Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1114: Bergamo, Venice, Lerici, Piemonte, Friends & World Cup Mania
By girasoli from Hawaii, Summer 2006
Page 9 of 23: Arrival & First Day in Lerici
colorful buildings in Lerici
After a quick breakfast with Francesco's parents Monday morning, I was off to the train station. Marusca was so kind to walk with me to my binario. My train came pretty quickly. I was glad that I had made a reservation as there was only one first class car on this train and the train was pretty full.
At the next stop, after more people boarded the train, an argument began. I think it had something to do with where to put the luggage and with some people sitting in the un-reserved compartment. The only Italian that I could understand a woman repeating over and over was that she was not interested. I could not understand what she was not interested in but just that she was not interested. She continuously repeated this so loudly that the entire train car could hear her. Other than that, the train ride was without incident.
When I arrived in La Spezia, I found the automatic ticket machine inside the station and bought my train tickets for my next journey on Friday.
To reach Lerici, you can either take a taxi or take the city bus. The bus ride is supposed to take about 35 minutes. I decided to take the bus. I searched for the place to get the bus ticket, bought the ticket, and then waited for the bus. When the bus arrived, it was pretty crowded. I managed to find a seat and also a spot in the handicapped wheelchair area right behind my seat to store my larger roll on bag. Luckily there were no wheelchairs on board! I usually am not a fan of buses. I never know which stop is my stop (especially when going to a new area). I read ahead of time that my stop would be the last stop on the route but of course how do you know which stop is the last stop? I counted the number of stops on the schedule posted at the bus stop figuring that would help. As the bus went along, more and more people boarded and no one got off. It was stopping at more stops than were on the sign. That was not good. I started to get a little nervous. Since I knew it would take about 35 minutes to reach Lerici by bus, my next strategy was to watch the time.
As we reached the coastal area, people started to get off. Then we reached a stop near Lerici, about five minutes by bus to the center. The bus stopped and the bus driver told us that we all had to get off, as this would be his last stop. He told us that another bus would come by to take us to Lerici. Luckily, a very nice lady was also going to Lerici and so I stuck by her to figure out when to get off.
When we boarded the second bus, the bus driver told us that we needed to go on a different route. We ended up touring the entire Lerici area! The lady was pretty funny with her comments about how we were now on a 1-hour bus ride. As we rode all around the area of Lerici, through a tunnel, up and down streets, we finally came to an area above Lerici where there was a bus on the side of the rode with people waiting outside. The bus had broken down and our bus was sent to pick up the stranded passengers from this bus. There was quite a commotion as we stopped to pick them up (mainly from the people on board still waiting to arrive in Lerici). We then headed to the center of Lerici.
While heading to Lerici, about seven ladies, most of them much older than me, found out that I was headed to the Doria Park Hotel. When we reached the stop that I thought was the main stop in the center of the town, we all got off the bus. The ladies were all very concerned about me and asked the bus driver if he could take me to my hotel! I thanked them for their concern and assured them that I would be able to find my hotel without any problems. One lady insisted on accompanying me to Piazza Garibaldi, the main piazza where I should have gotten off the bus. It was downhill and a very short walk so it was not a big deal but she was very concerned for me. She even told me to find a carabiniere or go into a store to find out for sure where my hotel was. I assured her that I was fine and thanked her for her concern. She finally left me once she felt that I was safe. Lerici is a very peaceful town and not a town where one needs to be worried about someone not knowing where his or her hotel was located and so she was so sweet to be so concerned about me. Right after she left me, I saw a sign pointing up a street to my hotel. I had located the infamous street with all the stairs which left me huffing and puffing by the time I reached the hotel.
The people at the Doria Park Hotel were extremely friendly and helpful. My room faced the ocean and had a wonderful view and balcony. I took advantage of having a balcony on a warm sunny day by hand washing a few clothes to hang out to dry. I always pack a couple of rubber clotheslines and a few clothespins and inflatable hangers. I have found that many of the smaller towns do not have laundromats close by and washing my clothes in the hotels has always worked for me.
After hanging out my clothes, I wandered the town, took some pictures, and sat on some rocks by the water to catch a few rays. After an afternoon gelato, I headed back to my hotel, took a short nap, and then watched the second half of the Italy-Australia match. A long 0-0 match with the winning goal for Italy occurring during the last minute of the game on a penalty kick. The town erupted in cheers!!
For dinner, I ate at Bonta Nascosta, a wonderful little place in town. I had pesto pasta and focaccia col recco, my two favorite Ligurian treats! I wandered around the town some more, took a few more pictures, and then headed back up to my hotel, huffing and puffing the last few steps. I spent a little while on the free hotel computer in the lobby and then went up to my hotel room where I sat out on my lanai for a while enjoying the view of Lerici at night and then finally went to bed.
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