When in Italy, dress your best

Buon Giorno! (bhon-jhor-noh)……”Good morning/Good day”…
or
Buona Sera (bhona-ser-ra)……”Good evening”….<i>in Italian</i>

If France is not our home, we would most likely settle down in Italy! well, forget about the bureaucracy and the crazy driving – there are just too many reasons why you can forgive the Italians for that and still insist on making Italy as your permanent address!

but first, you have to strive to learn the language so that you can at least wrangle “in a melodic tone” with other crazy drivers when they honk you on the road!

that’s the beauty of road-bullying in Europe. after a moment of cursing and bickering accompanied by “sparring” of naughty hand gestures with another driver who just smashed your tail lights, you are still assured of getting back home alive and singing “Mamma Mia”! ………….unlike in Manila or in some parts of America where one will either hit you with a steel pipe or shoot you with a pistol in broad daylight!
Oh no, altercation in Europe is sometimes fun… you could still end up saying “<b>Arrivederci, ciao</b>! ” (good-bye, see you) to each other as some friendships usually start from fights!

In order to flow well with the Italian crowd, you have to dress with a good fashion-sense… failing that, it might be too late and you will end up hiding yourself in embarrassment.

In one of our usual cross-country driving, we stopped in Cuneo, near Turin, northwest of Italy, to stay the night. Cuneo is a reasonably-sized chic town but the center of action, as always in European cities, are the squares and shopping alleys in the center of town. As it was late in the afternoon, still light, we —– <i>in our travelling clothes, you know, the type where it is comfortable enough to stretch and put your two legs on the seat if you get bored sitting in one position for hours </i>—- decided to do a bit of promenading, check the old town and start scouting for a place to eat. It was a cool autumn day and everybody was wearing fashionable autumn clothes, stylish coats, leather boots, expensive-looking handbags…

While i was wearing a sweater so ugly that it’s not even fit for gardening…..everybody was dressed like there’s a street fashion show going on! …. I never felt so ashamed in my whole life.. begged the hubby to go back to the car via the backstreets so we can put on our decent long coats, at least!
aaahhh, that was better, now we could walk with heads high up in the crowd!

Lesson of the story: when in Italy (and France), dress your best!

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Italian men are always smartly dressed! Italian women.. even if they are covered all over, are always looking very feminine!

Speeding

Did you know… ?

– that if you are holding a foreign driver’s license, you can easily convert it into a French “permis de conduire” (driver’s permit) without need of any tests!  (I don’t know about other European countries..)-

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– the British are the most disciplined drivers in the world. But inspite of that, speed cameras are installed every few hundred meters on national roads.
On BBC news the other night, because owners of cars caught on speed cameras can circumvent the loss of points by claiming that they were not the ones driving when the cars were camera-flashed, and that it could be somebody else, a new technology is now in the can so that the same speed cameras can also take the faces of the speeding drivers!

..the French, while they look like the true gentleman, as soon as they get into their cars, they instantly turn into their beastly characters! They equate speedy driving as being macho! they hate slow drivers so they show their displeasure by blinding you with their bright beams and overtaking you at surprising speed! Even if a pedestrian is about to cross a zebra, French drivers will never stop! You cross at your own risk. Nine out of ten cars in France have beeps and bumps on their cars.

.. the Italians, as i said, are suicidal drivers! they drive as if they are drunk, zigzagging on straight expressways, jumping red lights, driving over white lines, overtaking on double white lines, overtaking on dark 2-way tunnels, double parking on national roads, parking by squeezing their small cars on tiny spaces notwithstanding the bumps they create on other cars. Traffic signs to them is interpreted as….”excuse me, mr driver, maybe it’s a better idea not to turn to the right” on a no-turn-right road sign! Like the Filipinos, they treat traffic signs merely as ridiculous suggestions.

…the Belgians…wow! after being ignored by French drivers on a zebra-crossing, you would instantly thank the Belgians as being road angels! they stop everytime, letting you cross… really the true gentlemen on the road, but beware! they don’t know how to drive!!! they drive as if they are blind.. bumping on nearly everyone when they park their cars, then look right and left if someone has seen them, then they run away! the only few times our car had been bumped, it all happened in Belgium!

German Technology

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 They are called Recumbent bikes. You pedal the bike while sitting in an almost supine position. Notice the pedal on the left and the backrest on the right. Though it was not invented in Germany, i only see them plying in German soil.

As soon as you get to the German autobahn (expressway), your attention will be directed towards German cars. They are impressively sleek and shiny as if they just freshly came out of the showroom!Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi, VW….have gained popularity in the world because of their durability. And if you are driving an Asian “rice boiler”, better keep your distance and behave, otherwise, you will most likely get flattened like a tin can!A household German technology has me and hubby laughing everytime we are reminded of it !

A flat we stayed in Paris, owned by a German, had a “made in Germany” toilet seat installed.

After several experimentations, we finally figured out that:
– the loo seat automatically heats up as soon as you sit on it
– the loo automatically sprays a jet of water as soon as it senses that you are finished with your ‘task’
– the loo automatically flushes as soon as you stand up

boy, the Germans are continuously inventing gadgets to make life easier! 

Of course, a discussion about Germany is not complete without mentioning the 3-letter word….s_x

don’t feel embarassed if, while walking in German cities, you are bombarded by posters or ads of sex shops, sex shows or newspaper shops selling sex magazines. there are even dedicated tv channels advertising sex chats or services. this is widely accepted in Germany. after all, they were the ones who came out with the idea of nudist camps!


Munich Photos

Did you know…..?
That the worst tragedy in modern Olympics history took place in Munich in 1972..(
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/mm-munich.html)

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The Marienplatz or Mary’s Square is the heart of Munich.
The green onion-shaped twin domes in the background
is the 15th century cathedral, Frauenkirche

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one of the kiosks in the Christmas market, December 2005



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a christmas tree street shop

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Hofbrauhaus

If you miss the Oktoberfest, the same atmosphere can be had in this oldest beer hall. German men wearing lederhosen, a band providing classical Bavarian music, singing and food!

Oktoberfest

The first oktoberfest was held more than 200 years ago when then Prince Ludwig celebrated his marriage with Princess Therese – hence the name of the place where the festival is held – Theresewien. Although it is called Oktoberfest, it starts by mid-September (to catch the last remaining good weather) and lasts till the few days of October.

We were lucky to have been at the right place at the right time! We had no idea that such an event was about to take place. That day, while sightseeing in the city, we noticed a few people walking by in their Bavarian costumes. Then they started coming in droves, going to the same direction. We were so thrilled seeing Germans in their national costumes so we followed them. We came into a big place – a big field – with giant tents and carnivals and shops selling Bavarian hats (that light up everytime you move)… Bavarian souvenirs …and other shops selling chocolate-dipped fruits and giant biscuits. It’s fantastic! it’s like we suddenly found ourselves in fantasyland!

Most people (as was our case on the next day) got their entrance tickets from their companies who have pre-purchased them and given them free to their employees or business clients. But getting into one of those tents is not easy, especially in the afternoon, when long queues build up. It’s not only the locals who patronize Oktoberfest, the tourists as well, as this is considered the annual ‘biggest party in the world’! it’s a pilgrimage where every beer-drinking Tom and Harry should go before they leave this earth!