Hi, I’m Rachel, a 20-something artist from Detroit, and I’m spending most of 2019 travelling through Europe. This is a blog about my travels, mostly to compensate for my terrible memory (sorry future me). Feel free to follow along if you’re interested!
Where am I?
My first stop is Genova, Italy. It is a beautiful historical city with a population of around 800k. It’s not as touristy or famous as some of Italy’s other big cities, but Genova has a lot going on: it’s the busiest port in the Mediterranean Sea, and a big section of the old town is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so the city has lots of well-preserved historical architecture on show. It’s built on the Apennine Mountains along the coast of the Ligurian Sea, and has a sub-tropical climate (meaning it’s been in the 50s in February, which feels positively balmy after the -30 I left in Detroit).
That’s enough of the basics- check out the Wikipedia page for plenty more factoids!
What happened this week?
This week I arrived in Genova and got settled into the hostel where I will live and work for the next month. It’s cozy and homey, and my coworkers already feel like family. Many of them are also international travelers, and it’s been fun to go explore the city together during our off time. The hostel is located in the heart of the historical district, surrounded by beautiful 18th century architecture and the massive palaces which are virtually incognito from the narrow streets they sit on. The hostel is also close to public transit and plenty of good food and shopping areas, and it’s been easy to get around the city from here.
I have been blown away by Genova so far- there are gorgeous views around every corner, and just walking around the city is a treat. It is an ancient city, so the roads and buildings are wonderfully haphazard- many parts of the city are accessible only on foot or scooter because cars simply wont fit on the streets (parking also gets very creative, and there are poles or blockades on the sidewalks where cars aren’t meant to park- or else they would!). Pavement changes from street to street, switching between cobblestones, paving blocks, bricks, and regular cement pavement. Most of the buildings are plaster or stone, painted pretty pastel colors with dark green shutters on the windows.
Places I visited this week:
The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno: a cemetery unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and one of the biggest and most beautiful in Europe. I could easily spend several days here and not see everything. It is probably my favorite site so far.
Nervi Boardwalk: a 2km boardwalk in a quaint Genova suburb, with many small staircases leading down to the rocks and water below. Even in February, the water was nice enough to wade in (at least to a Michigander!).
D’albertis Castle: one of the many beautiful castles in the city, this site is now a museum with some lovely public gardens surrounding it that provide scenic views of the port.
Port of Genova: a large plaza/boardwalk that is home to numerous attractions (the city aquarium, a movie theater, ferris wheel, and plenty of restaurants/shops) and offers views of the city and surrounding mountains.
Food is cheap and SO good! Croissants and pastries are ~1.50 euro, cappuccinos are ~1.20 euro, pizza is ~5 euro, sandwiches are ~3 euro. So far I have eaten at least one pastry per day here, all from different shops and all delicious. No regrets.
There are very few large stores here; instead, there are lots of tiny specialty shops. One to sell vegetables, one to sell fish, one to sell dry goods, etc. And I do mean tiny- many in the historic district are the size of storage units, and even close up with a rolling garage-style door. There are a few larger stores around as well, but they seem to be a little more fancy and expensive.
Also, graffiti is everywhere. When I first got to the city I worried I was in a shady part of town because of all the graffiti, but apparently this is common throughout much of Europe. There is a large old boat being repaired in the harbor, and even it has been tagged!
Here’s some more of my favorite photos from this week:
It’s been a hell of a first week in Europe, and I’m so glad that I’ve found such good first place to visit. The hostel feels like home and my coworkers feel like a big family, and Genova has exceeded all of my expectations. I can’t wait to keep finding new little alleys and stunning views, as well as exploring the museums and parks of the city.
Till next week, ciao!