We woke up groggy as the ship’s anchor slammed down early that morning. Overnight, the ship had crossed over and we woke up with Italy on the horizon. For some reason, the ship did not pull directly into port, so in order to get to our morning tour, we had to hop on a smaller shuttle boat.
Arriving in the ship’s theater, the groups were all milling around and the noise level was high. The evening prior’s wine still rumbling in our brains, we were not quite ready for such close contact. When our tour group’s number was called, we found out quickly that our personal space was about to be invaded.
The shuttle boat was already quite full, and we could not discern any available seats. We were ready to hop back off when one of the porters pointed out the seats that folded down facing each row. We were now given the lovely privilege of staring strangers in the face as we bobbed along to shore.
Fortunately, the distance wasn’t that long, and we were on land again shortly. We realized though, that all of the tours for the day would be using the same boat to do them. More than a dozen tour guides lined up on the shoreline, each with their own numbered sign. The groups all poured onto the same tour boat in order to begin our tours. It made us wonder what the point was to having the smaller groups, since we were all going the same way.
The boat had an upper seating area, which filled quickly. The remainder of the group was able to move down to the second level. As the boat took off from the dock, the noise level of people talking over the tour guide was far too loud to hear any of it. I began to get irritated since we had paid good money for this tour and wouldn’t be able to hear any of the information about where we were going.
Eventually, I decided to go out onto the front area of the boat and risk getting sprayed in order to hear and get some shots. We passed the first area, but didn’t get off the boat. It was an old monastery that had been converted to a hotel. It was very quiet, and apparently only reached by foot or boat.
We passed a small fishing boat in the natural harbor. An aging man with white dreadlocks waved from the rastafarian painted boat and began saying something in what I imagine was Italian. It was impossible to tell was saying, since everything in Italian sounded like being scolded to me.
At the next stop, we got out in a small village called Camogli, where we had a quick tour of the area. The tour guide showed us how the narrow streets were a defense the village used against marauding pirates. We went to see the village’s church, but were quickly stopped by the tiniest angriest Italian octogenarian I’ve ever seen.
There was somewhat of a discourse between her and the tour guide. Apparently, the church was hosting a wedding the next day and the old woman didn’t want the tourists inside mucking up the floor she had just finished washing. I hung back, not wanting to irritate the old lady, because she looked like she might cut a bitch.
After the tour, we had a few minutes to walk around. We stopped in a small shop to get pizza and some foccacia. The shopkeeper didn’t have any ready made, but offered to make us some fresh if we were willing to wait a few minutes. We grabbed a beer and some fresh foccacia while we waited. We noticed a lot of the locals noshed on foccacia without any fear of carbohydrates. I can see why, as it was quite tasty and a nice snack.
Our pizza came out shortly thereafter, and it was well worth the wait. Something about the cheese, the sauce, the dough, it was all just lovely. The pizza had this lightness about it that you’d never find in the states. The cheese didn’t have that stringy, stretchy quality. We devoured it instantly.
On our way back to meet the boat for our next stop, we grabbed some gelato. The tiny portion, just enough to savor before we had to get back on the water, was a lovely finish to our impromptu meal. The chocolate was great, and the purveyor also gave us a taste of the chocolate/citrus flavor, which was quite interesting as well.
We hopped the boat and we on our way to the next stop in Portofino. The village was a bit bigger, with many designer shops along the tiny cobblestone streets. The window shopping was nice, but we wanted to get out of the sun, as it was now quite warm. So we joined some friends in a nearby cafe and watched the world go by for a while.
The ship returned us to our original port, and then we had the option to walk around more or head back to the cruise ship. We hung out for a bit longer, but realized we were a bit worn out. We hopped the much sparser shuttle back to the ship and took a long nap before dinner.