Most of my italian fled me while I was there. But I managed to get by with simple questions, where do we pay, where is the bus stop, the bill please, is this item discounted? etc. lol. There were quite a few bags I saw there that I wanted, the first was a grey handmade knit with three very pretty white roses made out of felt (I think) and it was €44, which I thought was expensive for its design. It looked like a simple tote to me, and there were 50% signs up all over the store, so I asked if it applied to the bag (borsa) and she said “è già scontato..” sigh. The other was an armani which was something like €129 >< i'm not that crazy. i think the only time i splurged on a bag (for myself) was in london and it was maybe €80? it is a tiny little green and black bag which has a truly impressive design by a little designer in milan. and it was on sale. or so the little shop would have me believe that they did not jack up the price and just put a 50% off sticker on. So I bought it (the line and the bag) and have not regretted it. (Although right after my impulse buy i met justine as she was passing through london and confessed my dreadfully spendthrift behaviour. justine is a wonderful person to confess things to because she is very priestly and does not bat an eyelid at my wanton materialism.
Strangely, more people asked us for help on this trip than normal (directions, questions about the bus, questions about the train) as if they purposely wanted to see my italian flounder. (And flounder it did). How on earth am I supposed to know if the bus is coming or not? I hardly look like a local. I also had to help this chinese guy (First time out of china, according to his other chinese friend who dumped him on us at the train station since he apparently was taking the same train as us to meet another friend, and his original friend was (of course) not taking the train with him since the ticket one way was €7.40!). Instead his friend told us that this guy is going to (some Italian place whose name i don’t remember) and so when we see the stop, tell him to get off cause he can’t understand a word of English or Italian. and then after that he told the first-time-out-of-china-guy (hitherto referred to as china-guy 1) to offer us cigarettes in a gesture of thanks. LOL. anyway when we got on the train, the china-guy 1 asked us to help him ask the conductor if the train was going to his stop. i did my best with the conductor, who said the train was going to rimini, so i asked “after rimini, where is it going?” and he said he had to call his friend to find out. it was taking some time, so i went off to find seats (the train was packed) and i was also clogging up the passageway with my entourage (of liangze and china-guy 1) and when i got back the conductor was pissed off at me and asked me if i wanted the information or not (cause i didn’t wait there for it). so i stayed put this time and he told me the train is not going to the place china-guy 1 wanted and commanded us to get off the train and i conveyed the info (in equally broken chinese) to china-guy 1 and he got off. I felt bad because his friend has since left the platform and he was basically stranded in a foreign country with nobody to ask for help and i didn’t stay behind because i didn’t want to miss the train. On the other hand how stupid do you have to be to not look at the time of departure when you buy a train ticket?? It’s literally the only defining characteristic of the train you are taking (and it is not printed on the ticket).
we did meet some kind souls who also helped us out along the way, especially back at Forli as we were trying to get to the airport to catch our flight back to Budapest (if we missed that one, the next one would be in a week. or we’d have to train to another airport and try to get back.) i didn’t count on the public buses to the airport in Forli running only every TWO HOURS. so we tried to catch a cab. didn’t see any on the road, and we walked toward the airport (it was about 5km away) and stopped at a 4 star hotel (Michelangelo or something like that) to ask the concierge for the number of a taxi company in Forli. He asked if he could call the company for us, and in 5 minutes, a taxi was waiting outside a hotel we have never patronized but will be sure to in the future. He let us sit in the hotel lobby to keep warm and it had French styled windows so we’d be able to see the taxi when it pulled up to the curb. Lovely man.
The taxis in Italy are a total rip off. the meter jumped 6 eurocents every 1.5 seconds, i.e. about €2.40 every minute. that’s ridiculous right?? our total bill on the 5km long way to the airport was €12.35. which is more than the price for a cab from changi airport to my house in yishun. I mean it was worth it to catch our plane (we were there with an hour to spare, maybe we shld have walked?) but still rather nerve wracking. I also have the feeling they start the meter when they start driving to wherever you need to be picked up.
I have my air ticket back to Ithaca! booked by the D*** travel agency, which I think is ripping D*** off considering the price they quoted for my flights (SGD 2300) as compared to the same flights I found for liangze online (USD 492 for Budapest – Newark, USD 327 for Newark – Ithaca). But bureaucracy will be bureaucracy and they wouldn’t let me book a cheaper flight by myself and get reimbursed because the new policy states that D*** MUST buy the tickets for us and we will not be reimbursed for anything we buy ourselves. owell, it’s not my money so i’m not too concerned. If they want to throw their money at random third parties because of bureaucracy then i’m not idealistic enough to fight the system.