Tag Archives: shopping

Vedi Napoli e poi muori!

It was my birthday a few weeks back and to celebrate the Upstairs Vegetarian and I went to Naples for the day. Highly recommended. The origin of the phrase ‘vedi Napoli e poi muori‘ (see Naples and die) is unknown but it probably dates back to the 19th Century when Naples was the capital of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. At that time, it was the largest, wealthiest and most technologically-advanced of any city in Italy and the third largest city in Europe after London and Paris. The idea behind the phrase is that once you have seen what Naples has to offer, you don’t need to see anything else. Later it came to have a more literal meaning. During World War II, Naples was bombed more than any other Italian city. There were about 200 airstrikes by Allied troops between 1940-1944 and an estimated 25 000 civilians died. These days, Naples faces an economic crisis due to record unemployment, a low birthrate, industrial decline and the out-migration of people looking for work elsewhere. None of this is helped by the fact that Naples has a tragic and enduring association with an organized crime syndicate, the Camorra.

In 2006, hero journalist Roberto Saviano shone a massive spotlight on the business dealings of the Naples mob in his genius book, Gomorrah. Then came the death threats. For nine years he has been living under police protection, changing residences every few days and traveling with seven bodyguards and two armoured cars. I cannot begin to imagine how terrible that must be.

In the 1980s, the Camorra, decided to branch out into the lucrative waste management business. Instead of paying a lot of money to have the waste disposed of legally, the mobsters dumped it in the fields, rivers, wells and lakes around Naples. The dumps and waste burn-offs have been blamed for abnormal levels of cancers and other diseases among locals. Although the Italian army has been sent in several times to try to fix the problem, waste management is still a big issue for Naples. The European Court of Justice recently ruled that Italy had failed to act against the illegal dumps dotting the countryside.

Despite all of that and the tendency of the foreign press to characterize Naples as a dirty, chaotic city teeming with mustachioed mob widows and burly fellows hiding in alleyways with knives between their teeth, it’s well worth a visit. Only some of those things are true and, on the plus side, there are tons of things to see and do (and eat) and Naples is no more dangerous than any other major metropolis (I’d suggest keeping a weather eye on your wallet and leaving the car behind however).

Naples is only an hour from Rome by train so it’s a very feasible day trip. Having been there several times, I didn’t feel compelled to run around re-seeing all of the sights. There were just three things I wanted to do. Let’s bullet point!

  • Visit the National Archeological Museum
  • Eat pizza
  • Walk down the Street of the Crèches

In addition to that modest menu, we rode the art subway a couple of stops to the museum so that counts as thing number four. A while back, the municipal government started putting art installations in a number of Neapolitan metro stations. It’s pretty great. The U.V. wrote about it in her fancy newspaper a few years ago.

Mosaics by Richard Kentridge in the Toledo subway stop

Mosaics by Richard Kentridge in the Toledo subway stop


We stopped off for a coffee at the elegant Gran Caffe Gambrinus on the Piazza del Plebiscito. Gambrinus dates back to 1890 and apparently Oscar Wilde and our old pal Gabriele D’Annunzio used to hang out there when they were in town. 

The elegant Caffe Gambrinus is located in Piazza del Plebiscito.

The elegant Caffe Gambrinus is located in Piazza del Plebiscito.


San Francesco di Paola on the Pizza del Plebiscito. Springsteen did a concert on this piazza in 2013!

The National Archeological Museum, established in the 1750s, is one of the most important archeological museums in the world. It has one of the planet’s best collections of Greek and Roman antiquities, including mosaics, sculptures, gems, glass and silver, and a collection of Roman erotica from nearby Pompeii. I first came here when I was a young aspiring archeologist and it’s been one of my favourite places ever since. Unfortunately, the English language signage is as obfuscatory as ever. Why oh why don’t they ever get a native English speaker involved in translating the displays? This is from an exhibit on the life and death of Augustus: “The Augustus dead body from Nola was transferred to Rome traveling at night to avoid the heat while the day was standing in the main cities on the Appian route…the body was exposed in the most popular basilicas and temples.”

Below are some of the treats in store for you at the museum.


Here are some of the things you will find at the National Archeological Museum in Naples.

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I love these girls. They are so fierce.

I love these girls. They are so fierce.


