Do the Europeans truly understand the concept of air conditioning? I think not!
For the past two weeks I have had the wonderful good fortune of traveling in Italy and France. Although I’ve been there before, my trips are typically during ski season – being married to a ski fanatic as I am – and the beauty is far more arctic during trips of that nature.
Seven years ago I visited the same villa in Anacapri and the experience was nothing short of paradise. That was pre-menopause. This time, my ankles – and other select body parts – swelled to gargantuan sizes preventing me from performing many simple tasks – such as bending.
The welcome – although minimal – a/c in our suite was not considered necessary throughout the living areas of the villa. Ironically, internet access was only available in the non-air conditioned living area where the six travelling cousins and their respective spouses all checked in to the office between sweat drenched dashes to their suites for sustenance against the unrelenting heat and humidity. Yes, everyone was sweating – not just my menopausal self. I, however, took it to an art form!
While the rest of the cousins traipsed diligently around the island, desperate to keep from missing a single sight, I spent my days in the pool, swimming and reading my book (yes, I read the book in the pool – it was my only chance for survival). I only joined the rest of the group for meals and boat rides which enabled us to dive into the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea periodically – and even that was not relief enough!
Seven years ago the prospect of dining al fresco morning, noon and night was impossibly romantic and charming beyond belief. This time, although the food and wine was still manna from the gods, the constant stream of sweat shooting from my hairline and down into my eyes before dripping unceremoniously from my chin might have taken a bit of a toll!
As we moved on to meet friends in Paris and the Alsacian region of France, it became apparent that air conditioning is not often considered at all necessary to the good, but thin blooded, residents of France. There just wasn’t any! And there was no place to hide.
I had a wonderful time – but should the opportunity ever arise again – I will arm myself against heat prostration or I’ll stay in my air conditioned office and search for beauty on the internet!
One key thing I observed consistently: when you are soaking wet and sweat drenched like an old smelly dish rag – seeing the locals walk by in heavy sweaters and, in some cases, leather jackets DOES make it more painful. I don’t know why – it just does!