Worst Family Vacation Ever – So It Seemed
Ever had a family vacation that sucked? In general, I have heard that vacations with kids are not really vacations because there is so much preparation involved and high-maintenace kids to take care of during the trip that you come home feeling even more tired and stressed. Not to mention all the laundry and cleaning needed post-vacation.
In my experience, the preparation is the most stressful part because I am always worried that I am forgetting something.
However, once we are on our way to our destination I’m pretty relaxed and I can enjoy myself. At least that is how it went when he had our family vacations in Maremma, Vienna, Singapore and the Philippines.
After all that travelling experience you would think that a simple 2 hour car ride to the Ligurian seaside would be a breeze. Turned out to be a Nightmare.
The truth is that our vacation was already headed in a shady direction even before it began:
I had a sore throat that was getting worse. My hectic schedule didn’t allow me to prepare ahead of time for the trip. I was tired. We found that our last minute accomdations had zero amenities, not even bed sheets. Being the first long weekend of the summer, everyone was heading to the seaside and therefore, we were expecting a lot of traffic.
I went to bed at 1am the night before and woke up three times before 7am to breastfeed. We were supposed to leave before 8am but ended up on the road at 10am instead.
We ran into traffic. Everywhere. 8 accidents. We broke out into a fight. The baby started crying because he was hungry so I strained my neck trying to feed him only to have him throw it up in a moving car. As I cleaned it up, another fight.
But, then we arrived. I forced a smile as not to ruin the good mood everyone was in but after 5 minutes of kind company and gracious hosts, I didn’t have to force anything. The trip from hell was in the past. Now, we could focus on enjoying Varazze.
24 Hours in Varazze
We had about 24 hours in Varazze, Liguria. The first day we had marinated sardines, tomato salad, barbecued meats, fried sardines, bruschetta and several bottles of excellent wine. All the food was homemade and enjoyed in the hills above the sea. In the evening, we made our way down to the town for some drinks and seafood pasta at midnight.
The next day we went to see the markets, get some breakfast and walk around. At noon, we ran into a line up that snaked into a tiny entrance of a fish shop. I saw the sign, “Fritto Cartoccio” – this is fried seafood, usually consisting of sardines, calamari, shrimp and prawns served in a paper cone. As soon as I saw it, I lined up with the rest of the eager people. Across from the fish shop, my husband went to grab us a glass of white wine to enjoy our freshly fried seafood.
Afterwards, we headed to the beach. Our friends went to go pick up some famous Ligurian focaccia to devour on the beach. We washed down the focacce with ice cold Moretti beer. Then, it was off to dip our feet into the water but not after making sure we were fully digested as any responsible Italian would do.
It was a relaxing afternoon, even with a baby. In the evening, we picked up some fresh fish, and seafood and we went back to our hosts’ home in the hills to cook up some seafood pasta, fry some more fresh sardines and watch the Champions League final.
The journey back home that evening was calm. The baby slept. We were happy. Another memorable family vacation.
What To Do in Varazze
When tourists think of Liguria, they think of Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is definitely worth seeing but Liguria also has many other beautiful sites and beaches to offer. Varazze isn’t THE top destination for beaches, but it is the closest one to Milan. The town is very picturesque and family-friendly. So, if you are just passing by or escaping the heat for a day, here a few things you can do in 24 hours while in Varazze:
- Go to Pescheria Friggitoria da Juri and eat their Fritto Misto or Cono misto or Fritto Cartoccio – they all mean the same thing: mouth-watering fried seafood. A cone of sardines, calamari and shrimp costs Euro 5,00. A cone of just shrimp and calamari costs Euro 7,00. Grab a glass of wine across the lane which is literally two steps from the fish store. Make sure to grab a table so you can place the paper cone in the holes burrowed in the table. They fry fresh at noon and at happy hour.
- Eat Focaccia – You. must. eat. focaccia. while you are in Liguria. My personal favourite is focaccia with caramelized onions. There is also focaccia with pesto, tomatoes, pizza-style and the famous, focaccia di Recco. Focaccia di Recco has two sheets of pastry with fresh cheese inbetween the layers.
- Eat Panissa – These are simple and delicious pieces of chick pea dough that are fried. Sometimes they are cut into round pieces and eaten between two pieces of bread.
- Walk or bike along the seafront Lungomare Europa towards the town of Celle. On the way, you will find what the locals call, the Villa Araba complete with its secret cove and private garden above the water.
- Hang out at the beach – There are public beaches and private beaches. If you are travelling with the kids, it’s easiest to grab a sunbed and chair with an umbrella for the morning and afternoon. They also have hot showers, changing rooms, toilets and bars so you can grab something to eat and drink. It makes for a very comfortable stay at the beach. We hung out at Bagni Nautilus.
- Visit Collegiata di Sant’Ambrogio Church – A Gothic-Romanesque Church in the historical center of Varazze.