We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Living the dream - and a big case of nerves !!!!

In just 2 days, at about this time I will be on a plane headed to Italy with my dog Sam. Finally!!! I have been a huge wreck since Mike left a week ago, not sure why. We've been apart before and I have not felt this anxious ever. Could be I have a long long list of "stuff" that has to get done and very little time. How did we leave so many little tasks undone, like the load of stuff to go to Goodwill thats stacked in the basement? Or picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy? Not to mention the things that got added to my list that I hadn't even planned on, like returning the cable box to the cable company!

I have no choice but to plow through the list, but I'm still feeling overwhelmed. My goal for tonight is to finish packing - well, I've only sort of started, so I can't accurately call this task "finish". More like "pack".. all of it. I have things pulled out that I want to take, folded even, but I am going to have to sort through and remove items. I have way too much. Hopefully I'll be able to come to grips with the right amount of stuff to take and just get it done. How many pairs of shoes are too many???

I'm not the only one having a bad week. Sam, my dog, has been terribly lonesome for Leopold (our other dog), I think. I can only imagine the thoughts running through his mind about where Leo might be. I believe he thinks Leo has escaped from the backyard, and that he must go search for him. I'm thinking that must be the case because Sam has snuck out past a gate three times this week. Two of those times he squeezed through a pretty small crack, the third time workers forgot to close a gate which allowed Sam to breeze right through. In every case, I have had to stop, get in the car and scour the neighborhood for him. After three episodes, I called the vet cause I am concerned about how he will manage on the flight on Thursday. The vet prescribed an anti-anxiety med for him. After all his escapes, I am the one needing his medication!

Blogging has slipped off my "must-do" list lately. I have big plans to resume once I arrive with daily blogs of everything we do as we acclimate to our new life. I can't wait for Thursday's flight, and Friday's arrival.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Living the dream- the reading of the utility meter ceremony

Utility bills in Italy must be a big deal. Yesterday before the owners of the apartment left, they conducted what Mike describes to me as the "Meter reading ceremony".

We had experienced something similar when we rented a farmhouse in Tuscany a few years ago, but Mike says yesterday was quite a bit more elaborate. It included an official looking folder, a fountain pen, and a few Italians--- one to read off the numbers, the other to record them, along with alot of verification of each number. Mike was describing this to me, and I was just so sorry I had missed it. He says it was quite formal. Clearly the apartment owners wanted no disputes ever about the utility bills, so this recording of the meter had to be witnessed by Mike. Each number was called out, repeated, then written down on a document in the folder. I really wish I had been there!!!!

Living the dream- first full day in Venice

I've had a few emails and a few phone calls from my guys in Italy during the day today. Mike is loving the apartment. With each call, he sounds happier and happier, so I couldn't be more pleased. We took a huge leap of faith on that apartment deal, doing the whole thing based on some photographs. But, as I have said more than once already, somebody up above has been with me on this whole adventure.

Mike has been reporting back to me, letting me know what is in the apartment just in case there are items that I will have to pack to bring with me. Yesterday he told me he couldn't find anything in the kitchen- no dishes, no pots, no glassware, no silverware. Oh well, we just laughed and said now he has a reason to go visit Ratti. Ratti is a wonderful shop full of housewares on Salizida San Lio, which was on our everyday route to the Rialto when we stayed over in Castello. Now we are on the other side of town! This would warrant a trip there for sure. But, good news, Mike found stuff in the kitchen this morning! He's having fun searching through all kinds of cupboards! He located the silverware in a drawer in the kitchen table. Odd place he thought. Well, maybe, but I think that might be an Italian standard. My mom is native born Italian, and I recall when I was growing up that our everyday silverware was stored in the kitchen table drawer too! I hadn't thought about that in ages, but it was a pleasant memory as Mike was telling me about his latest find!

Mike and Leopold have been out walking, getting familiar with the new neighborhood, and getting the dog used to a whole new place. Leo is a friendly little guy, and as expected, he's already been attracting friends. Human friends, and a few Italian dogs. They have found the nearest Punta , a grocery store chain , not too far away from us in Campo Santa Margherita. Funny, we've shopped in a Punta before, but this one has something we have not seen before-- you have to pay one Euro to use the shopping cart! Looks like we are in for lots of new things to get used to.

Living the dream - Mike and Leo arrived in Venice!

What a day Monday was!!! We got loaded into the car around 12:30 and headed to Dulles. I had expected alot of traffic, but we had none, we made great time. A curbside porter helped get all the stuff loaded up, and while they were doing that I got to take Leo for a little walk. We found the last bit of grass he'd see until he arrived in Italy the next morning. Since I couldnt have gotten beyond security, I left them there at the check in desk, wishing them both a safe trip, and I got back into the car for the ride back to Baltimore.

I was a nervous wreck, mostly worried about the dog and how he would do on the plane. Mike called me after he got through security so he could update me on how things were going. All the dog's paperwork was fine, they had no problems other than they wouldn't let his water bottle through. And we had worked for a whole week getting the dogs used to drinking from this bottle!!! Mike had to throw it away cause the airline wouldn't allow the drinking bottle. Oh well, at least I known not to bring that when I fly with my dog next week.

