Sunday, July 26, 2009

Italian pizzas rule the world!

Italy was hot. I never realised how hot the crazy pasta munching place could get. The whole week I was there--except for one day--was in excess of 33 degrees C. But that aint all together bad...

So what did I think of the place?
I think I liked it. History smacks you in the face with all that you see; the food is wonderful (the pizza, damn and heck! Homer would drool for a week); the towns are chaotic and the streets madly narrow (too narrow for cars, in all seriousness, but do you think that stops them?); the wine flows like water, and the folks are direct and to the point, but forever saying prego (you're welcome).

See? That road just aint a road...

It's hard not speaking the language though. Makes ordering dinner quite a challenge and a real adventure. The number of times I sat there looking at the food, wondering what the hell I'm now supposed to eat... But you get that in foreign places.

I learned some Italian before I left home (hi, thank you, you're welcome, I'm sorry but I don't understand, I don't speak Italian, honestly I have no idea what you're talking about even if you talk slower), but everytime I tried explaining I don't understand, the strange rolling words would get tangled on my tongue, leaving me looking like a toad. My expression of complete ignorance said more than any attempted Italian ever could.

On the last night of the course, the class all went out to dinner, then to a pub hidden down one of those crazily small backroads of Urbino, the mad, labrynth walled city:

The bar was called 'The Bosom Bar' and nope, not one of 'those' places. It was just a pub, albeit one with brick alcoves and arched brick ceilings. And it was filled with people. The streets of Urbino were nearly empty but this pub was full. Obviously where everyone in town went to at night. It closed about 2am, when everyone spilled out into the tiny street, taking their drinks with them (it was then I understood why they were serving us in plastic cups). About half an hour after that, someone yelled "To the next bar!" and this motley collection of Italians and Germans, Begiums, Dutch, Columbians, Egyptians, Kiwis, Canadians, Poms, all friends and strangers alike, went as one big bunch of suddenly close people. It was mad. A drunken United Nations out on the town.

God knows how we managed to even talk to one another. So much beer and wine had flowed by then that we were all probably speaking our native tongues in perfect understanding!

I escaped at close to 3am, still having to shave, shower, and pack before my 7am taxi. Then began the homeward spiral; a taxi, a bus, two trains, another bus, a plane from Paris to Florence (and damnit if the Alps weren't covered by clouds), and one further train ride for good measure before I reached my destination in downtown Paris at around 11pm. Piece of cake eh? As my Belgium colleague was saying by the end of the course, Sweet As, Bro.

The Alps from the plane... ah, if only I'd taken my camera on the way over...

My hotel in Paris was 200m from Notre Dame, so that's where I arranged to meet Rosscoe, me ol' kiwi mate - only it turned out that the hotel was 200m from this Notre Dame:

Not this one:

Which was actually about a 10 minute taxi ride away...

Hmm... good start. But pretty much what was expected, to tell the truth :) We've been lost in NZ in the past.

Paris was a blast; that's one way cool city. Ross and I only had a day there, but from snails at midnight to gargoyles at noon, the place rocked. Oh, and the taxi ride around the Arc de Triomphe!! Fuck me. That is the most insane roundabout in the world! We'd spent the morning watching the traffic navigate the thing and worked out that traffic on the roundabout has to give way to traffic coming onto the roundabout!! Think about that for a while; it's just not going to work. The roundabout just gets busier and busier.

The taxi driver was great, although I'm sure his eyes flickered nervously when Ross asked him to take us round the Arc. But he did it, God bless him. And there were cars everywhere. Every-fucking-where. At all angles! Any space you see, you go for it, but if someone beats you, you slam on your brakes so you don't hit them. And the first chance you get to get off, oh boy do you take it!

Simple. If you're stark raving bonkers.

But now I'm home, and as cool as the trip was, and as great as it was to catch up with Ross, I'm glad to be home, although my jetlag is making me wake at odd times and fall asleep when I should really be awake. I'm supposed to be heading to Kuala Lumpur in two weeks time, then South Korea two weeks after that. And that's a problem, cos I really don't like long distance travel..... It's so nice of the airlines to give you a tour of First Class and then Business Class, before leading you into the cattle pens.


Anonymous said...

Yes, really.