MDA called from I-5 last night to laugh about seeing the waiter exchange in print. She claims she's going to post the observers' version of that same exchange. I didn't EVEN get into the 'oh I don't eat lamb' and 'the halibut is just flying out of here tonight' part.
I don't care what THEY are eating. What you think as you serve it all, see it all, and eat your choice is what I want to hear. And if I want to be sold, I'll go buy a TV. And if you will get real with me as I sort out the menu, quite likely when it comes tip time, you'll be looking at 3 bones, as The Chows like to say.
Having said all that, it makes me quite nervous to have my personal faves put in a prominent position. And the Paris/Rome contrast is a perfect case in point. I like to do different things in different cities. The fishing culture which was the origination of Paris is really, really interesting to me. I don't get too far from that river and watch it all day long on an ideal day. Commerce and pleasure co-exist splendidly on the Seine and I love to watch it. It's my pagan soul stirring but I feel those Parisii; their industry and ambition inspires and soothes me. The chugchugchug of the barges carrying tourists and cargo reassures me that we all can live together. We just have to think about it. And find beauty and purpose in each day.
The other part about Paris besides the Parisii that fascinates me is the Revolution. So I like to go to all these places to learn more about the Power of the People. That's my Marxist spirit that ebbs and flows as I wander the streets in search of evidence of the manifesto. Those Parisians, then as now, are quite in touch with their inner selves and their emotions do not lie deep. It's all right there, easy access. I love them. It doesn't help that I have read all the books and biographies and I know about them as I march their streets. I know what Victor Hugo's thoughts were. I love the French and the Parisians: then, now and then. That's past, present and future. French parents are raising delicious children, who hold hands with each other and their parents, and are decidedly non-vocal, but visually absorb every aspect of their radii. My ransom for a French child to dress up and walk to school!
Rome on the other hand, for me, is a completely different deal. I love Roman history, too. all right, all right, all right. Enough. I love all history. All ancients. All texts. Anything. I like it. I admit it. I should be boring 18 year olds in a university somewhere. I don't have a sweater, though. Or a pair of Birkenstocks. So I travel instead. And in Rome, I just love to literally roam around. The city truly is eternal, with Greek and Roman pagan temples and Catholics churches being one in the same thing. Huge cranes soar over the walls of Vaticano, 12 feet thick walls built in medieval times, putting the latest incarnation on the Vatican Museum. Which is spitting distance from Circus Maximus where many a Roman was martyred , well before Peter and his friends came to town. I belligerently stride the Jewish ghetto. Did you know that no Pope ever crossed the river into the Jewish Quarter until JP2? True. After all, it was the JEWS who murdered Christ! Never mind he himself was a Jew, our Lord was, and the last supper was a Seder. Just keep moving. I do, back and forth and in and around the Jewish Ghetto.
The Romans had a completely different relationship with their river, not at all wholesome, and the River Tiber holds nothing for me. I bet it's the only river in the world that I can stand on and say 'nothing. I got nothing'. In Rome, it's the architecture and the business of being Rome that really interests me. The rebuilding, the international outreach, the absence of celebration. It's quite different from other Roman cities and the Italians that are there are different, too. The men are still wear beautiful silk suits and have perfect hair cuts but they hurry about worried. They don't ride bikes. And they enjoy the pleasure of women much less than in Milano or Firenze or Napoli. And you see fewer professional Italian women in Rome than anywhere. You do see many, many grandparents enjoying each other's company, sometimes in the company of their grandchildren.
So, when my friends' children and cousins' co-workers want info on where to go and what to do, I can only think that they could find much better information from anyone anywhere, starting with the Barnes Noble travel section. From me they are going to get a decided slant in favor of a personal experience. If I knew particular people were much more interested in ancient history, I would completely recommend skipping Vaticano when in Rome, if it's the season. It is soooo crowded and Rome, The Eternal City, is chock full of antiquities. Vaticano is really special, but crowded, and you can't really see past that frenzy unless you are Catholic so why put yourself through this travel trauma when you could be strolling the piazzas, the Pantheon and the Forum?
So I know why I like any given place. It feeds my quirky set of curiosities, which are greedy. Whether the needs of those curiosities sate others' appetites is another question. And the thing publishing houses are built upon: what really appeals to most people?
The 'Kan EWA