Tag Archives: Italian Drivers

Top Ten Dumbest Web Search Questions

Vesuvius Postcard

“do flights landing in Naples fly over Vesuvius?”

Now, this seems to me to be an especially stupid question. I am not an expert on aviation or air traffic control but it seems very unlikely to me that aeroplane carrying over three hundred passengers landing at an international airport in Italy would want to fly over the top of a 1,300 metre high active volcano because it sounds full of potential hazards to me especially as the Naples airport is only ten miles or so from the crater and at this point would have an altitude of barely higher than the top of the mountain.

The page they were directed to was probably my post about my visit to the mountain.

Another dumb historical question next – “how wealthy are the Romanovs?” and dumb because most people know that the entire Romanov family were killed by the Bolsheviks in 1917 during the Russian revolution.

Russian_Royal_Family_1911_720px

There are some claimants to the titles of the Russian Tsars but even if they were confirmed to be true descendants they would be extremely unlikely to be wealthy because the Russian communist regime confiscated all their treasure, money and valuables.

I visited Russia in 2012 and posted about the fate of the Romanovs so I guess the enquirer might have ended up on my post about the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg.

Some time ago my favourite was can pubic hair grow more with regain?” and rather disappointingly I have nothing to really compete with that ever again.

I think this may have drawn the person with the question to my post about “Health and Efficiency” magazine

Actually that was a good thing about Health and Efficiency because there were never any pubic detail on show because until the mid 1970s this was strictly censored in British publishing.  In retrospect, the most striking thing about the models’ anatomy was that they were completely without pubic hair, or, for that matter, any other details associated with the genital area of the body.

They were as blank as an ancient Greek marble statue in that department, and in pre computer photo editing days, this was achieved by skilful use of an ‘air-brush’ applied directly to the photo before publication.

nude-croquet

Bottoms however were ok it seems…

Being a student of history I am going to begin with a selection of wildly inaccurate historical searches.

The first one is “Why did Shakespeare bring starlings to Australia?”  I think I am obliged to point out here straight away that William Shakespeare died in 1616 and Australia wasn’t settled by Europeans for another couple of hundred years or so after that and although there is much literary speculation concerning possible visits by the Bard to Italy I think it is safe to say that he never went as far as Australia!

Birds of Shakespeare

I imagine that what the question referred to was really about starlings in the USA because here there is a connection.  The introduction of the starling to USA is said to be the responsibility of a man called Eugene Schiefflein who belonged to a group dedicated to introducing into America all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works on the basis that they thought it would be rather nice to hear the sound of Shakespeare’s birds warbling their old world songs on the tree branches of new world America.

Showing a similar lack of historical knowledge is my second search term, “Was El Cid a Muslim?”  Now, El Cid was the great Spanish hero of the Catholic Reconquista which drove the African Moors out of the Iberian Peninsula so I imagine any suggestion that he was a secret Muslim will have poor Charlton Heston spinning in his grave.

Following a visit to Castilla-La Mancha in 2009 I wrote a number of posts about El Cid and I expect the enquirer was sign posted to one of these.

El Cid 1

Next on my historical howlers list is Napoleon Monument in Moscow” What? In his periods of sanity Napoleon did some rather good things but most of the time he was a tyrant and a dictator and a warmonger and in 1812 he invaded Russia and did unspeakable things to the Russian people who were unfortunate enough to be in his way as he marched his army to Moscow.  When he got there the Russian people burnt the city down and so with nowhere to stay for the winter he was obliged to march all the way back again during which his army did more unpleasant things to the Russian people.

I imagine that the chances of there being a memorial to Napoleon Bonaparte in Moscow are about just as likely as there will be a statue of Adolf Hitler.

Napoleon 2

Moving on now from history to science – “see through girls’ clothes” and once again if I had the answer to this one I would surely be a millionaire.  It reminded me of my post about X-Ray Specs which seemed to suggest all sorts of peeking opportunities but in fact never actually worked (or so I am told!)

x-ray-specs

For this  category  of search terms I have saved my favourite until last and this is it – things to do in Tossa de Marr Spain for clairvoyants”. Now, call me a sceptic if you like but if you can see into the future what on earth does a clairvoyant need with a website of advertised events – why don’t they just look in their crystal ball?

