Saturday, July 16, 2016

Random thoughts

I had some correct guesses offline, so I figure the mystery tour can come to an end.  The photos from the past few weeks were from a recent trip to Oslo. I really enjoyed and would recommend it - particularly if you get the chance to take a few days outside the city to see some of the beautiful landscapes and coastline.

Since returning from that trip I had a busy few weeks at work and now I'm back on leave! (My leave planning was a mess this year - I basically took two days total for my first 7-8 months at post, then three weeks in the past month - but it has been nice to have so much time off recently). Last weekend I headed up to the Alps in Italy's smallest region, Valle d'Aosta, way up by the French border. More on that trip later, but in the interest of randomness here are some Rome-based adventures first.

Bagels! It only took me four hours to find this little puppy. Not because bagels aren't available in Rome. In fact it turms out there are at least a handful of bagel sellers scattered around town. No, it took four hours due to Italy's infuriating customer service policies. I would walk into a bagel seller's store, SEE the actual bagels, fresh, ready to go etc, and ask to buy a bag, only to be told that "We only sell them as sandwiches." Since I had other plans for the bagels I couldn't buy them with toppings already spread all over.  I asked for toppings on the side as a compromise - same price mind you, even less work, they said no. (Followed by, "it's not bread you know".) Sigh. This, Italian food service professionals is what we call a failure of imagination. This isn't a one off experience though.  In Italy they sell stuff the way they always sell it and if there's another way to make money they don't even want to discuss it. (Not even during a recession, with paying customers standing in their doorways apparently.) it happens a lot with lunch vs dinner menus and coffee selections too.  There might be a few exceptions to this rule, but they are definitely few and far between.  

It's not a big deal and usually inspires nothing more than an eye roll on my part, but don't be surprised when traveling to Italy if the same arbitrary rules get you too. ... And bring your own bagels. 

I love my neighborhood. I came back from Oslo to flowering trees everywhere. They lasted for several weeks and absolutely made my day each time I saw them.  And this vintage car is a big favorite too.

I can't believe I'm just posting this because these pictures are OLD, but I stopped by the Pincio (part of Rome's Borghese Park, and ran across this adorable puppet theater. They sell old-school Italian sodas and have shows for kids all summer.  I don't really like puppets but plan to check it out at least once regardless.

Ok, I admit the puppets themselves are pretty creepy.

In addition to the Great Bagel Tour I swung by the non-Catholic Cemetary of Rome the other day since I was in the neighborhood.  It's famous as the resting place for Goethe, Keats, Shelley and basically all the expatriates who have called Italy home down through the years.  It's a quick detour, I think a half hour was plenty, but nice and full of interesting history.

Keats' grave - hard to remember he was so young when he died.  You can also visit the Shelley-Keats house/museum in the centro by the Spanish Steps.

The cemetary abuts the old city walls which incorporate this even older pyramid built to commemorate Caias...something. (I love history, I swear.) You can reach all this from the Pyramide metro stop in case you're interested.

Ciao for now!

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