Stay Home if You Are an Ugly American

Posted on December 9, 2013. Filed under: Philosophy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Bill at Cinque Terre

Hiking in the Cinque Terre

As we travel around we find many fellow travelers who are friendly and enjoying their trips as much as we do.  We also occasionally come upon what we term the Ugly American who makes us ashamed to come from the same place.

I think you are an Ugly American traveler if:

1.   You expect to be able to have everything just as you like it at home.  (“We insist on American-style coffee, not this espresso-stuff they drink here.”)  If you even try unusual local food/drink you expect it to be unpalatable, or something that will make you sick.

2.  You get angry that there are other people trying to travel too.  You are surprised and irritated when you have to wait in line, share a table, or tolerate a crowd at an important attraction.

3.  You look at people’s customs, dress, and language with disdain.   You see nothing but inferiority everywhere you look.

4.  You expect everything to go perfectly smoothly.  When the inevitable disruption to your plans happens, you wallow in self-pity instead of finding a way to make lemonade out of lemons.

5.  You are frightful of local people, expecting them to rob you when they have the first chance.

6.  You are actually happy when you see McDonald’s, Starbucks, and the like in foreign countries.

When we run across Ugly Americans we try to slink away.  They want co-conspirators, though, so there have been times we’ve tried to show them the bright side.  Aren’t the differences in culture they are experiencing interesting?  Haven’t locals been friendly and helpful considering how many tourists traipse through their area every season?  Isn’t it amazing to see such wonderful, world-famous art/mountains/historical sites?

Trust me, there is no arguing Ugly Americans out of their mindset.  Next time I might just say, “You should stay home.”  That is the truth.  If you can’t enjoy the differences between your destination and your home, then you should stay there, at home.  If the food, drink, accommodation, weather, sights, people and transportation are irritating to you, why have you come at all?!  You are not enjoying it and your fellow travelers are ashamed of you.

Travel - Atop the Duomo

Atop the Duomo in Florence

Travel - Chestnut seller

Chestnut seller in Florence

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Isetta – The World’s Cutest Car

Posted on October 23, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Italy - Isetta 2What a sweet little car, complete with tailer!  This Italian-designed mini-car from the 1950s was quite a sight to behold while we waited for a bus.

The couple that got out of it were like rock stars.  People swarmed around snapping photos and asking them questions.  They were very gracious.  I’m sure they are used to the attention.

Italy - Isetta 1 It’s the funniest thing how the whole front of the car opens and that’s the only door!  The steering wheel actually has to pivot with the door.  That’s the little motor there above and to the right of the back wheel.  It sounded like a lawn mower when they pulled up!

You do see the most interesting things while traveling!

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Happy Picture

Posted on October 11, 2013. Filed under: Health, Italy, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Travel - Hiking Trail

Just looking at a shot like this on a crazy, hectic day like today when I am back home can change my perspective for the better.  There are mountains, wide-open spaces and trails to follow in the world!

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The Beautiful Italian Specialty Shop + Dog!

Posted on October 4, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Italian Shop 1

This beautiful and multi-colored hat shop in Cortina, Italy is typical of the beautiful displays you find of merchandise in specialty shops there.Travel - Italian Shop 2 Travel - Italian Shop 3

Travel - Italian Shop 4That’s White Devil, the sweetest little dog who belongs to the shop owner.  He comes and goes as he pleases!

Even this fresh pasta shop has the wares displayed enticingly in the front window.

One can actually window shop in small towns in Europe!  It’s mostly a lost pleasure back home.

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Italian Mountain Church

Posted on October 2, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Philosophy, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Mountain ChurchMountains make me contemplative.  They are so massive with soaring heights of rock and plunging valleys.  Their skies hold wild winds and clouds.  I can understand the logic in putting a tiny church right here.  A quiet and small place to retreat and commune with the Creator of all this.  Lovely.

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Sculptor Carlo Ramous in Cortina

Posted on September 29, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Corina Ramous 3This is Arco (Arch), 1973 by Carlo Ramous recently installed in nearly the center of Cortina, Italy.  It’s a massive, yet elegant steel sculpture with a fascinating history.

This sculpture along with its companions, Tympanum and Contintuity, have been “stored” in Parma since they were shown there in 1974 (Longing is missing a piece and Development is completely lost still.)  Pictures of the storage look like they were thrown in disassembled heaps out back of a building where they rusted and collapsed.  They were difficult to transport and there were disagreements between the artist and the city of Parma.  So they were piled up and forgotten.

The artist died in 2003 and there was an artistic endowment group which had even lost track of the whereabouts of the sculptures.  All along though, there was Walter Patscheider, who remembered Carlo Ramous as a family friend.  Walter’s father had a vast collection of his artwork and drawings.  It was through Walter’s efforts that the sculptures were found, cleaned, restored and reassembled.  Without his archive of sketches of the sculptures this would have been impossible.  Talk about the right person at the right time!

Travel - Corina Ramous 2This sculpture is destined for it’s permanent home in Milan but is situated in this wonderful space between the church and belltower in Cortina for now.  We were lucky to catch it here.  I wish it could stay here because I think it really inhabits this space perfectly.  I fear it will be lost in the big city shuffle of Milan.  Maybe one can wish for the Italian slowness-of-getting-things-done this time!  Here is another thing I love about travel; finding the little stories of a place that pique interest.  An art history story is the best!

Travel - Corina Ramous 1Tricky photography here – the sculpture is a magnet for all visitors, especially children who want to make it into a slide (even though the sign says stay off!)  I had to wait for a brief clearing of the people to get a clear shot of the whole thing.

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Rocks from the Dolomite Mountains

Posted on September 19, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , |

Travel - Souvenirs Dolomite Roacks

We are just back from a 16-day trip to the Italian Lakes and the Dolomite Mountains.  Most of the shops that we came across either offered the usual kitchy souvenir junk, or extremely high-end clothing or home furnishings.  My favorite souvenirs, therefore, are the photographs I take, locally-produced foods, and rocks I find along the way.  Here are my dolomite representatives showing the three colors we primarily saw:  white, green and pink.  I especially like the biggest one with sparkly areas where it has broken to show the interior.  I found that one on a particularly difficult hike down a mountain where the path was all boulders.  I will never forget conquering that section!

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