Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Just Flew In . . .

And boy are my mechanically enhanced, jet turbine-assisted metallic wings TIRED!

Well folks, it's been a very LONG yet quite fulfilling two weeks abroad.

Wow, where to begin?

To be honest, I have no idea. There's simply too much to tell. I'm sure I'll get around to it sometime soon over the course of the following week, but right now I'm simply too exhausted to be much fun in polite company. I think I'm going to climb into my bed and sleep until Monday.

Yeah, that's the ticket . . .

Those of you who have been keeping track of my hasty day-to-day updates via Facebook have some inkling of what my adventures in the three European countries I visited--Italy, Greece, and Turkey--have been like. But for those who are not on Facebook yet, I'll be providing a link eventually to all my trip pics and captions as per usual. There are a lot.

And perhaps only I will get enjoyment out of seeing them. Perhaps.

In the meantime, I'll offer my very quick impressions of what I've encountered in no particular order. Please keep in mind that these observations are based solely on the fact that I only got to spend, at most, the better part of a day in any one location, with the exception of Istanbul where we had two days to spare.

So, let's see:

Traveling long distances by plane actually gets easier, not harder, the more you do it. Flying to Rome was an 8 hr flight which honestly felt to me like only 5. I never had an international flight go so quickly! It was painless and refreshing, leaving me with no jet lag whatsoever when we touched down. Strange, that. Our return flight was 10 hours direct. But it, too, was over quickly. Since we only just made a similar flight to Paris this past March, I don't think it's a case of being eager new travelers.

Istanbul is a more exciting city than Rome (to me), which in turn is a far more thrilling cosmopolitan center than Athens. Honestly, if you spend more than one day in Greece's capital, you've probably spent too many. However, traveling just an hour or two outside of the city in any direction greatly improves the experience ten-fold.

Still, neither of these cities tops Paris. This trip has only made me appreciate more the uniqueness that is the City of Lights.

While the French seem haughty and not caring too much for all the American tourists flocking to their streets each summer . . . the Italians are the opposite. Dare I say I detected just a wee bit of United States envy there? It's so true! The general view in Italy seems to be that while they have the best food and football players in the world, the U.S. is better in everything else. This may just be a case of the "grass being greener . . ." and all that, though.

I have an uncanny gift for haggling, which I never knew I possessed until this trip. It's actually addicting! By the end of our second day in Turkey, I was even bargaining down the price of a single bar of Dove soap! I half suspect I'm going to walk into the supermarket in my neighborhood now and bargain the cashier girl on the price of eggs. It seems kind of dishonest *NOT* to haggle now, actually. Hmmm, am I turning into a true Turk? :)

Neapolitans claim that they have the best pizza in the world--not New York!--since they invented it. Neapolitans are wrong.

Greece may be the one European country where it is *NOT* chic to be skinny. In general, I found the Greek people to be totally comfortable with their bodies and completely in love with the joy of eating a good meal. Not such a bad philosophy to live one's life by, I must say.

All people in all the great cities of the world think that the driving in their neck of the woods is more dangerous than in New York. Like the Neapolitans and their pizza above. . . these people are, generally speaking, just wrong!

For being the "Eternal City," the streets of Rome are conspicuously quiet after sunset.

Nothing makes you hate sports more than on a cruise ship full of Spaniards the night their team wins the World Cup.

Watching the sun set over the Aegean sea on Santorini is perhaps the most romantic activity on all of Earth!

Parents who let their underage teenage daughters get drunk and wander the ship alone late at night should have their parenting cards revoked and/or possibly drawn out and shot.

And lastly . . . going off the beaten path to find a restaurant with the menu that does not provide an English translation under each item can pay HUGE dividends. Better yet, finding an establishment where the owner hand selects your entire menu for you can result in a meal you'll never forget. Oh yes.

That's all for now. My eyes have glazed over and shut three times already while writing this. I'm going to call it a night. Look for more detailed day reports--and PICS!--to follow eventually.

Ciao, grazie!

2 comments:

Botanist said...

Good to hear you're back, David. Sounds like you had a great trip.

Hmmm...going off the beaten path...I know what you mean. Some of our most delightful dining experiences have been in the corners of Europe where English tourists haven't made their mark, where the proprietors speak no English, and I've struggled by with halting German or French. That was true in Italy too. Me and the hotelier trying to find common ground in a language neither of us spoke well, but between us our German was better than either his English or my Italian :-)

Looking forward to hearing and seeing more.

David Batista said...

Yes, that's it exactly, Ian! You just have to be willing to put yourself in an unfamiliar spot, language wise, and great things can happen. :)

It's actually fun trying to find that common ground, isn't it?

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