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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

February 25, 2011

STREET LIFE: THERE’S A THOUSAND PARTS TO PLAY

It is kind of like a motocross race, you know, the ones with motorcycles.

We have spent a lot of time in the big cities as of late and there are a few things that one notes, which are common in most of the cities and uncommon in the States.

Motocross is the first. I call it motocross but it really is the basic motorcycle traffic patterns which are on display everyday in the streets. The king of motorcycle-dom, if there is such a thing, is Rome. Rome has streets that were probably designed for a Centurion’s horse and maybe a cart at best, and they have not been enlarged since the time of Caesar. Paved, yes. Enlarged, no.

With streets that wide, a motorcycle or scooter is king. Yes, indeed, Vespas are all the rage though there are a number of larger Hondas, Suzuki’s and we have seen Harley-Davidson dealerships in most cities too. Harleys are the bad-boy cycles, but the cities teem on smaller ones.

Cycles fit everywhere and go everywhere and the drivers are crazy. Something I noticed in India as well as places like Rome, Florence and Barcelona is that if the cycle can fit between cars, then they can scoot right past. At stop lights all the cars are in their lanes. The cycles weave their way around and between the cars and end up at the very front of the light. And when it turns green, about 15 cycles take off like a motocross race.

Florence has small streets but they are straighter than Rome and not hilly. It was not unusual to see Vespas reaching speeds of 45 mph within a city block with blind corners. Never saw anyone hit though.

Oh, and autos. In Rome, a Mini Cooper would be considered a mid-sized car. Those tiny Smart cars for two people are the best for space. They can park perpendicular to the curb like a cycle and do! Rome’s streets are so very crowded and yet these huge tour buses wind their way all over. Cars like the Ford Fiesta are the most popular, though an occasional Jeep Cherokee drives by and one day we saw a Maroon Hummer parked along the street, taking up the space of say, 6 Smart cars.

Café Culture is alive in Europe and the good news is that Europe has gotten with the program and banned indoor smoking. The people in Turkey were quite good natured about it. Greeks got the memo but were a bit resistant. Italians and Spaniards are being good natured about it. If you want to smoke in your café….sit outdoors at the tables. People did anyway, before the smoking ban but now they are fanatic about sitting outside, with coffee, wine and cigs. Most of the places have outdoor dining, I guess with propane. Sit under an awning, turn on the propane to keep warm, smoke a cigarette and spend a few hours. Actually, smoking and propane sounds rather dangerous now that I think about it. But, I am just the messenger.

Best drink outdoors or anywhere? That’s easy. Turkish Tea, served in tulip style cups. Eat a large or small meal in Turkey. Finish it with Turkish Tea. Just want to sit at an outdoor café for a moment? Turkish tea. Just ate a meat sandwich or a type of stew and rice? Finish it with Turkish tea. The most civilized of moments, in one of the best cities I have ever been. Istanbul. And for your visual enjoyment, Motocross at every stoplight.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

To follow Bob's journey via his blog, check in daily at:   www.revbobsjourney.blogspot.com

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