Thursday, May 28, 2009

Humidity anxiety

Yesterday I woke up with half of my room covered with water. Apparently it had been raining all night, and it continued all day yesterday, so the water rose from underneath the floor into my room. Nice! Now the humidity level in my room is so high that I can actually start to see some mould like white things coming out from underneath one of the closets standing in my room. There is also an unpleasant smell in this room, so I’m happy I only have three weeks to go. Besides this, the housekeeping ladies insist in talking about my room becoming a depositing room for cushions, mattresses and blankets. Fortunately the humidity level of yesterday scared them a little bit; because of course they can use the linen that is this humid for customers. I must say, the living conditions I’m faced with here are not the ones I hoped for and everyday there is something new to deal with. I just had to write an email to my university and tell them about my internship and I actually didn’t know what to tell them.

Oh well, let’s switch to a lighter topic – shoes. Italy is for sure every girl’s shoe heaven. Look at the beauties I’ve found. They will keep me happy all summer!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Behind the theater scenes true faces appear

Believe it or not, I’m sitting in my room drinking campari-aperol. I just spent one of my best days here. Italians never seize to amaze me. When you think they’re all cold and introvert, and only care about their own families, somebody opens up and shows you true hospitality and generosity.

Let’s rewind and take this from the beginning.

Seeing as we are in Italy, it’s “normal” to emphasize appearance and stress how you look. Today our boss did something outrageous. She approached one of my colleagues who works in the bar and told her that the shirt she is wearing is not good enough and that she can’t continue to walk around in the sandals she has because they hurt her feet and therefore she must use bandits which is not appropriate for the hotel. Of course she was right, that shoes that hurt one’s feet should not be used at work. But come on, we are women! How many of us don’t use shoes that hurt us? It’s a matter of being a woman. If we have to face the choice between comfortable shoes and pretty shoes, which ones do we really choose? Be honest.

But above all this, can you picture this situation in your head? Your boss approaches you, in public in front of hotel guests and bar customers, and tells you that you dress in an inappropriate way and that you use the wrong shoes?! Is this possible??? I don’t know if you remember, but in the beginning of my internship I told you that I was chocked about the fact that my boss asked me about me staying in Italy in front of other people. But as unhappy as I was, this scene was far worse. This only proves that she acts the same way with everybody, in fact in a way this eases my anxiety. But nevertheless, today’s scene was absurd. If she has a problem with how my colleague dresses, she can give her something else to dress, or am I wrong? No, instead she actually demanded that my colleague should buy some new shirts and shoes! It’s beyond my understanding. I have never worked in a hotel like this before.

My colleague of course was chocked and sad about what happened, and I can’t blame her. My boss better not tell me something similar, because I am sure to make her understand that she has little to expect from me since I am working in the hotel for free. The only thing she is giving me is food, sometimes, and logging underground. Wow. Actually I have tested my boss. Upon my arrival, she gave me a work outfit which consisted of a jacket and a skirt. The whole outfit was far oversized. The jacket made me look like something from the 80’s and the skirt started right under my breast and finished below my knees. Do I need to add something more? Therefore once my new colleague at the reception arrived and I noticed that she was wearing a white collar shirt and dark pants, and not the outfit, my testing started. First I started leaving the jacket in my room and putting on other shirts with long sleeves. Later on, I changed also the skirt. Right now I am working using only my own clothes; a black shirt with a black skirt or a white shirt with dark blue pants. And my boss has until now not said a word. Instead she has started to copy me using shirts of linen.

So what was the result of this horrid scene? My colleague, sweet as she is, decided to go and buy new shoes today. I grabbed the chance to follow her, since it included the possibility to see a new place and leave Lignano, hehe. So therefore after work, me and my colleague A headed for the shoe shop.

First we passed by her place. She lives in a small town of 2 000 inhabitants called Ronchis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronchis). It’s a very cute town with local stores and bars. Before going the shoe shop, A showed me around. They have a house with a continuously open door and a garden where they grow salad and herbs. They even have chicken, hamsters and a bunny rabbit. Situated only 20 minutes away from Lignano, Ronchis seemed like an idyllic Italian town.

The shoe shop Bidon was a piece of heaven. Shoes as far as you could see. It was huge and filled with shoes, I thought I died and went to heaven. There were all kind of shoes, from sporty shoes to high heels. I took a great leap and dived right in. Of course I found shoes of my liking. Two pairs. Shh.

