Day 17 – National Stereotypes
It’s wrong to say that nationalities have stereotypes. Everyone is an individual and their personality is not dictated by the place they were born or raised. But let’s be honest, French people do shrug a lot. On my journey I have noticed at least some people who live up the their national stereotype.
Stereotype 1 – Czech people drink a lot of beer
I mentioned in an earlier blog how beer was actually cheaper than bottled water in supermarkets. It is significantly cheaper than soft drinks. I was actually just drinking beer in Prague to save money and compensate for Karen’s extravagance with all her Coke Lites. If I hadn’t drunk so much we would have run out of money well before we got to Italy.
One day we were sat in the park in Prague having elevenses. I was on the coffee, Karen was splashing the cash on some extravagant carbonated drink (I think it may have been a Lemonade). Sat at the table next to us was a young mother with her 2 children. They were eating some kiddie type snacks and drinking juice. She had a pint of beer and sausage. At 11:30 in the morning, this may raise eyebrows in the UK, but in Prague, it’s fine. I think their “toddler” group refers to the mothers as much as the children. Still, it must make child minding more bearable.
Stereotype 2 – Italians are smartly dressed
From the moment I stepped off the train at St Giovani station in Como I felt scruffy. Not scruffy because I hadn’t had a shower, I had had one that morning. Not scruffy because my clothes were dirty, everything was clean on that morning Not scruffy because I was mismatched and uncoordinated, my outfit was carefully chosen (by Karen) and looked very smart. But as soon as I hit Como I felt like Stig of the Dump.
I may have looked acceptable for a middle aged English man, but not for an Italian man of my age. When we were queuing in the cattle shed (See Day 15 blog) there was an Italian gentleman who was as grey as me, had a bit of pot belly (maybe a bit less than me, but he wasn’t stick thin) and I guessed was near my edge. But he just oozed style. We’ve also noticed that the older women here are incredibly stylish. This may be due to the lack of Primark, but I cannot ever consider that these women would consider jogging pants and a sweatshirt suitable clothes to be seen outside the house in.
Stereotype 3 – Italians like Ice Cream
This follows on from the previous stereotype. I have noticed that ice cream is a ubiquitous as coffee. In the UK, ice cream is the reserve of either being on holiday, out with the kids, or it being freakishly hot outside (a rare event). But here you see men in their dapper suits with a huge ice cream in their hand in their lunch break. I even saw a couple having a business meeting over a couple of ice cream sundaes.
I have just never seen that happen in the UK. I have never been around Canary Wharf and witnessed 2 bankers making a deal whilst holding a Mr Whippy 99. Nor can I imagine lawyers discussing a case whilst consuming a screwball and an ice cream sanwich. (Actually, perhaps that’s the problem. We just don’t have professional enough ice cream to make this work).
Stereotype 4 – The Japanese like to take photos
Today we took the funicular up the side of the mountain. (To see more funicular blogging activity, why not revisit “5 Go up a mountain in Barcelona” from last September). As we sat waiting for it to set off, I noticed a couple of Japanese tourists at the turnstyles. It was 11:27 and the funicular was due to leave at 11:30 (not that I’m obsessed with time…but I am…more of that in a future blog).
She had one of those visor things that 1970’s tennis players or poker players wear. I’m not sure which camp she fell into. She stood at the turn style with the funicular car behind her. Her husband took a photo of her. They then swapped places and she took a photo of him. He upped the anti though and held the ticket aloft in the air and pointed to it like it was winning lottery ticket and a local newspaper had come to take their photo. Then another 3 of them arrived. One of them was quite elderly and I think may have been visor lady’s mother. The lady with the visor bustled them into the exact same position where she had been and the husband took a photo. (I think she was the ring leader of this group). He went for a second photo and before he could take it she photo bombed it at the back, holding the ticket in the air whilst simultaneously pointing at funicular. In your face hubby! I am the queen of the poses on this trip!
It was now 11:29 and I’m watching this through the door of the funicular thinking “they are going to miss this”. Visor lady dragged her (supposed) mother up the steps, but because there was no space, waited until the next one. I never saw them at the top of the hill, but when we got back down, I saw them all again, taking photos of menus. I assume they came up on the next one, took some photos and returned on the next one back down the mountain.
Today’s cake of the day is a cholate baked cheese cake. Now don’t judge me, but it came from a McCafe. I know the other day that I had said that we hadn’t crossed the threshold of the Golden Arches, but due to a post on Facebook the other day I was tempted. A friend of ours (stand up Christine Allen) posted that in the McCafe in Stuttgart she had a coffee and a cake and it came on a proper plate and the coffee in a proper cup In the name of research I thought I really ought to see if this was also the case in other McCafes. (I’m only doing this so you don’t have to dear reader). I got a china cup for my coffee, but the rest was on paper plates. V poor. There is a link to the recipe here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/americanchocolaterip_6334