Friday, May 6, 2011

A Month of Holidays!

I forgot how chock-full of holidays May is.  We started off with May Day, then moved right into May the 4th Be With You Day, Cinco de Mayo... and now tomorrow we have Free Comic Book Day!  Check out their site to find the store nearest you that's giving away free comics tomorrow. 

Oh, yeah, and there's also Mother's Day and Memorial Day.

A funny anecdote about May Day... about 12 years ago, I went to Europe for the first time on a trip to Italy with my best friend, Brian.  He had a friend who had moved to Bologna and was getting ready to move back, and had said that if we ever wanted to visit him while he lived there, we'd better schedule a trip. 

So, we planned a trip to the "Big 3" (Rome, Florence, Venice), and also added in a trip to Bologna and Ravenna. 

My friend Brian is, let's just say, extremely frugal, so he had it planned that once we landed at the airport in Rome, rather than take a cab into the city, we would lug all of our bags on the train.  We arrived, deplaned (I don't get to use that word all that often, so I decided to throw it in there), and headed over to the train station.  However, after roaming around like idiots for about 30 minutes trying to figure out where to buy our tickets and actually find an entrance to the station that was open, we decided to cut our losses and hail a cab.

We hop in and tell him where we're going, and then in my best Italian, I said, "Il treno รจ chiuso?"  ("The train is closed?"  I had been practicing my Italian, per instructions from my friend before we went on our trip.  I was assigned to learn to speak as much Italian as possible, and also try to memorize the background and symbolism of the key art pieces we were going to encounter at the various museums so that I could, for example, say, "Caravaggio's dramatic use of chiaroscuro in this piece had a strong influence on the Baroque school of painting."  My friend isn't what you'd call a casual, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of traveler). 

So, the cab-driver mutters something back to me in Italian, but he's talking a mile a minute. After the initial shock of noticing that the cab driver actually spoke the language of the country he was in, I recovered and tried desperately to pick out a few words that I could understand. 

The cab driver finally got frustrated with my lack of comprehension and started violently pointing at a little calendar he had taped to the dashboard on the passenger side.  "Primo Maggio!  Primo Maggio!"  (It was something like that - I didn't quite understand him).  I finally figured out that he was pointing to the date, which was May 1st. 

I quickly grabbed my guidebook out of my backpack and flipped to a section at the beginning on "Planning Your Trip" and there it was - "May 1st is a holiday in Italy, and many public services are closed." 

Oh, well.  At least I now know how to say, "No, we are platonic friends only" in Italian. 

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