Heading back to Ronchis. A had the idea that I would stay at her place for dinner. I had nothing to object since I have nothing waiting for me back in my room. So I stayed. Her parents were fantastic. Really, they left me speechless. The generosity they showed me without asking anything in return was breathtaking. There I was, in this small town having dinner with an Italian family. I felt very privileged in that moment. Her family offered me eggs with salame and gorgonzola on top (one of my new favorite dishes), Russian salad (that we in Finland ironically call Italian salad) and a mix made of sausages and parsley. Delicious. After dinner A took me to a local bar and we had an aperitivo there. Prosecco and aperol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aperol). Here the locals drink aperol with everything. Later we also had some ice cream.

A’s parents astonished me with their kindness and interest for Finland. Especially her father continued to ask me questions about Finland. I guess it’s useless to say that I was thrilled since you all know it’s my favorite subject. At work they all threat me as one of them and my nationality seldom comes up in conversation. Therefore it was incredibly refreshing to be able to talk about the place I think so much about and miss greatly. I might not talk that much about Finland at work, but me being Finnish is never wears out. I think I’ve passed the point when I could forget my home country. Where I come from constitutes a great part of my personality and identity.

Obviously because of this, I enjoyed the dinner to the fullest. This day truly showed what I love about Italians. Their vitality, energy, flexibility and ability to adapt to new situations. They are true actors and chameleons in that sense. You never have a dull moment in an Italian family. I was very touched by the fact that both parents told me several times that my Italian was very good. I know they probably said that just to be nice, but then again, how often do Italians really say things they don’t mean? Less than seldom I would say. They might be good actors, but they know how to play the game. Only when they are in the company of people they are forced to show respect for, like employers or friends of the family, they act. Once they are at home, the acting stops. I have realized that for Italians a home is a sacred place where there is no acting. An Italian home is where you see the true face of Italians, where you get a real idea about them and where you above all see them relaxed and as themselves. Once the acting stops and you get underneath the surface, you have reached the goal and you experience something truly unique. Genuine Italians.
Sunday, May 24, 2009

Motivi per cui amare l'Italia

Pan di Stelle biscotti. Spaghetti alle vongole. Zucchini grigliati. Frutta fresca. Burn. Cappucino. Nutella. Polpa di frutta. Fette biscottate con la marmellata. Macedonia. Formaggi. Gocci di cioccolato. Prosecco.

These are some of the things I love about Italy – of course food and drink wise. I’ve noticed that I used this blog mainly to discuss my frustration with things going wrong here, but sometimes I like to sit down and appreciate all the things that are nice here. I don’t want to give the wrong picture about this controversial country. Through the difficulties, there is always something worth fighting for. Or returning for. I know that when I’ll be back in Finland, I will miss the confusing time here. That doesn’t mean that I would want to live here permanently. It would maybe be possible with the right people around me, but unfortunately I lack a history here. After all, my history in Italy started in 2005, only four years ago. It’s difficult to build up a life on that. And the people I knew then, as you might know, are not anymore in contact with me, so that makes it even harder.
Saturday, May 23, 2009

What a slaughterhouse!

Today I woke up not being able to open one of my eyes correctly. I would say that my description of my sunburn was not exaggerated. I spent two hours trying to calm down my skin applying layers and layers of after sun lotion. Finally, thank god, I looked decent enough to go to work at noon.

My bosses did notice though that I looked far worse than yesterday. Fortunately they gave me a super cream made for sun burns, so later on when I got off work for four hours, I managed to put some on and take a nap. My daily rhythm is completely a mess since I started working from noon to four and from eight to eleven. I never manage to sleep until late in the morning since I’m living in Hotel Alisei’s cellar floor and it’s quite noisy in the morning with all the housekeepers running around.

So I need to take a nap in the afternoon and therefore I’m not sleepy when I return late to my room from work. Great. I’m happy my boss has given me basically free hands when it comes to working hours, she only wants me to be at the hotel when it’s busy. But I have made up my own working hours, so from Sunday to Wednesday I’m working from nine to four, just the way I like it.

Work is still full of surprises. Today I thought I did something good when I sold a room for next weekend that otherwise would have been left unsold. Nevertheless, when my boss saw the reservation, she immediately wanted to know who had been silly enough to make the booking. When I admitted to be the guilty one, she changed the reservation and put the person who made the reservation in a different type of room. Stuff like that happens all the time here.

