Saturday, December 6

Italian Fashion: Dressed to the Nines

Lately, I've been giving a lot of thought to what's changed in Italy - for better or for worse - since I first landed over twenty years ago. Sometimes, it's hard to say if anything truly is worse (although Italians & economists from all corners say it is).  Perhaps I simply hadn't noticed issues when I was younger and too busy traveling for both business or pleasure.  
With these thoughts constantly ferreting through my mind, I got a chuckle from a certain Dory on Twitter - when she posted @DFindingDory:
some bitch: omg you wore that shirt the other day me: yeah well in my house we have this amazing thing called a washing machine

It reminded me growing up in the U.S., you could never be caught dead wearing the same clothes two days in a row.  I swear in U.S. corporations it is still cause for dismissal.  So when I first arrived in Italy, I would be stunned to see those impressive men and women impeccably dressed, right down to magnetic blue high heels to match their acquamarine tailleur. I am still in awe whenever I see that mix. They were memorable.
So much so, that I believe large part of the rage against FIAT head Sergio is less about moving his profits to Holland and closing factories than his insistence on wearing sweaters instead of the mandatory stunning Armani business attire of his fellow countrymen.
Coming from the country that invented "leisure suits" - "sweat suits" and "casual Fridays, you'd face your coworkers, duly impressed.  But then, waltzing into the office the next day, you'd be struck by some bizarre déjà vu episode.  You could swear that that classy woman in the fabulous hot pink ensemble would be wearing the same thing again, going about her business as if nothing was amiss.  I would wonder if it was some sort of code of honour, basically spelling it out lest we glaze over its rich symbolism: "Wow--Did I have a whopper of an evening last nite! What day is it, again?"  When in reality, it was probably nothing quite so tantalizing. They just slaved over their outfit with a handy iron - something that I believe Italians are trained to use as soon as they are out of diapers.  And that's so they can iron their underwear.
Find the Canadian.
Over time, I, too, would adopt the practice of repeat dressing -- sadly, with or without the wild nights prior (okay, okay, mostly without).  And now I find it's a regular part of the repertoir.   But try as I might, it just comes off appearing more like homelessness than anything else.  That's because my outfit -- would be tossed mindlessly over a chair the night before.  As for Italians, much to my chagrin, they will look classy no matter how many times they put on the ritz - wearing the same thing as before.  Maybe it's that their clothes -- are wrinkle-free.

Tuesday, November 25

Thanksgiving in Italy-Fine Feathered Friends

For Thanksgiving, I bring my annual tradition of posting one of my earliest entries on celebrating this very American tradition as an expat...Today, or often over the weekend, people are breaking bread (well, actually stuffing) with their native friends, and many foreign faces as well. So, wherever you are, enjoy your own Festa di Ringraziamento!

Spending time in the USA during my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, well, makes me think about all those wonderful Thanksgiving Days celebrated by all us 'expats' in our adopted countries. In much the same way that Italy (and Europe, for that matter) have adopted Halloween as their own, well, in industrious Milan or places like Geneva or Lausanne, even the store owners get ready when Thanksgiving comes around the corner.  It's so popular, you now need to order the bird in advance.  Those same stores stock their shelves with many items that ordinary Italians would probably have fed to their pigs if they had them.

Although Italians eat lots of turkey, they seriously don't eat - much less prepare - the 15kg. version -- whole. But, right around the last week of November, you could ask the butchers to purchase and then hold onto the whole bird. And this was terrific. Aside from providing the butchers and cashiers a bit of holiday entertainment, you (along with your bird) would be the center of attention. One year, they were so confused by our request, a friend ended up with an 11kg bird for the price of one kilo: 3euro95. Even after questioning the amount, they insisted the price was right...let's just say given the cost of things here, we had lots to be thankful for that year!

Surprisingly, Thanksgiving in Italy brings one lots closer to the original Thanksgiving feast. First, there's the shipping of all the canned foodstuffs, probably not unlike the stuff our forefathers brought in huge wooden crates to and from the New World. Americans start filling up empty suitcases with goodies like cans of pumpkin and cranberry, Stovetop stuffing mix, and packs of Jiffy cornbread (because polenta just doesn't do the trick).