I have been to Tossa de Mar and I have to say that palm reader, soothsayer or clairvoyant that it is a very fine place to visit.

Tossa de Mar Costa Brava Postcard

One of my most successful posts is about the day I attended a Buckingham Palace Garden Party and I get lots of odd Google referrals about this one.  This year my favourite just has to be – “do I get expenses to attend royal garden party?”

Let me take a moment here to explain.  Just to be invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden party is a bit special in itself and believe me there is going to be a lot of expense involved – new suit, new outfit, overnight stay in London, taxi fares etc. and most people would gladly deal with this just to be part of the occasion so I have to say that expecting the Queen to pick up the bill sounds rather republican to me and whoever asked this should not have had an invite in the first place.

Cakes at Royal Garden Party

Next up, I really like this one –what did the captain wear on the Titanic?”

I visited Belfast recently and went to see the Titanic Exhibition and Museum.  It was a super place and I recommend anyone to go there and I think what I learned on that visit may just well help here.

Around the exhibition there are lots of pictures of Captain Smith in his White Star Line uniform so I am forced to conclude that except when he went to bed and most likely put on a pair of pyjamas that this was his favourite form of dress.  Another thing that I can be certain of is that Captain Smith didn’t wear a lifebelt because after the Titanic struck the iceberg he went down with his ship and drowned!

Edward Smith

To finish with this is probably my biggest ever favourite…

What was General Franco’s favourite food?

I am sure that this is a question that only his personal chef could realistically be expected to answer with any authority but my suggestions are…

  • Skewered Republicans
  • Roasted Liberals
  • BBQ’d Communists

Some time ago I tried to visit General Franco’s tomb but the Spanish don’t like Franco any more and it was closed at the time on account of the fact that it was being demolished.

When General Franco met Führer Adolf Hitler I can only assume that either they couldn’t agree on the menu or they were both on a diet…

Franco meets Hitler

Regardless of food, this has to be one of the most awkward historical meetings ever – just look at their faces!

Got any odd Google enquiries – please share!

It’s Nice to Feel Useful (11)

search-engines confused.com

About this time of the year (it is 1st March after all) I start to look back over my posts to review what has been going on.  One of the things that I like to do is to take a look at the search questions that seem to bring web-surfers by the site and take a look at some of the more bizarre and unusual.

Before Google got nervous about web search findings and tightened up on publishing results this was a lot more fun and there were a lot more to choose from but over the last year I have spotted a few that amused me…

I am going to start with one about crime and this search request – Is bag snatching bad in Krakow” and my response to that is bag snatching is bad everywhere so don’t do it because you can end up in a whole lot of trouble.

On roughly the same subject I rather liked this one – “How to avoid Pickpockets in Athens?” The answer of course is simple – don’t go to Athens!

Athens Metro

Actually I have some experience of pickpockets in Athens and although I have always considered Greece to be an honest and safe place and Athens has always been regarded as a city where stealing from tourists was unheard of, yes, Kim and I were robbed on the Athens Metro and this is our story…  “Athens Pickpockets”

I am being adventurous (or maybe just foolish) this year and have trips planned to Naples and to Barcelona, two cities with an unenviable reputation for street theft!

On a lighter note I offer you this one … “Can you see the Giant’s Causeway from the Car?” and the answer is yes of course you can but only if you are prepared to take your vehicle across a muddy field and then drive it over the cliff edge.

The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is free to enter but managed by the National Trust who don’t really encourage people to visit for nothing and make it as difficult as they possibly can to avoid the extortionate car parking and entry Visitor Centre entry fees.

Shortly after returning from a visit I wrote a post about visiting Giant’s Causeway and how to do it on the cheap and it has turned out to be one of my most successful with almost five thousand hits – “Top Tips for Visiting the Giant’s Causeway on a Budget”

Northern Ireland Giant's Causeway

Now, what about this one – “How often is the Titanic visited?”  As almost everyone knows the RMS Titanic sank on its maiden voyage in April 1912 after an unfortunate encounter with an iceberg close to Newfoundland.  It sank to the bottom of the Ocean and rests about two and a half miles from the surface.  That is a long way down and requires specialist deep sea diving equipment to explore it so the answer is  a simple one – Not Very Often At All!

