Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Brain Freeze

Haven't felt helpless work-wise in quite a while. Spent 8 hours fumbling around in a brand new environment today, but what can you expect with a different computer system and a couple of bumps where userID and password are concerned?

But it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and many thanks to my fellow colleagues and ED seniors for cushioning the transition so expertly. It's a lot to take in at one shot, but hopefully I'll get the hang of it soon.

On night shift tomorrow at any rate -- no time to adjust slowly! Would be great if the ghost month trend holds out, heh heh.

Freedom At Last!

i.e. no firewall here, so I can blog in the hospital! Not that I'm going to make it a habit -- unless it's quiet, like now -- but the feeling is very liberating. Aaaaahhhhh. Or rather, nyeh-nyeh-nyeh ( to the person who put up the firewall in the first place ).

Just kidding.

Waxing Lyrical - Part 1?

Not sure if another entry will follow this one, but just in case...

A friend said something about older men not being very cool, but I respectfully disagree.

Especially if you're talking about the European kind. :)

Yes, it's the "European men are divine" post! If you feel a gag reflex coming up, then please stop reading right now.

**warning warning warning**

How should I put this? Last year, I spent 20 days in Italy and was duly impressed with its population of beautiful people -- both male and female. Had quite a few pleasant encounters with the locals, but was also distracted by physical problems, namely a tortured gastrointestinal tract, constant heat exhaustion / dehydration, and incapacitating fatigue.

This time round, the pace was significantly more tolerable, the encounters more personal, the distractions minimal, the weather more balmy.

Not writing in chronological order, but here's one that my mom and I enjoyed immensely.

Place: Salzburg, Austria
Time: late morning, pre-lunch

We cruised into the beautiful city during a short commentary by our tour director, Rita. She told us we'd have a local guide for the next few hours, "usually a woman".

Again, I thought, wincing just a tad. Nothing against females, but wouldn't hurt to have a guy bring us around once in a while.

Suddenly, Rita exclaimed, "Ohhhh, it looks like your guide today is a man. A YOUNG man."

I immediately sat up and peered out the window. ( Hey, being honest here. :))
Wasn't sure where Rita was looking, but the only "young man" I could see was a blonde in his teens standing across the road.

The coach stopped and we got off. When we hit the ground, that's when I saw him -- a man indeed, who couldn't look more quintessentially European than all the stereotypical European men you can possibly think of.

Actually, my mom and I instantly concurred that he looked distinctly Italian. And when he opened his mouth to speak, we were 100% certain we'd clinched the diagnosis.

At least a 6-footer, with black wavy hair, tanned flawless complexion, dressed in a short-sleeved white shirt and beige pants, with sunglasses poking out of his front pocket.

"Hello everyone, and welcome to Salzburg!" he chirped. Unmistakeable accent. My mom and I glanced at each other: Italian, we murmured, grinning from ear to ear.

We spent the next hour taking a stroll around the Mirabell Gardens and main square, through a gorgeous marketplace to the back streets where Mozart's birthplace and quaint shops are located. This was followed by lunch, then a second tour to locations featured in the film "The Sound Of Music".

Won't bore you with the tour details -- saving that for a travel article later. Our guide's name, incidentally, is Pablo. As we congregated again after lunch at the square, he walked up to my mom and I and asked where we're from. Smiling at our reply, he revealed that he's met "many Singaporeans" on the tour, but hasn't had a chance to visit our country as yet.

Curious about his orgin, we asked if he's Italian, to which he replied -- and quite coyly, by the way -- "well, partly, yes, but I'm mostly Spanish and Austrian", flashing us a cheeky grin before leading us to the first highlight.

The next 3 hours were nothing short of magical. Partly because my mom and I are huge fans of the musical ( though my personal fav is "7 Brides For 7 Brothers" -- awesome, that one! ). As Pablo walked us through each location, describing how each was used for this or that scene, he would also re-enact parts of the movie, quoting dialogue and doing voices. It was hilarious and wonderfully entertaining. :D

He also provided a few tidbits about how certain scenery didn't really exist and clashed with the actual thing, like how the Alps appear in the cemetery scene but can't be seen anywhere in the real place. The von Trapp mansion was also portrayed using 2 different residences, with one providing the front facade and another used in the lake sequences.

But of course, it was Pablo's charm that made the tour so memorable. As I stood at a bench while a few of the other ladies went to the loo, he suddenly read out the words on the front of my shirt ( i.e. Deutschland, with a World Cup logo ) and flashed a grin. We then discussed soccer for a few minutes, after which he warned me about the perils of appearing to support Germany while in Austria, 'cos "only Germans love Germany". Hmmmm...

Along the way, he sang a couple of songs from the film, like Sixteen Going On Seventeen and Edelweiss. The latter was en route to the lake house via coach, which was cute 'cos all the elderly folk were doing a sing-along type of routine. Pablo has a mellow tenor voice and did a most tender rendition, like a soft lullaby. Very, very nice. :)

The former, on the other hand, is one my mom will forever hold dear, thanks to Pablo, haha! You see, while we admired a smaller replica of the famous pavilion where Rolf and Liesl danced, he launched right into the signature piece, belting his lungs out ( in perfect pitch, mind you ), then turned to my mom and practically did a solo serenade, stretching out his arms and leaning forward on one bended knee, while the rest of us stood a few metres away, absolutely delighted.

Think my mom blushed a little during that interlude, but I didn't tell her. :)

Last but not least, there's the photo op. I left the group for a moment to snap a picture of a grand driveway just outside, but once I returned, Pablo ushered my mom and I over, offering his arms to both of us, as true gentlemen do, before doing what I like to call a "Mama mia!" pose for the camera.

The result doesn't do him sufficient justice. You can't capture the man's essence in a single take, and he's much better-looking in person. k, hope you have a better idea of what I mean. :)

Anyhow, I had a fine time walking behind him at certain points. He may be in his 40s, but the view was spectacular. ;)

Thank you, Pablo, for a great afternoon in Salzburg!

Got a few more dudes to talk about, so looks like there will be more than 1 part after all.

Will upload pictures later this week. Just got the hard copies yesterday -- fantastic stuff.

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