If, like the majority of FIM magazine readers, you're considering having a meeting in Europe, this column contains valuable tips. For instance, did you know that people in Europe speak a totally different language than we do? In fact, they speak many different languages. I speak neither Italian nor Greek, but I was able to travel through these two European destinations by communicating like a typical American. I simply spoke louder and with an accent. Here, then, is what I learned on my latest travels.
Rome, Italy It is often said that Rome was not built in a day and when you visit the Eternal City, you quickly realize what is meant by that phrase. Rome was not built in a day because nobody moves that fast over there. I take that back. The traffic moves very fast. Uncomfortably fast, considering that they have no lane markers, few rules, and a million motor scooters roaming all over the roads at top speed.
When flying into Rome, be prepared for two things. First, at least one piece of your luggage will be “lost.” This gives you a chance to practice the Italian you learned in school with the luggage claim representative. Second, when you land at the Rome airport, you are still a long, dangerous cab ride from the city. The cab fare will be almost as much as your hotel bill, which was more than I paid for my first car, but I digress.
Rome has many sights to see including The Vatican, the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain. The line for tours of the Vatican was the longest I have ever seen. It's like God's Disneyland but without the rides.
The Spanish Steps are exactly what you think they are — steps, built by the Spanish, and people come from all over the world to sit on them and buy souvenirs. I have stairs at home and judging from the language the builders spoke, I think I might even have some Spanish steps. Feel free to stop by for a sit. Souvenirs available.
The Trevi Fountain is the outdoor fountain featured in many movies. According to legend, if you throw coins into the Trevi Fountain, it will guarantee a return to Rome. I threw the keys to my luggage, hoping that I would see a return of my suitcase. It worked, too. My luggage arrived at the hotel a short time later — but then I couldn't open it.
Vatican City is not only the Pope's home but it is a tourist industry. All around the Vatican are shops that sell souvenirs, colorful robes, and giant pope hats. If you visit Vatican City, odds are that you will not see the Pope in person — even if you wander away from the tour and start knocking on doors. You will, however, meet the Swiss Guard, who dress like a bunch of cream puffs, but pack one heck of a punch.
The coolest thing I saw in Rome was the Coliseum. This sports arena was built in 75 B.C. as a venue for gladiator games and I immediately thought, “This is the same place where Russell Crowe fought!” It is where the Lions battled the Christians in Super Bowl LXXV B.C. The Lions were a 6 ½ point favorite.
Athens, Greece Here I visited the Parthenon, a temple to Athena built from 447 to 431 B.C. This makes it almost 2,500 years old and the Greek people are very touchy about anything this old. Ironically, because they are touchy, you are not allowed to touch anything.
I found Greek food to be quite tasty, but the Greek coffee, not so much. Greek coffee is not coffee the way we think of it, and by that I mean in a liquid form. Greek coffee is more like sludge that you can literally chew for over an hour. Sometimes the Greeks dilute the sludge with something called ouzo, a licorice flavored liquor that will have you dancing like Zorba the Greek by the second cup.
I visited a lot of other places too, so if you have a particular destination in mind and want the local lowdown, give me a call. I promise to speak loudly and with an accent.
Dale Irvin is known as “the professional summarizer.” He attends meetings around the world and recaps the events with instantly written comedy monologues. For more information, and to sign up for Dale's free Friday Funnies, visit www.daleirvin.com. For booking, contact Ruth Levine at Speak Inc., (858) 228-3771.