Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ci sono pescecani?

Hotel in Florence has free wireless, too. I'm starting to really love my life.

Before I start talking about Italy, let me put up some of the Paris pictures now that I think the internet will be going a little faster.

This is the door to the bell tower on Notre Dame. Last time we went, I think we skipped it, so I didn't know we could actually go in and see a bell. So I was very excited to learn that.

A dusty old bell. I was ecstatic.

We went to a memorial for the French Jews who died in Nazi concentration camps. This was one of many quotes on the walls. It means, "I dreamed so strongly about you - I walked so much, talked so much, loved your shadow so much, that there is nothing left of you. The only thing left is the shadow between shadows, the one that will come back to mind."

Can you please admire this shot of the Eiffel Tower? Later I saw a postcard with the same angle. Whatever.

The view if you stand right under the Eiffel Tower and look up. In case you ever wondered.

The Opera Garnier. Paris Opera House. I don't really know what it's called, but I know that you can't get very far in without paying and the Phantom of the Opera didn't abduct me. Apparently Erik doesn't love me as much as I love him.

Arc de Triomphe. Every time I spell that, I feel like something is wrong, and it makes me uneasy. Well, in English, it's the Arch of Triumph.

The glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre. Slash, the busiest entrance to said museum.

Blurry Cheryl in the really cool Medieval Louvre thing we found under the building. I'll add a few more pictures of it.

Venus de Milo.

Cupid and Psyche.

So, you know Rick Steves? Bespectacled travel writer with terrible music in his TV show? Care to hear the sexual innuendo he included in his guidebook for France? About the Eiffel Tower, he writes: "However impressive it may be by day, it's an awesome thing to see at twilight, when the tower becomes engorged with light and virile Paris lies back and lets night be on top." I was shocked when I read that. I had to reread it to make sure it wasn't just my dirty mind distorting things. Anyway, I guess you can say that about the Eiffel Tower, since it is the king of phallic symbols.

The little door that seems like you wouldn't even see it if you passed it on the street was the entrance to our second Paris hotel. We didn't see it when we passed it on the street.

Okay, now for Italy. We woke up at 4am, took a taxi at 4:45am, took a 5:30am shuttle to the airport for our 8:30am flight to Milan, took a bus from the Milan airport to the central train station, and took a 12pm train to Florence, arriving a little before 3pm. Long day.

Found our hotel (not too difficult to find, because I've stayed at the same one before), and pretty much relaxed the rest of the day. Went out to find food, and ended up eating at the exact same restaurant where I ate my last dinner in Italy three years ago (or however long ago that was). Really cool piazza with lots of statues. There was a group of people with candles who kept shouting because they were protesting something. Maybe if I spoke Italian, I would know what.

Speaking about speaking Italian ("speaking about speaking??"), I had my first extended Italian conversation today with a guy who spoke no English and really wanted to ask me out. It was actually probably one of the highlights of the day. Kind of a funny story too, so here it goes.

Okay, so this is the third time a random guy off the street has tried to ask me out. I think I mentioned the first one in an earlier post. Random British guy on the Tower Bridge who accepted the "Oh, I have a boyfriend" routine. Which was not true. The second one was a random British guy riding a bike around Piccadilly Circus, who was easier to get rid of. He took the "Oh, sorry but I have other plans tonight." Which was true.

At least the first two spoke English. I was actually really surprised that he didn't know any, because most of the people I've talked with in Italy speak English well. This guy was also on a bike (note to BISPers: I would be asked out be a guy on a bike!/note to non-BISPers: Basically, I was the pedestrian in a pedestrian-bike-near-collision and now I have a strange phobia about bikes and I tense up when I hear them coming. But I'm getting better). Anyway, I'm getting to the story, I promise.

So, we had just sat down on a bench in a park, and this was our view. I took this picture and a few others when a guy on a bike rides straight at us and asks what time it was (in Italian, and by signalling to his wrist). So I showed him my watch. He asked if we spoke Italian (he asked in Italian, and I'm going to stop adding that detail. Just remember that every time he spoke, it was in Italian, so be proud of my amazing skills at interpreting what he said because I sure don't speak Italian). So I laughed and said (I had my handy dandy phrasebook with me), "No, io non parlo italiano."

He asked how long we were staying in Italy, so I said one more week, here in Florence (Firenze in Italian, which is a much better name) and in Rome. He said something that included "beautiful," so I was confused and was like, "Io?" Turns out he was asking if I thought Italy was beautiful. So I said yeah. Then he said I was beautiful, too. Grazie...

After that, he was like, "So, stasera (this evening), will you go dancing with me? At a discotheque?" And I was like, so that's where this is going...time for the fake boyfriend routine. Turns out the phrasebook was really unhelpful for turning down dates. I couldn't think of the word for boy in Italian, so I was like, "Umm, in America, ho hombre, umm, homme..." and he looked confused. I was like, "Boyfriend?" Nope. "Okay, in America, ho amico que mi amor. Molto molto amor."

Well, Italian guys don't fall for the fake boyfriend routine. Landi (I think that was his name) was like, "Well, you have a boyfriend in America, but in Italy, you are free." So I was like, "No, in America ho regazzo [I finally found the word for "sweetheart" - stupid phrasebook was really not helpful] and in Italia, ho regazzo!" But he didn't take that.

"Stasera...discotheque?" "No, io non vorrei!" "Perchè?" "Mio regazzo! Molto molto amor!" "In Italia, no regazzo."

Multiply that by like 10.

Eventually, I got really bored with that cycle, so I asked, "Ci sono pescecani?" In other words, "Are there sharks?" So Landi reassured me that there were no sharks at the discotheque but there were in the ocean. Such a helpful guy.

Then he tried to ask what hotel I was staying at. I said, "Non importa" and he feigned being crushed. Or maybe I really crushed his spirit. I can be coldhearted like that.

Eventually, I was like, This is never going to end, so I smiled and said, "È stato un piacere conoscerti. Adesso devo andarmene a casa. (Nice to have met you. I must go home now)." So we said ciao and Cheryl and I got out of there. I looked at my watch and 23 minutes had passed since he asked what time it was. We couldn't stop laughing.

Anyway, third random guy to ask me out. Second time that Cheryl had to sit/stand there and watch. Probably pretty entertaining for her, though.

Quote of the day: "Oh, there's a golden cow. Let's worship it." - Me (Cheryl wasn't too keen on the idea).

Funny random and short story: We were sitting on these steps around the square with the golden cow when a random old lady started singing opera in Italian. Not terribly well, either. Nessun Dorma very painfully off-key.

More chess sets in one spot than I've ever seen in my life. I asked the guy in the store if I could take a picture, and he was like, "Of me or the chess?"

Otter swimming in the Arno River. Who knew there were Italian otters? I'm really glad I looked over the bridge right then.

Anyway, that's all I got. Probably the longest post I've ever written. (Taylor: "Probably.")


At 11/13/2005 1:47 PM, Anonymous Leah said...

Yay for sharks! They are useful in so many situations. I need to remember your strategy if I ever need to get out of an awkward situation. :)

At 11/13/2005 4:08 PM, Anonymous Bexy said...

Caroline! It's Wgrage!

At 11/15/2005 12:33 PM, Blogger gina said...

You have to promise to post more about Italy. My heart's desire is to visit Firenze and my grandfather's home in Monteleone Sabina outside Roma some day. I'm shooting for 2008. I can't wait to read more and see more photos from Italia!



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