Salu

Nov 162015
 

Images of: Roma

Landed in Milano, Italia on May 8th.  The airport felt seedy.  Very seedy.  I was glad to see an airport in (Western) Europe that is super outdated in comparison to JFK.  Quite the opposite of it’s closer regions in Northern Europe, or even Marsielle Airport in Southern France.  Funny stuff Italy: In your face rough, playful, and flirty as always (except for Tuscany I think).  Still, got to be careful..

😉

 

Milanos seemed to be quicker than the Tuscans, I think almost everybody else in Italy is faster than the Tuscans.  However, the pseudo sly ones are from Rome, and further down south.   I had a quick chat with a girl from Sweden, and she recommended that I take the bus from the airport to the central station.  I didn’t. I recommend it, as long as the weather permits.  That’s because the bus departs almost right away, and is as fast and cheaper than the train.  I had forgotten that about Italy (except for Rome).  Buses are better than the local train.

 

I arrived in Rome via Milano in the late afternoon.  The Central Station in Rome is huge. There are two levels.   Shops everywhere.  You have to stay alert as there are hand-bag snatchers, and don’t buy the tickets from people offering to, it could be a trick.  Stick with the machines or with the ticket counters if they are open.  Just an FYI, if you are hungry and want more selection head downstairs as there is a small grocery store.  You could buy pre-made sandwiches, etc.  It’s more inexpensive on the main level, upstairs.  You also get less of a constant crowd.  I also liked the bathrooms down here as opposed to the first (upper) level.  You have to pay in both bathrooms.  The cafes downstairs also have less of a crowd, and provide a more clam and cozy atmosphere.  No Starbucks in Rome or in Italy.  Thank God.  Free Internet connection, argh!, good luck with that.  Coffee wise, you get the best darn coffee in the world in all of Italy, including Rome, not that burned garbage from Starbucks.  I drink decaf.  And even the decaf was amazing in Rome, and pretty much all of Italy.

 

Organization wise, there is none, in fact its negative.  It boils down to one root problem lack of coordination.  I think many people in big cities of Italy are bored or may have some psychological problem or they just get their kicks  this way.  That is by blatantly cutting people off.  Example:  A guy cut me off at FCO while waiting for the check-in queue when I was going to leave Rome, and started smirking as if he had won a small fortune.  Another example:  I happened to be the first one on the bus that would take us to board our plane.  Also, I was the first one on the ladder.  I thought  to myself “there is first time for everything.” Until I was brushed and pushed aside by a medium sized, short lady who was in an incredible haste to board the plane.  I expressed “No scusa, No perdoneee… No nothing…”  Subsequently, I thought, oh maybe she had an emergency and had to go to the bathroom or something.  When I got upstairs, and the second passenger to board the plane,  I saw her smiling with her carry-ons stowed away.  I was puzzled and annoyed.  Mabye she was just mental or bored or got her kicks this way.  As far as Rome, probably not all of Italy, I think there are many people in Rome as in Manhattan who are just mental or bored, and just don’t care.

 

As far as Rome, and north of Italy.  I probably like Tuscany much better as its more relaxed and once has to be less alert.  However, Rome could be one of the best, I think better than Paris, if you have the right company.  I don’t know.  Italy in general I have found to be very hyper and very sexual.  In Rome, pedestrians don’t have the right of way, let alone a side walk.  The main roads will have a side walk.   In Rome, drivers have the right of way, and pedestrians have the privilege of walking the road or crossing the street.  It’s very funny, and could be dangerous at times, however, not as dangerous as crossing the street or roads in London.

Italy could be fun, and could be hell.   As one writer put it: “Italia Chaos. Bella Chaos.”

 

If you could drive from Rome to Nice then just drive.  If you could take a train then take a train.  The bus is a very long ride, and I don’t know enough about it.  I took the plane.  If you take the plane, try to take the earliest or latest plane.  As FCO Airport (Domestic EU) flights are not very organized.  Its takes you back to waiting for a boat without have a very reliable time-table.  And there is just one big giant screen with about 300 to 500 onlookers heading to different directions.  The price difference between flying and train was about $20, not including the $17 ticket from Rome terme to FCO.  So, about $37 difference. Not big.  Time wise, if the queues are quick, and you depart and arrive on time then plane is quickest.. Chances of that happening are slim, unless you book a 5:30am or 6:30am flight.  Better take the train next time?  Lol.

 

My flight from FCO to Nice, had loud disco-club music on.  It was on while boarding, during take off, during the flight, and I think also during our landing.  Seriously.  It was childishly funny and  unpleasant.  That was Rome.  On to oui, oui, and  excuse moi. Thank Goodness I was out of Rome! 🙂

 Posted by at 4:16 am
Nov 162015
 

Took me a whole day to get from Lon to ARN even via plane and 1 hour train then 30 minute local train.

