Saturday, September 22, 2012

Another Year, Another Country!

As most of you know, Gino signed in Alleghe, Italy at the beginning of August.  This began the planning of another crazy year in Europe.  We’ve abandoned our old persona, “Newlyweds In Norway” and have grown into a “Family Of Three In Italy”!  As if living abroad in a foreign country isn’t scary yet exciting enough, we decided to throw a babe into the mix.  Lily has been such a joy in the 3 short months that we’ve had her and we thought, what an amazing and priceless experience to have another year abroad with our little one.  This year will give Gino and I both the chance to be stay at home parents.  Such a blessing and very hard to pass up.  On top of that, we are living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world! Honestly….you will soon see as I start posting a million photos:)

We took the big leap overseas on September 1st.   Our flight was a red eye, which made it pretty easy for Lily to basically sleep the entire way.  We flew from MN to Amsterdam, arrived in Amsterdam at 1pm and flew to Venice at about 2:50pm.  I was able to snag the bassinet row on the plane so Lily could lay down and sleep.  If you’ve never seen the bassinets they have on international flights, here is a pic.  
It’s a cool little contraption!  They're straps that come down from the wall that can hold your baby in place. (crazy germo mom alert) I wasn’t sure how clean any of it was so I laid down a blanket and didn't allow a single part of the actual bassinet to touch lily.  The only time we had to take her out was when there was turbulence, take off, and landing.  TMI, but I’m ok with it… it's my blog.  I'm not breast feeding but pumping instead, (long story),  so I ended up finding a nursing room in the MSP airport and pumped before boarding the plane and then pumped once on the flight in the bathroom and again in the nursing room when we landed in Amsterdam.  It all worked out pretty well!  We finally landed in Venice at 4:30pm on September 2nd.  A man from the team came to pick us up in a mini bus and drove us through the mountains from Venice to Alleghe, about 2 hours away.  The drive was beautiful.   Started off with rolling hills and vineyards and the last hour was all mountains…absolutely gorgeous. 
I'm sure some of you know a little about Italian drivers, for those of you that don’t…they’re NUTS! They drive so wrecklessly fast.  I’ve never experienced anything like it. They may be fast but apparently, Italians are some of the best drivers in the world.  Also, there's a crazy amount of motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic through the windy mountain roads.  Sadly enough, we saw one crash right outside our house.  It looked like the guy was going to be ok.  He didn’t hit anyone but must have taken a corner too tight and fell over.  SCARY. 
We stopped about an hour and a half into the drive to pick up our car at the dealership.  We also made a stop at a nearby market to pick up some bread, meat, cheese and milk so we could have some food at the house that night.  We didn’t end up pulling into Alleghe until about 9pm.  We actually live in the next small town over, about 2 miles from Alleghe, 45 min walk, called Caprile.  It felt like we'd been traveling for a week.  All I wanted to do was eat, take a shower, and sleep.  Instead we ate, fed lily, put her to bed in the stroller (we didn’t get a crib for about 3 days), unpacked a bit, put sheets on the bed, and crashed.  We all slept well that night and the time change didn’t really seem to affect Lily at all.  (Counting my blessings!)  Our apartment is great! We are more than pleased with it.  

There is one big difference from other places we’ve lived.  There are no dryers…as in clothes dryers.  Not the biggest deal in the world if we had actually known how to use our washer correctly.  Side story: we did our first load of laundry the other day and couldn’t figure out how to put it on the spin cycle.  We still cant figure it out so our clothes come out soaked.  I was then having to wring the water out of them in the bathroom sink and then hang them on the clothes line outside to dry.  I was like Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Luckily, the GM brought over this machine that spins the water out of your clothes but doesn’t dry them…so strange, but it works great when used properly.  The first time we used it, I started it and walked away, when I came back the hallway had a nice half inch pool of water.  I guess I didn’t think of where all the water would go!  It shoots out of a little spout at the bottom of the spinner.  Now I have a bowl sitting under it:) Other than that,  I would pay to live in this apartment and you can’t really beat the view we have.  
The mountains are insane and we live right in the heart of the Dolomites.  The area we live in is surrounded by small towns.  You will hear me talking about Caprile, Agordo, Alleghe, and Avoscan throughout the year. They're all within a 10 mile radius and we drive through all of these towns almost every day, getting groceries, visiting markets, eating out, hiking, etc.  Since we're driving so much, I forced myself to finally learn how to drive a stick! 2 weeks in and I was able to drive from our house to downtown Alleghe and the rink.  3 weeks in and I felt comfortable enough to drive alone with Lily.  I drive a little further everyday and would like to hopefully have mastered the stick by the time it snows.    Gino on the other hand is a pro. That’s probably why he has his name on the car, hehe.  
Saying food and wine are cheaper in Italy than Norway is an understatement.  Since moving here 3 weeks ago, we’ve been out to either lunch, dinner or drinks every single day.  A glass of wine or prosseco is 1.5 Euro….in Norway, it would be close to $10.  Going out for pizza and beer is close to 20 Euro…in Norway it would cost close to $60.  BIG DIFFERENCE. 

