About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Preview Trip - Day 3

I slept really well last night. Overall, jet lag has not been as bad as I expected it to be. We even slept in a little bit today.

Once again we enjoyed breakfat at the hotel before heading to Monza. This morning was all about Brandon. We visited his school, the International School of Milan di Monza. After meeting the pricipal, Brandon was introduced to his future class. He was a celebrity! The kids had been waiting a long time to meet him and were very excited. He was given two buddies, Arthur and Vincent, with 5 more waiting to fill in if needed. We left Brandon with his class for the morning. He was able to enjoy Italian class, math, and some water cycle study before having pasta for lunch in the cafeteria.

Katrina and I filled out paperwork then took a walk around our potential neighborhood, Vedano. Vedano is seperate from Monza. Brandon's school is actually in Vedano. Our potential apartment is actually in Vedano. Monza city limits start just a block away. Brandon's school is 3 blocks from the apartment. There seems to be just about everything we would need in this part of Vedano and Monza - small supermarkets, banks, a few shops, gelato shops, butchers, a post office, and much more. There is a park with a playground right beside our potential apartment. The apartment building also has a small playground right outside our kitchen window. We ended up eating at a pizzaria for lunch. I had another pizza while Katrina has a calzone.

Brandon was playing outside for recess when we picked him up. He was very excited and seemed to really like his new school. That makes me happy. We met up with Rinna again and headed out to view one of the bigger shopping centers nearby. It was only 3km from the apartment. We wandered the mall a little bit and quickly walked through Auchen, the large supermarket/department store. Rinna helped Katrina and I purchase cell phones. Its a different process there. We had to show our passports and give our Italian tax ID's. You don't buy phone plans in Italy. You choose a cell provider and then purchase cards for various amounts of call time. You then use the PIN codes on the cards to add time to your phone. We were so glad to have Rinna with us.

We had two appointments in the late afternoon to look at apartments for a second time. We looked at what had become our top choice and decided it was the one. We went downstairs to the Cafe to discuss our choices with Olga and Rinna. Olga will negotiate the contract for the apartment and will keep us posted.

It was another exciting and tiring day. We skipped dinner because we ate too many 'happy hour' snacks at the Cafe.

Another interesting aspect of Italian culture is driving. Driving can be stressful to begin with, but once you get the hang of it, all is well. Stoplights are followed closely, but lanes and merging are an artform all their own. Almost all cars are very tiny. Mini Coopers and smart cars are everywhere and are the normal size of the average car. In the land of small cars, its hard to believe that finding parking is one of the most difficult parts of owning a car. Parking is at such a premium in Milan that cars are parked anywhere and everywhere, including on the sidewalks and in the medians. If you ride a scooter or motorcycle, you ride anywhere you fit. My perception is this: lanes are for cars, lines are for motorcycles. Its common and expected for motorcycles to fly by on the centerline and weave their way up to the front at a stoplight. Once you become comfortable with all of this, its actually normal and kind of fun.

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