If my boss doesn’t like something about a booking, she just switches room type or switches hotel for the hotel guest. I guess I don’t have to explain why this infuriates me. So now we have to call this person who had made the booking, and tell a lie. Basically we have to tell her that the room type she wanted is sold out. That I, who talked on the phone, was stupid enough to book her a sold out room type. This of course is not true. The reason for this whole mess is that my boss wants to sell that particular room for more than one night, so she’s keeping it free until she finds a longer booking. Make sense? NO!! Argh! But that is Italian logic I guess. And of course not telling me.

In Italian there is a great word to explain Italy, and it’s casino or macello. You always say “Che casino, or che macello!”, which basically means “what a mess”. And every day there is for sure a mess, because that is how this country works. Literally macello stands for slaughterhouse, which makes it quite amusing. Casino refers to a casino since there is always a lot going on, continuous happenings and money involved.
Friday, May 22, 2009

Ten things I hate about heat

1) food goes bad more rapidly or become uneatable in a few minutes
2) my feet seem to be one size bigger
3) mosquitoes and other insects increase
4) all kind of candy, chocolate and other sweets melt and become disgusting = difficult to decorate the reception and hotel rooms
5) the level of humidity is unbearable
6) washed clothes don’t dry in room temperature - in a week!
7) I need to wash my hair AT LEAST every second day, sometimes every day
8) there’s sand everywhere in your room and work place = everyday cleaning
9) you feel more tired ‘cause the heat wears you out
10) your skin dries up and without after sun lotion it feels tense, almost hurtful
Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My very own project

As my internship has proceeded, and now reached its midpoint, I've realized more and more why I was accepted here as an intern. My boss asked my the other day about Finnish tour operators. She wanted to give me my very own project - contacting Finnish tour operators and trying to get them to come here! So yesterday I sent some emails, and now I'm awaiting their reply. Even though it's clear that she kind of used me in a sense, I think it's nice to be useful and it would be great to actually help in astablishing a co-operation between Lignano and the Finnish tour operators. Let's see how they react.

A freckled tomato

When those from the shadows try to go into the sunlight, it can only result in one thing. Sun burning. Why do we never learn? Or above all, why do I never learn? Today I spent my free day on the beach and got myself burned quite badly. It’s strange, usually I can feel when I need to put on more sun lotion but today it caught me totally off guard. I have been taking sun before here not even using sun lotion every time, and I haven’t seen any signs of getting sun burned. But of course this is because I have only been taking sun in the morning or afternoon, so the sunlight has not been as strong as it was today when I returned to the beach after lunch. Oh well, at least I have a color on my face now. It’s just red when I was hoping for something quite different. But at least you can see my freckles now, I’m excited about that. Do you see them? They basically cover my face completely under my eyes, yey.


And I can feel that it’s passing now, I had luck this time. But I won’t dare my body’s tolerance and take sun for a while. For once I’m happy that I only have one free day a week, so I can’t try anything this stupid too soon again. I just hope the redness will ease until tomorrow noon when I have work again. I don’t want to look like a tomato even though I find myself in the promised land of tomatoes!

Lately I’ve realized that infidelity is alarmingly common in Italy. Here people accept that their girl- or boyfriend flirting with other people, even making suggestions. I got a strange message from the boyfriend of one of my friends here and I dreaded telling my friend about it. I thought I would destroy her. Instead she just chuckled and said that he sends strange messages to all her friends. In her opinion it’s a cry for attention. It might be that she has a point, but isn’t still crossing the line? Once again I found myself incredibly grateful of having a great boyfriend who shares my opinion about line crossing.

I remember reading about Hofstede’s cultural dimensions during my culture classes in Finland, but also in Castellanza last year during my exchange. One of the main cultural difference issues was handling uncertainty. Some cultures just can’t handle uncertainty. I think Finland is one of the top countries in this.

Here in Lignano though, uncertainty is an everyday factor. My working hours are uncertain, the fact that I might have to switch room is uncertain, the fact that I might have to take a course in celiac disease for my job (since a group of hotel guests coming for a celiac disease convention are arriving the 30th is uncertain. I think I have dealt with uncertainty quite well here. Since I arrived I have just realized that flexibility here is a must and I just have to put up with it. But every now and then, me being a Finn pops up because I get annoyed at the uncertainty of things. Here it’s basically impossible to make plans, seeing as you never know when you’re free and when not. But I only have to tolerate this for another month, so I accept it.

