Super Saturday! The joys of feeling like a hero

Seek and you shall find.

My mantra of choice to describe my super discovery Saturday with Dave…

For those who want something badly enough, they get it. On Saturday, in typical Brit-abroad style, Dave and I wanted nothing more than a night on the peeve. Which for those of you who might have been to Bari before, seems a bit of a challenge. We were aware most of the watering holes here double up as restaurants so the desire to get completely messed up as one would back in the UK is slightly smaller. But, we wanted a taste of home so badly we didn’t mind taking one for the team and becoming ‘those’ people that everyone stares at in disgust. It is Christmas after all!

We took the bus into Bari Centro and made our way towards Bari vecchia. The first place serving alcohol we found, we went in and ordered some beers. We knew how the night would escalate when we decided not to eat and replace dinner with more beer.

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We wandered into a few different bar/restaurants and embraced feeling like true Englishmen, sipping our beers with victory. Those who want to get drunk…shall get drunk. And boy did we…

 

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At some point in the night we ended up in Bohemien, a jazz club here which often has live music playing. We were lucky as there was a band playing the mighty PRINCE. Ideal.There were also a lot more choice tunes banging out as I vividly remember my feet burning in my heels from dancing the night away alongside drunk bopping Italians. I think there was a bit of 80’s magic blaring and rock pop circulating the room.

 

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I know we had sambucca. I know there was beer, lots and lots of beer.

I vaguely remember feeling like I was in the Bourbon Club from Rock of Ages as an older, less attractive, Italian version of Stacee Jaxx did this thing on stage.

We laughed, we danced and had ourselves a well deserved congratulatory night after surviving 3 months in Italy, in our new school, in our new life.

Once the band had finished playing, they came up to the bar to get themselves a few drinks. In drunken style I decided it was only fair they knew we enjoyed it and then in turn, they ended up listening  to me babbling on about why were here in Bari, who were are, what we do and plugging Dave’s musical talents.

They were so unbelievably friendly and although, the alcohol had seeped through my brain by this point, making me unable to remember the conversations and just how embarrassing I probably was. Although my array of selfies will forever give me fond memories of our first proper drunken night in Bari!

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We left the club once the lights had been turned on. Success!

We got completely disorientated in the streets of Bari and after walking miles, admitted we hadnt the foggiest idea where we were. Failure!

My stinging feet could walk no longer and after what seemed like miles of endless streets and apartment blocks, I decided to let the fear kick in and visions of a night on the Bari streets was all too overwhelming. As if sent by my guardian angel, an inconspicuous little car came tootling by- so, with Dave’s approval I stopped the car and in drunken slurs somehow communicated that we needed to get home and gave our address. Poor Francesco the hero, wherever you are kind sir, thank you wholeheartedly for not being a serial killer, rapist, terrorist, drug deal or a mixture of all the above. You generously took us home for free and tolerated our drunken “Italian”.

 

I woke up the next day with a killer hangover. EPIC!

 

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Pretty Woman…Shopping for togs the Italian way

The hero of the hour, Pina, knows how to pull a few strings. Pina and her husband Brian own the school and have shown us nothing but kindness so far. Not only that, Pina can be hard as nails in the best possible way. Her tenacity would give the mafia a run for their money. She also knows EVERYONE here in Bari. It is a fact I would bet good money on. Not only does she know everyone, but they seem so unbelievably grateful to her as at some point in the past they have encountered the school and in turn, the kindness of our very own Don Corleone.

So…it was never going to be a trip to H&M when Dave told Pina he needed some new clobber after pay day. In true Pina fashion, she told us about a shop she visits when she needs to buy male clothes. This shop was owned, of course, by an acquaintance and she assured us we would receive ‘mates rates’ and excellent service. She was not wrong.

Despite being Dave’s tag along, I had one of the nicest shopping experiences of my life. Roberto, the owner of the shop, kindly took us for a coffee before opening the shop and letting Dave peruse his designer boutique. I sat and enjoyed the view from the comfort of a leather sofa while Roberto offered up an array of coats, jumpers, shirts and trousers and gave our very own Julia Roberts the personal shopper experience of a lifetime. Not only did he make sure every single thing Dave needed was catered for, he worked the floor and offered similar assistance to every other customer who came in. Roberto is a true dappa gentleman. He was rocking a nice blazer with colored handkerchief in the pocket, over a turtle necked top with tailored skinny leg checked trousers and boots. Rather quirky and individual for the usual conservative southern Italian males.

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Dave was lapping it up. Of course he was. Customer service of this level is basically non existent in the UK these days. A shop owner who knows his customers by name and is familiar with their families, who takes newbies for coffees is in dire need of resurrection if our high street is to succeed. Roberto was fantastic. Showing us the labels and washing instructions, describing fabrics and showing us the ranges he had in stock of everything. Being a salesman in the UK is a hard slog. As someone who has worked in shops before, I know this. I know it is hard to put in the effort and describe fabrics and thread counts to people who probably don’t care anyways. Which brings me to another reason Saturdays’ shopping trip was so refreshing…

MEN…shopping…alone
MEN…shopping…with their sons
MEN…Shopping
And not out of necessity like all the men in my life do. Shopping out of interest. Genuine interest in fashion and care in their appearance. It was fantastic to see! The image of men shopping in my world is an image I only see very late in December when gifts NEED to be bought and even then, its a reconnaissance job. We plot where each and every store is, then it’s in and out with SAS style precision. No browsing, no coffee stops…god forbid. But here, it’s all about the browsing. Men, carefully feeling materials, eyeballing colours caring about the fit. Not the way the English boys I know, particularly Dennis my brother, throws on a top and as long as it doesn’t feel skin tight, says ‘aye that’ll do’…nothing will just ‘do’ here.

We enjoyed the experience so much that we went back again the following Saturday to let ourselves be shopped and sold to despite having already decided we would buy christmas presents from the wonderful Roberto. Now isn’t that what is missing from our shops? The extra mile to make customers feel special.
Roberto has 2 new customers for life.

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