By R. Anthony Diaz |Asst. Features Editor|
Book smarts or street smarts; when you are traveling it is good to be both, or better yet, learn taekwondo.
When driving through any city in the world one could assume or make judgments based on what the environment looks like. I did, and whether you are willing to admit it or not — we all do.
In some ways it is a good idea to go with your gut instinct, but in others it’s best to be open-minded and take the world as it comes, knowing when to draw the line is another story.
I was completely distracted snapping photos in front of the world-famous, Duomo de Milano, enjoying the beautiful scenes when a young man approached me.
He reached over and asked me to open my hand, and as anyone would, I immediately hesitated. Then he pointed at the birds landing on people, and since they were smiling and laughing. I thought what the hell, okay.
Therefore, he filled my hand with popcorn seeds and sprinkled a few around me and out of nowhere I was attacked by pigeons. Yuck. Where is the pepper spray when you need it? So as my boyfriend is hysterically laughing and snapping a few photographs the young man affirms that yes we too are having fun.
He opens his hand and asks me for money; I did not have any coins nor a few euros to give him, so I said sorry I have no change. “No, I will give you change,” he says. Like I would fall for that, I was raised on American films and knew better.
So as I refused to hand over a twenty, Drew like the nice guy he is, asks the guy, “You’re giving me the change right?”
The guy nods, “Yes, yes…” Well, next thing you know, the guy pulls a wad of cash out of his pocket, gives his friend five, keeps five for himself, and hands back a ten and runs off.
Classic move by the real “Situation,” this Italian boy reminded me of the little boy from “Slum Dog Millionaire.” He knows how to make his money, and he makes it fast.
“Okay, did that just happen,” Drew asked. “Yes it did,” I replied.
We shrugged, looked at one another and simply continued exploring the downtown shopping area.
It seemed that that was the only real thing to do there was see a few sites and shop till you drop.
Initially when riding in a car to get there, the city was full of graffiti everywhere, it reminded me of the slums of Los Angeles.
This is where I assumed it would be best to hang about in the busy congested areas.
Aside from the sketchy locals and the fact that cab drivers were on strike, I indulged in the tastiest foods as I shopped my ass off.
This came back to bite me in the end because I ended up with two carry-ons and three checked bags on the way home, not fun at all.
But, I must say that the Italians set their own trends and do not fall into U.S. styles or corporations.
I am glad they still refuse to have Starbucks in the country, so don’t bother looking, you will not find one.
They drink Nespresso, it is high end coffee and in all locations you need a membership to simply purchase a drink and products. They will gladly tell you there is a coffee bar across the street. It is well worth the investment if you’re a coffee connoisseur, but if not, you’re in Italy — everything is amazing.
Another funny thing I found was that the Coach brand was not cool in Europe. Although you will find a store in the U.K. and Spain, everywhere else its considered American crap, so leave it at home.
Italy is a very beautiful country and has some of the best natural beauty the world can offer, but I do not think I would go back to Milan unless I was going for Fashion Week.
Rome, Florence and Venice, I cannot wait to visit!