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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Bon Cumpleannu a Cheli du ’92

02/09/2016

Flashback Friday

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

At 6 o’clock this morning, after a night punctuated by the bat thumping round her box like a stroppy adolescent, the dog padding incessantly back and forth from the sofa to his water bowl and odd snatches of half-sleep where I dreamt that my pillow was covered in spiders, my room was full of people and from which I eerily woke myself laughing, I just gave in and got up.

And this is the bewildering sight that met my eyes…

Whoopee! I’m Always Up for a Bit of Anarchy

But What Can It Possibly Mean?

The Thot Plickens…

The Mayor! (apparently I don’t warrant a mention even though it’s my street too, sob)

The intrigue was exacerbated by the fact that all this unexpected graffiti was in dialect, rendering most of it incomprehensible to me.

So, unable to…

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Doing the Piazza Rock

31/08/2016

Weary Wanderings for Wednesdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

The village festa season seems to be suffering from a few fits and starts this year, if reports of last year’s back to back parties in the piazza are to be believed.

A few weeks ago it kicked off with a night of somewhat eclectic musical tastes from the live band. Old style waltzes and paso dobles, so beloved of gentlefolk ‘d’un certain âge’ in villages the length and breadth of France, and apparently also Italy, joined forces with 80’s rock anthems and 60’s ballads, with the odd Latin American ditty thrown in for added piquancy.

Excessive amounts of beer and constant urging from my Argentine neighbour had me up on the dance floor for much of the night, but even my efforts could not compare with the star of the evening. He must have been ninety if…

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On Second Thoughts, I’ll Take The Treno

12/08/2016

And it’s Flashback Friday once again!

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Some very helpful instructions from the boss, designed to help a nervous Canadian colleague make the transition to Italian driving.

***

1. Be constantly alert, you cannot relax your guard for an instant.

2. Being a considerate driver in Italy is highly dangerous, Italian road users are not used to it and may react in a myriad of unexpected ways.

3. Italian drivers are always right. In an event of an accident call the Polizia Locale to decide who is a fault. If necessary, they will then call an ambulance.

4. Be prepared for the fact that Italian drivers park anywhere, even in the middle of the road. You, however, must only park in the designated parking areas. Check up and down the street for small complicated signs explaining why you shouldn’t park there before you park.

5…

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An Eggz-Pat Rant

11/08/2016

Tired Old Tales for Thursdays
(Recently I feel as if I might have turned into one of these…)

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

As my main motivation for travelling is to learn languages, it makes very little sense for me to spend too much time hobnobbing with other Anglophone ex-pats, so I have always avoided their company wherever possible.

And there is a certain sort of Anglophone ex-pat that I am more than happy to steer clear of. An example of which I was unlucky enough to encounter just the other day:

***

Ex-pat (with just the right amount of snooty condescension): So, you’re here on holiday?

SV: No, I live here.

Ex-pat (peeved): Really? Whereabouts?

SV: In an apartment near the mayor’s house.

Ex-pat (suspiciously): Really? Well I’ve never seen you here before.

SV: Ah. Well I can assure you that I have been here for a couple of months now.

Ex-pat (with dawning realisation): Oh!…

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Noshing Across the Cultural Divide

04/08/2016

Tired old tales for Thursdays – originally posted on 07/05/2010

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Tonight, I had the first of what I hope will be many ‘aperitivi’ in my new village.

Being a girl often on her lonesome own-some, going out and about in the evening has never been the easiest of things in any of the Mediterranean countries I have lived in. Although a solitary visit to a restaurant terrace in the touristy coastal towns would be perfectly acceptable, venturing into any of the village bars or eateries on my tod would get me the sort of attention that I could well do without.

Thus far, my only night-time excursion had been to the local pizza restaurant safe in the company of some French friends who had trekked over the border for the  simple pleasure of my company.

It was an interesting experience that got off to a cracking start with ‘Les Français’ being two hours late due to work issues.

I was then moaned at because my directions hadn’t been accurate enough.

Then there were the snide  asides about what a monied area I must live in because of all the large villas they had passed (either the pitch darkness or a little too much pre-dinner vin had obviously  been at work, for I travel that road at least twice a day and have yet to find myself nez à nez with a millionaire).

I was then treated to a bout of Gallic snootiness because there was no wine list (one just orders a caraffa of rosso, bianco or rosato – which are usually pretty faultless as well as costing less than a round of soft drinks).