Around since ancient times, modern pizza evolved in Naples in the 18th or 19th century. It is unclear when pizzaioli started putting tomatoes on top. Legend has it that baker Raffaele Esposito baked three different pizzas for the visit of King Umberto and Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889. The queen’s favourite was the one featuring the colours of the Italian flag: green (basil), white (mozzarella) and red (tomato). So Raffaele named the pizza in her honour. Sadly, it’s probably not true. These days Naples is famous for its pizza, which is thicker and soggier than the Roman variety. There are oodles of great pizzarias to choose from. We went to Da Matteo, which President Clinton visited during the 1994 G7 summit in Naples. A picture of Clinton with his  mouth full is prominently displayed.

The queue outside of Da Matteo. Luckily most of these guys wanted takeaway and we only had to wait a short while.

The queue outside of Da Matteo. Luckily most of these guys wanted takeaway so we only had to wait a short while.


The U.V. digs into her Pizza Margherita.

Nativity scenes date back to the 2nd century and were popularized by St Francis in the 1200s when he created a living crèche for Christmas Mass, placing a donkey next to a manger full of hay. In wealthy 19th–century Naples, crèches (presepi in Italian) became super popular and elaborate. They evoke a dramatic scene, full of minor characters that have little to do with the Bible story. On Via San Gregorio Armeno, you can see the artisans designing entire villages, with butchers, bakers and candlestick makers all going about their daily business while the newborn Jesus sleeps nearby. We spent most of our time — as urged by our friend Elizabeth — at Ferrigno, a family business that dates back to 1836. There are loads of pictures of the current Ferrigno hanging with movie stars and being kissed by popes so I guess he’s a sort of rock star of the presepe world.

A sampling of the presepe figures on display at Ferrigno.

A sampling of the figures on display at Ferrigno.


You can spice up your nativity scene with some modern characters, including Berlusconi and his dog Dudu.

You can spice up your nativity scene with some modern characters, including Berlusconi and his step-dog Dudu.

Taverna Mari, Grottaferatta

The Upstairs Vegetarian went to Disney World with her family for ten days and now she’s obsessed with amusement parks. I know. Ten days. They did have a couple of little kids along so it’s (sort of) okay.  Anyway, we took a drive a few weeks ago to check out some of the theme parks around Rome. Not that they are open this time of year. Mr Disney was very smart to locate his flagship parks in states where the weather is basically the same year-round. Here, they are open from about May to October only. I don’t know what they do about the Disney theme park in Paris and those Asian ones in places where they actually have seasons. So we weren’t actually visiting the parks, just reconnoitering for later. I’ll give a full report if we go back (I love a good roller coaster ride although I do draw the line at tea with Tinkerbell unlike some people who will be nameless but their initials are U.V.).

A view of the -- somewhat  pukily- named Rainbow Magicland, a newish amusement park in Valmontone not far from Rome.

A view of the treacle-named Rainbow MagicLand, a newish amusement park in Valmontone not far from Rome.

A fine roller coaster that I am eager to try. The view is taken from the super conveniently located gigantic discount shopping mall across the street from Rainbow Magicland. Robbie Williams is going to sing there on May first. How sad is that? I liked his Frank Sinatra phase but his had to toe tattoos are bound to scare the children.

A fine roller coaster that I am eager to try out. The view is taken from the super conveniently located gigantic outlet mall across the street from Rainbow MagicLand. Robbie Williams is going to sing there on May first. How sad is that? I liked his Frank Sinatra phase but his head-to-toe tattoos are bound to scare the children.

My reward for being an excellent and non-critical travel companion came in the form of a fine lunch.  The U.V.’s ‘Find the Nearest Quaint and Delightful Slow Food Restaurant’ app directed us to Taverna Mari in Grottaferatta so that’s where we went. It was great: quaint and delightful as all get-out. They had parking, efficient and friendly service and they welcomed small dogs, none of which are ever  foregone conclusions around here.

Taverna Mari -- which recently moved here from nearby Marino -- was voted the best SlowFood Osteria in Lazio in 2009 according to their Facebook page (which hasn't been updated since 2011, which actually makes me like them even more).

Taverna Mari — which recently moved here from nearby Marino — was voted the best Slow  Food Osteria in Lazio in 2009 according to their Facebook page (the page hasn’t been updated since 2011, which actually makes me like them even more).

Come on in!

Come on in!

