the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

David, Fake and Faker


My mother recently returned from a two week cruise along the Mediterranean in Europe.  When she first told me that she was taking this trip with a female friend, I thought it was a crazy and worthless trip — Barcelona, Nice, Cannes, Florence, Venice, Rome, Naples, Croatia, and Greece — each location for less than a day, sometimes for only a  hours.

“Why not just go to one place?” I asked her.

Now that she has returned, and told me stories of her travels, I am less cynical about her cruise because, for some, it is an ideal way to travel without the hassle.   If all you care about is a “taste” of a new locale, it is comforting to come back each night to your floating hotel.

I figured that it was seniors that mostly go on these types of cruises, but apparently I am wrong.  Families enjoy this type of trip because the kids have activities on board.   Young couples and groups of singles pre-arrange for a taxi or car service to meet them as the ship docked, and then sightsee at their own pace.  The local driver can give them insights into the city that are more personal and accurate than the script read by the typical tour bus guide.

My mother had a great time, although, as I predicted, she could hardly remember what she saw in each city.

Her travel review of each city was amusing to me because it was primarily based on the brief overview she got from looking out of  bus window and visiting tourist spots.   That’s why you need to be wary when someone gives you their opinion of a city or a restaurant.   You are never sure if  the person view is solely based on something so individual, that it makes no sense for YOU.

For example, if you asked me if I enjoyed visiting Seville, one of the world’s most beautiful cities, I would say, “No, I hated that city.”    But you would have to push me to get me to admit that the reason for my hatred of the city has nothing to do with the architecture or people, but with this hotel concierge who told Sophia and me to go to some “authentic flamenco club,” which ended up being terribly overpriced with atrocious food, and employed a dancer who was an elderly woman wearing a cast on her arm.   I hate Seville.

On the other hand, imagine some guy gets laid in Podunk.  That city could be now be THAT person’s favorite city EVER.

Are you thinking of taking a European vacation this fall?   Here are a couple of recommendations from my mother:

Barcelona:  “Loved it.  So easy to get around.  Amazing architecture.  Saw the “King Tut” exhibit that I missed when I was in New York.  Found a really cheap “chicken place” for lunch.  Would definitely return.”

Nice and Cannes:  “Pretty, but looked a lot like California by the ocean.  Not essential to go back.”

Venice:  “The most unique of all the cities I saw.  The water didn’t stink like you told me it does in August.   Elton John has a home there, but I think he mostly lives in Los Angeles.  I didn’t see too many pigeons in St. Mark’s Square.  I got tired from walking around because there are so many stairs.  Everyone needs to come to Venice at least once in  their life, although after a day, you’ve pretty much done it all, and can leave.”

Rome:  “I have to come back to Rome.  I honestly saw nothing because we were in and out of the city in a few hours.   You cannot see Rome in a few hours.    We went, we saw, but we didn’t conquer.  The Colosseum is a marvel, but I didn’t go inside.  I could spend a week in Rome.  And I had a gelato.”

Naples:  “I do not remember what we did there.  Italians put olive oil on everything.  Even at breakfast, they put their toast in olive oil.  The pizza was very thin.  I like the pizza more at Valentino’s in Queens.  We went to a leather factory, but I don’t remember if it was here or Florence.  It was way too expensive.  But the leather was as soft as butter.”

Dubrovnik, Croatia — This was the biggest surprise of them all, because I  hardly heard of the place.  Very quaint.  It feels like you are someplace exotic.  The tourist thing is this giant wall, but it is very interesting.  Not just a wall.  And they also had an old Jewish section that I heard was very interesting, but it was too far to walk.   Nice place to just relax.

Corfu, Greece — Corfu wasn’t particularly nice, and a bit dirty, but I took a bus trip up this mountain and it was beautiful.  We kept on going higher and higher and then you would look down at all the white homes and the ocean behind them, and it was like a postcard.  Or like that scene in Mama Mia.  And then we went back.

Florence, Italy – I know Florence is very famous and important, but I was not impressed.  The bus driver got lost.  There were so many churches.  Not that I have anything against churches, but there were  TOO many of them.  And we were supposed to see the David, so the tour guide brought us to see the David, and as we are all standing there, the tour guide  says that is not REALLY the David, but a FAKE David, because they moved the REAL David inside to the Accademia because it was wearing away, and we didn’t have enough time to wait in line and see him, so the first thing that comes to my mind is, “Why are we standing around looking at a FAKE David?”   And then, as we walked around courtyard some more, we saw ANOTHER David, and our tour guide said that this was a FAKER David, because at least the FAKE David was standing in the original spot where the REAL David once was once standing, so he was FAKE, but this one was FAKER.  So, we never saw the REAL David and we never found out why he wasn’t circumcised, since he was Jewish, so my impression of Florence was colored by that.  I don’t need to return to Florence.


Barcelona, Spain – A+
Nice/Cannes, France – B-
Venice, Italy – A-
Naples, Italy – B
Rome, Italy – A
Dbrovnik, Croatia – A-
Corfu, Greece – B+
Florence, Italy – FAIL


  1. Wendy

    i had NO idea it was a fake David! Did i see a fake one 20 yrs ago, too?? But i still wouldn’t fail Florence. It gets points for style and penmanship.