Unpacked, showered, researched my possibly new work neighborhood, toured a few places, rested and slept.

Real day 1: Woke up at 7ish am.  Did full yoga.  Didn’t do sit-ups or abs, I got lazy and was excited.  Showered, cooked breakfast, packed, and left the apartment.  Not very many people in the neighborhood where I was staying.  The air outside was as fresh as it could get, and the morning sky was absolutely lovely.  Took local bann-central to the place of my new possible work-area.  It was around 11am, and Stockholm felt empty, well there weren’t that many people.  While that is mostly true, it might be truer that I was alone and it isn’t exactly easy or cultural to have conversation with anybody, and besides not knowing Swedish on my part did not make it any easier.

I passed lots of good quality shops.  Fewer eating places in comparison to the shops, and have seen only a few Bars.  They have very good architecture, some very cool old and some positively modern architecture as well.

The streets were clean.  However, London and vicinity such as Notting hill road was cleaner.  Vienna being the cleanest city I have ever been to in Europe, or anywhere.  All whipping aside, I wonder how clean Singapore is?

Coffee was very good in Stockholm, even though I only was having decafe lattes or cafe Americanos.  People are friendly and will try to help you out if you need directions, aside from that I still haven’t been able to have a single conversation with a “stranger” since landing here in Stockholm.

People are super fashion fixated here.  They were super nice fitted jeans, nice matching shirt, with a contrasting light or dark sweater, and very fashionable jacket.  Nice shoes or cool looking sneakers.  They treasure their Nikes, and puts the Sneaker fad in the 1980s I grew up in NYC to shame.  They are obsessed with Nikes, Yankee Baseball Caps, and lots of fashion, and the colour Black.  Clean cut, as in sharply cut and line hairstyle.  A good many are blonde.  A good many both Men, and Women are tall.  There are also some stunning brunets.  Many have amazing marble colored eyes or ocean blue or sea blue eyes.

With all this human bodies being beautiful, Stockholm is boring, and people socially cold.   They are helpful if in need of directions.  Okay, I don’t want to go there, still, I am going there.  I loved Oslo Airport, and the warmth of human-ness, and they were either Norwegians or Finns.  Between Copenhagen and Stockholm, I would take Copenhagen.  Much more to do in Copenhagen, and people less rigid than the Swedes.  Interestingly, when you meet Swedes outside of their homeland, say in southern Europe they are very friendly.  I met a wonderful Mother and Son on the Plane to Stockholm, and they said to me in Stockholm people don’t talk and have no sense of humor.  In addition, they went to look for a new house (not a flat, specially a house) in London/Outskirts of London.  I also found out the mother that she lived in Minnesota (pronounced their style: Meen-a-so-ta) for about 20 years.  For interesting history look up the famine of Sweden and how many swedes moved to the US, especially Meen-a-so-ta.  How they many families moved back to Sweden after years, and how they started constructing houses in Sweden that had much US (Mid-West) style architecture, lawns, etc..

 

The few Swedes I met outside of Sweden or during a flight were of an entirely different nature and almost all did not come from Stockholm.  Maybe, it’s just Stockholm.  Still, the young American women that were superficial, loud, and speaking nothing intelligent were the most annoying and rude.   I had a very friendly experience in Malmo, even the many Danes in Malmo were friendly, and so were the Swedish Blondes.

I was supposed to possibly work and live in Sweden.  Stockholm was so unfriendly I cut my trip short, and instead of going to my next adventure I went back to NYC via Oslo, Norway.  I rested for a few weeks, and then, headed out to Roma via Milano.

 Posted by at 4:14 am
Nov 162015
 

The English or the British.  You may have to read a book on that to know the difference.  Regardless, here are my experiences from my adventures in London during the spring of 2015.

 

I got into my room that was in a large house after an 8 hour flight, 1.5 hour pass through at immigration (even while being a US Citizen), and a 3 hour first time commute from Victoria terminal.   The woman renting me the place via Airbnb was, on my initial read on her, a nice old lady.  I dropped my bags, and off I went.  Took Portobello Road, and was somehow via the Tube and avoiding the line to Cock Fosters at Victoria again. I wanted to quickly get used to the London Tube.  Actually, it took me about 4 days to figure it out.  I came home late and slept till goodness knows the hour, only to be woken up by loud noises of kids and a cat.  I think it was intentional by the nice old lady.  On my first real day, she seemed to be nice, and showed me around the kitchen.  The floor had cat food and other items, so, I chose to leave my socks on.  In general, it wasn’t too clean for a kitchen.  She was friendly, and talkative, yet, I went out to tour London.   I had a mixed experience with the people of London.  The social and economic class vibrations were pretty much in my face.  I have had that before, so it was super easy to detect it.  Some people were friendly to me only as a mere formality.  Some were genuine about it.