Sunday lunch is a big deal in Italy as in many places and by the time we got settled, the joint was jumping. Let’s get onto the food, shall we? The U.V. had a delicious pasta with fava beans and pecorino cheese. This is a classic Italian combo. The beans are eaten raw with hunks of the sharp, salty sheep’s cheese. Fava beans, I am told, also go well with liver and a nice Chianti. Shame on you if you don’t get the reference. According to the American Film Institute, this is the 21st most recognizable movie quote ever (to save you the trouble of looking it up: the first is “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”).

Another fellow that is associated with fava beans is St Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus. Joseph is the patron saint of Sicily and back in the Middle Ages there was a drought, which caused a big famine. The people prayed to Joseph for rain and promised him a major feast if he delivered. The saint came through, the heavens opened, fava beans grew in profusion and Sicily was saved from starvation. Now St Joseph’s Day — March 19th — is celebrated with (what else?) fava beans (also because it’s the middle of Lent so no meat. But don’t worry. This being Sicily there are plenty of pastries and cakes).IMG_0318     I had lamb, hunter’s style (abbacchio alla cacciatora), which was basically lamb shanks in a rich garlic and herb-heavy sauce. It was delicious. I don’t really know what the dish has to do with hunters or why the preparation markedly differs from other things cooked alla cacciatora like chicken and rabbit where carrots, celery and sometimes tomatoes are also involved.


Abbacchio alla cacciatora. I know it doesn’t look that appetizing but that’s just because I am a bad photographer.

Now here’s a thing. I love leg of lamb; it’s probably my favourite bit of my favorite meat (and I looooove meat). In Italy, where sheep and thus lambs abound, it is impossible to get a leg of lamb. I mean you can get a leg of lamb but it is inevitably chopped into several pieces and you can’t get those lovely juicy slices because the legs are very small and there’s so much bone everywhere. And because there is so much bone in these chopped up little lamb legs it is really hard to cut and eat (do Italian lambs have more bones than elsewhere?). And do not try to teach yourself how to debone the chunks by watching Gordon Ramsay videos on You Tube. It’ll only end in tears (and blood). So that was my Easter weekend. The other thing is that Italian lamb doesn’t taste much like lamb. Or rather it does, but not assertively (and I like my lamb to be assertive). My friend Jeremy posits that since most sheep-raising in Italy is about the milk, farmers are not much interested in the ram lambs (a.k.a boy sheep) and therefore do them in before they are old enough to have learned to assert themselves (which also explains the little legs). Anyway, all this to say that — thanks mainly to the sauce — my abbacchio alla cacciatura was delicious but it didn’t take long before I was eating it with my fingers. Stupid bones.

With my lamb I enjoyed an insalata misticanza, a dish that generally features a wide range of wild and cultivated lettuces and greens. Mine included chicory, escarole, dandelion greens, wild fennel, mints and probably lots of other things. The U.V. had cooked greens and potatoes and that was nice too.IMG_0322


All in all, a very fine meal. So if you are out exploring the little towns dotting the Alban Hills or else hanging at the amusement park or hitting the outlet mall (no judgment), you might just want to stop by.

Via Piave, 29, 00047 Grottaferrata Roma, Italy
+39 340 104 2466

Tutti potenziali bersagli

I was in the vicinity of Piazzale Ostiense this week and I thought I’d stop off and take a photo for you, Gentle Reader.  It’s a fairly boring piazza in front of the Roma-Ostia train station but there’s a cool monument there called tutti potenziali bersagli (all potential targets), which was mounted on the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Italy. On April 25, 1945, Mussolini’s puppet government in northern Italy fell, as Italian partisans declared a general uprising and American forces seized Turin and Milan. Two days later, Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, were captured in the village of Dongo (best village name ever!) while trying to flee to Switzerland. They were shot by a firing squad along with 16 Fascist associates. Six of them, including Mussolini and Petacci, were dumped in the Piazza Quindici Martiri (formerly Piazzale Loreto, the piazza had recently been renamed to honor the 15 anti-Fascists recently executed there) in Milan on April 29, where a mob trampled and spat on the remains. Then the bodies were hung upside down with meat hooks at an Esso gas station and people threw rocks at them for a while. Yikes.

The location of the monument is significant. On September 8, 1943, Marshall Pietro Badoglio — who replaced Mussolini when he got fired — announced that Italy negotiated an armistice with the Allies. The Germans immediately marched into the capital, prompting outbursts of resistance around the city, including three days of pitched battle between the Germans and Italian soldiers and armed civilians in this very zone, which includes the Pyramid of Caius Cestius and the Protestant Cemetery. I used to live right up the street and you can still see bullet holes on the facade of my former apartment building. 

