Genoa does not win at first sight

Genoa does not win at first sight

Posted on Apr 2, 2017

44° 24′ 39.06” N
8° 55′ 24.5352” E

Course Genoa. Full sail. Great sailing. The harbour of Genoa is huge. You turn into the harbour and you keep sailing and sailing and sailing, the harbour just goes on and on. Ferry berths, container ports, yachts. This port is mega.

We are received like the lost but now returning son. “Ahh, Ronja,” they say, as we call the harbour office in advance and tell them, that we are arriving. “Ahh, Mister Westergaard,” they say, as we enter the harbour office. We have already a couple of months ago agreed with the harbour office in Genoa, that Ronja shall spend the winter from October 1st to late March, so we have been writing together and agreed on price and conditions through numerous emails prior.

Genoa is not a beautiful city. It’s a rough town, with its poverty, and its most worn buildings facing the harbour. There are no showy facades with upscale restaurants. Here are halal butchers, souvenir shops, beer bars, dubious electronics stores plus a jumble of street vendors selling umbrellas, selfie-sticks and copies of Gucci-bags and Rolex watches.

The port population has a conspicuous large percentage of immigrants from Africa. The neighborhood is a complex network of alleys, narrow streets lined with five-storey buildings on each side, where the sun never reaches the street level. Worn. Dodgy. Prostitutes on street corners. The waste flows. Unsafe after dark.

This does not mean that the city has no beautiful buildings. In between we find the most stunning and beautifully renovated palaces and cathedrals.

San Lorenzo Church in Genova is beautiful!

It is a city, you have to work with. Only when you reach deep into the city, you find its beauty, charm and nuances.

Ronja has had winter harbour in Marina Porto Alto for nearly six months and each time we visit Genoa, our respect for the city is increasing.

When one day we inadvertently wander into a suspect tunnel for cars, we happen upon a rickety elevator, take it up and suddenly find ourselves in a wonderful space with roof gardens and magnificent views of the port area of Genoa.

When we look for genuine Italian cuisine, we find lots of good options. Taverna Di Colombo is small, good and cheap. The host plays jazz and Leonard Cohen and serves a heavenly minestrone soup.

In Genoa we also meet interesting and nice people from the British yacht “Red Rooster” – Derek and Claire – who have chosen to go “all in” on sailing in the Mediterranean. They have sold their home in London, said goodbye to good jobs and have now spent two years full time aboard”Red Rooster”.

We met them earlier along the italian coast, and it was great to see them in Genoa. The first evening they invited us to “Red Rooster” with beer, chips and exchange of experiences among sailors. The next evening they came to Ronja and we continued the exchange of experiences on sailing and in particular the considerations of whether a new boat would fulfill the dream of “the perfect boat” or in fact small changes on your own boat could be as good as an expensive, new boat.

Interestingly Claire had been a headmaster in her civilian life in England, just like Kirsten had in Denmark. Both have very recently left school management positions. Kirsten in her early 60s. Claire in her final 30s.

Now it’s April. A new season is upon us. We clean the boat, we get a diver to scantily clean the screw, cooling water intake and bow thruster. “Mamma mia,” he says, after he has been below Ronja with brush and scraper. Six months in winter port leaves its traces.

New foresail and main sail. Yeahh!

We raise our brand new sails from North Sails and set out for new adventures.

Status: Year two of Ronjas circumnavigation – 2013 – was a fine vintage.

Status: Year two of Ronjas circumnavigation – 2013 – was a fine vintage.

Posted on Jul 29, 2013

48° 54′ 33.66” N 2° 11′ 30.9984” E

July 29. – 2013

We secure and clean Ronja and pack the car. Three hours later, we are in the heart of the Burgundy district, in the city of Beaune. A new kind of holiday begins. We rented two rooms at an IBIS hotel at almost six hundred crowns per room per night. And one additional room in the Alsatian town of Eguisheim for the nights of Wednesday and Thursday.

In Burgundy, we are together with Vivi and Peter, whom we know through Hanne and Jorgen. We visit wineries, participate in tastings, buying Burgundy wines, celebrating Hannes’s birthday and follow the habbit of the last several days to only seek out restaurants, that are mentioned in the Michelin Guide for France either as Bib gourmands or as having one or two forks. It pays off almost every time. Cheap but very good three-course menus. Typically, at a price between 30 and 37 euros for three courses. We live as earls and barons.

French food gets vindicated during this trip. After the downturn in the so-called modern French cuisine in the 1970s when French food was synonymous with super-small portions, a thin, raw carrot on a plate with a small piece of meat, we actually thought that French cuisine had died. But it most certainly lives, is doing well and is a pleasure not only for the French, who have never recognised that good food can be made elsewhere than just in France.

The good life we continue later in a cute little town of Eguisheim, where the wine is merely replaced with Alsatian wines.

Thursday evening just before nine we are at home in Odense with six boxes of wine and a lot of experiences. Emilie and Molly waiting with food for the weary travellers.

It has been a very varied holiday. Sailing at sea for many days. Waterway navigation for many days. City breaks in Rotterdam and Paris. Epicures in Burgundy and Alsace. The best weather in mans memory. Sunshine almost every day. Family-companionship being with Lasse, Tianling and Nellie and Jørgen and Hanne.

Year two of Ronjas circumnavigation of the globe – 2013 – was a fine vintage.