Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Genova, Old Port District
While making their way towards Portofino, they made a command detour to Genova and its famous aquarium. Never having set foot in this crowded and busy city with a suspended highway winding through, she was invariably curious to have a glimpse and get a feel for this famous city.
Although pushed for time, they headed to the old port district finding parking in some un-godly spot hidden on the wharf and from there, had a nice walk (800 meters or so) to the “fish tanks.” The old port provides a smorgasbord for the senses; full of all those typical odors from a maritime environment making a port, a port and inundating the senses at once.
The smell of saltwater permeated the air; the sing-song clinking and clanging of sailboat rigging tickled their ears, and the heady odor of rotting fish and fish entrails mixed with diesel, rust and boat paint warmly greeted them; ah yes, the “bouquet” of a port.
The boardwalk was wide and welcoming, splattered with Africans selling knockoffs, benches semi occupied by locals soaking up some “rays” and people watching, generally just enjoying the sun and fresh February air. Approaching the old galleon replica, fishermen littered their path with old yet precious nets stretched along the boardwalk as they darned away, repairing, chattering and selling the morning’s catch. Their boats dock just below the boardwalk and from there they hoist up the boxes and crates of fish to their trolley carts with suspended balances ready in the blink of an eye to open up shop and sell their wares in this open-air make-shift market bursting with spontaneity and life.
The galleon provoked images of Columbus, what it must have been like oh so many years ago; too bad Italy did not finance him, they certainly missed out on the chance of a lifetime! All around the harbor were floating palaces, sleek (longilinea) boats just begging to go out in the open water.
Once she entered the aquarium, she was astounded with the presentations, the tanks and exhibits. Being a tad jaded as if no one can do a better aquarium than the one she visited in San Diego, this was a real experience of interaction, not just a display of fish. There was a marvelous grouping of huge tanks as well as, a nice representation of miniature tanks with massive amounts of attention dedicated to detail. Most impressive were the exquisite displays of jellyfish; almost unreal in their jewel-like, filmy delicate “skirts.” The dolphins are a sit-down-and-stare-at time eater, always a fascinating and fun world in which to lose one’s self; entertainment arrives by the boatloads from the sea lions, a cleverly interactive tank as well as the penguins.
Loaded up with smiles and “oohs and ahs” they headed to the car for the wicked little tunnel tour south towards Rapallo. Yikes what a terrible road from Genova south, loaded with trucks hauling containers, two lanes only and all tunnels; makes that beer all the more meaningful upon reaching destination.