Right before take off Mike called again to let me know they had informed him Leo had been loaded onto the plane. We were both relieved knowing he was on the same plane, now headed for Frankfurt. I think MIke's next call came around 2am, my time. He had landed in Frankfurt and was waiting on the connecting flight. An hour later he called back again to let me know that Leo had been boarded onto the flight for Venice, and he was about to get on the plane himself. So far so good! I wasn't getting any sleep, but at least I was getting updates.

The next call came from Venice. Mike had collected his luggage, but had not gotten Leo yet. This was at least a good sign, cause we had done this flight through Frankfurt before and the luggage never made it to Italy. Just as we were on the phone talking, Leo's crate was delivered to Mike in the baggage area. No need to worry anymore , at least not about the flight. They both were safe and sound. Leo was fine, and Lufthansa did a wonderful job of handling him.

But we weren't out of the woods yet. They still had to get to the apartment. The last thing we had heard was that Nicola's father was going to meet them at the airport. And somehow, miraculously, they all hooked up at the Venice airport. They met Mike with a car, drove to Piazzale Roma, and loaded Leo and all the luggage onto a cargo boat for the trip to the apartment.

After a whole night of phone calls, the last one I got was about 7:00 am my time, with an update from Mike after getting settled into the apartment. He said it was exactly as it looked in all the pictures we had been sent. Exactly! We thought at least the owners would remove pictures off the walls, but they were still there. It didn't matter, at this point we were both so relieved to actually have one of us in Venice, in our own apartment.

Ok. Now half of the team is on the ground in Venice. Now I can stop worrying.. at least for a few days until I put my dog Sam in his crate for his journey to Italy.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Living the dream- Mike leaves for Italy tomorrow!

I cannot believe how fast the last few weeks have flown by. We've been waiting for this for over a year now---and tomorrow Mike and his dog Leopold fly to Venice.
He is packed and ready, but my stomach is turning flips tonight!

Mike has been putting items in his suitcases for the last several days now. I've had moments where I was regretting our decision to send him first. I really want to travel together! But, I still have the notion that one of us over there on the ground first to check out the apartment is the right way to go. If there is something he needs, we have time for him to let me know and I can try to get it into my luggage. We're both taking extra suitcases.

I insisted he take towels. I love Italy, but I don't like their idea of bath towels. They are like dish towels to me --and the thin ones at that! I have to admit, I love soft, fluffy, thick towels. So two towels went into his bags, 2 more will go with me. We will be hanging them out on the clothesline since we don't have a dryer in the apartment there, but at least I will have thick towels!! No dryer may be the biggest adjustment I'll have to face.

We also packed a set of sheets. We have no clue yet if there are pillows or a blanket in the apartment, we're crossing our fingers on that one. Mike also took all of his favorite kitchen utensils in a shoe box, a few of his cookbooks, and his french press.

Even Leopold, the dog, is ready. He's been acclimating to his crate for the last 2 weeks, doing fine with it. The dogs both got microchipped, and all of their paperwork has been completed by the vet. We've checked and double checked with the airline. We're absolutely sure we have everything necessary for them.

Tomorrow around noon we'll load up the car and head for Dulles airport. We're about an hour and a half from there. Once there we have to check in Leo and Mike. The flight is from DC to Frankfurt, then a connecting flight from Frankfurt to Marco Polo airport in Venice.

We were in a panic all last week since we had not heard any word about how to pick up keys for the apartment yet. Finally we made contact with Nicola, the woman we have been negotiating this with since October. She tells us she is sending her father to the airport to meet up with Mike and Leo. I will be on pins and needles all morning on Tuesday waiting to hear how everything works out.

Wish us luck!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

365 days of Venice - a little bit of winter

I've been down with a cold, so that's the cause of my lack of blogs for the last few days. Here's a photo I love... enjoy a little glimpse of Venice in winter.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Living the dream - Felice Nuovo Anno

Happy New Year, All!

We wish you a year of dreams come true in 2008!

Looking back on our past year, we are amazed at where we were a full year ago. Being in Venice still seemed so far away. It was still just a dream, floating happily in our heads. And today, looking forward, we are 2 weeks away from taking up residence in Venice. It's unbelievable, still.

What we know now is that this would never happen without us doing everything in our power to make this dream a reality. So-- our sincere hope for all of you is that whatever you dream of, no matter how big or small the dream, do whatever it takes to make it happen for yourself. Change your life, live the dream! If we can do it, everyone can.

365 days of Venice - Burano

Just a short vaporetto ride from Venice is the colorful island of Burano!

One of the northern lagoon islands, Burano, home to fishermen and lace-makers, is a kaleidoscope of colorful houses. It is said that the fishermen painted their homes in bright blues, oranges, yellows, and greens so they could be visible when they were out on the water.