October 10th, 2006


Italy (part 3 of N)

While leaning out the bedroom window, standing against the radiator...

Alex: "My pants are hot now."

Me (in my "innuendo" voice): "Really?"

Mom: "Well, that's not good."

Alex: "Yeah, and it's not even my fault."

Massive giggling ensues...

>>> Leaving Bellagio

So the past couple of days in Bellagio have been interesting and boring at the same time. We've driven around the area quite a bit, and went up into Switzerland for an afternoon yesterday.

Switzerland was fun, because there were a few old castles in Bellinzona we got to tour. I liked exploring them, because (a) I got to stand up in high places and look down on the landscape, and (b) it was like a maze trying to find all the little nooks and crannies.

Today we're heading off to the Bolzano area, which is in the Italian Alps. There should be some good hiking trails up there, I hope. It's billed as a very good hiking region, and despite all the walking we did yesterday, I still feel the need to stretch my legs a bit. I suspect I'll leave the others behind. ;P

>>> People Stuff

Trying to live in close quarters with the family again for a couple weeks is hard. I don't feel like I have the chance to let myself go like I do with friends -- there is still the unconscious expectation that I will be the proper child, which means not making dirty jokes, not being wild and silly, sitting in the back seat of the car, and not contradicting my parents or calling them idiots when they're behaving as such.

I can handle the not-calling-people-idiots thing, as tempting as it is. That's just common courtesy. But sometimes ... they say and do things that really annoy me, and yet they expect me to pretty much keep my mouth shut.

Oh, who am I kidding? It's really my mom that bugs me that much, not my dad. I'm just pretending to be fair because otherwise my mom feels all persecuted and stuff.

Nothing ever seems to be good enough for my mom. "I want bread with my food." "I want butter with my bread." (I've heard this one so many times, it's turned into a new idiom.) "Well, I just want one normal course at a reasonable hour, not this multi-course thing at 9 PM." "Everything's so expensive! We shouldn't be spending money on that." You're in fucking Italy, Mom, so quit whining. First, we're on vacation, so quit whining about money. Second, "When in Italy, do as the Italians do.", which means a multi-course dinner at 9 PM, and no butter with your bread.

Jesus Fucking Christ on a Pogo Stick. If you don't like Italian culture, why the hell did you come to Italy?

>>> Car Stuff

The other thing that's been bugging me is how they've been behaving toward me about the car. One of my (very few) stated objectives for this trip has been to drive a stick-shift in Italy, and experience the European roads firsthand. Of those of us in the family, only my Dad and I are qualified to drive stick. (He's damned good at it, BTW -- probably as good as northing.)

Yet I had to almost pull teeth to even get them to add me as a second driver to the rental car. (Which, BTW, is a POS Ford Focus Diesel, but it works and seems to be reasonably capable.) Then, even when I get them to add me as a second driver ("Oh, OK, just in case of emergency."), I still don't get to drive the damn thing. Every time I ask, it's just "No.". Not even, "Maybe later", just "No.".

My dad really enjoys driving stick, which I can totally understand. But I feel like I'm getting the short end of the (proverbial) stick here, once again being treated like the child, because he's having fun and it's "not safe" for me to drive in Italy, or something. (There are more crazy drivers in Italy, but they're at least paying attention ... unlike the drivers in SLO...)

Yes, he has more driving experience. But I'm not exactly a novice driver, and I've had plenty of opportunity to observe Italian roads and traffic. I don't think it's appreciably less safe for me to drive. But because it makes my parents nervous, I can't do it. :p

I think I need to have a conversation about this with them. Because if this sort of thinking continues, I'm going to have a shitty vacation.

Anyway, time to go -- we need to head off to the next place.

Oh yeah... Happy Birthday to me, or something. ;P

Italy (part 4 of N)

>>> Soprabolzano

Every time I open the laptop, it tells me what time it is in Pacific time. I think it's funny how right now, it's almost 1 PM PST, and yet here, I'm writing before getting ready for bed.

I was really hoping we'd have Internet tonight, so I could push the backlog of LJ posts I have here, but unfortunately (a) we have to pay for it, and (b) I'd have to go down to my parents' room to get it, since apparently they haven't installed wireless on Alex's and my floor yet. When we head to Venice tomorrow night, I'll probably just pay for it, period, for any number of reasons I don't feel like discussing now.

The hotel we're staying at tonight (aside from the Internet issues) is very modern and very German. (This is expected; it's in Northeastern Italy.) You pretty much don't have to do anything yourself -- the lights turn on and off for you, the room doors unlock themselves when you wave your little access card at them, etc. It's all very clean and very new, which is a refreshing change from the ancient hotel we were in for the last few nights.

The day itself was mostly a day of driving, in and out of the Alps. I think we were in the car for a total of 8 hours, from the time we left Bellagio to the time we arrived in Bolzano/Soprabolzano. Most of that time was spent on windy roads, with me fervently wishing I had been driving. (grrr.) We passed through a number of skiing towns, and there was still snow from last year on the peaks ... amazing when you think about the fact that it's October, and this year's snow season is due to start shortly.

The GPS, by the way, has been behaving like any other piece of technology -- which is to say, it's been very finicky. I think we made several wrong turns and false starts because of screwy directions it gave us. Part of that was my Dad's fault for not picking his waypoints carefully enough, and part was my fault for not sanity checking its directions more thoroughly. (How many software engineers does it take to figure out we're driving in circles? :p)

Oh well. We've been pulling something like 100-200 pictures a day off the camera, all of them quite pretty. That is due in no small part to us getting lost on windy back-country roads. ;) (Of course, when we finally cull them, we'll probably get down to something like 30/day, because a lot are multiple shots of the same thing.)

Anyway, it's getting late and it's been a long day.

I'm getting a bit homesick, and I miss my wuff and my various kitties. But I'll see them again in a couple weeks, I know.