Purchases

I think this is a good point to present some of the things I bought here that I love. Here harem pants are still fashionable so I finally bought myself a pair. It was about time, since I’ve been drooling after them for years. They are now my favorite piece of clothing, and I wear them as often as possible. When I don’t have to force myself in my work outfit, that is. Hehe.



In Venice I went to the newly opened Hard Rock Café and of course I had to buy something there. I went for something practical this time, so I hoody with the text Hard Rock Café and Venice on. It’s beautiful.

I also bought a pair of shoes in Venice. Here a trademark called Kawasaki is very popular because the shoes are crazy comfortable. I’ve had several problems with shoes here because of the heat, hence why I needed comfy shoes. Just looking at them makes me happy. They are so colorful and motivating. I think only a person like me can find shoes motivating.



Friday, May 15, 2009

Venice marked

On Monday when I was supposed to go by train to Brescia in order to be able to go to Milan on Tuesday with my friend F, I was hit by a bad surprise. I left work at the time I was supposed and went to the bus stop right in front of my hotel. When I was waiting for the bus, I realized that I didn’t even know how to stop the bus.

Since I have seldom taken a bus, because they barely exist here in Italy, I actually do not know how you stop busses in this country. I decided to try to do it in the same way as we do it in Finland. When the bus finally arrived, precisely between two different times written on the schedule, I waved and the bus stopped.

The funny part was that when I got on, all the persons in the bus turned their heads and starred at me without saying anything. Even funnier was the part when the bus driver got angry at me because I didn’t have a ticket and I had to disturb him. Even the fact that I was willing to pay the extra euro that it costs to buy a ticket on board on a local bus didn’t make him happier. He insisted that I had to have the exact change, easy when the price is 3,65€! One thing is for sure; Italy is a country of coins. Since they have even 1 and 2 cent coins, you always get stuck with a lot of coins in your wallet. And when you try to buy something, it doesn’t matter where you are they always ask for coins and never have the change. Anyway, somehow I managed to have the exact change so I got my ticket while the driver continued to drive while I tried to get myself to a seat stumbling on people who of course didn’t seem to care about the fact that I was trying to get through the bus.

When I got seated on the bus, I received a sms from my friend. This was the unexpected surprise. My friend had been in an accident and he was not able to do anything since he was in the hospital actually waiting to get operated!

He had cut his finger and had to try to save it. So I found myself on a bus going to Latisana, a town about 20 km from Lignano Sabbiadoro, without anywhere to go. When I reached the bus terminal in Latisana, I had to take a minute to think about my options.

At that point I was just so happy because I had managed to get on the bus and know when to get off that I didn’t want to give up and just return from where I came. So I had to think fast. I thought, if I can’t go to Milan, where can I go?

And that’s when an idea hit me; I’ll call my friend in Venice and see if she’s home. And so I did. When I called her, I had to explain about the accident and the changed plans. She was actually at home, not in Venice but where her parents live, in a town called Aquileia, not far from Latisana. I had the craziest luck because she said that she had plans to go to Venice that afternoon. She was taking a train leaving in one hour, so I told her that I would take the same train, get on when it reached Latisana and so we could go to Venice together. She agreed. I sat at the train station thinking how incredibly lucky I had just been. In one hour, I got on the train and met my friend E.

I hadn’t seen her in almost three years. She took part of the Erasmus program in Helsinki in 2006, that’s how I met her. It was so great to see her again! E is a really wonderful person, she reminds me of an Italian singer called Elisa and Amelie. She is beautiful with her strong facial features, dark hair and dark eyes. She has great style with lively colors and big necklaces.

I was so happy to reach Venice together with her. E studies art in Venice, so she rents a flat on an island just in front of Venice. We took the ferry there and I got to leave my stuff there. I was even so incredibly lucky that her roommate was gone for two days so I could sleep in her bed and leave my stuff in their room. On Monday we spent the day eating in, getting to know E’s flat mate (they live in three in one flat) and then heading to the center for a drink. Venice is great. It’s such a small city that you can easily go anywhere on foot.

