4/26/01 Adventures in Globetrotting

OK, it has been a while since many of you heard from me! I am indeed alive, battling the traveler's crud which everyone has, and just caught sunset in Firenze, one of my long time dreams.

I went from Patras Greece to Bari Italy around the last update. It was a long ride, but gave me some time to catch up on my journal. But of course I am living much faster than I am writing.

I met up with a crew of 5 American girls as I left the boat. Troopers, for the most part, so I suprised even myself in that I traveled with them for the next several days. They were headed to Sorrento, and I had no concrete plans, so I joined them. That night we picked up 2 Aussies who slept on our floor and in the bathtub in a 4-star hotel which was the only room available on Good Friday.

As a pack of 8 we went to Rome, and all but the Aussies had to go after one day. I spent the next few days with the Aussies. A guy and a girl, both 24, who just seem to *get it*. They were fascinated with The Fun Lab and all my other antics, and distilled in me, in return, a wealth of knowledge in speaking Australian. It'll all be best in person, so I'll leave it at that.

I then went off on my own to my little hill town of Civita. What was supposed to be one town turned into 3 as I spent time in Orvieta, Civita, and Siena. My last night in Siena, I asked 3 new Aussies how to get to the Hostel. They walked there with me, and the next day I found myself in the back seat of their brand new Peugeot scouring the Tuscany hillsides for wineries.

We drove into Firenze, where we spent the past 2 days, and they left this afternoon. The next movement will be to Venice and then to Cinque Terre.

So here's my take on things lately:

  • Success!
    I am pleased to report that after several days in covert operations I was able to catch a photo of the dangerous, sharp-tongued, elusive MULLETALIANO! Taken out of his milieu, you would think he your standard mulleted-Seahawks fan, but no. He drives a Lexus and has a hot girlfriend. You'll see.

  • You Don't Have to be Italian But it Helps
    Fashion. I came here thinking I might pick up some clothes so that I can fit in with the locals. I haven't. Why? How can I explain my take on this? Well, it's like this: Brian asked me to find him a nice gay Italian out of the throngs of gorgeous men here. The clincher here is that I have no idea how to spot a gay Italian man. Not to say that all Italian men are gay, but they all LOOK gay. Why? Because they are so fashionable. They are so fashionable and full of flair that anywhere in the states you'd peg every one of them as gay. So Brian, I am sorry, but mission failed up till now.
    Well, except for the fellow in the men's room at the train station. But once again, this is a tale to be told in person rather than email. So the kids these days are wearing tight jeans, denim jackets with the collars up, these awful new-school aviator shades, and "light blue jumpers" (Australian for sweater). The women wear the same glasses, tight jeans and skin-tone shoes. They also love these sleeping-bag/Michelin Man coats that you might see gangster hooches wear in the states. Ain't much more flattering on an Italian woman, in my opinion.
    I can't get into it. It is just this nightmare late 70s early 80s thing that just doesn't jive well with me. Dressing like that in jest works, but not when everyone is doing it.

  • Italian Lessons
    So I learned some Greek from schoolkids via my skateboard, and now I've learned some Italian from high schoolers with the same methods. My favorite moments were when all the kids circled around me and an Italian girl, and she says loudly "Do you want to f**k with me?!" I told her that based on her grasp of English, I couldn't tell if she was looking for the physical act of intercourse or seeking a fight, and that I didn't think her professor would appreciate either. I think I did the right thing.
    About the same time, a boy ran up, and about 3 inches from my nose, declared "I am not a faggot!" Fine. But all his buddies began to claim otherwise. So 'frauche' appears to be Italian for homosexual.

  • Jaffles & Vegemite
    The 2 aussies with the car introduced me to the magic Australian form of home made fast food called Jaffles. I am so sold that I will be bringing Jaffles to the States and showing my roommates the light.
    So, you've probably heard that Australians talk funny and love Vegemite. True on both counts. In fact, they adhere to "Have Vegemite, will travel." So they brought their own.
    Vegemite, unlike a Jaffle, is magically disgusting. I was so excited to try the stuff that I was sure it would taste great, if only psychologically. I used the tiny amount recommended to non-Aussies, and I'm here to tell you, it tastes like salty hell. George likes that kind of thing, but Kevin, let's leave it at the Vegemite theme song and call it a day.

    Who told Madonna that she could botch American Pie? And whose bright idea is it to taint Italy with this garbage?


  • Toilets and Other Silly Western Innovations
    I know that toilets are just another part of the multicultural experience. I have done my part to adjust to odd potties, but I still think about them a lot. I've seen the gamut: real thrones with seats, holes in the floor with treads for the feet, bidets for your own creative uses, and hundreds of basins with no seats. Many of these basins even have holes where seats screw on.
    At one hotel I lifted the generously-supplied seat and it fell off. Have all seats fallen off and never been replaced? Do Europeans condition their quadriceps for skiing by the hover required at these basins, or do they not mind sitting on damp basins? Or, are we all supposed to bring our own seats? Stick it in the holes, and take it with us when we leave? I've never seen travel seats at a travel store, and I can't imagine that European women can fit their keys in their pockets, let alone toilet seats.
    All this and you have to pay to use a public toilet.
    Shower Curtains. If every time you took a shower, the floor turned into a lake, would you be sufficiently motivated to invent something to contain the water? I'd like to think I would.

  • Art
    Oh yeah, there is a lot of art in Italy. It is great to see the famous works, as well as some of the other lesser-knowns. In general, I find it amazing that that for all their skill and creativity, the Renaissance artists rarely thought of anything to sculpt or paint that didn't have to do with God. Leave that to the Impressionists, I guess. Instead, effort went to showing other cites who likes Him better by making bigger stuff. Looking forward to the Dali museum and the Van Gogh museum, when I get further into the trip.

    Ah, well, the cafe is about to close and I am precariously close to being trapped in the city after the buses stop. So I'll end here. I'd love to hear how everyone is doing!