Friday, March 1, 2013

It's Not My Fault All 3 Maps Are Wrong

Buon Giorno (Just learned that was two words, not one)

I was planning on including the following list in another blog post that was somehow going to materialize but didn't. Now it's getting a little long to work into something else so I will just post this along with a quick update of what I'm doing.

I set off Thursday for Venice by myself. It actually only takes two hours to reach Venice from Milan by train.
The only hiccup I had traveling was that the father in my family kindly drove me to the outskirts of Milan so it would be easier for me to get to the train station. He dropped me off at a metro, and I knew I could read the map and figure it out. The only problem was I had no idea where I was on the map to know where I started. This is how helpful my map apps were:

Google said I was in the spot where the blue dot was. It ended up being mostly right.
Apple, however, felt I was over here... Go home, Apple Maps. You're drunk. 

I sat across from an English-speaking couple on the train. I realized after I got off the train and said goodbye that I didn't ask for their names, but they were really interesting. The girl was from Montreal and the guy was from Romania, and they both worked on a uber nice cruise ship. We traded stories, they had some pretty crazy ones and then went on our way.
Finding anything specific in Venice is a nightmare. My hostel was particularly difficult. I got myself to the intersection where it was supposed to be, but I didn't see anything and the streets weren't labeled so I couldn't figure out what was going on. I went into a bar to ask if thy knew where it was. They said they'd never heard of it, so I showed them the address. It was literally 20 feet from their door. That's how vast, tiny, confusing, and jam-packed Venice is.
It didn't help that this was the only sign for the hostel:

And when I actually rang the bell, nothing happened for about 5 minutes. I thought maybe the place didn't really exist. Turns out the lady just wasn't at the desk.

Thus far I have spent most of my time walking around Venice, seeing various sites and taking pictures. Last night I roomed with a girl from Oregon and we went to dinner and chatted with this old (and slightly racists... or perhaps xenophobic) English couple. It was an interesting experience to say the least. The girl from Oregon left and now I'm rooming with a girl from Korea and tomorrow we might go explore some island slightly north of Venice known for glass blowing and lace making.

I've already started my next post, and I swear it's filled with more interesting descriptions.

And here's a really random list of observations

Things I've learned:
  • Sometimes three maps can all say something different and can all be wrong. This has happened to me once in Milano and like ever other minute in Venice. Google will tell me I'm in one location, with a set of streets in front of me. Apple Maps will tell me I am someplace else and that there are different streets. And the hard-copy map will give me a third set of details. I usually default to assume some combination of Google and the hard-copy map is correct. 
  • Sometimes in Venice your map will say a street is called something like "Tratturri" but the street is labeled "Tretture" and I assume that they're different versions of the same thing. Sometimes this is true, sometimes it's not.
  • When you take your dog for a walk and it poops in the grass and you don't pick it up, it's moderately rude and a gross. When you take your dog for a walk in the city and it poops on the sidewalk and you don't pick it up, it's disgusting and you shouldn't be allowed to have a dog. 
  • When you would pay someone almost any sum of money for a dry pair of socks, no one has them. When your feet are snug and warm, there are like 4 guys selling them on street. 
  • Beige in Johnson County= White in Paris= Yellow in Milano. (Everyone says Johnson County is paint all tan--this is true. they literally make you paint your house an approved shade of brown--Everything is Paris is painted white with black wrought iron. Everything in Milano that isn't make of stone is some shade of yellow or maybe peachy orange)
  • I cannot consider any country that does not have Netflix true civilization. Sorry Italy, I love you, but up your game. And don't even get me started on Hulu.
  • I am again thankful I speak English because watching dubbed movies drives me insane. And Harry Potter has a weird, high-pitched voice in Italian. 
  • There are about 10 Taco Bells in all of Europe and they're only in England and Spain. This is simultaneously the best and worst thing. If you've ever eaten Taco Bell, you know why. If you've never eaten Taco Bell... your stomach is a happy place, but your taste buds are not. 
  • If you don't have to refrigerate it, I cannot, in good faith consider it actual milk.
  • Paris is a lot bigger than you would guess from the maps. What seems like "a few blocks" might actually be a 30 min walk. Venice is a lot smaller than it seems on the map. I would walk 5 minutes in the wrong direction and be halfway across the map.  
  • The "words most impressive collection of the works of Leonardo Da Vinci" isn't that impressive. It's not bad, but it's only got about 20 pieces and one of them is literally an ink stain.

I'm adding a new section called: Things Krayton Cannot Operate in Europe. It's embarrassing.

  • Doors (in public places): Okay. There are two contributing factors here: 1) There are so many tourists, places want you to either buy something or pay to go to the bathroom. Sometimes they give you a little key or a coin to use if you've bought something. 2) About half the doors here slide because the small restaurants don't have room for a swinging door. These two things mean I occasionally am caught pushing and pulling at a door that actually slides or is locked until either I figure it out or some native opens the door for me. When someone has to open a door for me I feel unending shame. It's worse because no even give me that "you stupid tourist" look they give me a really concerned "who let this intellectually disabled girl out all alone?" look
  • Locks: I've figure out most of the locks in this house... except the front door. I can open all the doors and windows (not a huge feat, but they are all slightly different from each other so it took me a few tries to get them all down.) However this stupid front door has two locking parts. One is a normal "turn til in unlocks" type. The other appears to be some sort of sliding mechanism. I've tried every combination to get it open, and I just can't. The only time I ever try to use the front door is to let the dog out. So I always end up letting her out through the side window/door. But she is terrified of if for whatever reason, so it's a struggle. She looks at me like a mad man. "You want me to go out of THAT door??? No way." So I shove her out. Nicely of course. 
  • The TV: Instead of just turning on the TV and cable box like normal, there is all kinds of voodoo magic involved in making this TV function. I can get the TV itself to turn on and the cable box to turn on (not an easy feat) but I cannot get the cable box to show up on the TV. What kind of self-respecting American can't get the TV to work? It's like our job. Whatever. 

To redeem myself in your eyes I will tell you that I can successfully operate anything that's not on that list (as far as I know) including the weirdly complicated toilets that are different everywhere. I am also in the middle of successfully navigating Venice. This city actually makes no sense and Google is often times wrong. (<< I never thought I would say that ever.)


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