The main directions in the city are Piazza San Marco, the main square, and on the opposite side of the city you find the train station, Santa Lucia. Venice has signs all over telling you the direction of these two opposites. One has to be careful though, because if one gets off the main track, Venice can easily feel like a labyrinth with its many small streets and squares. It’s such a romantic and cozy city though.

When we were returning from our late drink out, we found the city almost isolated. Venice doesn’t have a lively nightlife since it lacks nightclubs. One of the biggest reasons for this is the fact that the ferries stop going quite early and anyway a lot of persons working in Venice, live outside it so when they return back home for the evening, they don’t feel like returning there for the night. Considering all this, we found ourselves queens of the streets walking around and enjoying the Venetian atmosphere. E even took me to see the store where they’ve made the masks for the movie “Eyes Wide Shut” by Stanley Kubrick. How cool is that??

The next morning, we woke up around nine. We had a perfect Italian breakfast, which I seldom have here since I live alone in my room and therefore eat only biscuits and crackers for breakfast if I don’t steel something from my hotel’s buffet breakfast. At E’s the breakfast consisted of star shaped cacao biscuits (my new favorite of Mulino Bianco that is one of Italy’s best brands for cookies), crunchy bits of bread with marmalade made by her grandmother, yogurt, coffee with milk and fruit. Just lovely.

E had class at eleven so she followed me to the ferry and then I took mine headed for Piazza San Marco and she took her to university. We made plans to meet up again at two o’clock when she finished, so I had three hours at my disposal. I had decided to go to the Dodge’s Palace, Palazzo Ducale, situated right on Piazza San Marco. I had never been there even though this was already my fifth time in Venice. The reason is the most obvious one in Italy: too long lines to get in. Right now the high season for tourism is yet to begin, so I only had to queue half an hour to get it. The atmosphere in Venice is quite different from all the rest Italian cities. Here you can hear a lot of English on the streets since the city lives on tourism.

The Dodge’s palace is known for its luxurious rooms and halls, even for its golden hallway. But above all for its prison cells, and of course the bridge of sighs taking you to them. I spent one and a half hour walking around with my audio tour, adoring the great walls, decorations and paintings of this museum. I can’t lie though; I was secretly waiting to see the bridge. I have taken so many photos of it from the outside; I couldn’t wait to see it from the inside! And it added quite well up to my expectations. You could actually feel the history when you passed on the bridge. The thought of prisoners passing on the bridge made me feel like I was back in a historical time. Venice is pure history, you can feel and see it everywhere. Amazing.

After I left the museum feeling proud of myself because I managed to listen to the audio tour in Italian and bought some books from the museum store in Italian about Venetian masks, I headed for the Venetian stores. I had to find some things for my work; comfortable shoes and a white collar shirt. What I ended up buying was a tad more. Venice is a lovely city to stroll around in since the streets are narrow and street after street is full of these cute stores. Even the fanciest brands like Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana have only boutique size stores in Venice. One of the best things I found during my shopping spree was the newly open (in January this year) Hard Rock Café. I found some great personnel there that treated me great and I was happy to manage there all alone with my Italian. One thing is sure; this internship has made me far more secure about my Italian. I honestly think that I can manage on my own, something I have dreaded before.

At two o’clock I found myself exhausted after all my walking so I sat down beside the Piazza San Marco. Not long after I got told that it is not allowed to sit on the steps close to square since the major of Venice wants to keep the square clean. How funny is that! The piazza is enormous and you are not allowed to sit beside it, makes sense! Everybody who’s been to Venice knows that this is only so because the coffee shops and cafeterias around the square want more customers and they charge very high for their service since the location is costly. I didn’t mind moving along since I knew I was meeting E shortly after.

Soon I was already on my way to meet her at a square not far from the famous Rialto Bridge. Rialto is one of the few bridges existing in Venice and therefore it’s always jammed with people. Since Venice has a great canal running through it, these few bridges serve as crossing points. Otherwise one is forced to use the ferries to cross the canal, or obviously a gondola. I actually asked E about the gondolas. I wanted to know who invented them, how long the tradition is and so on. She told me that they already have existed for hundreds of years, even though their form has changed over the year. Venice since it’s a harbor city has always been rich of culture and entertainment. Therefore it was a natural place for the carnival to be born.

Once I met E at the San Polo square, we went for lunch at a close by pizzeria. Afterwards we enjoyed some pastries E had bought us with some liquor inside. They were delicious! The San Polo square is one of the city’s few squares and it serves as a meeting place but also as a playground for children. E babysits a small girl and she told me that she usually brings this girl to the square since there is space to play.