It is possible that the enquirer was directed towards my post about my visit to the “Titanic Experience in Belfastand on the subject of visitor numbers here I find that I can be more helpful  because I happen to know that since opening in 2012 the Museum has had over four million visitors from over one hundred and fifty different countries.

Titanic Museum Belfast

Mine is a travel blog so sometimes people seek answers to questions about popular holiday resorts. This year I have picked out this strange question – “Where does the waste go in Benidorm?”

Benidorm was one of the first big Spanish holiday resorts and by the 1970s had acquired a dubious reputation for holiday lager louts and badly behaved visitors from Northern Europe and for that reason I am tempted to say that Benidorm waste goes back home at the end of a fortnights holiday!

Thankfully Benidorm isn’t nearly so bad these days and it has left its sordid past behind. I visited the city in 2017 and wrote a post about the changes that I noticed… “Travels in Spain, Benidorm and How Things Change”.

Benidorm Then and Now

The next one wasn’t really a question it was a statement – “Italians don’t respect the Highway Code” and whoever said that was absolutely correct. In Italy, traffic regulations currently in force were approved by the Legislative Decree number 285 of 30th April 1992 and are contained in the Italian Highway Code called the Codice della Strada, but anyone visiting a busy Italian city or town would be certain to dispute that there is such a thing as a highway code in Italy.

I foolishly attempted car rental in Italy in 2013 and almost immediately wished that I hadn’t.  Trying to be helpful I wrote a post about my nightmare experience upon my return…  “Travelling – Car Hire Advice – Driving in Italy”.

In brief my advice was ‘DON’T!

Car Parking In Italy

Staying in Italy this search question caught my eye – “Prostitution People Dead Caused by Volcano” and I imagine the enquirer might have been researching Biblical plagues or judgments or something similar. I don’t know if prostitutes or sex workers are singled out in this way for natural disaster punishments but my post about Mount Vesuvius is my fifth most popular ever with fifteen thousand seven hundred hits – “Sorrento, Mount Vesuvius – Living on the Edge of Disaster”

Vesuvius the crater

I conclude this year’s list with a very bizarre search question – “Nazi Crisps”. I really don’t know if Adolf and the German High Command liked foil wrapped potato crisps (I doubt that they were even invented then) but if they did I imagine that there favourite flavours would have been Bratwurst, Cabbage and Brawn Cocktail.

I wrote a post about potato crisps/chips but I am certain that I didn’t mention the Nazis – “Chips, Crisps or Fries – How Do You Eat Yours?”

Nazi Crisps

That’s it for this year, thanks for reading and I will do another round up when I have enough material…

… Have you spotted any bizarre search questions bringing unexpected visitors to your blog posts? – Do Tell!

 Here are the previous posts in this series of weird internet searches…

It’s Nice to feel Useful (1)

It’s Nice to feel Useful (2)

It’s Nice to feel Useful (3)

It’s Nice to feel Useful (4)

It’s Nice to feel Useful (5)

It’s Nice to feel Useful (6)

It’s Nice to feel useful (7)

It’s Nice to feel Useful (8)

It’s Nice to feel Useful (9)

It’s nice to feel useful (10)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful

Car Parking In Italy

I love the way Italians park… it looks like a parking competition for blind people.  Cars are pointed in every direction, half on the pavements and half off, facing in, facing sideways… fitted into spaces so tight that the only way out would be through the sun roof.  (Italians) park their cars the way I would park if I had just spilled a beaker of hydrochloric acid on my lap.”                                    Bill Bryson – ‘Neither here Nor there’

There is no parking discipline in Italy because an Italian will gladly block you in, double-park, use the bumpers to nudge other cars out of the way, scratch and graze other parked vehicles on the way in or the way out and generally disregard all of the normal civilised rules of parking a car.

