We were on the way to Pula, Croatia from Milano - a quick little jaunt of six or so hours - so I could meet up with my half-brother, with whom I'd never shaken hands and into whose eyes I'd never looked before. That was one of the key reasons for this trip. Would it be anti-climactic? Who would know until we actually got there? The only thing I knew for sure was that we were stopping at a local variety store in Milan to pick up some Santa Claus (a.k.a. Babbo Natale) decorations that we thought were so cute at Boro and Chichi's house.
In case anyone was wondering if Christmas was just some overblown American commercial conspiracy, it's not. It's also a money-sucking, child-hypnotizing monster in Italy. And who knows where else? The store displays were indistinguishable from anything you'd see at any Target or Sears in California as far as artificial trees and ornaments were concerned. The prices and descriptions were written in Italian and marked in Euros, but amazingly, many of the ornaments and decorations had written on them, "Let it snow!" and "Ho, ho ho!"
It's a smallish world.
Then there was the rest stop on the thruway, not unlike the restaurant chains on the New York State Thruway rest stops. This restaurant had a hot food bar where the main items were pasta. (It is Italy after all.)
After our meal we moseyed over to the coffee bar for an espresso. Interestingly, there were very few eating establishments we visited that did not have complex coffee making contraptions behind the counter. This highway stopover was no exception.
We each ordered a demitasse of coffee afterwards in cups that would be considered to have been Lilliputian by American standards. Here in Italy they were just the right size.
We then carried them over to a series of high tables where we and other customers stood and sipped them. I told my nephew, Boro, that this was something that you'd never see in the US. He said, "Really? Why not?" I wasn't sure how to explain. After all, I live in a country where people crave Dunkin Donuts coffee.