During the rest of the afternoon, I and E, went around Venice looking for something for her to put on during her sister’s first communion coming soon. In Italy it is important to wear something that covers your shoulders while you’re in church.

Afterwards we headed back to E’s place for showering and changing clothes. Much later, at around nine, we left E’s place in order to get to one of her friends, where we had dinner. It was nice spending the evening with three Italian girls, us all speaking in Italian. I felt like I got an insight on how girls act here. There were the usual topics; weight, tan, boys. I’ve realized by now that all girls speak about their weight here and a lot of Italian girls tell me that I am strangely self-confident about my weight. I guess we Finns accept ourselves as we are. I thought we were insecure, but we are way more secure than Italian girls. I guess in that sense the Finnish society is more open-minded to people being of different weight. I like it like that. Here it seems that many of the girls just want to fit in and look alike. They don’t seem to strive to be unique.
I found it funny to hear that even Italian girls use tanning cream to look more tanned. We Finns think we are ridiculous using tanning cream since we come from far north, but way are we wrong! I also found out that sunglasses with heart shaped lenses are getting popular here, a trend we’ll have next year maybe? Right now at least the thought seems childish to me, but I have already learned that Italian fashion trends usually find their way to Finland after a couple of years. Not all of them of course, but many.

We finally got back to E’s place at around two o’clock and I immediately fell asleep. The next day I had to wake up already at seven in order to pack and make myself ready to take the nine o’clock train back to Latisana since I was working on Wednesday from twelve. I was bummed about going back. I had such a great time in Venice. In Italian you say “mi ero trovata troppo bene”, I enjoyed my time there too much. I love this expression, actually I love adding “too” to everything. I am too tired, I’m too happy, I’m too hungry. For sure I will continue using this when I get back home to Finland.

The Italian language is so descriptive. It has far more expressions than Finnish and Swedish. I feel I lack a lot of words when I explain my days here in Swedish and Finnish. Some things are just impossible to translate.

Le sensazioni che provo in Italia non si può tradurre. The emotions Italy makes me feel are impossible to translate.

The whole way back I felt sad for going back. I felt so alive in the company of E. She’s great, so full of energy and kind. I love the fact that she walks around on the streets of Venice with a Marimekko bag. She’s priceless. The train ride went well and I was in Latisana already at ten twenty. I had to wait there for a bus for half an hour. Of course the busses here do not follow any schedule yet since the summer season is yet to begin. I say of course because the Italian assume that everybody understands this. I was just happy to be back in time for work.

The whole day at work I felt like I was on a boat, still feeling the waves. I must have seemed drunk or something, but when everybody asked me, I just chuckled and said that Venice left its mark on me.
Sunday, May 10, 2009

Bondi!

That’s how the locals greet each other here. It’s a dialect version of buongiorno, which means good day. As the days pass here, I get to know better the locals and their habits. Last Tuesday I helped my colleague G in moving. She has got an apartment in Sabbiadoro, the central part of Lignano Sabbiadoro, over the season (=high season of tourism=from now to the end of September).

She comes originally from a town called Marano, not far from Lignano Sabbiadoro. While I was helping her to move, we were talking about local habits with her flat mate. I found out that here happy hours, Italian happy hours that is, including drinking and eating in bars, is not common even though I’ve always thought it to be a part of the Italian culture.

An Italian happy hour is when you go to a bar between seven and nine o’clock and pay for a cocktail, but including in the price you get the chance to eat finger food from a buffet table. The finger food usually consists of pizza pieces, bruschette, crisps, pasta and so on. Apparently I have been spoiled by always living close to Milan. Damn it! Everyone that has experiences an Italian aperitivo, as they also call it, know how great it is. What a pity! The reason for this lack of happy hours is according to G the fact that the locals care too much about their appearance and they don’t want to eat in front of other people. Come again??? What kind of Italians don’t eat? I have certainly found a place unique in Italy.