In comparison to NYC, it’s a lot cleaner, and more organized.  That went for its local transport as well: Tube, Trains, and Buses.  The Tube for the several lines I rode on were clean inside, and so were the tube stations.  They really need to improve on their tube card.  The tube card is much like the metro card except more expensive and different cost structure.  Also, just keep in mind at many Tube stops (probably all) including Victoria did not have an escalator or an elevator.  Generally, I had a very positive experience.  People in the Tube mostly keep to themselves.  I found that unfriendly at the time, and I understand it now that that’s fine and acceptable especially for the women riders of Tube.   I think they just need to be more relaxed not necessarily soft.  They being all of them with all the different backgrounds.  Also, I did not encounter a single pan-handler or mentally unstable in your face loud, obnoxious, and smelly person as you would almost every day and every ride and multiple times in that ancient Subway of NYC.

 

The first night with the owner was kept brief.  I had told her that I don’t drink for health reasons.  And that was, and still is true.  I hit the sack, and was fast asleep and hoped my sore throat or allergy type symptoms would go away in the morning.

 

The next morning I awoke to a loud smoke alarm.  I ran upstairs to the kitchen to find no smell of smoke or anything.  The nice old lady said she was making toast, and it got burned and thereby setting of the alarm.  Still, there was no smell of burnt bread. I know it well (or should I be English and say: “I know it ratherrrr well.”)  My suspicion was she just wanted to wake me up, or maybe I was just being a doubtful idiot. After breakfast, took the tube to Victoria, and did not like figuring out the odd ball connections of the tube and was in dislike with the English bureaucracy.  I waited in line for the travel and tour info bus line at Victoria terminal for 40 minutes.  I missed both the 10:20 bus and the 11:00 am bus to Windsor Castle.  The Green Bus Terminal was about a 15 minute brisk walk.  The customer service reps in the booth of the Green Bus Terminal, laughed at me, when I mentioned the 11:00am bus didn’t stop for me when I waved my hand, and the bus-ticketer aboard the bus informed me (while the bus was in motion) to purchase the ticket at the booth.  Love that immigrant run English Bureaucracy.  So, at the booth, the big fat eastern European guy laughed quite literally “Ha, Ha, Ha”, and then informed me I could have bought the ticket on the Bus.   The other guy upon noticing my nervous-upset self, tamed down, and tried to help me.  I bought the ticket, and later told me it was non-refundable.  Quite a day I was having.  Outside, I walked in the back where there were some Café stands, and only one was open.  On the café stand was an anti-considerate sales person who happen to be from that region of the formerly ruled British Raj. No she was not even experienced to get the badge of a “Barista”.   I guess she disliked me because of my cleanly spoken (American) English.  I don’t know, maybe she hated her job, or she hated to help out her clan that owned this little makeshift shop of a café.  And I had succeeded in claiming a bare victory by purchasing a croissant and coffee from her.  She was so friendly she might as well as have tossed the croissant at me.  I thought to myself to her  “Burn baby burn.”

Finally, aboard the double decker Green line bus, I enjoyed to view on the top level all the way to lovely Windsor Castle.  At Windsor Castle there were more true English people running the place.  Sorry, I couldn’t discern between the Scottish, Welsh, English, or British, and truly I am not even interested in learning about their bloody rivalries.  Off with your head 🙂

 

On my third night, I had returned, and found the nice old lady drinking.  I saw her in a panicky mode.  Panicking as she was trying to hide the wine bottle, which she later admitted to me jokingly. She was with a friend.  He was an honest looking person.  Her real side came out.  And she offered me a drink.  I knew that she knew that I was avoiding to drink.  However, she was kind of inexperienced and figuring out things and obviously thought I belonged to certain faith, which she admitted later.  Only after I decided to have a few drinks with here was she put at ease.  Well, my drinking had started again, reprehensibly, only to prove to her that I was okay with drinking, smoking, and all that as long as it didn’t affect my health. So for 6 more nights I would have a drink with her and who-ever she had over.  I also bought her some wine on my second to last night.  However, I still suspected her for being creative in creating a different havoc almost every morning.  I suspect it was to get me up and out of the house. Some nice old lady, mighty English of her (even though she was and is admittedly a proud Scott).

 

Oddly, there are many Eastern European immigrants, a significant of Polish decent, in England, especially in London.  Most of them were nice to me.  Sometimes they were friendly to get a large tip, and other times so they could practice their English.  They seemed genuine in their being.

