Luckily I caught it early and my medicine worked after sleeping some more. Jan also woke up with a headache. The wine was a house wine and must not have been very good.
Well, that sums up my first day/night in Acqui Terme. I will write more soon.