One bird that doesn't need
But, in a nod to those original pilgrims, I must say, it's the turkey. While we don't have to quite break its neck & clean out its gizzards (although, if you forget to request it, you might just end up with the whole thing, head and all), we all get a bit tripped up by something never quite seen in an American home -- all those feathers. Or, feather tips, rather.
While in America, you get something that very remotely resembles the animal from whence it came; here, you're reminded that this was, in actual fact, a bird -- feathers and all. And so, you learn how, exactly, one rids oneself (or one's turkey) of his down without actually peeling the whole skin off, feather tips and all. I can just imagine those early pilgrims trying to figure this one out: the Indians furious that their guests tried cutting away the feathers along with the tasty (and fatty) skin. No wonder so many died of hunger. So, ignoring old traditions of plucking, you find your best gas-powered flame thrower, and start burning away.

Although no matter how long you painstakingly go about de-feathering, there are always a few tough ones left over-- kind of like those grey hairs you try so hard to dye. And, while I must say, this process does not make me nostalgic for the huge butterball turkeys with a self-popping thermometer inside, it does add a bit to your preparation time.

The last problem you must face in serving your feast, is that, contrary to popular belief, Italians do not feast, least of which during a non-Catholic holiday, and especially, in the evening. So, that annual pigging out fete sort of falls a bit flat, with each Italian carefully choosing their primo (mashed potatoes & stuffing), the secondo (turkey), and the contorno (veggies), and questioning why one must eat 'family style' and not one dish at a time. They barely fill their plate, never mind second helpings. Stuffing is seen as an alien life form and desserts, well, whoever heard of a dessert made from a vegetable?

So, while the rest of us heap up our plates again and again, and then start loosening our belt buckles, well, judging by our girths, we see why Thanksgiving is an entirely American phenomenon.

Tuesday, November 18

European Stereotypes from A to Z

Although the new cool 10 euro bills have already been issued, all of a sudden the internet is atwitter about the new ad released to help people understand that the bill is not Monopoly® money.  And that's because, while it takes you through some of the more basic stereotypes, Italians were particularly offended that they were depicted as a waitress getting her first big tip.
And while I think that Italians have a storied tradition of fine restaurants and glorious food the world over, the ad is offensive for three reasons:  First, Italians don't tip [and why they don't need to here] So that waitress is clearly working in a fancy hotel where the clients don't know any better, or she's in another country - scraping by - on her tips.  Secondly, the head of the European Bank is one prominent Mario Draghi, so why were the Italians depicted with such a menial job?  Heck-the Spaniard had at least gone fishin' - a nice portrayal since his king and all his king's men were busy taking or paying bribes when they weren't out shooting elephants and his countrymen senselessly torturing bulls.  And third, but not least important is...English?  Really?  I'm not sure why that decision was made since England is not in the Euro Zone - maybe it's for all the other countries whose language was not included.  But if they wanted to reach the masses, especially the thousands washing up on the Italian coastline -- perhaps Arabic would have been a slightly stronger language to include in the film.
So while the ad agencies were considering what people could do for their 10 euro, here's my listing that may have been more country-specific:
  • Sit down in a Roman Taxi  But don't go anywhere. 
  • Sit down for two scoops of gelato
  • Visit a Museum
  • Top up your phone 
  • Buy 10 cappuccinos in Rome (alas only 6 in Milan)
  • Rent a lounge chair on the beach just kidding, you couldn't get away with that little
  • Buy a pizza and a drink at lunch
  • Give to any of the dozens of homeless beggars or window wiping squeegees in a day
  • Have a happy hour & buffet apericena at your fave bar
  • Slide a suitcase of them for anyone involved in Milan's Expo2015 construction bid - Aquila reconstruction - heck - any construction project across the Bel Paese.
  • Buy a chunk of parmigiano (insert tears here)
  • Gift it to the post office since your package or letter won't arrive anyway
For the original brilliant film of Europeans -vs- Italians...look no further than Bruno Bozzetto 

