Roman people were interesting. I found the word that came to mind was 'swarthy'. They tend to be of short stature, olive skinned, dark haired, and well dressed. I saw few blondes. Emma stood out in this regard. In fact, I noted quite a few locals admiring her form. It seemed the norm to do this. I allowed myself a little pride at this point - she's mine!
We found the people loud and demonstrative. When there were in crowded places, this did not dent their enthusiasm to express their opinions openly and loudly. Most unkiwi!
We noted in Rome too that everywhere we went, groups of men in suits were standing around idly chatting. It seemed obligatory to be standing in one of these groups!
Does everyone smoke in Rome? It seems so! We thought, to love and kiss a Roman would mean to taste smoke! Mints were freely available, perhaps needed!
Affection was everywhere. The double kiss, one on each cheek, was the norm for men and women. We often saw women out walking arm in arm, a lovely expression of natural affection. Romans are so much more affectionate than Kiwis!
Money is big here. Perhaps it is true that the real god of Rome is mammon. Mind you, is Rome alone in this? No way! Hong Kong was no different. Neither is NZ! There were hawkers everywhere in Rome trying to sell scarves, art, trinkets etc. It was great watching them run when the cops came, clearly it was not legal. It was equally amusing watching them return as the cops went off!
It is also a strange and good experience to be among people speaking non-English languages as the norm. It is amazing how one's ears perk up when one hears a NZ or Australian accent. It makes me realise what it must be like to be a foreigner in NZ. It is not easy! By the way, learn Mandarin if you have the chance!
There are some great things about NZ we often do not acknowledge. The supermarket is great! The mall is fantastic. The motel is a glorious invention where one can cook and do washing while living in one place; it keeps things cheap.
TV here is priceless. It is US programs dubbed in Italian! We did watch Italy's top model which was a great laugh; we could follow it because of the format. In the main however, they dub US programs. US culture is slowly taking over the world and the world resists little. MacDonalds and coke are everywhere to prove this point!
The Italian train system needs to be sorted. A 4 hour train trip turned into a 7 hour marathon after a 3 1/2 hour delay. This meant a missed ferry! A local told us this is norm.
Watch out for unauthorised cab drivers. We had been warned but were in a rush. We lost out! Don't make the same mistake! Only the authorised!
One thing that stands out to me is this: AUCKLAND NEEDS A SUBWAY! Athens opened theirs in 1998. We can do it too; linking north, south, east, west, all meeting in the centre. We can and must do it. They transform cities. Get the designers of Hong Kong's to come and design ours. We should pay tolls until it is done! Come on, we can do it!
Police with guns are erywhere here. They are a great comfort and deterrent. If I was inclined to do some crime, I think I would think twice. It is comforting knowing too, that if someone has a crack, these guys mean business. In Italy we saw more machine guns than I have ever seen!
But, NZ is great. A trip like this makes you realise you live in paradise.