  2. Denise

    I wasn’t bowled over by Florence myself, but I have to admit Venice was a gem, if you ventured beyond those touristy spots.

    I wonder if I saw the real or fake David. Boy was he hot.

  3. Ree

    Love the report card. I spent a weekend in Rome as a student 20 years ago (holy crap, I can’t believe it’s been 20 YEARS – I just realized how very old and decrepit I really am) and what I remember is that the Colosseum was closed but every time we saw a gelato stand, we had some. I think we ate gelato every 20 minutes and could’ve had more. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Jill

    I’ve seen the real David and I’ve seen the imitation Davids. I love Florence. (Sorry to disagree, Neil’s Mom!)

  5. Mike

    Hilarious! I’ve never been to Europe period, but your Mother makes me want to go there, even to Florence!

  6. V-Grrrl

    Fake and Faker. She could have gotten that in LA

  7. ACG

    I took a much shorter Mediterranean cruise years ago.
    I loved the pizza in Florence.
    In Naples I skipped the city (it was our last stop and I was beat) and headed right out to Pompeii for the day – awesome!
    Did your mom happen to stop in Villefranche-sur-Mer when she was in Nice & Cannes? Its just a stop or two from Nice (3 minutes). I feel in love with that village and that is what inspired my 2 wk trip back to France.
    I am convinced that the most beautiful people live in Italy.

  8. Mindy

    thank you tonight.
    and every day thereafter.

  9. Miss Grace

    I lived in Florence for a summer. We had a flat across from il Mercato Centrale, and at the time I could still garble some Italian to get where I needed to go. It was divine.

  10. Heather @ Cool Zebras

    I would love to visit Italy. Anytime. I could see some of my relatives being a little taken aback on some of the cultural differences. I also am quite sure my relatives will not be visiting Italy.

  11. Kirsten

    I am not a big fan of travel blogs, but I loved your mother’s recap. Sorry about the fake David. I would be pissed too.

    I took a cruise to the Bahamas yeas ago after I graduated from college. It was one of the worst vacations. I was so sea sick, the food was terrible, our room was the size of my couch and the crew was creepy. Never again.

  12. Strange Pilgram

    Your mother’s rundown is hilarious. A bit sad, but also funny. Sad because those cruise ships do nothing for the places they visit… places which rely heavily on tourism. It’s very frustrating for the local people when those tours come through and it slowly eats away at the culture.

  13. Jack

    Fake and Faker. She could have gotten that in LA
    No way, we are real and realer.

  14. Quadelle

    Your mother is fabulous!

    Agreed on the personal factor heavily influencing things. Our time in Venice covered three of the best travel days of my life, with the bare minimum spent in the main tourist spots.

  15. cardiogirl

    I’m not the traveling kind — creature of habit here. But after reading this I actually want to go to Florence simply to see the Fake David and then the Faker David.

    To hell with the real David, bring on the second (and third) generation.

  16. Di

    Think I’ll just stay here in the good old USA…. can probably see some of the world’s fake stuff in Vegas. I think Vegas needs a David… the fakest David of all perhaps.

  17. ballerinatoes

    I’m pretty sure your Mom should have a travel blog. Short, sweet, to the point, not full of flowery useless prose, just yay or nay. Tell your Mom I love it.

  18. Natalie

    Love it! We’re saving up to go to Europe next year and plan on spending it all for a week in Paris. I want to soak everything in.

    But my parents travel like your mom does. And love it.

  19. Twenty Four At Heart

    I saw the REAL David years ago. I think he’s slightly hotter than FAKE David. Your mom was cheated out of hotness.

  20. Nat

    My parents do this. And they give reviews like this. “We went to Istanbul and we saw the Blue Mosque. And everyone was grouchy because it was Ramadan.” They fell in love with Santorini… and went back and spent a week. Doing… well… nothing much… the kind of vacation that would make me batshit insane.

  21. MommaSunshine

    Love it. She should write a travel brochure! 😉

  22. teahouseblossom

    Love your mom’s descriptions. Watch out, Lonely Planet!

  23. Annie

    Wow! I could never take a trip like that, I would need at least 3-7 days in each place. Your mom is funny ;-).

  24. Karen MEG

    When I was in Florence there was scaffolding everywhere. Too bad I wasn’t into climbing. I guess it was a way long time ago because I think it wasn’t the fake David. Man, maybe I just aged myself :).

  25. sarah g

    hahahahhahaha. “we came, we saw, we didnt conquer”


  26. Deidre

    I spent 10 days in Venice! Did you know that 90% of Tourists never really make it beyond St. Marcos Square? There is so much more to see!

  27. chrissy

    Croatia is one of the the most beautiful places in the planet! No doubt about the character in that city. I also traveled to Corfu, Greece. it is beautiful there but perhaps I was on the wrong side of the island because I did not see one white rooftop house there…is she sure she was in the right place?!?!

  28. Jen

    Great story

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