Friday, October 3

A Day in the Life of Italy-Customer Service Edition

March may come in like a Lion…but in Italy, it’s September that comes in like a jackal tearing its innocent victim apart, piece by piece, making sure to rip the flesh right off the bone.  And that’s not because you just returned from a fab four-week holiday in one or another gorgeous hilltown or seaside resort and feasted on figs & prosciutto until you could no longer breathe. No. 
It’s due to the rude awakening, after a lazy summer of virtually no traffic, little pollution, few beggars (if you avoid the tourist traps) and general sun-kissed bliss peppered by near-nightly fireworks displays, just celebrating summertime.  Suddenly, as you're standing there at the foot of what seemingly appeared to be a kind and gentle castle keep, you are met with the onslaught of hot oil poured out from every opening until you’re buried in burning tar.  The cars nearly running you down before double-parking you in, the trash strewn around your every pathway, the spit blobs and dog doo lining your once-pristine sidewalks.
For me, despite rejoicing each morning in the company of my amiable tribe of nearly everyone I meet at the dog park, exchanging pleasantries and wide smiles with the local retailers & restaurateurs and even my neighbours - heck - even the crusty ol’ nuns and lunatics planted on park benches always look up to crack a smile of hello (well, okay, both the nuns and the insane will only do it sometimes).  But this September was different.  I had the misfortune of having everything in my orbit simply break. All at once.  Perhaps it was the earth’s magnetic shift, or those gorgeous Super Moons, who can tell.  All I know is…I was suddenly that prey that nearly everyone I came into contact with wanted a piece of.
We don't really need who-knows-what
Grande Thing, or who-knows-which Great Men.
What we need is just more honest people.
It started with my washing machine leaking water all over the bathroom floor.  In a wild case of Cognitive Dissonance, I went online to the nearest repairman in my neighborhood.  Called & booked. He came the same day.  Efficient.  Friendly.  Taking one look at my old machine (and I mean, one look - he opened up the cover, nothing more), he said it couldn't be fixed.  Seeing I paid for the visit, I asked him about my dishwasher.  It just doesn't clean dishes. He got on the floor, opened the machine and said, "It'll work like a charm now - I pushed a special button down there."  To amuse myself, I asked him to show it to me...Assessing clearly I am from the 'weaker sex', not braun, but brain power, he said, with a straight face, "Oh no, there are far too many electrical wires there - I can't possibly allow it."  Charging me 80 euro for his trouble. 
So, my dishes were still dirty and my washing machine was still unusable. Until I recounted the event to my lovely tire guy, who sent over his elder brother, who got the whole thing working again, after spending over an hour in blood, sweat and tears...for all of 15 euro.
Seeing that the website of Repairman no. 1 screams, "Repairs guaranteed or your money back!" I thought I'd humour myself to see what, if anything, would happen if I called them on it.  Naturally, they lied. The man at the other end said he never heard of the repairman (whose name was on my invoice), that I could have called any one of millions of 800 numbers, and so on...My call to the repairman himself was met with, "I'll call you back" or, "I'll drop by in 15 minutes to discuss this." Yeah, right.  Before adding, "I've got a nice bridge to sell you." 
On the upside, I had enjoyed washing my clothes at the relatively rare laundromats, meeting the locals, bantering with the Bangladeshi, having a coffee with someone across the way. It was like being back at University again, without cramming for exams.
Next up (or down, rather) was my car battery. I end up replacing about a battery per year, at cost (since no one will uphold the mandatory 2 yr warranty).  That is, except for the time the amazing people at Bosch (Germany) intervened and got their fab Roman distributor to open his doors on a Sunday morning and install a proper battery that lasted 5 whole years.  After that, I (stupidly) trusted the repairmen at Honda-Papalia, whose father & son team got the banter down to such an art form, I swear they perform in updates of Stanley & Ollie in Trastevere after closing. So, before installing my third battery in 3 years, I asked for the Bosch battery - admonishing them not to install the one for compact cars.  It simply doesn't do the trick.  Naturally, that's what they installed.
Sig Papalia the Elder telling me (and I am not making this up), "They don't sell any other kind" followed by, "This one is just as good" and so on.  After going online to check what battery I truly needed, and after repeated calls to my Bosch Guardian Angel, Junior refused to make the change.  His excuse? "I don't care what they say in Germany and the USA - we're in Italy."  [Clearly, code for "Suck it Up."]   Calls to the Bosch people in Milan, proved...fruitless. With the guy up there saying he didn't even know about my Angel guy working the Rome market, and he'd been in the business for 30 years -- For good measure, when I asked him to please tell the Honda repair guys what battery would be ideal for my car, he fed me the first full sentence that Italians utter at about 10 months of age, and on a weekly basis for the rest of their long lives: I can't be held responsible.  When you get that line, you know the Case is Closed. So I hung up and went back to my excellent Bosch Officine repairman (near Eataly). And I am now the proud owner of a terrific battery that makes my car run well, and an extra battery perched neatly on the floor of my car.  Total charges: about 144 euro (for a 66 euro battery) plus the 107 euro on my new battery.