To top it off, most of the group persisted in speaking to the bemused waiter all night in French.

I have often noticed that Italians who trot over the border to France, even if it’s just to visit the supermarket for a bit of variety, manage to communicate perfectly well in French. The French journeying in the opposite direction, however, can barely even seem to manage a ‘grazie’, when ironically a large percentage in the south-east of France carry Italian surnames due to the historical overlap between the two countries.

Anyway, although a laugh and a reminisce were had, and some indecently delicious pizza was guzzled, by the end of the evening I was reassured that the path I have chosen is the right one for me. Viva Italia!

(that said, I still get a real thrill from revisiting my old French haunts every few weeks and feeling just as home there as I am starting to feel in my new host country – I acknowledge that I am an extremely fortunate girl who has no reasons for complaint!)

So this afternoon, my colleague/friend and I decided to push the boat out and have a couple of drinks while we were waiting for her daughter to get back from a school trip.

We chose a bar with a terrace alongside the main thoroughfare, and settled back to enjoy our wine and nibbles. Italy is delightfully like Spain in that respect; with each drink, an array of goodies is spread out for you to feast on. For a measly five euros we had two drinks each, 1 bowl of crisps, 1 bowl of tacos, 1 bowl of peanuts, 1 plate of pizza chunks and 2 plates of cheese and ham piadina sections. (Piadine are hot or cold sandwiches made with a special unleavened bread from the Emilia Romagna region). And that was supper taken care of, although if we had had the inclination to continue boozing, the offerings would have become more and more expansive.

Whilst we were scoffing and chatting, a small lorry pulled up in front of us so that the driver could chat to a friend. After a few seconds everyone in the vicinity was made very aware of its cargo, as the smell of manure wafted fragrantly over the tables to mingle with the aroma of the delicacies on our plates.

And on he chatted, and on and on, whilst all around him people heaved, and gagged, and reeled. Eventually a similarly sized lorry, this time with a more acceptable cargo of strawberries, drew up alongside and pointed out that he was causing a Mexican wave of retching up and down the high street. With much guffawing and not a word of apology for the olfactory rape he had just subjected us all to, he drove off.

(and only my revolting Pooch was sad to see him go)

This is Status Viatoris, still chuckling to herself – “Only in Italy!”.

An Open Letter to a Scooter Rider

02/08/2016

Tired old tales for Tuesdays – originally published on 29/04/2010

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Dear Devil’s Spawn Scooter Rider,

I have been forced to share the roads with you now for nearly fifteen years. Through your own stupidity I nearly killed you in Spain, then I nearly killed you in France and now I find you dicing with death in front of my wheels in Italy. I worry about you. No, honestly, I do. Therefore I have decided to send you this list of helpful road safety hints in the hope that it will make your life a little less pointless dangerous.

1. Scooter Rider, I think I speak for all Car Drivers when I say that we are not mind readers. Although I perfectly understand why you might think so; you see us there, in our air-conditioned, quiet, comfortable and relatively safe modes of transport, and assume that we are superior beings in possession of unseen powers. We are. But not of the mind-reading variety. So next time you decide to undertake just as one of us is indicating to turn right (left if you are Brit, Kiwi, Aussie or other), or overtake just as one of us is indicating to turn left (right if you are etc…), just don’t. WE HAVEN’T SEEN YOU AND EVEN IF WE HAVE, IT SIMPLY HASN’T CROSSED OUR MINDS THAT YOU WOULD DO SOMETHING SO CRETINOUS.

2. Scooter Rider, biology dictates that it is not just Car Drivers that have eyes. Scooter Riders have also been blessed with a couple of their own, and if you hold a legally valid Scooter Rider license, that would indicate that at least one of them is in reasonable working order. I imagine, following a similar train of thought, that you will also have been blessed with the gift of forethought.  Therefore, when you see a car parked in such a way that the Car Driver in front of you will be forced to pull out slightly in order to get passed it (badly parked cars in Italy? never), don’t choose that precise moment to overtake us. IT FORCES US TO SCREECH TO A VERY DANGEROUS HALT AND MAKES US VERY VERY VERY CROSS INDEED.

