A lot has happened in the last few days - the main thing being that after a fifth night of sweltering heat and swarming mosquitoes, we decided to abandon our apartment and head for an air conditioned hotel. Renting a place on the fifth floor of a very old building that doesn't have air conditioning was a mistake - one that we won't make again. I guess I just assumed they would have A/C… and we all know what assuming does. Live and learn. Luckily Sven and Joyce were also up for the change of venue despite the fact that we were leaving behind two nights of paid accommodation. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

We decided upon the Novotel in Genoa because it was relatively cheap, less than an hour away, and it had an outdoor swimming pool. That first night in the hotel with A/C and no mosquitoes was absolute heaven. Plus, the bathrooms in the apartment were so strange - you almost had to climb into a little cubby to use the toilet; hotel bathrooms are amazing! Also, the shower in the apartment got the entire bathroom soaking wet so it was impossible to keep it clean, especially with 4 adults and 4 kids. It felt like indoor camping. We were up for the adventure, but we were beaten by tiny flying itch-machines. Not so big and strong anymore, are we!

It's interesting, because during the day the apartment was actually great. There was a nice breeze through it and we would have breakfast on the terrace all together. (It was gezellig, as the Dutch say.) But, we weren't going to be fooled again, and we had to stay strong with our decision to leave. We packed up our things and portofinodecided to use our convenient location for one quick excursion out to Portofino for the afternoon. You may have heard of Portofino - it is like the St. Tropez of Italy. Lots of money, fancy stores… a playground for the rich and famous. We've been to St. Tropez and it really wasn't our cup of tea, so admittedly I was skeptical of Portofino and it's supposed charms. Well, I was wrong - I loved it! It is really quaint and cozy, and we had a fantastic lunch at a little restaurant that Chloe found on TripAdvisor. Jeff and I both ordered "Grandma's spaghetti' and it was hands down the best spaghetti I have ever had. Yum, yum, yum. We followed that with artisan gelato from a little shop that was mind blowing delicious. boatAhhhhh. To add to the fantastic afternoon, Jeff arranged a private water taxi for the 8 of us back to Rapallo. It cost a about 40 euros more (total) than taking the public ferry back, and it was well worth it. Great views of Portofino and the little towns along the way as we zipped around on our little boat. Awesome. (One last note, Portofino was so cute and almost felt fake. I swear that Walt Disney made it, because I felt like I was at Epcot!)

After our great afternoon, the car was loaded and Jeff and Sven drove the luggage to the hotel in Genoa while Joyce and I took the kids on the train. It ended up being quite the trip as it was a crowded train and we had to stand for the entire 40 minutes in to the city. (The first 15 minutes were next to many stinky men who thankfully got off after a few stops.) After getting off the train we had to take the metro a few stops until we got to the right part of the city. By this time is was almost 8 pm and we couldn't believe how well all of the kids were doing. The guys had arrived at the hotel and unloaded all of the bags before walking towards the metro stop to meet us about 2 hours after we said goodbye in Rapallo. It was a long haul but totally worth it. We had dinner at the hotel, and it was 'International Buffet' night. Ummm, well, let's just say it was a valiant effort. Ham and rice salad, couscous with vegetables, watermelon, pizza, french fries, grilled eggplant. It was a strange combination of food. We were tired and hungry and it did its job.

The following day (yesterday) we hit the pool. The pictures on the website were a tad misleading - I'm not sure that the pool deck had been mopped in 2 years. Ick. Keep your flip flops on kind of dirty… The pool itself was good though, and Luna, Julia, and Viggo had a great time swimming for hours. It's been so nice for Julia to have someone else to play with in the pool - that girl is a fish. Despite the language difference they have managed to have great fun together, and it's been a wonderful week. Interesting note - there was a lifeguard at the pool who spent the entire time reading a book, smoking, or looking at his phone. This became particularly amusing when he had to close the pool for 20 minutes while he ate his lunch.  ??!?  Only in Italy.

keldersLast night was our final dinner with the Kelders and we went to a pizza place that touted itself as a 'Tipico Pizzeria'. From the outside it didn’t look like much, but it was absolutely fantastic and a great way to cap our week together. We ended it with limoncello and toasted to great friends. We parted ways this morning as they headed towards Pisa and we made our way to Nice. We took a train along the Mediterranean coast and the views were fantastic. At some points we were right along the water and it almost felt like we were on a boat! After crossing in to France from Italy the train was stopped and they did passport checks; a few people were removed when they didn't produce one. After all that has happened in France this last year, I am happy for the extra security.

