As most of you know by now, we are home in Long Beach. We flew home two days earlier than we had planned. A few reasons for this; the hotel, although not real expensive, charged for just about everything and the forecasts for that Friday and Saturday in Rome were 80% probability of heavy rain. But the biggest reason we came home early was we were home sick. You gain such a wonderful perspective of your place on earth by visiting other places on this wonderful planet. After three months in a history rich country like Italy, I can't express to you how much we appreciated our small home in California. Given that the people we met were great, the towns amazing and the food and wine were wonderful, it had played out. It was time.
Observations of life in Italy and the other parts of Europe we visited will be treasured memories for us both. Simple things like greetings. Italians greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. Men to men and women to women, it didn't matter. Entire towns come together to celebrate holiday festivals. Living Nativity scenes, every town lit up until January 6th. The sense of community that we experienced there was different, different than here at home. In every town or city, dogs are part the their community. Dogs go to restaurants, church, cafe's or anywhere their humans go. No questions asked, no thoughts that they don't belong. If you go to a cafe, you can get a coffee, cappuccino, or a glass of wine. Hard liquor if you want it. And, if you get alcohol, you get free snacks. Why? Because they don't want you drinking on an empty stomach. Pretty cool!
Driving on roads there was also different. In the cities. it's a bit crazy. Vespa's surround you and take full advantage that they are quicker than you and could care less what car you're in. Lane markings don't mean a thing. However, lanes identified as bus or taxi lanes are meant to be observed. Otherwise you get a ticket. Usually about a month later by mail as they have street cameras everywhere. On the highways, slow cars stay to the right. Those that don't soon learn they will be run down by faster cars. So for the most part, people drive in their appropriate lanes based on how fast their car can go. It's understood!
A few observations left us scratching our heads. How can a country that has advanced so many technologies over the centuries, still have a public toilet system that you have to pay for, that have no toilet seats and good luck finding toilet paper. If you have to go and find a cafe you won't be able to use the facilities. Unless, of course, you buy something then it's free. Even McDonalds charges people to use their toilets. You get a receipt to use when you buy a Big Mac.
Everything closes at 1300 or 1:00 PM. Well just about everything. They open back up around 1600 or 4 PM. A great concept unless you need something between 1 and 4. You'll have to wait.
At Supermercado's or large markets, the shopping carts cost 1 euro to use. Then when you're done, you return the cart to the bin and you get your euro back. No shopping carts left all over the place to be used by the homeless or vagrants. The pharmacy or Farmacia's dispense most drugs without prescriptions because most of the pharmacists have medical training and will dispense based on the symptoms you describe. Also, drugs there are about 60% less than what we pay here.
In a survey done throughout the European Union, Italians live longer than any of the other countries. Average age is 86.3 years. Why? They walk everywhere, take naps at 1:00 and eat food that hasn't been modified or soaked with chemicals and drink lots of good, cheap wine. A great concept if you ask me.
I titled this blog, "For a few euros more"... Traveling to find the reasons why...
It did cost more euros than we expected. A lot more. As for the reasons why, it was apparent to us that leaving home makes coming home better. Our dogs are here. Are friends and family are here. However, traveling is a personal journey and you all have do your level best to find your own path, your own journey and then you can find your own reason why.