Sunday, March 6, 2011

in fair Verona, where we lay our scene...

That title's Shakespeare, by the way. You're welcome for making this blog more culturally rich and all that. Don't you feel so much smarter now?
he wasn't a very attractive chap, was he?
I landed in Verona around noon. Needless to say, I was a little jet-lagged. I'd been flying for like 12 hours, and I was lugging around a really big suitcase. Also, I'd gotten a "world phone" from Verizon, that was supposed to be equipped to call the US as soon as I turned it on, so I could call my house and tell my parents I'd made it to Italy and hadn't been kidnapped or shanked or any of that nonsense.

But unfortunately, the phone wasn't working. I spent about fifteen minutes turning it off and back on again, shaking it, tapping it against various hard services, and attempting to call people. Which is pretty much the extent of my technology-fixing skills. But it still wasn't working, so I legged it to a nearby cab, and hauled out my awesome Italian skills to ask him to drive me to my hotel.

Now I'm not entirely sure if this is all Italian cab drivers, or just mine (seeing as I've only been on three Italian cab rides in my life, though the following two were not like this.) but my cab driver drove like he was on leave from his other job driving race cars in the Grand Prix.

my cab driver on a different day. Jesus H, man, calm down. I would like to get to my hotel in one piece!
He was weaving in and out of traffic like nobody's business, and treating speed limits like mere suggestions.

incidentally, this is what a European speed limit sign looks like. and that's km/hr. my driver was going about twice this.
Thankfully, we made it to the hotel without too much trouble, or bodily injury. My hotel was quite swanky, too. It was called Hotel Giberti, and the front desk clerk spoke impeccable English, which was fantastic. If you were wondering how great my Italian is, the answer is not at all. The little Italian I knew I'd picked up from reading Italian for Dummies on the plane. Thankfully, it has quite a few similarities to Spanish, which I took in high school. But I was still very relieved when the clerk spoke English.

I got to my hotel room, and then got to spend almost an hour attempting to figure out how to call my parents from the phone by my bed. I would pick up the receiver, and then press buttons randomly, trying to get some sort of menu that wasn't rattled off at me in rapid-fire Italian. I managed to figure out how to call home, and subsequently assured my parents that I was not, in fact, dead.

And then I was starving, so I set out to find some food. Just around the corner from my hotel was a little food shop. I made my way in, and studied the array of foodstuffs behind the plexi-glass. The lady behind the counter gave me a quick nod and said "Prego."
Apparently, this means "ready" and Italians use it all the freaking time. Waitresses use it, taxi-drivers use it, people who answer the phone use it, etc. But at the time, I think I just gave her a blank stare. Possibly with some oh-so-lovely jet-lag drool. She made an impatient noise, and gave me a "come-on, you stupid tourist!" gesture, and said in heavily accented English "What you want?"

I wanted to go for a sandwich, but damn if I knew how to say "sandwich." So I went with "pizza" instead, which is a nice safe word that I only slightly butchered with my American accent. And then she said something about what I thought meant "mushrooms" but was apparently "cheese." So I got cheese pizza instead of mushroom pizza, and then she heated it up for me. I only managed to get hot pizza because "heat" in Italian sounds very much like "heat" in Spanish.
pictured: formaggio
pictured: funghi. see? the two are totally... and 'funghi' sounds like 'fungus', which is like another way of saying mushroom here, and... shut up.
And then I took my pizza outside, sat on a bench, and savored my victory. Hah, I was proficient and self-sufficient! I even managed to give her correct change.

The next day and a half I spent exploring Verona. I was up really early both days, because I would end up succumbing to jet lag each night and would go to bed around 7 pm. It turns out Verona in the morning is really the only way to go. The big tourist attractions like the Roman amphitheater and Juliet's house aren't anywhere near as crowded at 8 am.
see? empty.
And I got to wander around Italy all by myself for two days, which was fantastically awesome. I've always been something of a wanderer, and, as I've said, I am pretty good at entertaining myself. I wandered, and talked to myself in broken Italian pronounced in a decidedly Spanish-speaking way. And I took lots and lots of pictures.

Here's another thing I should probably tell you about myself: I like to pretend. When I was in Malaysia, I'd totally pretend I was a Canadian student, or once I honed my German accent, I'd pretend I was German. Americans aren't usually the most favored tourists around, and also I get a kick out of practicing my accents, in more than one language.

So when I was in Verona? I pretended to be Russian (some of the time). I do an excellent Russian accent. You'd swear I was from Mother Russia herself if you heard me. Да, прачечная!
that means "Yes, laundry!" it's the only thing I know how to say in Russian. long story.
But I digress. 

Italy is amazing. It's full of life, and pasta, and romance. It has towering mountains and sweeping plains, ancient architecture and modern buildings. And I really want to go back.
because who wouldn't?


  1. you're my favorite. because i can see you walking around italy, pretending to be a russian tourist, having a great time just entertaining yourself. can we go to a foreign country sometime?