• Day53

    This Is Us; Italian Version

    March 11, 2018 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    So here's a pretty typical experience in Italy over 24 hours...

    We'll start with last night-

    My hotel was supposed to have a guest computer but something happened to it (probably a guest smashed it out of frustration with all things Italy) but the owner said I could use their office computer and sends me into their office. My brother's office was more organized and comfortable and his was a mess. You would not believe the absolute POS office chair they had. Incredibly uncomfortable and that comes from me, clearly not the person who thinks furniture is generally uncomfortable. So I use the computer to draft a list of things to see over the next few days and some notes on a Word document and go to print it out. Well I did not know he had loaded some receipt paper in the printer and when he heard the printer go off, he came rushing in the room screaming No! No! No! and got all upset. You would have thought I had printed all over his daughter's wedding invitations just before they were to be mailed. I said "sorry I didn't know" and he just kept shaking his head and exclaiming how this couldn't happen. NEVER said, "Well I realize you didn't know" "It's my fault, I should have told you..."

    So after that I go to this restaurant that is really close to the hotel and is good and cheap and I have already eaten there twice before. It is always full of locals and not tourists but then again the town I am staying in is not a big tourist destination, it was just easiest as a base due to its proximity to the train station. So I walk in and the woman starts yelling in Italian that they can't serve me and basically waves me off. So since I only wanted one of their pizzas I ask if I can get one to-go. She doesn't understand and keeps waving me off and finally a local explains to her. She gets exasperated like I have asked if they can whip me up a baked Alaska and yells back at the kitchen and owner and he finally says OK so then I am made to stand there and wait for the damn pizza. Meanwhile I notice that their other room only has 1 couple in it AND there are 2 waitresses this night as opposed to just 1 as was the case on all the previous visits. In not too long they shove my pizza at me and say bye!

    So this morning I get to the train station on time and get my ticket and get on a train. Halfway to my destination I have to switch trains with about a 30 minute layover. So I get off at the correct station and, of course I have to get to another track. Another track which requires going below one level and back up BUT there's NO ELEVATOR or escalator. So for people with luggage, babies in strollers or, God forbid a disabled person in a wheelchair, tough shit. So I lug my bag down the stairs and back up.

    I arrive at my final station and, since my hotel is only 1.5 blocks and 10 minutes away, I decide to walk. So I use Google maps and head to my hotel but end up going the wrong way, UPHILL, and then it starts to pour rain. So I trudge downhill with my bag along a shitty sidewalk with rain running like a river and get soaked. Oh and it's like 55-60 degrees. I find the street to my hotel and it's back uphill again. These are like San Francisco hills BTW. I finally get to my hotel, looking like a drowned rat, and they hardly acknowledge my existence. I explain who I am and they say "Well your room is not ready yet." So I stand there because I don't want to get their furniture soaking wet and they say, "We'll let you know when it's ready." One of the owners is presiding over the breakfast that is there for guests and I finally ask him if I could take a glass of water and he says "sure" and also offers me coffee. After about 15 minutes they get me a room, hand me a keyring and show me the way there, which is across the street. One of the owners did help me with my bag, which was nice because the room is on the 2nd floor and there are no elevators.

    Enroute to my new town, Orvieto, I noticed that the sole of my hiking boot was coming off, so I asked the hotel owner if there was a shoe repair place where I could get it repaired tomorrow. She says no. I say what about a place where I can buy some glue. She says that won't work. She then proceeds to tell me I have to buy new ones and tells me how her shoes are really good and I should get some like them and they cost about 120 euros, so like $150. There is no offer to go on the internet or call to try and find me a repair solution.

    So I get settled and set off exploring. I had read about how to get around and got way up the mountain into the historical part of town without incident and headed straight towards the tourist information (TI) center. I noticed that the "Underground Orvieto" tour office is right next to the Tourist Office, so I made a note to go there next. I go into the TI and ask about walking tours or tours of the churches other than the Underground tour and the lady says "Yes there are some but you have to ask the lady next door, she has a list on her door." So I go back to the Underground tour and by my ticket for that and I ask the lady there about this list and she says "No, you have to ask the tourist information next door." To which I of course reply "I did and she told me to ask you."She indicates that this isn't right and waves me off. So no help there. Both office then close for the 2 hour midday break. So suck it tourists, if you need help or want to see anything between the hours of 12:30-2:30 in Italy, you are SOL and then things are going to close between 4-6 in the evening. God forbid you sleep in on vacation. Oh and it's generally not easy to go back to your hotel and take a nap because most of them are down at the bottom of the mountain and your transport bus cards are only good for 90 minutes. So you will have to pay to go both down and up for that nap, if you wanted to join in the midday break.

    Later I am touring the Duomo (cathedral) the surly Italian guide takes my ticket. No welcome, thank you, do you have any questions, etc. Just takes the money and ignores you. I ask if there are any tours or guides and he scowls and shakes his head no. As Iam looking around, I notice there are these phone box looking things in different areas of the church and lo & behold they are audio in 4 different languages that tell you about things in different parts of the church. No bother to mention that buy the ticket guy. God forbid they help you out, You'd think they'd want to earn more money for the church. Better yet, since it is a place of God you think they might be gracious and helpful. The stupid audio things cost 2 euros, so about $2.50 each to listen to, so that could easily add another $10 to the church coffers.

    It's raining out again so I decide to call it a day and head back to the hotel. I get to my building and pull out the key ring with 3 keys, none of which anyone has bothered to explain to me. None of the keys work to open the door and I am getting soaked. (Forgot to mention that umbrella I bought was great but I left it somewhere) So I go to the office and no one is there. Eventually one of the owners strolls in and I explain the key doesn't work and ask them to explain it to me. She looks at the keys I am holding and says No! These are not your keys! Where are your keys? Cue the Twilight Zone music... I say "Well these are the only keys I have. This is what I was given." She says "No! WHere are YOUR keys?" I'm thinking, what does she think that I can somehow magically make random hotel keys appear in my purse? We do the verbal key tango about 3-4 times and So I then I empty out my purse and lo and behold I do have another set. How I got the extra set I have no idea but they must have given them to me at some point. Anyway I then ask her about the 3 keys and what they do and she explains that one is for the front door, one is for my room. And then I ask about the 3rd key and she looks at me like I am a stark-raving idiot and says "it's for the garage!" On the way out I noticed an internet code posted, which no one had bothered to share with me. THere's none of that, "Welcome to Hotel.... Let me show you to your room and explain how everything works..." There's also little heat in this hotel but at least it is spacious by Italy standards and there are extra blankets,

    I am getting back at Italy though... I am using the big flush button on ALL their toilets everywhere I go. Screw them. LOL

    A couple of people have indicated to me that things are better in the big cities, so we'll see. Things were fairly good in Milan.

    Also I met a really nice guy from N Dakota, who is here on a college trip. He is originally from Liberia. Seemingly great guy and he said we should visit Liberia. Note LIBERIA not Libya! LOL Anyway, his impressions are similar and, like the Australians, he thinks the no speaking of English is purposeful. I didn't prompt him either, he mentioned that on his own.

    So there's a typical 24 hrs. here... and the night is young

    And this is why I may go to Paris for my last 10 days of the trip. It's pretty bad when I am thinking of preferring the French to your country. At least the art is spectacular and the scenery is often pretty.
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