Monday, 31 May 2010

Rome-ing, part 3 and probably the last part

Some points that fall halfway between full-on columns and copout bullet points:

  • Clay's Rule of Travel #4: Always give yourself a reason to come back. You'll never see everything you've planned to, no matter how carefully you plan. And making a list of the things you want to go back to next time makes a place more your own.
  • Thoughts on Landsdowne upon seeing the Coliseum: If you're opposed to the project because you're not into sports, then you're missing the point. The Coliseum was a meeting point and focus for all of Roman life, not just the bloodsports. Ottawa needs this focal point. Or, more precisely, Ottawa needs this focal point if it wants to be about something more than being "nice" or "at least not Toronto." It's also important to focus on the "all" part. Meaning ALL of Ottawa. Other parts of the city must step up to make this project work. OC Transpo. the NCC. Ottawa residents themselves must all extend their perspectives beyond the boundaries of their nieghbourhoods. Yes, the processes that got us here was probably flawed. But that debate is over now. Landsdowne is a chance for Ottawa to step up as a city and assert a new identity. Then again, if all we're worried about is parking, then perhaps we'll get the Landsdowne we deserve. And we'll continue to play out the string as Toronto's country cousin.
  • Why did I respond this way? I've seen big buildings before, but these struck me like no others. I think I know why - simple forms - rows and columns - repeated. There's no fussiness to distract. No gilding of lillies. The simplicity and repetition draw you in. 
  • Once you can express a preference for a specific thing over another, similar thing - either of which things some people work their entire lives for but never see, then you know how truly lucky you are. Example: "I really like Roman ruins. But the ones in Arles don't even compare to the ones in Rome."
  • Clay's rule of travel #1: You are not special. Specifically, to the multitudes of tour guides, ticket sellers and bored security guards, you are not special. You are in line at the Louvre, shuffling through the Prado and gawking at St. Peter's for exactly the same reasons as everyone else. To the less-scrupulous tour operators and pickpockets, moreover, you're simply an easy mark.  However, that doesn't mean your own experiences will not be special. Or unique. Or incredibly powerful for you. We all want to travel to see and to learn. That's the first step and we all have to start somewhere. What we get out of travel depends in large part on what we bring to it. Start with an open mind. It will lead you to the truly wonderful places.
  • Ah yes, the romantic allure of the European sidewalk cafe, where the actual coffee will cost you $4.50 and the experience of drinking it will last all of 38 seconds. You want another? $4.50, please.
  • In Canada, the things you need to be open are usually open when you need them to be open. In Europe, some of the things you need to be open are open only on some days, some of the time, depending.
  • North America is obsessed with perfect and complete. In Europe, imperfect and unfinished is a way of life. Notre Dame took a century to build. Folks here have learned to be patient.
  • They were French, and they were having The Argument. You know, The Argument Every French Couple in the Movies Has to Show How Uptight we North Americans all are. 
  • Now she's sitting down. He's standing. Looks like a standoff. Why is she with this dork?
  • 10 PRINT "Hey look, a church!" 20 GOTO 10. RUN.
  • 10 PRINT "Stand right, walk left." 20 GOTO 10. RUN
  • In Rome I saw more Corvettes than Ferraris. Explain.
  • Ok. It's the same distance to the Metro as to the cab stand. Cabs: expensive, possible nausea. Metro: Cheap, possible nausea. Plus chance to walk past new Ferrari. Ok, Metro wins.

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