 I must say it’s refreshing to go for a stroll into town and stop for a glass of wine and a meat and cheese plate without breaking the bank.  You can buy a bottle of wine for less than 2 Euro.  I’m not sure this is a good or bad thing…hmmmm.  We’ve definitely had our fair share of wine and cheese since arriving…jumping right into the Italian lifestyle! 
You will not believe how many different types of fresh cheeses each market has.  A few nights ago, I put Lily to bed and had the girls over for wine and cheese.  We had a few bottles of wine, 4 different cheeses, fresh salami, concord grapes, cheese cake, and tiramisu.  It was a feast!!  There’s something about drinking wine and eating cheese in Italy that makes it taste so much better.  In addition to the wine and cheese we’ve had some incredible pizza and pasta, of course.  The difference between pasta in Italy and pasta in the US is the sauce.  American pasta has such thick sauce and lots of ingredients…Italian pasta is very simple and fresh.  The sauces are much thinner and overall you don’t feel as full and in my case,  guilty after eating it.  Same with the pizza, its thin crust with a thin layer of sauce and cheese.  If you have toppings, they are also spread somewhat thin.  I love not feeling the guilt of eating  huge thick pieces of pizza! The captain of the team owns a restaurant in Caprile, where we live, he has a deal for the players, 3 course meals of the day for 10 Euro.  They also have free Wifi (we still don’t have internet at our house, I'll explain more below) So we’ve eaten there a few times.  The food has always been incredible.  Gino described it perfectly, its like 5 star restaurant meals everywhere for fast food prices. 
About the Internet….We were told when we moved in that we could either talk to the people that live above us and ask for their internet password or get our own.  Gino attempted to ask the neighbors a few times but everytime he rang their doorbell, they didn’t answer.  SO, he went to the VP of the team and asked about internet. He helped us fill out some forms to get our fiscal code which we needed to set up internet.  That took a few days to get, once we got that, an Italian guy on the team called the internet company and gave them our fiscal code.  The company then sent Gino an email confirming his email address and welcoming him as a client. Hmmph!  Now we wait for them to call.  It’s an absolute horrible process.  I don’t get how people live like this!!!  We're going on week #3 with no internet.  We miss our skype, email, facebook, and most importantly slingbox!!! Italian tv is awful.  Luckily, there always seems to be one show on at a time that’s English, usually old episodes of Greys Anatomy, ER, or CSI Miami. 
We bought 2 Euro cell phones this year and had to buy minutes/a plan in a town about 10 min from us called Agordo.  We happen to be there on a Wednesday which was perfect because that’s the day the square in Agordo is turned into a great market!  Lily and I took a stroll while Gino was in the electronic store.  You can buy anything from handmade soaps, rugs, and clothes to seafood and live chickens! Again, everything is so cheap, it was fun to browse around.  We will be taking full advantage of the market every Wednesday.
 The weather since we’ve arrived here has actually been quite warm.  Mornings are a little chilly, jeans and hoody type weather.  But right around noon, the temp spikes to 70/80 degrees.  It's much warmer than I thought it would be in the mountains at this time of year.  But I’m not complaining!  Makes for great leisurely wine patio afternoons. Although, I did have to bundle Lily up in her stroller for one of Gino's games... I'll write about that and hockey in the next post.  Stay tuned...

Gino usually has Saturday night games so Sundays he’s off.  Since the weather was so beautiful we decided to drive to Cortina last Sunday.  The city is basically up one side of a mountain and down the other side.  I knew it was going to be a scenic drive but nothing like what we saw.  Picture steep cliffs and views of snow cap mountains going on for miles.  Around every other turn there’s a quaint mom and pop café or bar with a patio that looks like it’s about to drop off the side of a cliff.  Breathtaking views.  

Public awareness message:  I just have to mention the crazy motorcyclists again…They're literally the most annoying drivers in the world!  Sorry if you like motorcycles but in terms of Italian motorcyslists, they drive like they’re the only ones on the road and will cut you off like its nothing.  They want ME to watch out for THEM? All that leather won’t help you one bit if you fly off your bike or crash into an oncoming car.  Be a little more considerate of the drivers around you and maybe then we’ll all  “start seeing motorcycles”. Ok I'm done.  Cortina was about 45 min away from Caprile/Alleghe.  It’s a very upscale little town where we were told a lot of rich tourists travel to for shopping and eating out etc. 

The town is full of mostly high end shops, Gucci, etc.  Shops are closed on Sunday but all the restaurants and café’s were open so we parked and walked the streets a bit before grabbing a woodfire pizza and pasta.  Right as we sat down to order, we started hearing a few grunts coming from the stroller and knew immediately we were in trouble….this always seems to happen when we’re away from home!  It's like Lily has some sort of baby alarm clock in her head that tells her she needs to go #2 at most inconvenient situations.  For all of you with facebook and that saw her little accident on the wall…this one happened to be another explosion type situation.  The waitress was so sweet and showed Gino and I where we could change her, since there were no changing tables in the bathroom.  Yes, this diaper called for both Gino's and my attention.  Of course I had her in a cute little oufit and  you would think I would have learned by now to pack an extra set of clothes…but I DIDN’T. 

So she was in a diaper with a shirt the rest of the day.  Next time I'll be overly prepared.  We're going to Venice on Sunday and I will be bringing at least 2 changes of clothes and 10 diapers.
I know what you're thinking.
 How can someone this sweet and adorable do anything so disgusting..:)
I realize this post is getting long, but I just have to mention that Gino and I have started learning Italian via Rosseta Stone.  So far so good…not sure if we’ve learned anything worth using just yet.  But we’ve been told its completely worth it and eventually we'll be able to speak/understand somewhat! I don’t need to be fluent, I would just like to know how to order food and know useful phrases, like the 2 we learned the other night...  “Un Bambino e sotto un tavolo” translation: “The boy is under a table”.  “La Donna e su un Cavallo" translation: "The woman is on a horse". 
Ciao, Arrivederci!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you are having a great time! I just wanted to comment that we often had those little spinner things in the pool locker rooms - they were great for quickly drying out swimsuits! Also, toooo funny about the poo-splosion, you should ALWAYS have a 2nd outfit! :D lily is such a little cutie, I think she looks like your dad in that last picture.