Sunny and hot
Stephanie and Cesare from Rome arrive today! I have become e-friends with Stephanie in the last 10 months. We have talked on the phone and emailed, but never met in person. She did a project for SlowTrav (getting us better ranked on the search engines) and we email frequently about web things (she is a master web designer and I am "grasshopper" hoping to learn from her).
We cleaned the apartment in the morning. These lovely tile floors show every hair, and I am a shedder. Out to a caffe to sit and read the paper and have more coffee. Then back to the apartment to put on our bathing suits and grab our new towels. The swimming here is pretty good. We put our suits on under our shorts, put on our flip-flops, walk the four blocks to the sea, then swim. Walk home in our wet suits with our towels around us. We don't feel out of place at all dressed like this because it is a short walk back to the hotel and because lots of people are out walking like this. On the trails, some people hike in their bathing suits.
We were all ready to meet S and C at the train station, but they called to say that their train was late. I said we would pick them up in La Spezia, but then I went and asked Federico and he told me it was a 50 minute drive, so I called them back and told them to get the next train. It would have been much longer for us to go and get them. So when the 3:06 train pulled into Levanto, Steve and I were there with our big Slow Travelers banner so they would know who we were. It worked.
We all walked to Villa Margherita and Federico took them to an apartment he had arranged for them just up the street. The hotel and all his regular apartments were booked. The apartment they had was nice enough for a few days, but would not have been great for a week. It only had one small window in each room and the building is right next to the road (not that busy) and next to a gas station. The woman who owned the building showed us all around her lovely garden.
We walked into town and had a late lunch of foccacia. Then walked along the seafront, and ended up in a caffe. I was hoping that Cesare would be able to explain all the caffe things to me - all the types of aperitivos, etc. that I never seem to understand - but it turns out that he hardly drinks at all and doesn't even drink coffee!! There goes my Italian male stereotype!! We all went out to Taverna Garibaldi for pizza that night.
We all got along really well, as I knew we would. When you have an email relationship with someone before you meet in the flesh, you get to know them well. It was like this for me with David from NY, Amy from MA and Liz from Vancouver. We all knew each other via email and working on SlowTrav and starting the message board. When we first met in the flesh last winter, it was like we had all know each other for years.