Friday, September 14, 2012

When in Rome...

It is impossible to do as the Romans do. Because there aren't any! Every person I saw on the streets of Rome was a tourist carrying a map. Ah well, travel is meant to burst long held myths and this was certainly not the only one. From the last month of travel, I picked for you what I think of as three top myths:

Myth No. 1: China is Cheap
It has to be, right? After all, they export everything to the whole world. But no, it isn't. At least, not where we were in Shanghai. Every restaurant meal I had was way more expensive than what I would pay in London. Shopping was nowhere less than London prices either. Even Starbucks sells their cappuccino at prices at least 30% higher than anywhere else. Now you go figure.

Myth No. 2: French people are unfriendly and won't give you the time of the day if you don't speak French
Now come on, they were all so friendly. And absolutely everyone, not just the hotel people but passer-bys you ask directions from or wait staff in cafes, spoke some form of English. Or at least tried to, and made themselves understood. And they were amazingly helpful. When my friend got a little sick and went to a pharmacy, the lady not only offered suggestions for over the counter medicines but as a prescription was required in this case, phoned up a doctor and got an instant appointment.

Myth No. 3: You find good pizza everywhere in Italy
Not in Rome for sure! I assure you I went to more than one pizza place the guides recommend. And I insist I have eaten way better pizza in Mumbai. In fact, Rome turned out to be much harder to navigate than Paris, with far fewer people speaking English (and they were all tourists anyway! where are the Romans???). And even when, after lots of searching, I found a much recommended pizzeria or a restaurant, it usually disappointed.

What you do eat very well in Rome is gelato. Since I could not make myself understood well enough to find decent restaurants, I resorted to eating at least 5 scoops of gelato a day. And on this one, you can't go wrong even if you go to that chain called Blue Ice. But if you want to be completely blown away by how good ice cream can get, you have to look for artisan gelato makers. Like this one I went to repeatedly near Trevi fountain, where the lady sold us the most amazing melon and coconut flavors. Or the one next to piazza navona where the peach flavor was completely mindboggling. I don't remember the names of these gelato shops because I went to so many, but I never ate a bad scoop so just eat at the one nearest to you. A pity I can't say the same for their pizza!

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