I am writing this letter to say farewell. I must break up with you. I will miss you, but you are a cruel and fickle mistress. You see, I have found another.
Ah, dearest Roma. You are so splendid and gorgeous, with your Coliseum, Forum, and Trevi Fountain. I am a mere college instructor, who brings students to you, to show off your wonders in conjunction with “Humanities 1: The Ancient World.” Seeing you was the highlight of my year, every year.
But, I’ve met another. One of your cousins, I believe. No, it’s not Paris. Let’s not talk about her, another sophisticate following in your footsteps. No, this cousin of yours is a bit less fabulous, a bit more solid, and a bit more comfy. She’s Munich.
Yes, I said Munich. Don’t laugh. She’s a wonderful destination: clean, safe, and delightful. First, let’s get real here, Roma: the theft on your streets is rampant. How many more of my students must be robbed before I say enough? Well, enough is enough. Last visit, one girl was robbed as she sat in a cafe. The thief must have been sitting under the table all along. Another young woman lost $1000 as she rode the bus. A digital camera with over 400 photographs vanished from another girl’s zippered-up and closely-held bag. The worst? Well, it was mugged by three gypsies at noon on the Spanish Steps. Two grabbed his arms and caused a scene by screaming, “The daddy of my baby!” The third slipped up from behind and cleaned out his pockets.
In Munich, a student left his bag in a restaurant. He got it back. Another left a backpack on a bench. Again, he got it back. No one was robbed. None of my students were terribly vigilant like in Rome, where we tucked wallets into bra and pinned purses closed. No, like being at home, they simply carried on and never gave theft a serious thought.
The travelers from my college felt safe in the bosom of Munich-and she, too, like you Roma, has a dark past. You have your gladiators and bloodbaths. Munich has her own dark moments with the Nazi movement. She is no naïve little waif. However, today, the darkness does not worry the traveler. The Roman subway is a bit scary and a lot grubby.
Munich is fast, clean, and safe. Polizei roam the area, looking tough and efficient. Roma, your cops are so handsome-but they seem rather useless, as they loiter gorgeously in doorways.
I know Roma, and I hear you whispering, “But what of my culture?” I worried about this too, after all, I link our college travels to academic credit. And wow! Did Munich deliver the goods! My students enrolled in “Humanities 2: From the Medieval to the Modern.” Before us, your German cousin was a renaissance wonder and a Baroque beauty.
Your siren song continues: “But what of my wine? My food? My vita dolce?” Yes, I cannot disagree. Your gelato is heavenly, but…Munich’s Apfelkuchen with cream is also a bit of heaven. And wine, well…German wine is fine. And the beer? Sitting in Munich’s famed Hofbrauhaus with a tankard in one hand, a salty pretzel in the other, a crispy schnitzel before, and an ompah band serenading the raucous crowd, well, it is a bit easy to get over our break-up.
Take care and stay well. Perhaps if you get over your wicked ways, Roma, I will return. Until then, Arreviderchi. Or should I say, Auf Wiedersehen!?
Submitted by Jennifer M. Eisenlau, Ph.D. Front Range Community College. Republished.