It's odd to think of a battle raging so close to the graves of Keats and Shelley. But it happened.

It’s odd to think of a battle raging so close to the graves of Keats and Shelley. But it happened.

Tutti potenziali bersagli  is dedicated to the victims of Fascism and racism. It depicts five human beings with their hands tied behind their backs. While not only a World War II monument, it places triangles on the chest of each figure to remind us how the Nazis distinguished the prisoners in their extermination camps: pink for homosexuals, blue for immigrants, a double yellow triangle (the Star of David ) for Jews, red for anti-fascists and brown for gypsies. The backs of the figures are facing outwards and you can see the stars in the mirror images facing them (but not in my photo, sorry). The monument was designed and built by a group of anonymous political activists and artists, who only got authorization the night before it was to be unveiled because the right wing hated it, of course. That was in 1995. The monument was only intended to be a 10-day installation but nobody bothered to take it down and in 2007 it was included in Italy’s census of cultural heritage. I find it to be very moving and beautiful. 

Tutti potenziali bersagli

Tutti potenziali bersagli

Piazzale Ostiense has always been a bit of a magnet for gypsies, who hang around looking vaguely scary but doing no particular harm.  These are the folks that you often seen going through trash cans and using wire hangers to pull out items of interest. I always assumed the dumpster diving was in search of stuff for their own personal use, but not so. Over the past couple of months, the denizens of Piazzale Ostiense  have converted the piazza into a flea market — and not the good kind. I read somewhere that the police had kicked a bunch of gypsies out of the piazza in front of the Ostiense train station nearby for selling ‘non-hygenic’ products. They must have just scooted on down the road and set up shop here, where the cops will ignore them for at least a couple of months.

There are dirty blankets spread out everywhere and piled with what can only be described as garbage. A child’s broken left shoe. A torn and muddied paperback. A broken clock. A soiled and frayed apron. Some guy tried to sell me a moth-eaten fox pelt. It was really rather horrifying. I looked around the piazza and thought about its heroic history and the monument that honours the sacrifices of the very group of people who are now selling trash at its base to feed themselves. I’ve sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere but I’m not quite sure what it is.

Flea markets of Rome

Yesterday, the Upstairs Vegetarian and I went to three flea markets in Rome. Well, technically four but one was closed. When I first moved to Rome I lived near Porta Portese, which hosts a huge and famous market on Sunday mornings and I went there every single week. It was the first time I had real money and I used to buy stupid stuff I didn’t need just because I could. I was not very fiscally responsible back then. Anyway, I am doing a spot of redecorating and have been looking for a chandelier and oil paintings so I went to Porta Portese last week for the first time in many years and had partial success. You can find some interesting stuff there (as well as quite a bit of dreck but that’s true of any flea market). The guy who sold me a couple of paintings gave me two medallions, one featuring Mussolini’s head and the other the head of Saint Hannibal (although of course the guy told me it was a pope’s head). Porta Portese is always super crowded and intimidating and filled with little gypsy kids who wave a piece of cardboard in your face to distract you and during the two seconds you are saying to yourself, “what the h…?” your wallet is removed from your pocket or purse and relayed across Rome by a giant tag team of gypsies.

"The sacred and the profane," my painting guy  said when he gave me these.

“The sacred and the profane,” my painting guy said when he gave me these.

The first of yesterday’s markets was the Mercatino Conca d’Oro, Via Conca d’Oro 143 (Open Saturday and Sunday 9-20). This was my favourite. It’s nowhere near the size of Porta Portese, which goes on for miles, and that’s a good thing. Conca d’Oro is about the size of a large parking lot and filled with stand after stand featuring antiques and tchachkas, some of which were downright weird. There are secondhand clothes stands and people selling sausages, cheeses and bread.

The market at Conca d'Oro

The market at Conca d’Oro

So tasteful

So tasteful

These are the largest lemons I've ever seen!

These were the largest lemons I’d ever seen!

More market

More market

This was the best. Check out the zombie baby lamp next to the Marilyn Monroe lamp in back.

This was the best. Check out the zombie baby lamp next to the Marilyn Monroe lamp in back.

