Despite the stagnant economy, Italy is still a wonderful, beautiful place that would take many, many lifetimes to fully explore and comprehend. And yet, for those of us who live here, sometimes it’s nice to go further abroad on vacations, and from here in the North East, the closest countries are Austria and Slovenia.
Both are highly recommended: beautiful mountains, tasty dishes to eat that are quite different than the Italian fare I’m used to, and a markedly different cultural heritage passed down from the time when both countries were part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Rather than the sunny, whitewashed, Mediterranean houses with red tile roofs, you have timbered houses designed to shed a heavy load of winter snow, that are characteristic throughout the Alps:
( Photo by Egemont, from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tirolese_Chalet,_Mayrhofen.jpg )
Once you get inside that cozy hotel or apartment though, and lie down for an evening’s rest, you notice one of those small but significant differences you start to see if you travel a lot: in certain countries, they have different ideas about sharing beds. In Italy, as in the US, it’s pretty common for couples to have a queen or king size bed and mattress with sheets and blankets that cover the entire thing – depending on your mood, you can snuggle up together, or fight over the covers. In points north of here, on the other hand (Germany and Switzerland too, from my experience), it’s very common to find a bed for a couple composed of two single beds pushed together, each side with its own duvet.
Granted, this reduces contention for the sheets, and perhaps it has other practical advantages but has always seemed a bit cold to me, and the pushed together beds/mattresses make the whole thing seem kind of temporary; an arrangement that might be fine for college students just moving in together for the first time, but not for a married couple that plans to stay together a while. While travelling, the odd mattress arrangement is ok for a few days, but the thing that always drives me crazy and leaves me tired in the morning is the length of the duvets. I don’t know how people who are actually tall cope with these things. I am under 5’10” (178 cm), and in the chill evening air, I like to pull the duvet up under my chin. Which is just enough to barely uncover my feet, leaving them exposed to the air. That won’t do. So I use my toes to work just enough of the duvet down to warmly wrap my feet in it. Only to find that this has moved enough of it to expose my formerly toasty warm shoulders and neck. Tuck it up under the chin again, and out come the feet. And so on and so forth until I give up in exhaustion or curl up rather than stretch out.
I tried to find some information about who does what in which countries, but couldn’t find much more than the odd forum comment. So I’ll wrap (sorry!) this post up with a question: does anyone know why some countries do the “pushed together beds” thing and others don’t?