We are in second class and headed for Austria. The Czech countryside would make for a scenic trip- except the windows in our car haven’t been washed since Communism fell so instead I am journaling. A passenger much wiser than I has opened his window and has his entire head stuck outside of the train. His hair is blowing in the breeze—reminding me of my dog when we drive down the highway. This guy is well over six feet and is wearing an orange striped polo shirt so I wonder if he was in the crowd of drunk Dutchmen watching Holland play Cameroon last night. To pass the time on the trainI play pipe dream on his lime-green plaid pants.
I am excited for Austria and the Alps, but also sad to be leaving Prague and our Korean friends who we met there the night that Korea played Serbia. In the old town square, Hyandi set up a giant screen and from there we watched the World Cup matches.
It was interesting to see the Korean crowd cheer for their team. Most of the men were dressed in business suits and everyone was sittiing in super straight rows on the cobblestones. Criss Cross applesauce on squares of newspaper that they were so careful to keep between their well-clad bottoms and the street. I tried to mimick their perfect posture, but after packing 30 lbs on my back for a few weeks my shoulders have a tendency to slump forward.
The entire crowd was so orderly and well-behaved that I was mesmerised and certainly not mentally or physically prepared for what we encountered the following night when Germany played Ghana.
While the Koreans would clap with rhythm when their team scored, the Germans would throw cups of beer straight up into the air. That’s the only way I knew a goal had been scored because the commentator was speaking Czech and the Germans were not sitting like the Koreans but instead standing right in front of the screen. It was virtually impossible to see anything other than the back of their heads.
I was disappointed because I like to look at the facial expressions of the German coach, Tom Cruise.
Instead, I had an older Italian couple come up to me in the crowd and introduce themselves. They were about 50 years old and very well-dressed for tourists. After exchanging ciaos, I told them I had studied in Rome and was planning to return to Italy in a few weeks. On my rick steves map they showed me where they lived in northern italy and gave me their contact information so that I could get a hold of them and experience some authentic Italian hospitality when we were in the area. Of course I was excited at the possibility of staying for free with “authentic” Italians so when I got back to Casa Italia (yes, we were staying at an Italian B&B in the Czech) I immediately googled Massimo and his address.
I was thrilled to see that there were so many results for his name and hometown. My excitement subsided once I clicked on the articles and read a little more about Massimo. I knew I was reading about the man I had just met because his picture accompianed the articles. However he was a little less recognizable because in them he was wrapped in bandages. Apparently, my new friend Massimo had miraculously survived not one, but TWO attempted murders!!
The newspapers went into great detail to describe everything from the weapons to the disguises worn by the two women who tried to kill him. Some of the story was lost in translation since the articles were written in Italian and my computer translated them into broken English; however I got the moral of the story and decided that it might not be such a good idea to stay with this particular Massimo.
But that’s not to say I wouldn’t be up for an afternoon espresso in a very public place….
Note: The name Massimo has not been changed to protect my friend’s identity. It is such a popular Italian name that I did not deem in necessary.