I bought a nice oil painting of St. Peter’s for 10 Euros and then it was on to the next market. This was the Mercantino Nomentano, Via Cortuso 17 (Open Sunday, 8-19). It’s a smallish affair with lots of antiques. We were greeted at the entry by a wonderful selection of hats.

I really wish I wore hats!

I really wish I wore hats!

In the top left hand corner you may be able to make out the chandelier of which I am the proud new owner.

In the left hand corner you may be able to make out the chandelier of which I am the proud new owner.

Next we tried the Happy Sunday Market at Lanificio (Via die Pietralata 159, 11-2,2 first Sunday of the month). It’s only open once a month so we didn’t manage to see anything but it’s supposed to be great so I’ve included it in my list. When it’s not being a cool and funky happy market, the former wool factory (lana means wool) is a restaurant. When we arrived they were serving so-called brunch, which in Italy — as faithful readers have heard me rant before — is exactly the same as lunch except it happens on the weekend and usually takes buffet form. I am no big fan of buffets — they tend to be boring and congealed — although Lanificio’s has been given high marks by this wise sage. Nonetheless, it was fairly meaty looking so the U.V. gave it the thumbs down and off we went to the next market: Borghetto Flaminio, Piazzale della Marina 32 (Sunday, 10-19).

Not a fan. This is the only market I have ever been to that charges an entrance fee (1.60 Euro). What is up with that? The stalls are pretty much all staffed by resentful middle-aged women and you can imagine a scenario where hubby loses his job in a terrible economy and says to the wife, “Cara mia, you need to sell your fur coats and some of your trinkets so that we can make ends meet.” She does it but she’s not happy about it so she inflates her prices to the point that her favorite stuff will be unbuyable. “I tried honey,” she’ll say. I saw one woman quote a price of 350 Euros for a (very ugly) twin set and when my vegetarian friend enquired about a not-very-special table lamp, she was given a price of 260 Euros! The whole atmosphere feels slightly oppressive and none of the stuff on display is very interesting, although I did see a few interesting Mussolini gewgaws (for the benefit of new readers: I am not a 1930s-era fascist. I’m just interested in the history of the period). I did manage to score a couple of nice paintings of flowers for 15 Euros. Here are some pictures of that boring market.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?


Historical aside: In Rome, as in many  places in Europe, brass plaques have been affixed to the sidewalks in front of the homes of people seized and later killed in the Holocaust. These ones are on Via Flaminia, near the boring market.

The plaques honour the Levi and Della Seta families, who died in the Holocaust.

The plaques honour the Levi and Della Seta families, who died in the Holocaust.

The toilet seat

A few weeks back I broke my toilet seat. Not really sure how that happened nor does it seem like a thing that should happen given the tendency of toilet seats to be sturdy But I guess it was old and the hinges were rusty because when I went to set the lid down on what, for Morgan, is a highly interesting water bowl, the lid went skittering across the floor. So it was off to the toilet seat store for me!

I quickly identified a likely candidate and took it to the cash register. I am planning on redoing my bathroom soon and I was pleased to find a lovely little number in a shade of red that would go well with my planned color scheme. “Oh signora,” said the girl behind the counter. “Are you quite sure that the seat you have chosen is the correct size?”

Before I continue, let me explain about shop assistants in Italy. These fall into three categories: the disaffected, the officious and the dedicated. The disaffected really couldn’t care less whether you buy anything or not. They can’t be bothered to offer you any help (that might just encourage you to stay in the shop longer) and are mostly just annoyed that you are interrupting their cellphone conversation. The officious are — I suspect — actually a subcategory of the disaffected.  They don’t seem to be much concerned with making a sale either. But where the disaffected chase you off through lack of interest, the officious win the day through intimidation. “DICA!!!” They shout at you the moment you walk in the door, which roughly translates as “WHADDAYA WANT??” If, God forbid, you just want to browse they will follow you everywhere you go in the store, walking about a half pace behind, breathing hot, clammy breath on your neck and staring daggers into the back of your head. They are the worst.

The third type of shop assistant wants to make a sale but it has to be the right sale. They take pride in their work and they will not be satisfied until they have found the item that perfectly fits your needs. The toilet seat shop assistant apparently fell into that third category. She carefully explained that the store sold over 30 different sizes of toilet seats. It was critically important that the seat I procured be the right size (and shape) for my toilet back home or it would be uncomfortable and slide around and I don’t know what else; I stopped listening at that point. I do remember her saying that I must go home and measure the toilet carefully. Sadly I put back my lovely red seat and trudged off to find a measuring tape.

