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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Could this day get any longer????

Today didn't turn out anything like I anticipated. It was way worse, but it gave me yet another huge reminder that living in a  foreign country isn't always fun and games.  Just maneuvering the simplest of tasks can often times be frustrating beyond belief.  Here's a case in point:  this morning I needed to go to the bank to make a payment to someone elsewhere in Italy by sending money from my bank to their bank account, sort of equivalent to a wire transfer. Here it's called a bonifico.  I was diligent about gathering all of the information I would need before I set out for Via Garibaldi. I'd done this before, I thought I knew what to expect. Confident this would be a piece of cake, off I went.

First there is the fun of just getting inside the bank door to contend with you. If you've never tried this in Italy, I highly recommend you give it a go if you are here, just for the fun of it.  There isn't a normal door at the entrance to bank, but rather a rounded glass door, sort of like a pod or transport system you might imagine being used to "beam you up".  To get into this portal of sorts, you must press a green button located to the right of the door.  You go into the bank one person at a time. First the outer pod door opens, allowing you to enter this portal type thing. Ok, you are now inside the "pod".  Then, you press yet another green button, and a second rounded door opens, allowing you to exit the pod and into the bank.  I get a kick out of this every time I have to use it.

Once inside the bank, you wait your turn. Fortunately this morning, the wait was almost non-existent. I took my seat opposite the clerk on the other side of the counter, whose name is Fabio. I see him frequently up and down Via Garibaldi. Fabio is an interesting looking character, with shoulder length flowing white hair. He looks more like a rock star than a bank teller.

I explain to Fabio what I need to have done, he accesses my account on his computer and announces that I must go to the branch location where I opened my account, at Piazzale Roma, to answer some questionnaire and sign a document before he can do anything for me.  Nothing. I am at a branch of my bank, but he cannot process whatever this questionnaire is, and I can do no banking until this is handled. I have no clue what he's talking about, but decide I need to get to the other bank and get whatever it is taken care of.  I exit the bank, again using the 2 green buzzer door system, and get to the nearest vaporetto stop as soon as I can. It's nearly a 55 minute boat ride on the #1 boat from Via Garibaldi to Piazzale Roma, and the #1 was the boat pulling up.  Rather than wait for a boat that would take less time, I hopped on this one and quickly figured I could disembark at Ca'Rezzonico and walk faster than do the whole ride on the boat.

My decision to walk paid off, I arrived at the bank 20 minutes before the boat would have docked. Again, I entered the bank using the green buzzers and the beam-me-up portal, and waited my turn inside.
When it was my turn at the sportello (that's the counter, in American terms), the clerk tells me that yes, I must answer the questionnaire and sign it.  The questionnaire turns out to be about money-laundering. The bank wants to know where I got all the money I deposited into my account since March 2013.  Here's where things get very funny, and I really wanted to laugh, but knew that would piss everyone off. See, I deposited only 200 Euros in this account in the last 12 months. I kept a straight face as best I could, filled out the form, signed it, and proceeded to handle the matter I went to the bank for in the first place. I had a second matter at the bank this morning also, but decided I needed a big break. The second matter could wait until my screaming headache went away.

Home I went.  I relaxed over lunch and a cup of tea.  At 3:15 pm I made my way back to Via Garibaldi to my local branch, which would be able to service my banking needs now that my money laundering questionnaire had been completed. Fabio, my teller from the morning, was busy with someone else, so I had the pleasure of being served by his colleague (whose name I am trying to forget, so I won't bother to mention it here. HE knows who he is).

The teller processed my transaction 3 times, and reversed it twice, because he couldn't quite make up his mind how he wanted to do it. He could use money that was already in my account, or I could deposit money into my account, or I could just pay in cash for the payment I needed to make. I told him I didn't care how he did it as long as it got done.  What probably should have taken 5 minutes took him 40 minutes. It got done, and I had another whopper headache.

Before I left the bank, I decided to take on one more task. The reason I had to hike all the way to Piazzale Roma to the bank to sign that f-ing form this morning is because I had not moved my account to my local area after I moved apartments. I use the bank about once a year (and you can see why not) so this wasn't a priority for me.  Big mistake.  In Italy, not all services can be done for you in a branch office if it's not the location you opened the account at. I never wanted to have to haul my butt to Piazzale Roma again. Solution: stick around a bit longer and go through the process to have my account moved. I had to see a different agent for this.  (Thank goodness, because I probably would have strangled my friend Teller #2 if I had to deal with him one more minute).

Moving the bank account was painless, thankfully.  However, the whole thing is not a done deal yet. It will take some time, a few days, it is explained to me, to have his colleague at Piazzale Roma do who knows what, and at that time I will be issued a new bank account number. Huh?  Same bank, different branch and it needs a whole new number? I am in disbelief. I don't really care for an explanation at this point, I just want them to do what they need to do and get it all done with. With my headache pounding even harder, I made a very quick exit.  At least in a few days some of these woes will have been resolved. Hopefully my headached will be gone by then also.

Pazienza. Pazienza. Pazienza.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pardon me, I'm under construction.

My apologies to all of my readers in advance while I attempt to re-charge my blog and inject some new life into it by an overhaul of the design. I'm going to be playing around with a few things over the next few days until I land on something I really like. If any of you have suggestions, I really want to hear them- either regarding layout or content, topics you want me to talk about in the days ahead, anything at all.

Spring is a time of re-birth, and I'm feeling just that.  My blog and I may experience a few growing pains along the way. I expect and welcome it.  Please bear with me.

 Hope you will continue to follow along with me, as I love having each and every one of you here with me.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Buon compleanno, Venezia !

Happy 1593rd Birthday, Venice.

According to legend, Venice was founded on March 25, 421.  We're raising a glass of prosecco to La Serenissima! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

At the end of the world

Another gorgeous weather day brought all the dogs, and their owners, outside for their afternoon meeting here in Sant'Elena. Yes, this is right outside our apartment, and yes, sadly, it does make me miss our dogs. And yes- this really is Venice!

The other day my friend Cat stopped by for some tea and a chat. When she arrived, she said, "Karen, you really are at the end of the world now."

The next morning I sat down to write an email to our old neighbors in Baltimore who will be visiting us soon in Venice. This will be the first time we've seen them since we've moved to Sant'Elena, and I wanted to remind them that they'd have to figure in some extra travel time when they worked out their flights and arrival plans.  We're no longer a 3 minute walk to Piazzale Roma. As Cat reminds me, we are at the end of the world.

Looking out at the dog convention this afternoon, I found myself thinking this sure is
a pretty good spot to be in, even if it is at the end of the world.