Thursday, November 22, 2007

Day 4 (Tuesday) - 'Lost' in Genoa

After the disasterous dinner (the guys couldn't stomach the pasta) the previous night, they asked me to take them to 'my pizza restaurant'. We agreed to meet in the hotel lobby at 7pm. I had 2 hours to kill. I decided to roam the streets of Genoa.

City Hotel, though located at Via Roma, isn't exactly by the road side. In fact from the road, you can't see the hotel. My first imppession when our bus driver unloaded our bags and told us to walk (he had limited English), was "Oh my God! What kind hotel are we staying in!". I'll get back to the hotel later.

Via Roma is some what a main road. By KL standard, it is just a 2 lane one-way street with one lane seemed to be used as 'waiting lane' for buses, lorries and other vehicles. Why do I called it a main road? Because along on both sides of the road are designers' boutiques. You know, those lables that l can't seemed to pronounce, thus can't spell it. Those lables that if I buy, with my current salary, I'll be in debt for the whole year!

I followed the crowd (of well-dressed-Italians) walking into small nameless lanes. They brought me to somewhat another face of Genoa. These little lanes and alleys nestled in between the old-but-beautifully-preserved-buildings that seemed to form Genoa town. Lined on those alleys are small shops, workshops, art galleries, and even small museums. You could literally window shop from the lanes and alleys as you could see almost everything in the shop. In one of the worhop, I saw a lady wearing a white-doctor-like-coat over her stylish clothes busy at work - painting a porcelein bowl. Some doors open to private courtyards.

If you close you eyes and listen to footsteps on the coblestones, you could almost see people from previous centuries walking in these lanes and alleys. When you thought no cars could get through the small lanes, you would be suprised to see a car inching patiently behind pedestrians. Pedestrians - I too followed - gave way to cars immediately when there's enough 'clearing' to stand aside. I continued walking till the alleys became too narrow for cars. The wind wasn't blowing as strong as in the earlier lanes. Suited me just fine because I accidently dropped my woolen grove on the bus trip back from work the previous day.

Then I realized, I was in a 'red' district! People around me no longer wore impeccably smart clothes. There were young women every where. There were dubious looking men too. But they didn't bother me. With my canvas backpack and inconspicous parka, I must have looked liked an immigrant worker. I had my dSLR zipped underneath my parka (hence no photos for this walk). I continued walking until I reached a small shop. From the window I could see a black lady wearing burqa behind the counter. I went in. The shopkeeper was serving a beautiful Italian lady in designer clothes. Once the Italian lady left, I greeted the lady shopkeeper
me: (translation: peace upon you)
lady (beaming with smile): (translation: upon you too)
me: Inglese? (english?)
lady: no
me (with hand gestures): halal restorante? (halal restaurant?)
lady: si... si... (yes... yes... she took me to a shop a few steps from hers)
me: grazie (thank you)
lady: prego (welcome and she left)

No, I didn't eat at the shop. I had to return to hotel. It was 6.15pm. Shops were closing. I back tracked and passed the dubious men and women. I followed my instinct and wind direction. 15 minutes later I was at the hotel.

We walked to the pizza restaurant. We shared a plate of spagetti, three plates of vegetarian pizza, and four bottles of 'aqua minerale naturale'. The long walk was worth it when everyone returned to hotel full and satisfied.

Went to bed early. We would be going for a roadtrip on Wednesday!

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