 

London has many of the fast food eateries as New York.  Still, their Mexican food at Chipotles was not that good.  Their black beans were a bit hard and kind of raw.  I also ate at another small Mexican place where the food was made by Italians, and some Eastern Europeans.  I don’t remember the name of the place, and the food did not taste Mexican or American.  It was the Eastern European-London version of Mexican food that was very affordable and affectionate.

 

The English are definitely refined in their taste of music. Everywhere I went they had really good music selections.  This was modern music, and I don’t even know the names of the groups in the endless Genres I heard. Take NYC or Boston radio, it’s awful, except for maybe WQXR and (Jazz), the rest of the Genres are awful.  Take any café small or chain in the East Coast USA they play awful music in comparison to that of London.

 

The best thing I liked about London were all its Gardens, and parks.  I had a mixed experience with the people of London both native (whatever that means), and recently shifted ones.

 Posted by at 4:13 am
Apr 092015
 

Amsterdam Car

A friendly town with many who communicate in sufficient English, and has a reliable and organized transportation system with buses, trams, and long distance trains. Amsterdam is full of tourists with few locals especially in the center of the city or old city. Of course the Hollanders are a beautiful people, and their women are also very pretty, and in some places very tall. There are a ton of UK tourists here because there are many regular and short flights from London to AMS. Not to mention other means of transport from the UK to the Netherlands. Check out http://www.rome2rio.com/s/London/Amsterdam , I love this site.

I am not a Museum goer as museum goers go. None the less I still visit them as its one of the things to do, and you only live once. Make sure to visit the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum, and the other top museums. I wouldn’t visit the other museums unless you are a serious museum goes. I like what my very good friend says: A museum is nothing more than a collection of dead peoples stuff and it’s like going to a morgue (I guess it’s true for the most part). For me nature and the great outdoors itself is a museum, except more alive and real time. Get the 3 day pass, especially if you will be taking public transport, and have energy to visit many places. For the pass visit: http://www.iamsterdam.com. Otherwise, it will be a waste of money. Please note the Rijksmuseum still has a considerable entry fee even with the IAMS card, after all it’s not like Copenhagen where even without the pass many museums are free. For me the pass was mostly a waste because I walked pretty much everywhere since I love to walk. Also, I only visited about 3 to 4 museums: Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum (separate charge), Amsterdam Museum (kind of fun), and some other museum.

What I did, and I recommend this for everyone: The Van Gogh Museum, the Canal Boat Tour, Grocery Store: AH Van Baerlestraat located at Van Baerlestraat 33A, 1071 AP Amsterdam, the public library – especially the 2nd floor with the view of the river and cool looking metal interior private spaces for study, VondelPark, Oude Kerk. Please walk (or Bike or Boat everywhere), I was pretty much on foot most of the time. Public transport is efficient, and it could get a bit expensive since they don’t have a weekly metro card or a monthly metro card as in NYC. I could be wrong! Maybe they do have a weekly or monthly transport pass? Still, when you can walk or bike such a beautiful town and country then who needs public transport!

My personal choice: For all those Pot lovers, I am sorry, its not my thing, that was something like 2 to 3 decades ago. Luckily Amsterdam is being cleaned up. I think it’s a good thing, and some of the results of the cleanup are already evident.
Day Trips Not taken: I went in late December during Christmas time, it snowed everywhere, and trains could go to the destination, they just didn’t guarantee a return train back I tried day after day to take day trips to The Hague, Rotterdam, Harlem, and another area that still has windmills, it snowed quite a bit.

Day Trips Taken: The Snow had cleared up 2 days before my trip to CopenHagen. I was tried of Amsterdam. I felt like adventure. I went to Antwerp. And It was to die for. I am glad I spent the time, money, and effort for it. See Antwerp blog. For now here are the Antwerp Pics:

Other Stuff: There is also an area which has many immigrants in Amsterdam. In many of those areas I automatically had to maintain my guard. It’s my natural instinct, and it’s rarely incorrect. Really. It came naturally growing up in Old 70s/80s New York City. I didn’t like that experience to say the least.

Overall, Amsterdam was a wonderful place to be, and has lovely canals, cool bikers, and beautiful people. I could see how it was the Dutch that made New York City. They have had and continue to have great sailors, engineers, artists, and especially business acumen. Along with a (Healthy) stress free life style, and naturally organic food (and I am hoping also non GMO food).

I will be visiting Amsterdam, and other places such as The Hague again. Hopefully in the summer.
Hope you enjoy some of the pictures below, and I really love the small cars, they are so cute, clean, and efficient!

 Posted by at 9:14 pm