Furthermore I heard that G’s flat mate I is a vegetarian, which is very rare here. Poor her, because there aren’t even any supermarkets specialized in “vegifood“ here. Suddenly I felt great respect for Helsinki, a city that offers alternatives for its habitants. One can eat whatever they want in Helsinki. I’ve heard that here there isn’t even one Chinese restaurant! There is no cultural variety here. Sure, there exists one Spanish restaurant here, yey. Not even Mcdonalds exist, something that at least was present in the small town of Castellanza.
I also found out that G doesn’t like cheeses, something I find very odd since Italy has a range of wonderful cheeses. She only eats mozzarella, not even parmeggiano!!! I can eat bits of it without combining it to any other food. I was definitely born in the right country, but as far as my food preferences, I should have been born here, if I like the food more than the locals!
Today I finally had the guts to go to the beach. I had been postponing it since I don’t like the idea of going there alone. But today we had wonderful weather, about 25 degrees, and I already finished at three o’clock so I thought that I had to get a grip of myself and just do it. I’m so glad I did. The beach was full of people and nobody looked at me strangely. From now, I’m going to start going as often as possible!


Yesterday my boss, in her classy way, popped the question I have been avoiding. In front of G, she just suddenly said “So Elisabeth, have you decided if you’re going to stay or not?”. Iik. I know that they have been hoping that I would stay so that they wouldn’t have to search for another receptionist so I found it very hard to say that yes, I have decided. I’m returning to Finland. What I didn’t mention was that I already had the flight booked since I arrived, but there is no need for her to know that. I’m used to being here now, and I like the people, but I can’t lie and say that there isn’t a part of me that wishes that I could return home tomorrow. I know this was something I had to try, and I am looking forward to many things yet to come, like my trip to Brescia and Milan next Monday-Tuesday, and my trip to Venice, the week after that. Still, the life I have in Helsinki, counts for much more.
Monday, May 4, 2009

A random input

I wanted to make a random input of some pics.

First I thought it would be nice to show what I found yesterday in the bookstore - all in Italian of course. Like it wouldn't be enough hearing it all over the place, hehe.
 


Secondly I have officially become a Nutella mess. A jar of 200g finished in two days. Please cure me from my illness. Hints and tips for a cure will gladly be received.



Last but not least, some pics of my in my work outfit. Welcome to Hotel Daniele!





Sunday, May 3, 2009

Crying for independence

The hectic first of May holiday is finally over. Today almost the whole hotel emptied and we got some, but only a few new guests. It was nice having the house full of people, especially Italians. We have Italian guests so rarely. We mostly have Austrians and German house guests, and seeing as my knowledge of German is what it is, I’d rather have Italians. As persons they are also different. The Austrians and Germans are maybe nicer as hotel guests, since they always obey rules and do as they are told, but I still prefer Italians, that’s what I am here for.

It’s finally getting warmer...during the last couple of days people have been going to the beach..I think I might join them on Wednesday which is my free day. But people here are funny, as soon as the sun pops out, they walks around in flip flops and bikinis. It’s been around 23-25 degrees, but still I wouldn’t go around like that. In the evening, the temperature drops to about 15, nothing to hurray about.

I’ve noticed there is a lot of tension between the hotel staff, especially between the housekeepers and one of my bosses. He just has a way of acting that even I react to sometimes. He talks to people in a direct way without fumbling with words, almost in a blunt way. But some things he says sound like orders, and that’s what people have issues with. The same thing can be said in so many different ways. I like the fact that in my hotel, the whole staff is on the same level. The receptionists are thought as equal with the bartenders and the housekeepers. Despite me liking this, I don’t like the fact that our boss sometimes asks us receptionists to give orders to the housekeepers. Issues about them cleaning what rooms do not affect us. Sometimes it feels like the management doesn’t realize what duties belong to them and which ones they can delegate to other staff members.

Today a strange man started to follow me when I was returning from a book store. I don’t know when he started to do it, but out of nothing there was this man in his fifties talking to me and walking beside me. He had probably noticed that I was walking alone, and therefore I was an easy target. He kept asking me what I was doing, if I had been to the beach today, if I wanted an ice cream, if I wanted to go out with him tonight, things like that. He kept on following me, and he really did manage to scary me at one point because he kept saying that he will wait for me and stand outside my hotel when I finish work. I really hope he won’t be outside my hotel tomorrow. Things like that are irritating here. It feels like a girl can’t do anything alone without it seeming strange. I miss Helsinki where I can walk around, shop alone and do whatever I want without it seeming odd. Why do I always have to be in the company of a masculine person in order to be seen as normal? That’s why I don’t like walking around here alone. I don’t know how Italian girls do it. It seems it’s impossible to be independent here.