[On a positive note, my tire guy Giorgio, who brings me my free papers each morning, fixed my flat tire in no time at all].
Falling for it again - and again
- and again.
Then, there was my cool Samsonite suitcase rip, the mark of a marvelous month 'on-the-road'.  And with it, of course, brings back images of Gorillas back in baggage claim [although admittedly, in Italy, the Gorilla is lurking inside your bag and comes in the shape of terrific taralli from Puglia, luscious green olive oil, and a bottle of 'quattro gocce' aceto balsamico].  Three year Global Guarantee.  And that's why I love Samsonite.  Until...Italy, that is. In Italian, "warranty" is synonomous with "fat chance".  Straight to the Samsonite store, I was told (after producing the receipt - the warranty in multi-languages - and the bag) that, "That's what you say...we don't have to do anything" followed by "It can't be repaired..." and another dozen barbs dusted off for the occasion.  Usually, I would take my bag to London and call it a day. But this time, I put into practice, my First Rule of Life in Italy: Never take 'No' for an answer.  Begging, pleading, cajoling...The guy took the bag.
But then, something strange happened.  He called me the very next day to tell me it was ready.  In fact, it was too good to be true.  Using it one week later, it ripped straight down the side of the original tear, but a whole lot worse. 
So, I contacted Samsonite directly, to try to preempt further discourse.  True to form, the website email Contact Sheet didn't work (no one's ever tested it).  But a tweet did, and I got a phone call from a wonderful customer service person within minutes.  
Duly impressed. Until she started in on the "We don't know what kind of warranty that is...Where did you purchase the bag?...Why don't you send me a photo and we'll see what can be done."  Very kindly, I informed her that the only words I should be hearing right about now were, "Fine. Three Year Global Warranty. If we cannot repair it we will get you a replacement."  She was nice enough to see things my way, adding that she would "try" to contact another store that "Just might repair the bag for me."  As if they were doing me a favour. 
Years ago, the Wall Street Journal wrote a piece on how smart, seemingly efficient, sensational U.S. multinationals, when they go abroad, sometimes lose the plot. To this day I cannot think of why that is (and nor could they, come to think of it).
As for my home phone, Wind/Infostrada now offers Time Travel: Having been returned to the days of climbing up a telephone pole in front of the Shady Rest in order to place a call to whomsoever I am lucky enough to speak with on the party line.  In order to work the landline, I must:  first send a Tweet to Wind/Infostrada, whose Customer Service folks are very efficient [but you know to do this only after spending the better part of 2 hours trying to find a contact or customer assistance form on their website].  Then wait about 72 hours for a return call, to tell someone to check the line. Then, before I get to the bottom of Dante's Inferno, I can make & receive calls.  Until the line goes dead a few hours later.  I keep asking them, if they think that this is truly a decent service in 2014...but that falls on deaf ears, only because the line has gone mute.  At least about once a month, when the moon is full and in non-Leap Years, I can call out.  
The view inside Rome's
Officine iPhone
(zona Marconi)
But I usually just thank God for cellphones.  That is, until my iPhone dropped.  And here, is the bright light in the firmament.  I went online (again) and found some cool guys over at Officine iPhone (via Marconi) who will repair your phone.  And as advertised, "In 15 minutes. No appointments" And, with a smile.  And, they do a brisk business. The cherry on the torta?  They even take people in the order they came into the store, and not by gender [Any woman in Italy who has ever walked into a telephone or electronics shop will know what I mean -- you can set yourself on fire, but if a man walks in 20 mins later they will rush to give him the blanket]...
I think I'm in love. Compared to the 230 euro that Apple wanted to replace the phone, these magicians said they'd return it as good as new, for less than half the price.  Since, in the meantime, I had purchased a new screen thru Amazon, I even got it for less.  Of course, cash only [My second rule for Life in Italy: Bring loads of cash - and even more change.]
I skipped out of the place, elated, and headed to my super parking spot, right out in front (although I had to fight for it...a driver lunging into the spot while I, with blinkers flashing, pulled up to park inside it--eventually she thought better of it and finally left, but not before a few choice gestures and 'the chin').  Suddenly, I was stopped cold in my tracks.  In the 15 minutes it took to get my iPhone repaired, a Vespa had parked me in on one side, and a delivery truck double-parked me in on the other.  How do you fend off the jackals, I wonder? 
My car in Red