It took me some while to find somewhere that I was reasonably happy with and found a spot away from the busy part of the town on the end of a street where hopefully no one could park behind me because I didn’t want to get back to the car later and find it sandwiched like this…

French Parking 1

Italy and Puglia, Ostuni to Alberobello via Locorotondo

Ostuni Puglia Italy

Car Hire in Italy…

The dreadful Nonna Isa had one last sting in the tail for us.  The owner Giorgio assured us that he had arranged for the car hire company, Sixt ,to pick us up, but when, thirty minutes after the agreed time, there was no sign it was fairly obvious that this wasn’t going to happen so resigned to our fate we wheel-bumped our luggage down the uneven cobbled streets and made our way to the bus stop in the main square, the Piazza della Libertà

There was a thirty minute wait so I took the opportunity to have an early Peroni and then the bus was late so there would have been enough time to have two!  Eventually it arrived and took us to the railway station where I abandoned Kim and the luggage and went looking for the car hire office.  Looking at the map it was quite close by but that was as the crow flies and it was a much longer walk than I had at first anticipated and it took me thirty minutes or so to find it hidden away in the middle of an unattractive industrial estate.

As this was Italy I was hoping for an old car with a few battle scars but I was allocated a brand new silver Renault Clio with relatively little damage and after a few brief instructions I was behind the wheel and tentatively nudging my way through the Italian traffic and after being reunited with Kim I predictably took the wrong road and drove for a few kilometres before having to do the sensible thing and turn around.

Italian Drivers…

Once out of Ostuni we were on the open road and I thought I must have gone wrong again because the road surface was appalling with pot holes and bumps, no white lines and a fifty kilometre speed limit but after a short while it became clear that this was indeed the main road.  I stuck to the speed limit but this just had the effect of irritating everyone behind me because to the Italians this seems to be advisory rather than compulsory and most of them were driving at least twice as fast than the limit, usually in animated conversation on their mobile phones and forever overtaking at any precarious opportunity and after only a few kilometres I was beginning to regret the car hire decision.

Ostuni Puglia Italy White City

La Città Bianca, Locorotondo…

After only a short time I was ready for a break so it was lucky that we came across another of La Città Bianca, the charming little town of Locorotondo where we found a huge car park where I was delighted to pull in, leave the car for a while and then walk into the centre.

There was nothing especially remarkable or memorable about Locorotondo but it was peaceful and quiet and the narrow white streets were rather like Ostuni but flatter and without the touristy elements.  We visited the Cathedral and then immediately forgot about it and criss-crossed the old town through its network of lanes and then found a park and a viewing area with views over the agricultural valley decorated with the trulli houses that are a feature of this region.

I will tell you about the Trulli houses later because our next destination was the town of Alberobello where we would be staying in a Trulli house of our own.

We stopped for a drink and a sandwich in a little café in the centre of the town but eventually there was no putting off the remainder of the drive so we returned to the car and pointed it in the direction of Alberobello where we arrived in just a few minutes and, unusually for us, easily found the hotel reception office with the accuracy of a guided missile.

A Trulli in Alberobello…

After a long introduction and plenty of unnecessary advice the receptionist, Francesco, took us to our Trulli about five hundred metres away.  Based on the Nonna Isa experience in Ostuni this was a dry throat, white knuckle moment for me because I don’t think I would have got away with two bad hotels in succession but I needn’t have worried because it was delightful and everything that we had expected as we were introduced to our traditional Trulli with its immaculate whitewashed walls and grey stone bonnet roof.  Kim declared it to be an instant hit and relieved by that I instantly relaxed and opened my suitcase and took the cap off of a bottle of Peroni!

On account of the fact that we were due to stay in Alberobello for four nights we didn’t rush off into the town but stayed around the Trulli and enjoyed the sunshine and then later went walking and looking for somewhere to eat  and to cap off a good day Kim once again demonstrated her uncanny knack of finding a good restaurant and on the edge of town her instinct led us to a small trattoria with a short menu where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and even before we had finished agreed that we would return again tomorrow.

Things were definitely beginning to improve and it was so good to be here that it didn’t even matter that as we ate it started to spit with rain!

Alberobello Sunset Puglia Italy