Saturday, May 31, 2008

Santa Margherita Ligure

Pretty pastel colored buildings from the Baroque Period and tropical palm trees waving along the main boulevard of Santa Margherita harbour.

From Deiva Marina, Blondine and I took the train to Santa Margherita Ligure. Our agenda for the day was to visit Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure. Since many travel reviews said that the best way to arrive in Portofino is by sea, and not really wanting to reinvent the (travel) wheel, we followed the advice and took the boat from Santa Margherita Ligure port to the jet set gulf of Portofino. I will save the Portofino post for the next entry.

Santa Margherita Ligure on the other hand (and which is our topic!) is a very pretty and charming sea side town. It was quite a surprise to us when we stepped out of this narrow street that we followed after getting out of the train station. An attractive well-manicured bayside park that also serves as a marina made our acquaintance. Beautiful palm trees weaved on the streets and Baroque inspired buildings line up the neat boulevard. We were like -- oh wow, nice!

Blondine and I in Santa Margherita harbour waiting for our boat ride to Portofino. The town is known to be an old-fashioned resort in the Italian Riviera and the tourists here (like Portofino) are from a different class of course. The weather was perfect too.

What I also love about the place are the cute little boutique shops dotting the esplanade selling a tempting array of gorgeous shoes and bags. We almost got dizzy just by looking at them. We want them all, lol! The shoes and bags were a good mix of locally (Italian) made brands and known signature brands. Although not as flashy as the signature boutiques in Portofino, here you can find a wider variety and its fun too, to hop from one shop to the other.

A few more fotos of pretty Santa Margherita Ligure. The town has this relaxing holiday feel, a nice combination of modern yet historical aura that suits best if you are someone looking to combine a pleasurable holiday and learning history and art.

This is the boat we took going to Portofino.

I bought in town a stylish hand-made Italian bag that matched the shoes I bought in Portofino. They would be perfect for the summer getup, even for the work place on Fridays. Blondine and I were so eager to wear the shoes we bought in Portofino that when the boat docked in Santa Margherita Ligure port, we right away opened our bags and wore them. A lot of the shop owners were giving us second looks, and I heard a couple of them discuss with each other whilst pointing to our newly bought shoes! The material must have been familiar to them but the design, perhaps not? Or they were probably wondering where we bought them?

A woman even came up to us in the harbour and asked if the shoes were comfortable to walk, and we said a loud YES!

This is in the Centrum of Santa Margherita Ligure - beautiful row of pastel coloured buildings of the Baroque Period, indeed these ancient architecture are the town’s treasure.

Well, it was a nice day to relax and shop for a change. After the tiring long hikes we did between rugged coastlines and ravines in the cliff villages of Cinque Terre, we needed something different, something less of a physical activity to boost and settle down our spirits. What better way to spend it shopping and sitting on a terrace sipping wine and enjoying the beautiful place and watching beautiful and not-so beautiful people =)

More fotos can be found here: Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy

In the early evening, on our way back to Deiva Marina, we encountered an eventful train ride.

We had some Martini in a little cafe in the Centrum after shopping.

Firstly, we were confronted by a nondescript type conductor who initially spoke English to us but when the discussion got thornier, he switched to pure Italian, which didn’t help us any bit. He insists the tickets we have were the wrong tickets, but I, the stubborn strong willed, insisted they were the right tickets, lol. Blondine was silent the whole time while I handled the argument however my exertions fell only on deaf ears. By this time the whole train car was listening to us, and some of the local passengers even jumped ship to help us, lol. They probably thought, -- oh, poor naïve foreign girls being harassed by this obstinate conductor.

And secondly, due to the high feelings spewed at the moment, we were not paying attention that the next stop was already Deiva Marina. Ergo, we missed our stop! We both laughed out loud at the blunder but at the same time cringe at the thought of the conductor coming back and charging us the ticket fee between Deiva Marina and Framura, the next stop where we plan to get out. Ugh! I would really scream foul and squeeze his huge Italian ears!

Framura train station where we got stuck for half an hour waiting for the train back to Deiva Marina.

Eventually we reached Framura, a train stop built literally out of nowhere. The train station was actually a small alcove cut out between 2 tunneled mountains sitting on a cliff facing the Ligurian Sea. We didn’t see any single living soul there and we reckon that the village must be at the back of the rock cliffs as there was none in sight.

The funny thing here was when we stepped out of the train. We heard frantic male voices calling us, and as we turned around, we saw half a dozen heads poke out of the train’s small windows – they all look like they were about to be beheaded if the window shutters had to come down, lol. The men shouted in chorus at Blondine and I, of course in Italian what else, and it took me some time to decipher what the chaos was all about. Then it dawned on me that the worried Italian men thought we were confused with our stop. So I shouted back at them with a reassuring tone that we missed our stop in Deiva Marina and we will be taking the next train back.

I should have taken a foto of their dark heads sticking out of the train’s window. It was one of those priceless moments.

Travel Period: May 2008
Destination: Santa Margherita Ligure (Genoa - Liguria), Italy

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