*live links throughout the post

In my book, I dedicate an entire chapter to Customer Service:  The Customer is Never Right.

Wednesday, September 24

The Way to an Italian's Thru the Liver

Anyone who's been in Italy for about 12 nanoseconds knows that Italians love their livers - and I'm not talking about the ones heaped onto a gorgeous helping of polenta.  No, what most observers find is that while kids in America are forced to Pledge Allegiance to the Flag, hands over hearts, Italian bambini place their hands slightly further down (okay, the boys even further down) and Pledge their undying Allegiance to their livers, in Mamma's Cooking we Trust.
And so it came as no surprise when this ad campaign was released over the summer, that I swear...Pays homage to the liver - declared across all quarters as 'Un Grande Successo'.  
The Ad Agency that conceived this new logo
says that they have 'reworked' the heart.
It looks to me instead that they simply separated
the left lobe from the right - of your liver.
To a country that blames all stomach ailments on the liver, claiming, after a big meal, 'Mi sta sullo stomaco - literally, 'it's on top of my stomach' (and there's a lot of truth to that feeling for those times in which you find yourself totally bloated after gorging yourself on the gorgeous first-second-third courses followed by dessert and then a 'digestive liquor' as a chaser). Or those actual claims of liver enlargement, which most of the rest of us in the world blame on the gallbladder (that little feller' stuck on the bottom of your liver like a listening device under Berlusconi's or Angela Merkel's desktop) -- having relegated liver enlargements to raging alcoholism.  [When you mention the nasty ol' gallbladder, the 'Cistifellea' as a potential culprit for your malady, You know...the part of the human body that regulates fats and so on, you are met with seriously strange looks, as if you had actually said, with a total straight face, 'A basket (cesta) of fellatio.'  I think I'm the only person outside the medical community who can call it by its proper name; 'Cistifellea' a term so brutto to pronounce, it's no wonder the smooth talkin' 'fegato' gets all the credit.]  
Those two dark red pieces
(your left & right lobes) - knowingly reworked...
to resemble your heart...
In short, I have no idea what UniEuro does -- all I could think of was my guts, rotated for effect in photoshop to resemble my liver.  Perhaps they make kidney dialysis machines. On second thought I decided it was, indeed, an award-winning promotion -- of eating well in Italy...Although during this depression, it seems more like pizza-by-the-slice is the plate of choice for most everyone.  
Nonetheless, even Americans, with their fad 'liver cleanses' are getting on board. Perhaps they could pay a visit to UniEuro and let us know what it's all about.

Advertising Age: About 68 -- for the subtle sophistication of the photoshop techniques...and for the lovely heart imagery

For more Advertising Age Posts, including the good, the bad, and the ugly, click on the links below --

Friday, September 5

Rome's Tourist Tax - Are You Flippin' Kidding Me??!!!

Rome, out of money and clearly out of ideas has decided to double the Tourist Tax in Sept 2014 bald-face lying - errr --- promising "improved services for tourists" that somehow never transpire -- just like this summer, in the height of tourist season, buses were cancelled - garbage piled up - and of course, pickpockets ran the joint.  Here is my update to Rome's new Mayor, Ignazio Marino: 

Dear Mayor Alemanno Mayor Marino:

Certainly, we can all understand your point of view; trying to come up with ways to arrive at month’s end – just like the rest of us – with money in the bank.  It was a stroke of pure genius – hit the captive audience that won’t crowd your city center, block traffic and hold huge sheets with protest slogans in revolt.  It’s an even better idea, considering that "other capital cities" have been charging a sojourn tax for years [Let’s ignore the fact that other cities like London or New York have over 15 million inhabitants compared to your 3.5 million - with services to match - but, who's counting?].

Regardless, since you’re a Roman resident and you’ve never had the privilege of enjoying the city as a tourist, allow me to shed some light on the subject.  You’ll find that the Tourist Tax has been levied for some time now – paid in full by tourists – your "petroleum" – a tax so widespread, it’s like an oil slick on your country.