At this point, I pulled in the Upstairs Vegetarian because I am not very good at practical things (as I am forever being told) like measuring and she was just going to tell me I had done it all wrong anyway. The UV took lots of measurements and even did a little drawing. We went back to the toilet seat store, only to be told that we’d measured the wrong bits. WHAT? It’s not like there are that many bits to measure on a toilet and how come she didn’t impart this information in the first place? She suggested that we sketch an outline of the seat on some newspaper and bring that in later.

Now, drawing an outline of a toilet seat is easier said than done, requiring masking tape, at least two people and a writing instrument that is visible through newsprint and won’t break through said newsprint when it is basically sketching around a big hole. Anyway, we got it done and took a photo for good measure. And off we went, back to the toilet seat store.

These are the lengths to which you must go when buying a toilet seat in Italy.

These are the lengths to which you must go when buying a toilet seat in Italy.

Finally satisfied that we could be trusted with a responsible toilet seat purchase, our dedicated shop assistant pulled out her Big Book o’Toilet Seats. There were indeed at least 30 in there, drawn to scale and each sporting a different name: the Antonio, the Olivier, the Patrizia. She looked in vain for my perfect match and then got up saying,  “I think I have something in the back.” She brought out a toilet seat (this one sadly un-named and sadder still, un-red), I bought it and took it home. But I’ll never know whether she had the measurements of every single stock item memorized so that when she saw our sketch she instantly knew where to turn, or whether she was as bored with the whole escapade as we were and just grabbed a random seat when my specifications didn’t show up in the book, figuring it would fit well enough, which it did. Was she a disaffected masquerading as a dedicated?

Artistic self-expression — Retail edition

This is a serranda (pl. serrande). It’s kind of like a metal gate and shopkeepers use it to stop miscreants from pulling off heists and other felonious capers of an evening. This particular serranda makes me sad because it means my favourite granita spot is closed for the summer (but only for a few days more!). IMG_1054Usually, the serrande around Rome look like this.

Your typical Roman serranda, complete with obligatory phallic symbol.

Your typical Roman serranda, complete with obligatory phallic symbol.

But lately they’ve started to look like this.

Mattress store

Mattress store


Herbal cosmetics


Kids’ shoe store

And this.

Copy shop. That's my copy guy and his much beloved bulldog.

Copy shop. That’s my copy guy and his much beloved bulldog.

Pretty great, eh?

Saturday at the mall, Bogor style

I’ve been in Bogor (Indonesia) for the past two weeks, working. Apologies that I’ve been rather quiet but between having to wake up every day at 6 – am pretty sure that one of the reasons I quit my job was so I’d never have to do that again – unrelenting meetings all day and Season 1 of Friday Night Lights waiting patiently but insistently for me back at the hotel, I just haven’t managed to keep up with the blog. I’m heading home tomorrow and we can catch up after.

In the meantime, have you ever been to an Indonesian mall? No? Well, I went so you don’t have to. You are welcome.

You’ve got your Pizza Hut.
And A&W
And Starbucks, obviously
Vanilla coffee jelly latte

Starbucks featured something called a vanilla coffee jelly latte, which I tried because it sounded just gross enough to be interesting. It’s basically jellied espresso with milk and vanilla syrup. Over time, like if you are riding the Starbucks’ wifi for five hours while transcribing notes from a conference you’re blogging, the jelly sort of melts into the milk and it’s really not bad. I consulted the Starbucks website – and can I just say Salted Caramel Mocha? Yuck! (and also yum) – and there was no sign of the jelly drink. Tant pis, yanks.

There was an Apple store where I bought some toys for my new iPad, code name ‘crack.’

By the way, all the ululating and testimonializing on the death of Steve Jobs to the contrary (and do count me in that number), the world is still a distinctly Mac-unfriendly place. I spent the entire week trying to send email from the institute where I was working to no avail. “It’s a Mac issue,” I was told.

There’s a gigantic supermarket selling root beer, the groovy taste (among a million other products from Japan, Korea and Thailand, as well as Indonesia).

But lest you think that once you’ve seen one mall you’ve seen them all, Bogor Botani does offer some surprises.

A cow reading a newspaper
A vast amount of batik
And karaoke in the middle of the day
Also some really cute sheep