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Entrance to Nazi labor camp, 'Struthof' (Alsace, France)
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A Nazi Labor Camp With A German (And His German GPS)

What do you get when you mix a weekend in France with two unwitting Americans, a Nazi Labor Camp, and a German friend with a very German GPS? You get a perfectly awkward—if not memorable—encounter that I could not have scripted better myself.

It’s actually a true story…beginning with Jason’s German friend, Volker Haas (first name pronounced like a mix of ‘Valka’ and ‘Falka’). Back in the 90s, Volker had been an exchange student at the University of Washington (Seattle) where, for a year, he and Jason were roommates in the same house.

Fast forward to September of 2012, with me in Strasbourg, France, obtaining my ESOL Teaching Certificate (CELTA) (right before Jason and I moved to Italy), and…wait for it…THIS is where the Nazi labor camp comes in. Oooh, la la…il y en a plus! (there’s more)

Coffee and cream at a bar in Perugia, Italy.

10 Rules Of The Italian “Bar”

In Italy, you can get your upper and your sedative in the same place. Morning, noon, and night. Want to make that a macchiato? How about a shot of brandy in it? And a pastry…with a glass of prosecco? And then another coffee in the afternoon to ward off the 3pm dull, before aperitivo rolls in around 5:00?

You only need to go to one place: a bar.

How the word bar worked its way into Italian language is a mystery to me (I imagine the French/anglicized term café is not used because it’s too close to the Italian word for coffee = caffé). But I do know that the culture, rules, and rituals of “bar” hopping differ greatly from what we anglophones are used to. So to help orient you for your next Italian travel, here are nine rules to help you navigate Italy’s infamous bar: (more…)