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Italy (part 2 of N) - The Desian Universe
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Sun, Oct. 8th, 2006 10:55 am
Italy (part 2 of N)

I've noticed, both in London and in Milan, that each city seems to have its own distinct smell. The smell permeates the city, and though there are variations depending on where you are, the underlying "theme" of the smells is the same. I doubt locals are even aware of it -- it seems like the sort of thing that one would just stop noticing after a while.

London smelled -- not dirty, exactly, but like lots of people who have been crammed into a small space for a bit too long. It smelled very distinctly British, in a totally unexpected way. When I think of British people, I think of soap and deodorant, but London certainly didn't smell like soap and deodorant.

Milan was also different than I would've expected. It smelled damp--which isn't surprising, considering the overcast and drizzly weather--but there was also a very different smell of people, this one more ... moldy, I guess? We weren't in Milan for that long, so it's hard to say.

>>> Milan (cont.)

Anyway, back to yesterday's narrative. We arrived in Milan, picked up the rental car and, following the GPS' instructions, proceeded to drive in concentric circles with ever-increasing radius in an attempt to (a) find our hotel, and (b) find Mom a curling iron.

I was actually a little annoyed by this process, because Mom was the one navigating... and she spent most of her time staring cross-eyed at the GPS saying, "Wait, I'm confused, I don't know where we're supposed to go... there's this purple line here, and this other one over here...". The GPS would beep, saying "hey, you need to make a turn", Dad would ask "OK, where am I supposed to go?", Mom would pause, stare at the GPS for a few seconds (during which we would miss the turn) and then say something like, "Well, this doesn't make sense, but it says we're supposed to turn on... uh... <some Italian street name>."

I suggested several times she give me the GPS, since she seemed to be having so much trouble reading it. She just got mad at me and insisted she was fine and she could read it. (Well, it was pretty obvious to me she wasn't, not when it took her 30 seconds to read the display and sound out the street names, but whatever.)

So after lunch, she and I switched places, and I took over GPS navigation duties. By this point, we had gone back and forth on both the A4 and the A8 a few times, and were all getting a little frustrated. So I just started reading off directions and watching the road, saying "turn left here" or "turn right here" as appropriate... and that worked better, as far as not missing turns was concerned.

But nobody had bothered to tell me that we were trying to take a specific route. So the GPS was trying to get us back on A8 going toward the hotel (which involved going in the opposite direction), and Dad was like, "Wait a minute, this is wrong.". Turns out when we had setup the GPS, we'd forgotten to tell it to use the specific route my dad had programmed into it earlier. Once we switched over to that route, it was happy again.

>>> Hotel Du Lac, Bellagio (Saturday)

So now we're at the Hotel Du Lac, in Belaggio. Belaggio is this quaint little town on Lake Como, built on the hillside. There are no real "roads" in Bellagio, just alleyways. You park your car in one of the parking areas (which you can get to by driving down some of the wider of said alleyways), and then walk, usually either uphill or downhill.

The hotel itself is situated at the base of Bellagio, across the street from the waterfront. It's a very old building, clearly pre-1930s, with all the attendant niceties and problems therein. The rooms are quite pretty, but the heating/cooling system is ancient (and may or may not work), and everything creaks.

The blinds on the windows are completely opaque. We made the mistake of closing them all the way last night before going to bed, so when we woke up at 10 this morning, it was pitch-black inside the room. I had to check two different timepieces to convince myself it was actually 10 and not 4. Both parents were awake in bed by this point, but neither of them thought it was later than 6. I think we were all wondering why in the world we couldn't get back to sleep. ;P