Arriving on Saturday night in Rapallo, Italy, May 12, 2008.  Our plan was to travel within Italy by train.

By Tom P Blake – Finding Love after 50

My partner Greta and I are celebrating ten years of being a couple with a 23-day trip to Italy. Last Friday, May 9, we flew from Los Angeles to Milan. With the euro hovering around $1.60, European travel is no longer inexpensive like it was in the old days. We needed to tighten our belt and using frequent flyer miles helped.

 

After 19 hours in transit, our saga with new challenges and adventures began when we landed at Milan's Malpensa Airport, in northern Italy. For our first week, we had secured a timeshare condo in Rapallo, an Italian Riviera city about an hour south of Genoa.

 

Since our plan is to travel within Italy by train, we had pre-purchased Eurail passes that allow us unlimited train travel on eight different days. We took an express bus from the airport to the Milan Central train station, the largest train station in Europe.

 

On the 90-minute train ride to Genoa, we shared our berth with a honeymoon couple from Australia They obviously hadn't read travel guru Rick Steves' book about packing light. They had two monster suitcases, each bag larger than our two roller bags combined. The new husband kept shaking his head and saying, "It's mostly her stuff."

 

In Genoa, we boarded a local train to Rapallo. The train passed through tunnels chiseled out of coastal rock, through six small towns perched above the water. Although we were exhausted and travel weary, it was a breathtaking beginning to our trip.

 

Although our condo was only a couple of miles up a steep and curvy road from the train station, getting there was an adventure. When we hailed a cab, we didn't see the name "Mario Andretti" painted on the taxi door.

 

Our driver helped us understand why Italians are such good race car drivers. He tail-gated a car a good share of the way up and tried to pass on a curve, but backed off when the car gunned it. This small stretch of our trip couldn't end quickly enough.

 

Although dog tired, it was too early to go to bed. Besides, we needed to lay-in some provisions. We caught a local bus back down the hill to town.

 

It was Saturday night in Rapallo, the downtown was buzzing with activity. Sidewalk cafes were full; people on motor scooters darted here and there. Teens were text messaging or on their cell phones. We shopped in five different stores for tomatoes, bananas, strawberries, Chianti (of course), fresh Italian baguette, cheese, proschuitto, olive oil, and freshly ground coffee.

 

We found a different cabbie and negotiated a safer cab ride back to our condo. We ate dinner on the patio overlooking the Mediterranean. The view is worth a million euros.        

 

We were on the Italian Riviera. Bread and olive oil were on the plate, wine was in the glasses. This mid-60s couple toasted to love, travel, happiness, and to being in the most romantic country in the world.

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