A day in the life of a tourist in Rome

Sunday, August 31

Travel to Italy - Booking Online Trains, Hotels & Automobiles

Rome, Sweet Rome
This past August brought me from Cefalù, Sicily up to Florence & Tuscany (to Il Grande Prato Agriturismo), to Milan, Como, Verona and onto Lucerne and Geneva, Switzerland and ultimately over to Annecy, France for a hearty helping of fondue. [Let's just say, between the inclement weather up north it was decidedly therapeutic.] So you can imagine my elation of coming home to Bella Roma, with its sunny days and empty streets and heck - even the hordes of dumpster divers appear to have taken August off.
While in the past I've picked on the places where this country dependent upon tourism makes continuous #touristfails, I'd have to say...I was pleased as prosecco during my travels, so I thought I'd share some of the Amore with you...Starting with the trains that got me to where I needed to go.
I love train travel.  And the trains are so spiffy, the waiting rooms with wifi and with Italo leaving right near my house, it's truly a pleasure.  Although, I'd gladly take the conversational compartments and the low fares back any day of the week.  And, the cellphone-less travelers, which is why conversations were being conducted in the first place.  ItaloTreno bent over backwards to help me with some ticket snafus, when they saw I had double-booked two tickets.  And most local trains I boarded including the glorious ones shuttling passengers back & forth from Palermo to Messina were pleasantly clean and air-conditioned.
On Trenitalia, the company I love to hate, as always their staff and conductors were the best thing on dozens of wheels. Their new Itinere food service providers even lowered the extortionist prices, and gave me a 5 euro coupon besides. Heck, they even mixed a Bellini for me during the drinks offering. Can you say, 'Benvenuto competition'?  And while I still have never successfully logged in on a train, and I still can't stand the blinding lighting, train designers have finally caught onto the concept that people actually tow luggage aboard.  Although it's Italo whose trains have the cutsie step that comes out so you don't have to hoist your bags like a Sherpa.

Online Bookings - Caveat Emptor or Carpe Diem?
In Sicily, you couldn't find a rental car if your life depended on it-which leaves me wondering why fleets aren't upped in the summer months there, but the trains and stations were so terrific, I didn't really care in the end. And while the proprietor didn't show up for a last-minute booking in Cefalù (and lied about it to, getting a morning ice cream-filled Sicilian brioche made it all better.
In Milan, I rented a car thru Economy Car Rentals
which was efficient and inexpensive, although they said the price included the 'after hours pickup' - which I didn't have since Maggiore was open til 11 pm each night (what a change from years ago!)  They didn't cut me any deals on grace periods either but, I love them anyway. The convenience of picking up a car right at the train station is fantastic.
I used DirectFerries - UK for my ferry crossing from Salerno to Messina.  I was a bit nervous that I'd arrive at the boat and they'd say, Direct Chi??!!  Instead, an air-conditioned bus took me from the station straight to the port, a mini-bus came and picked me up at the entrance to escort me round the truckers loading up the ship, and the driver even ran and got me my ticket, while everyone welcomed my little pooch Archie with open arms (okay, I confess: the boat was practically waiting for me to board -- I hadn't read the fine print about arriving 2 hrs prior).  The ride was delightful with the only glitch: the woman purser who didn't want to let me have my dog with me on the deck (when everyone else said it was okay...).
It was the Swiss Train online system (sbb cff) that was the most difficult to work around when attempting the supersaver fares [Hint: they're offered only once you've committed to the train & time, like some wild teaser].  I spent over 10 hours booking tickets all around Switzerland (three times) and in the end, I never received a confirmation.  Thus the rental car when I got to Milan.  A friend says there's a Swiss train office right in Milan's train station - next time, I'll try there.
And, the icing on the gelato?  If you take Italo and you end up in Rome's Tiburtina Station (the boondocks, for most of us), you can imbibe in a terrific GROM gelato & shopping before your trip, and with a simple €1.50 bus ticket you can hop a ride on the railroad, over to any of the other Rome train stations...!  And at my beloved Ostiense station (where Eataly is to be found)?  Some lone, intelligent soul (or fatigued traveler) at Trenitalia has finally figured out that the airport train could use an elevator up to the platform - it's still a work in progress, but hey...Read here for what life has been like without it.
Now...if they would just re-institute the baggage handlers...Perfetto!