3. Scooter Rider, I know that having a scooter makes scooting in and out of the traffic delightfully simple. I imagine that’s the whole point. However, the opposite side of the road is still the opposite side of the road however you slice and dice it. Please don’t force me to screech to a stop because you and all your Scooter Driver pals are racing towards me, on my side of the road in order to overtake everything on your side of the road. APART FROM BEING DANGEROUSLY FOOLHARDY, IT FILLS ME WITH AN ALMOST OVERWHELMING URGE TO REACH OUT OF MY OPEN WINDOW AND SLAP YOU OFF YOUR SCOOTER AS YOU ZOOM PAST.

4. Scooter Rider, the ‘CCs’ mentioned in your scooter bumph refer to the volume of air and fuel mixture intake in your cylinder bore, not to the castrated cats which appear to provide the sound effects every time you rev your engine. Noise like that is bad, very bad. PUT A SILENCER ON IT FOR PITY’S SAKE!

Scooter Rider, let’s face it. You are not hip. You are not cool. You are not rumbling along manfully astride a Harley Davidson, or roaring along perched sexily on a ferocious Honda Fireblade. No. You are whining along clinging to a battered 50cc Piaggio. Don’t try to redress the damage that does to your ego by ruining my day, or I could decide that a long jail term might just be worth giving you a serious dose of Punto Power.

Keep out of my way safe.

Car Driver

This is Status Viatoris, ranting explaining things nicely, in Italy!

How to Gesticulate, Nomad Style.

26/07/2016

And for today’s Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays, we have this old chestnut…

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I was pondering recently, whilst watching my hands flounder about in front of my face as I spoke, on those gestures that are specific to each country. One ponder led to another, and I decided to make a list of all the ‘sign language’ I have picked up over the years and incorporated into my own body language.

Each sign comes with instructions. Remember, us Anglo Saxons are used to only very basic hand signals; to avoid injury to yourselves or others begin in slow motion, you can then gradually work up to continental speed.

Spain

“Your girlfriend/boyfriend/Wife/Husband is not taking the whole fidelity issue quite as seriously as you might wish.” Clasp your ring and middle fingers to your palm with your thumb, and point your fist, with index finger and pinky outstretched towards the unfortunate cuckold…

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Italianitis. Is There a Cure?

22/07/2016

And a little something for the weekend, let’s call it Flashbacks for Fridays…

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

So why the fascination with Italy?

When I’ve asked fellow ex-pats living in Spain or France why they are there, the weather almost always has pride of place at the top of the list. Snapping at its sunny heels come the less stressful pace of life, and the comparatively low cost of living (although with the recent and graceless swan dive executed by the British pound, it is doubtful that the latter is still a factor). Only then do we get into comments about the cultural qualities of the country itself.

Italy, however, seems to exert an almost hypnotic influence on many of us foreigners; reeling us inexorably in with its colourful history, its art, its architecture, its sublime cuisine, and its joie de vivre. We come in droves, despite knowing full well that by stepping into its…

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A Hearty Dose of ‘Vita Italiana’

21/07/2016

Tired Old Tales for Thursdays time again…

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Walking around my new Italian village, is turning out to be very like walking around my old French village. Only rather more so. The choice of directions in which to strike out is endless, the choice of gradient, however, slightly more restricting.

You can either go up a very very steep hill, or down a very very steep hill. Simple as that. And always keeping in mind that by selecting the downhill option, you are only putting off the inevitable. The trophy for Miss Buns of Steel 2010 is certain to be mine. In fact, is that applause I hear? So soon! But I haven’t even prepared my speech! Ah. No. It’s just the thumping of a panicky heart straining to pump blood round a body built more for reclining in a comfy spot elbow deep in a…

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Just one more small step…

20/07/2016

And why not some Weary Old Wanderings for Wednesdays – it certainly beats having to dredge up new inspiration in this heat…

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Actually, despite having all the required elements in place, I still haven’t quite got around to moving to Italy. This is proving to be a somewhat of a staggered relocation, rather than the fluid leap into a new life that I had gleefully anticipated.

There are several elements at play here. First is the inconvenient fact that the delightful Italian apartment in the delightful Italian village has tenants in situ until the beginning of April. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I have been up to my elbows in paperwork and paint trying to prepare my French maison for sale.

Predictably this is not shaping up to be a straightforward task (complication, as opposed to the very prosaic Eleanor, should really be my middle name). Since I left France two years ago, I have been renting the property out…

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