The worst and best thing about traveling is the way it makes me grow. For the trip to Italy I am taking with the girls, I’ve had to figure out multiple new systems, such as trains, buses, and in Venice, water transportation, where getting to the city from the airport is different from the systems used in the city.
Thank God that my apartment landlady sent me instructions for getting to the apartment with only two small canal bridges on the way. And thank my prior traveling experience for the good sense to insist we only take one small carry-on and one backpack each.
I could get some tickets on-line, even see what I am doing in English (sometimes), and then convert them here to an actual ticket. Most, but not all, needed pre-validating with this little machine hiding in plain sight.
Then there’s trying to figure out what I’m buying. Fresh produce and meat/fish are not a problem; I can see it. But even there I get into trouble. A grocer yelled at me because I wasn’t wearing a plastic glove to fondle the veggies. I also had to weigh and print my own price sticker and then got yelled at again because I put it directly on my carrot instead of putting the carrot in a bag and putting the sticker on the bag. I did better the next time, though the sticker got stuck to my little plastic glove.
But that was no problem at all compared to buying packaged goods like milk that is labeled in Italian. Even that could have been easy if the boxes had said 4%, 2%, 1% and 0%. Growth to the rescue: I figured it out by checking the calories (actually kjoules) on the side of the box. Just pick the highest one for my coffee and the lowest one to drink. Did I mention that the boxes were unrefrigerated so they weren’t where I expected to find them? Shopping for a couple of items can take 40 minutes. But then I feel so triumphant and happy that I figured it out.
Of course the washing machine is a different animal altogether. There are multiple lessons here, not the least of which is anti-Alzheimer’s therapy . . .
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Other essays on the Trip to Italy:
Clinging to the best of the past – the Cinque Terre
Falling Asleep with Galileo – Pisa
What is art anyway? Musing from Florence
The passionate Italian lives in Siena
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You should have seen me in France when the washer machine and the dryer were the same animal. Also, heaven forbid, I forgot to bring my own bag to the grocery store. (this was years ago). It caused so much confusion and commentary I wanted to crawl into a hole. But, definitely the only budget way to make it in Europe.
And yet it seems those are the moments we remember best, though perhaps not fondly. Cheers to independent travel, goof-ups and all. BTW are you back from China?
Whoops !! Some of the subtleties I forgot to mention :). Love to watch you “stretch”. Wish I was there.
And did you notice that I figured out how to post a blog from my phone? WOO-HOO that’s a big one!
Congrats on that!!! Yep, I’m back and stories to tell…
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