22.06.2013 - 23.06.2013
Milan + Venice
I don't mean to start off this post with such a negative connotation in my title. But to be honest, this trip to Italy was plainly the worst I had encountered.
Maybe it was me who made the mistake, maybe it was just miscommunication, but no matter what - I do not mean to offend anyone - I am only putting my experience from my point of view in words here.
For this trip, I had another friend, W, with me. For the first time, we decided to cross the borders of Switzerland and spend a night in Italy. The trip started off great! We got our tickets ready, and I did plenty of research beforehand on how, where and what to do in Italy. It is important to reserve our seats in the train beforehand and those who had no seating reserved have to either stand, or find an unreserved seat. Even though reserved seats tickets were more expensive, it was very much worth it as the trip took nearly 5 hours.
As we crossed the borders and into Italy, this was where my troubles started :-(
My seat was by the aisle and the stranger next to me who was sitting by the window moved out to go to the toilet. The train stopped at one of the stations and a huge Italian lady with her father came up towards me. The lady ordered me to get out of my seat so that her father can sit into the empty seat next to me. As I knew that the seat was reserved, I explained to this lady that the seat was already been taken and the man just left to go to the bathroom.
And All Hell Broke Loose.
The lady started shouting at me in a mixture of English and Italians about how her father was old and I was preventing him from sitting down and resting as he should! And that I have no respect for the elderly at all. Basically, I'm a foreigner who should know her placing in the world called Italy.
When I asked if the lady has a reserved seat ticket for that seat, more italian curses flew towards me.
Luckily a British lady sitting across the aisle knows how to speak Italian and tried to calm the lady down. And yeah - she told me to just let the Italians do what they want to do. So ok - i got up and let the father have his seat.
And guess what - the Italian lady started pouring out her woes to the British lady. Racism much? She was warm and gentle towards a fellow italian speaking lady, but could not even be bothered to speak to me politely just because I'm a Chinese who can't spit out a single Italian phrase.
Let me just point out that I spoke a total of 2 sentences (IN ENGLISH) to this woman - first was about the seat already being reserved, and second, was to ask if her ticket was bought with reserved seats.
And she wants to shout at me about Asians having no manners? Come to Malaysia and let us show you the right way to treat foreign tourists!
Honestly, my mistake here was only to try and follow the rules of seat reservation and helping the stranger to keep his seat. That guy? He most probably just saw the whole fiasco and decided to stay away - I saw him standing for the rest of the trip at the end of the aisle.
Or maybe my mistake was that the guy had not reserve the seat after all and it can be taken up by someone else. Who knows what? Moral of the story - just shut up and allow Italians to rule their own world.
Part 2 - Beautiful cities with crooks abound.
Extra note : It is true that I should not be generalizing an entire country's population based on just a short vacation trip - but an experience is an experience. More on that in Part 2.