take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Monday, July 23, 2007

non sono tedesca 

"I am not German" does not, on first glance, seem likely to be a much-needed phrase on a trip to Lake Garda in Italy for a couple of Brits. However, the sheer number of Teutonic tourists abounding in the area means that the default nationality of visitors to the region is naturally assumed, by the native population, to be German.

On a number of occasions, my heart sank ever so slightly as I'd prepared a beautifully pronounced (if I do say so myself) Italian phrase, only to be answered by the Italian functionary in German. German - a language in which I am even less proficient than Italian. I am willing to concede that my beautifully pronounced Italian phrase probably still revealed my foreign-ness, but wouldn't it be advisable to verify the exact nature of that foreign-ness before answering in a language which may conceivably be equally alien to both parties?

After all, I had taken care to start the conversation in Italian; at least they could have humoured me (and tested me a little) by answering first in that same language. If met with the startled and gormless look of someone who clearly hasn't a clue what has just been said, then and only then should you make the next move: establish the nationality of the interlocutor, before finding a mutually suitable means of communication - even if that turns out to be hand signals and badly scribbled pictures on scraps of paper. My badly scribbled pictures are still far superior to the couple of phrases I know in German, "Ich bin zwölf jahre alt, ich habe zwei schwestern und einen bruder" not being particularly useful when purchasing ferry tickets from, say, Torri del Benaco to Maderno for two foot passengers.

Despite these linguistic disappointments, Lake Garda was stunning - surrounded by numerous lovely towns and villages, each with their own different charm and character. The pizzas were thin and loaded, the coffee was strong and black, the hotel was clean and comfortable and the air conditioning thankfully worked a treat.

The weather was far, far too hot for this particular Northern European - overweight from lack of exercise, steroids and serious illness, with a penchant for wearing black and an inability to sit still for any length of time - but that's my problem and one which saw us staggering from one shady spot to another, constantly glistening with a delightful film of sweat. Note to self: next time, go out of season.

There were some interesting dishes on offer in one particular restaurant in our resort: "Laughed to the fruits of the sea" ("risotto ai frutti di mare"), and "I shear of salmon to the grate" ("trancio di salmone alla griglia").

Evidence, if ever it was needed, that there can be no substitute for human translators. Which is handy, given my future career choice...

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