Saturday, July 09, 2005

"The Breakfast Couple"

June 18, 2005, 1:15 PM, Somewhere Between Empoli and Siena, Italy

On the rails again (sung to the tune of “On the Road Again.”) Hey, Kathy and I are becoming pros at getting our luggage off and on the trains. Today (so far), has been the easiest train trip yet. Of course, the day is still young. But we are on the train to Siena, no changes on the horizon.

You know, I’ve come to a conclusion on this trip to Europe. Europeans are different. Take “the breakfast couple” we encountered several times at the Hotel Lombardi. We nicknamed them that because we got such a kick out of watching the male counterpart at the free buffet breakfast. We guessed they were German because that’s what their language sounded like. First, we noticed that he was eating fresh fruit, but we didn’t see any on the buffet table, so concluded that he bought it at the street market. But he was also eating an abundance of the buffet contents—at least three cartons of yogurt, a plate of croissants and other breads, and coffee. Then he asked the waiter for a cappuccino. A few minutes later, he asked the waiter for hot tea. We didn’t think he was ever going to stop eating and drinking; and that poor waiter scurrying around for him! It just seemed odd. Oh, and when his wife was at the table with him, which was only a short time on the first day, they barely talked at all. I guess they’ve been married for a long time.

Later, on the beach that day, we saw the carabinieri (police) striding down the walkway leading to the ocean with purposeful expressions on their faces. Turns out a horrible crime was being committed right down by the water where a tourist couple was (gasp!) sunbathing on towels instead of the 20 Euro bagno chairs and umbrellas. (That was something Kathy and I actually contemplated doing when we saw those beach mats on sale at one of the shops for only 2 Euros.) But it turns out that you just can’t do that! If you’re going to sunbathe on the private beaches, you must pay for a chair and umbrella. Otherwise, you go to the free beach which is a 2 kilometer walk away. Next thing you know, here comes “the Breakfast Couple” with all their belongings, heading back to the hotel, the carabinieri trailing behind them, looking mightily pleased with themselves. They’d chased the vermin off the beach! The carabinieri are very efficient, too. They patrol the beaches in helicopters, apparently sweeping them for towel-bathing perps, keeping the nation safe from lowlife, money-scrimping tourists who are not supporting the local economy.

So, yesterday, I guess “The Breakfast Couple” decided not to spend the day at the beach, or if they did, they returned to the hotel early because they appeared at the pool in the afternoon, and it was almost as if they were on a schedule. (Germans, for sure.) The woman appeared first and marched right to the outdoor shower, rinsed off and jumped into the shallow end of the pool. The man appeared, went to the shower, rinsed off and jumped into the shallow end of the pool. By this time, his wife was about ¾ of the way down the length of the pool. “Mr. Breakfast Man” jumped in and started to swim after his wife. She pulled herself out of the pool, marched around the perimeter and went back to the outdoor shower. Rinsed off. Went to the chair where she left her clothes. Her husband pulled himself out of the pool, went to the shower and rinsed off. Then he joined his wife who had sat down sideways on the lounge chair. The husband disappeared into the courtyard that led to the hotel. So, Kathy and I are sitting there, and suddenly she says, “Look at the Breakfast Lady.” I glanced over, and damned if she wasn’t sitting there with her bikini top off, just displaying her boobs (okay, so they were nice and firm) to the world. There were construction workers up on the roof, and the lifeguard/gardener working not far away, and I’m sure they all enjoyed the scenery. So, the husband reappears as she’s still sitting there, semi-nude. He’s wearing his little black Speedos (and believe me, this guy did not look like Alberto Tomos) and carrying his clothes. Watching him, Kathy mutters, “Well, I hope to God he doesn’t change here.” And even as she spoke, he wrapped a towel around him and began to remove his Speedos—right there at poolside. And no matter how he tried to be discreet with the towel…well, let’s just say we got an “up close and personal” view of his naked butt.

To be continued…


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