23 March 2008

March European vacation part 3: ciao (warning: lengthy post)

14 March. In typical Richard-Anne travel fashion, by Day 2 we had finished seeing everything in Bellagio and the upper Lake region. And we did have the rental car. So we decided to go to Como — the city, not the body of water.

Having the kitchen in our apartment, we made a box of pasta – yes, freshly made pasta on every corner in Italy and we make the box kind – then hit the road.

Replay on-the-road tension of the other day, but this time the stress is caused by a) super narrow road; b) steep cliff down to the lake on my side; and c) MF tailgating guido (guida?) women drivers.

After an hour of this, we arrive in Como, park in an ultra-small spot in an underground lot, then walk to a park next to the Lake. We eat our pasta, watch a young couple glued to each other’s faces, and dare the guido pigeons to come near us.

Como is a big town, and we’re psyched at the prospect of shopping for Eye-talian fashions. To G ourselves up, we stop at a piazza café to inject the appropriate levels of caffeine and sugar. Sufficiently G’d, we head to the shops to see how little our dollar is worth. Instead, we discover they’re all closed.

You know, I think it’s lovely and socialistically responsible to have that 2-hour break in the workday. I’m sure that if you were total up the amount of time Americans chat with colleagues, surf the Web, make multiple trips to the coffee machine or water cooler or bathroom while at work, it would probably come to 2 hours a day. But it’s seemingly done in an underhanded, sneaky way, like we’re getting away with something. The Italians and Spanish are right out there in the open about it: “we’re closed, so there.”

However. Now that they’re all EU’d, it’s time they come to a consensus on which 2 hours they’re going to siesta. Seriously, in Bellagio, shit closed from 2-4. Here in Como, it was from 1-3. How the hell are we supposed to keep track of these silly whimsies of naptime?

I was seriously pissed off. There was one small department store that remained open, but it had like 5 women’s shirts, 2 skirts, a couple of handbags and maybe 10 pairs of shoes. All in black.

And so, we found another piazza café and had more coffee. But with the sparse parking situation back in Bellagio and it being a Friday, we couldn’t stay in Como too long. Sure enough, when we got back, the tourists were rolling in.

For our last supper in Italy we found a trattoria where the waitress looked like Samantha Bee:

and the host was a cute young man with a lip piercing. The service was phenomenal, the food excellent.

15 March. Time to go home. We flew separately, from different Milan airports. I flew to Heathrow, then on to Boston. Richard took a cheapee airline to Bournemouth and then a series of taxis, trains and a Bentley to the Isle of Wight to visit a friend.

My first flight was delayed, so there was a rush once I got to Heathrow and a scramble so that I could buy all the magazines, newspapers and chocolate I needed to take home. But then my Boston flight got delayed for almost 2 hours. More time to buy more magazines. I love the British wisdom in publishing: newsagents with long rows of hundreds of titles in hundreds of categories, and thick, heavy publications with loads of advertising and lots of glossy, well-taken photos. Only a few over here, like Vogue and Vanity Fair are able to do that.

We were finally ready to go and there was an “everybody all at once get on the plane” roll call. Seriously, no calling by seat allocation. I was near the back, in the middle f’ing seat. A tiny Irish woman was next to the window in my aisle. After everyone is seated and we’re waiting to push back from the gate, she says she needs to go to the bathroom. Great timing. In the aisle seat is a young Bulgarian man, who turned out to have the worst gas, coupled with loud snoring fits. Both shitheads thought they owned the arm rests, but they found out they were sadly mistaken as I plonked my fat arms down on top of them.

It kinda goes without saying that the chick in front of me put her seat all the way down. And the food was terrible: chicken casserole with overcooked brussel sprouts, rice pudding (who eats that stuff?), tuna flakes from a can on top of iceberg lettuce. I ate the roll and the piece of chocolate. Later came egg salad sandwiches. Really? On a plane?

I got into our apartment just after midnight and Kitten greeted me. All was well.

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