Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Texan in Italy - 17 Curious Days - Day 3 Part 2

Over the next several days I will be telling you about my recent challenging, weird and wonderful 17 days in Italy. However, in the peculiar world of blogging that means the first story is on the bottom! So, if you want to begin at the first, go to the bottom. This is Day 3 - Part 2.

Day 3 - September 5, 2007; Part 2

The day in Riccione is as beautiful as the night before was awful. There are branches of trees and other debris strewn around the roads as a result of the storm, but the sun is shining out of a clear blue sky and the sun warmed temperature is around 75 degrees. We have gathered at the pizza restaurant on a corner of the main avenue, midpoint between our apartment and the Hotel Fedora. A menu has been distributed to everyone. It does little good for any of us since it is all in Italian. Charlie and Jackie Allie are at the end of the large table that was placed together for our group. The Aussie, Bob Cozens is at the opposite end. BEG and I sit across from Bill and Stephanie Collins. We have a language barrier with the waiter and more importantly we lack any sort of rapport with him as well.

Over the course of the 17 days in Italy I will not see ice in a glass in a restaurant. Water is served in 1 liter bottles, the bottle placed on the table lightly chilled, yet not cold. You can choose from sparkling water or natural water. This will hold true as far as my travels take me, stretching from Venice to Florence, or as the Italians say, from Venezia to Firenze. The one and only time I had ice in a glass was at a McDonalds in Venezia, but only after I accepted it as an available option.

“If I had a bloody beer I’d drink it,” Cozens informs the group. That thought is replaced by his next thought, which is also expressed out loud to the group, “Wow, look at the knockers on that gal would ya,” as his head swivels to follow a fashion plate olive skinned Italian girl in a tight sweater walking by the open air seating; though I don’t think he noticed her complexion. None of the other guys say anything with wives present, but we do look immediately. At her complexion I mean.

The women in Italy are different from American women in many ways. They are thinner and generally speaking they dress as if they care about their appearance a great deal. It is also somewhat rare to see chubby Italian women. They do exist, but as I said they are rare. For the most part they are rather sleek. All ages.

Stephanie and Jackie decide that the lady with the cool knockers has really cute shoes. “Just what I was thinking” is what I said. Everyone stares at me. “I’m too sleepy and brain dead to be witty,” is what I was about to say to the stares, but it never got out because the pizza had arrived at the same time. For some reason I am expecting something special from an Italian pizza restaurant. I guess my level of expectation is produced from the Travel Channel. Remember where the too happy host sticks the pizza in her mouth and goes “ummmm, so special” as she mugs into the camera and adds “Italy is famous for its amazing pizza!”

This pizza in front of me is a vegetable pizza according to the menu. (The menu had pictures for the slow and sleepy) Have these people never trained at Pizza Hut or Pizza Inn? There are four vegetables on the pizza in front of me. There is one slice of tomato on one of the four quadrants. Not diced or chopped, mind you, just a singular slice of tomato sitting on thin cheese over a hard baked flat bread crust. On another quadrant is a slice of eggplant. It too is sitting there in solitary confinement on its designated quadrant. The third quadrant is decorated with 3 black olive slices. Just three thin slices though, no need to get carried away. The fourth glamorous quadrant is naked except for its thin coating of white cheese. Staring down at the pizza I am reminded of a Salvador Dali painting. I guess its because his paintings always seemed so sad to me. Remember the odd paintings with droopy ears supported by a crutch while a clock is melting off the wall in the background and such nonsense? This pizza is sad that way, with its three little vegetables scattered around, sort of droopy themselves. This is a poverty stricken pizza, though it will cost E15 to eat it.

After lunch I mosied over to the Hotel Fedora. Mosieing is an acquired art. My friend Bill is a master at mosieing. Its a distinctive manner of walking. Its also hard to spell. More about mosieing later. This is the day I met Christina, a front desk clerk at the Fedora. Christina spoke a wee bit of English; just enough to make her fun and very cute in a charming way. What was most important to me was she seemed to genuinely care about my situation. Later in the trip I will show you a photo of Christine kissing my cheek. I gave her all the info I had to create a delivery of the luggage to the Fedora. She determinedly picked up the telephone and called the Bologna Airport to give them the delivery information. They didn’t answer the phone in Bologna resulting in a shrug of her shoulders, a sweet smile and apology. Then her index finger jabbed the air with a new idea. Using my KLM Airlines papers she faxed the info to Bologna. The fact that the lost luggage department did not answer their phone was significant though I didn’t realize it at that moment. I thanked her and said goodbye. I went down the streets near the apartment looking for a razor to erase my 52 hours of stubble. I found one in a pharmacia which I would learn many many days later was a prudent move according to my sweet and loyal friend Kathi Bratcher. For those of you wondering about toothbrushes and such, BEG and I each had a minor toiletry kit in our carry-on packs. Our teeth had been brushed many times during the travels.

The day went on without sleep. BEG and I discussed that there was no need to buy a lot of clothes this day since the luggage would probably arrive in a day or two. Our friends affirmed this decision.

We went to dinner that night at around 6pm only to be turned away at the door of every restaurant we approached. Here’s the thing. They don’t open for dinner until 8 or 9pm in Italy, as if I wasn’t sleepy and tired enough without waiting for a late dinner. The opening round of the 100 meters was set for 10am the next morning. In order to make the walk to the bus, get to the stadium and properly prepare, a 6am wake-up would be required. When dinner ended at 11:30 pm we headed for the apartment and the only real sleep in our last 58 hours of existence. That sleep would last about 5.5 hours. Yes there are details as to why I was in a restaurant until 11:30 pm, but let it be enough understanding on your part to know that circumstance continued to wind its way around us in a fatefully menacing way despite my best intentions. I had choices to make. Race the next day on no food and adequate sleep, or try for both. I managed the food part only. Day 3 was over.

The next morning would bring the first experiences on the track at the 2007 World Championships!

Photo 1 - The Pizza Restaurant on the corner

Photo 2 - Bill and I visit the Fedora Hotel to deal with lost luggage


kathi said...

How was dinner? Better than the pizza?
Awwww, so you did get a razor, good move.
From stinker to sweet and loyal. You're a darlin', you are.
And I thought your comment about “Just what I was thinking” was funny, in a 'I'm a guy trying to cover my butt for having looked' sort of way. :)

Lynilu said...

Now I'm feeling tired *and* hungry with you. LOL at Kathi's last comment, 'cause I was thinking the same thing. Men aren't really as slick as you think you are. Even under the weight of tiredness you automatically CYA, trust me!

I'd like to see you mosey. Somehow I think Bill moseys better than you. Moseying requires absence of tautness in the muscles to enable them to undulate. I imagine you walking with the ever-present slight tension that seems to be the gait of many former (or present) enforcers of the law. Just saying.

Seven said...

I was gonna tell you about dinner but frankly I just got tired last night. It had been a long tedious 'earning a living' sort of day yesterday. Dinner that night was very average. The food in Italy I found was disappointing.

Silver Lovely,
So...THAT's the way you spell mosey. Thanks. Bill is a moseying champion, along with all the world records and world championships on his wall, he can mosey, I'm tellin ya! "Moseying requires absence of tautness in the muscles to enable them to undulate." What a perfect description!! Wish I'd said THAT.

kathi said...

Sorry about your long day. It's amazing how well you write when you're tired...impressive. But, that's no surprise.

I've heard that about the food in Italy before. My friend is an airline attendant and has remarked about the food there before. Sad, huh?