Our hotel in Nice is nice and will be our home for the next two nights. We only have one full day here and Julia wants to swim in the pool while Chloe wants to explore the shops. Jeff and I just want a nice glass of wine and some French food - should be easy to accomplish everyone's wishes! After many weeks in Italy I am happy to hear French - I am so much more comfortable with the French language and already feel more at ease. Italian just never stuck, no matter how hard I tried.

Bon nuit!

Oops - it has been much too long since I sat down and wrote a proper blog. We have been having a great time for the last few days with our friends from the Netherlands. We have a four bedroom apartment on the top floor of an apartment building in Rapallo, Italy. The location is great, but it is admittedly VERY hot. There isn't any air conditioning, and the few fans we have are a bit feeble. However, the company is excellent and we are having fun at the beach, strolling the streets, and searching out great restaurants. Their two children are ages 8 and 2 and everyone is getting along perfectly and going with the flow.

We must have extremely tasty blood to these Italian mosquitoes, because our entire family has been eaten alive. They are bloodthirsty, voracious little buggers and we are keeping the Italian economy afloat with the purchase of many different sprays, lotions, and gels to try and manage the situation. At least we have figured out how to keep them out of the bedrooms, even if it means a hot and sweaty sleep.

Yesterday we took the train to Genova (Genoa) for a little day trip. Our intention was to get there for lunch, but we didn't plan our timing very well because we arrived around 2:30 and most restaurants close at 3 pm. By the time we found some good places they were all closed - we were all hot, sweaty, and starving which made decision making even more difficult. Poor little Viggo (the two year old) had a breakdown; I think we were all feeling that way but not acting on it. Kids get a pass on that! We had lunch at one of the only places we could find, and although the food looked great through the glass case, we were less than impressed to get our plates of food and realize that they had microwaved everything! I had pesto lasagna and the plate was super-hot but the food was lukewarm. Sven's pizza was soggy and disappointing. We all ate enough to fend off starvation and then moved on. Disappointing.

I must admit that the day in Genoa didn't turn out the way we all thought it would… we wandered around waiting to see something fantastic but it was hot and hilly and we were all getting a bit tired. There were a few gems though, the University of Genova had a gorgeous little garden and there were a few interesting old palaces along Via Garibaldi where the very rich lived hundreds of years ago. If you were fortunate enough to do the 'Grand Tour' back in those times, Via Garibaldi was a must-do on the list of things to see. You could peek into the main areas of a few of them and there were ornate fountains and beautifully intricate paintings on the ceilings. Joyce and I imagined ourselves 300 years ago strolling along with our parasols admiring the buildings. Then we thought about the horribly hot dresses and corsets, layers and layers of material chafing and hot shoes pinching our feet. Ugh. We were struggling with the heat in the clothes we were wearing, and had we appeared in public dressed like that at the time, I'm sure we would've been stoned or hung up in the piazza for all to see. Shameful!

Many of the beaches around here are privately owned and so you have to pay an entrance in to a 'beach club' for the day. With admission you get a lounge chair and access to all of their amenities. The first day we walked around the harbour and tried a few places but they were full, so we went to the only place that had room for us. It was nice and had chairs right on the beach where we could easily watch the kids. The food was very reasonably priced (considering that they had a captive audience), and there were floating play structures in the water which were a nice distraction. The only downside was that the beach was rocky, and walking to the water's edge was difficult and funny to watch.

Today's beach club was much bigger, and it was sandy, instead of rocky. We stayed for much longer than we should have, because we all now see how effective sunscreen is - and how ineffective it is when not applied correctly. It was a nice day, sunburns and all, and we are looking forward to our reservation for dinner tonight. We ate lunch at a great restaurant a few days ago and made a dinner reservation so that we could enjoy the food again. We are planning on being hungry because there were so many good things on the menu and we want to eat it all! The ravioli with truffle sauce is calling my name and it would be rude to ignore it.  ;)

I would love to post some photos, but I can't find the cord that connects the camera to my computer. If I see an electronics shop I will grab another one, but for some reason I haven't yet seen a Radio Shack in small town Italy. For now, my words will just have to paint the picture!


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