Sunday, September 29, 2013

Green Parrot People of Key West

I am happily back in Key West and though I am posting pictures from my Italian trip they basically got left behind when Internet service ran out in Italy at the tail end f my vacation. Contrary to popular belief wireless access is much more widespread in the US than it is Europe where Internet is expensive and tends to be paid for by time used. Anyway here are someday urges of my favorite town I took yesterday of my day shift lunch break. I rode down to Whitehead Street, parked the Bonneville and went off to hunt coffee.
My plan involved taking a seat on the bench in front of Jenna's Deli now known as the Courthouse Deli where my wife assured me I could get a con leché with skimmed milk and so I did. And as I struggled to sip the burning hot Cuban coffee and milk I watched people driving past one of asked West's best known bars.
They say they are the first and the last bar on US Highway One which would be true depending on whether you are leaving Key West or Fort Kent, Maine.
Skateboards aren't as popular as they used to be but we still see then around. They are illegal to use on Duval Street for some reason, possibly I suppose owing to the crowds.
As insane as it sounds this spot is known for having its own Facebook page Courthouse Deli Bench.
My neighbor was busy effing and blinding to himself about some major drama that required an out loud interior monologue to flavor my Cuban coffee...Life in Key West frequently requires public battles with altered mental states.
The picture above I wanted to label Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter which could be construed as witty (or not) but which ultimately seemed unfair. So I didn't. In the sultry mugginess of an 85 degree September afternoon I mulled over the unfairness of women being allowed to wear dresses which men, like me of weak character dare not, even on the hottest of days.





I was at the end of my break and the coffee was barely an inch from the top...
Walking back to the motorcycle I was reminded that at the end of the month the fate of the dredge study may be decided.
More on that tomorrow. Meanwhile I have one more week on day shift and Tuesday October Seventh I go back to nights! A red letter day, I cannot wait, even though it will put the kibosh on pleasant lunch interludes like this one.

Autogrill Italy

People who know will tell you that eating along Italy's freeways is not a bad deal. I used to agree without reservation and Autogrill remains the best among the several different franchises. You can get sandwiches, pizza, full meals, all drinks from beer and wine to juices to coffee with all the sodas you expect. Toll roads in Italy have service areas, much like Florida's Turnpike however in Italy they are almost villages unto themselves.
On this expressway north of Perugia the Autogrill was actually better than its advertising made it look. The Menu of the Day includes a primo -pasta - secondo -main course, usually meat and contorno which is a vegetable plus wine water and coffee...for $16 which includes tax and tips are not expected.
At a different brand stop on our way home from the Alps we paused in a non Autogrill stop where similar offerings were displayed though the quality of the food was not so good.
It's all self service with counter help, you point they plate and Italian is not required though you'd be surprised how many working people can muster a little English. Unlike the French, Italians are much more easy going with foreigners who can't speak their language and any effort is appreciated.
My roast chicken lunch was rather dry and crisp and not terribly good. I was disappointed. The puddings were better and the fizzy water was...fizzy and cold!
The place mats tried to speak English and did a piss poor job, even though I should point out I am still waiting to see Italian offered as a language option anywhere in the United States alongside English and Spanish. The Italian reads "A smile as long as a journey..." I prefer my translation.
With your lunch recipt you can get an espresso payment included and you take your receipt to the counter after lunch and get a hot freshly made espresso.
That's when the shopping begins. And let me say you can get all your Italian souvenirs and food packages here (US Customs doesn't allow raw or preserved meat products into the country, no salami and no prosciutto). Jams cookies and candies and chocolates:
They pack a full supermarket into these aisles as you wend your way out. Beauty products, toys! Snacks and pasta...
...wines cheeses and hams. Most Italians grow up with wine on the table and alcohol is viewed more as an ingredient than a source of oblivion. Drunken driving is not permitted of course but a glass of wine with a meal is entirely socially acceptable. Most table wine is not terribly strong and when taken over the course of a slow meal is surprisingly invigorating. I actually was glad t see Coke Zero has made it to Italy though it was horribly expensive, $3:20 for a small bottle which sent me back to one euro espressos ($1.35) in a hurry for my afternoon caffeine hit.
When I took this picture I was photographing books maps and magazines for sale. On closer observation they also sell porn. I had no idea and now I'm back in the US I will have to wait a year to check it out more closely!
With gas at ten bucks a gallon Italy has been promoting alternative fuels for years. Diesel is widely available for a little less money and far better mileage. Modern diesel compacts operate just like gasoline cars, you would be amazed. GPL is liquid propane gas also sold everywhere. Many cars have dual fuel, GPL tanks in their trunks alongside regular gasoline power. These guys had drawn my attention because they had been walking their dog prior to filling their tank. All I could think of was Cheyenne.

Anyone driving in Italy can check out the Autogrill and catch a slice of the whole country in the middle of the freeway.