There’s always free cheese in a mousetrap.

Edit: These aren’t posted in real time; my apologies.  I wrote and collected some blogs while traveling last week, and didn’t want to post them all at once.  That’s another way of saying “I didn’t want to pay for airport wifi.”

My travels took me to a number of cities this week.  Here’s the quick and dirty:

Parma:  This is what you’d expect from the name. Of course, on our chosen day, the national arts counsel closed a number of art museums in an attempt to emphasize what would happen if its funding continued to be abysmal.  Other cities managed to keep attractions open, but threw black sheets over a number of exhibits.  (Presumably the good ones?  Exhibits, that is.)

Is it worse to get into the museum and find everything covered in sheets, or not get into the museum at all?  Hmmm…

So what did we do?  We ate cheese.  Lots of it.  With honey, with balsamic reduction, with lemon pineapple chutney. Bestfriend insisted that the latter smelled and tasted like Pine Sol.  I don’t dispute that.  We had chunks of cheese, slices of cheese, we sucked soft, warm cheese off of the rind.  We ate the entire antipasto dish likely intended for tables for 4.

Whoopsies.

Rimini:  So… we missed our connection and ended up here.  It was all a bit unclear how this happened (as things tend to be in Italy).  Nowhere on the ticket did it alert us to a train change, and nowhere on the journey was any announcement made to the effect of: “we know you don’t want to go to Rimini…as no one wants to go to Rimini in November… so you should probably exit riiight about… now.”  The ticket booths usually warn you of this; maybe we missed it?  Once we realized that we were an hour past our intended exchange, we hopped off and decided to make the best of it.

Rimini is a small beach town, akin to Sanibel, Florida or a more eclectic Virginia Beach.  It has quaint little 50’s changing stalls and seaside restaurants, and the town itself is mostly filled with hotels.  What isn’t a hotel or a resort is a coffee shop, costume jewelry shop, or beautiful apartment building (Maybe they’re condos?  Vacation houses?  It’s unclear.)

We walked along the mostly deserted route to the beach until we found a suitable coffee shop.  This one has made my list of favorites because it offers free service (one must pay to sit down in such places on occasion), larger glasses, and brightly imprinted multicolored packets of sugar.

I did not take one in every color and put each gently in my purse.  They are not in my bookbag en route to the US of A.

Venice:  Tourist town.  Smells like Sea World.  I am convinced that there are no Italian families that live in Venice; it’s just a giant, real-world Disney Land.  Most of the proprietors speak English.  All of the shops sell the same tacky Venetian masks and fake Murano glass.  It’s all stamped “extra EU,” which means it was made outside of the EU.  I finally piped up and asked about the origin of a piece I was ready to buy.

Made in…

America.

I had to put it down.  There was something terribly tacky and inefficient about my buying an American product in Venice only to bring it back.

The city itself is stunning; it’s generally picturesque at every turn.  Long canals with gondoliers dressed the part, narrow paths that masquerade as streets, and beautiful views of the water all around.  Bread shaped like, you guessed it, fish.

We opted to eat lunch at a small, local place off the beaten path.  While the menus were written in too many languages to be a true “local” joint, the tables were wooden and creaky, the jars on the shelves were just the right amount of new and used, and it tasted relatively good.  It loses marks for its lack of toilet paper and workable locks on the bathroom stall.

Bestfriend has a friend, P, who has a “traveling triumvirate.”

Toilet paper.  Soap.  Working water.

It is surprisingly rare how often one finds a place missing one or all of these things.

…Maybe they should put a black sheet over all of the toilets.

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