25 June 2008

La dolce vida

Yeeh, owww, eee, oooh. Hear that? That's my calves and the bones in my feet screaming for mercy. I'm in Rome, and today I went to the Vatican museums, saw the Sistine Chapel and then went to the Colosseum in the afternoon. Something no sane tourist would attempt on a 35 degree + day. But then I'm clearly no sane tourist. But before you hear about that and get to see my feats of digital photography, I'll share some diary extracts with you all.

Sunday, 22 June. Rotterdam. 4pm
Smells of cities.

Paris is easy. It's garlic and exhaust laced with those whiffs of raw sewage you sense must be just centimetres from your sandal-clad feet. Barcelona for me will always be urine and smoked ham. Marid is dust and cigarette butts.

Amsterdam has this foreign/familiar smell. I notice it when I'm inside the trams, its got the cold trapped in it, plus perhaps jonge belgium cheese and some kind of ubiquitous cleaning product. In the streets, of course, it's the blasts of pot smoke coming from the coffee shops and groups of men walking past my front door.

Buenos Aires smelt like a 'lagrima' - a small coffee with a drop of milk (or was that a small cup of warm milk with a drop of coffee?). That, and sugary medialunas, dog poo and poverty at the fringes of things.

Biz said Cuba smelled like Africa, particularly in the local market, I think this is the smell of uncovered meat, flies and humidity. Plus the lime in a mojito.

London smells like stout. And pollution.

I think the smells of Australia are too well embedded in my amalgyda to easily pinpoint them like this. But, Adelaide brings to mind the stale air discharged from air con units, jacaranda and dead grass in summer. A whiff of woodsmoke in winter. Sydney is the unburnt diesel coming from the back of buses. Pide from Topkapi on Enmore road.

Sunday, 22 June. Rome. 8pm

So far, Rome smells like really terrible stinky feet, thanks to the gent who sat next to me on the 'Leonardo Express' - the train from the airport to Termini station.

Monday, June 23.

Rome also smells like my sweat. It's well over 30 today, walking is good but you can tell people who live here seek the shade, like Sydney, like home. Yesterday it struck me on the train how the classic cream brick look from suburban Adelaide that screams Italians built this house! just mirrored the hundreds of medium rise apartment blocks on the fringes of Rome. Even the roll-down blinds all seemed to be in a chromatic rainbow of dark brown to burnt umber. Now, in the centre, this pale orange, tan, cream, that must be the total palette of the renderer gives the whole place that mediteranean look. So, no wonder our immigrants said 'cream, that's the look for me!' when making their selection at the brick shop in 1952. Right now, I'm in the Piazza di Santa Lorenzo in Lucina. It's just a in a warren of streets between some churches with Caravaggios and a museum with Caravaggios. I'm having a Caravaggio morning. The church to my back is a Basilica from oh, I dunno, the 1200s. the guide book says it features a 'kitsch' Crist, but I couldn't pick him out of the various Christs to be honest. They all look kitsch to me.

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