Bubbles or no bubbles?

WHAT… A… DAY!

Actually, day and a half. In total, our trip to Perugia, Italy lasted 31 hours—for those of you counting. Along the way, we passed through Detroit, Newark, Lisbon, Bologna, Florence, Cortona, and Perugia via planes, planes, AND automobiles (the hat trick!).

Here are some of the fun highlights from our (first) move abroad:

  1. You CAN pack your whole life into two suitcases… if you have vacuum bags. This was my first exposure to vacuum bags and they are fantastic. For the uninitiated, these things save at least 2x space in your bag by turning your stuff into clothes jerky. Thanks to that space savings, we packed our entire wardrobe into one reasonably sized travel bag each. We used a carry-on roller bag for most of Schaefer’s belongings and a few overflow items from the human bags, as well as one backpack each.
  2. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Kiley and I studied our Italian very hard before our 2014 wedding; this time… not so much. We tried to jump right back into it when conversing with locals, to disastrous effect. Case-in-point: “Bubbles or no bubbles?”
    When Kiley was ordering a couple of waters at the very nice VyTA café in the Bologna Centrale train station, the kind cashier responded “naturale?” Kiley answered with a mostly blank stare. Immediately realizing the national origin of his patron, the cashier raised his eyebrows, tilted his head down as if addressing a young child, and asked “bubbles or no bubbles?” Italy 1; Team MK 0. I give her credit, however, I was too afraid to use my Italian most of the day.
  3. Bathroom trips in Italy can cost €5. To help keep the bathrooms clean at Bologna Centrale, patrons must pay €1 to enter via an automated gate system. I did not have a €1 coin; however, I did have a €5 bill and there was a change machine nearby—perfect. When I entered my bill, however, only one €2 coin was returned. Despite my fervent attempts to slap the rest of my money out of the machine (keep in mind, I’m going on 28 hours of travel with VERY little sleep), I got nothing. Cutting my losses, I entered the €2 coin into the gate, expecting a €1 coin to be returned… to no avail. And there you have the story of the €5 bathroom trip. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I see it as a wash since we don’t have to tip servers for the next couple of years.
  4. Schaefer is a total champ. No surprise to anyone that’s actually met our little buddy, but this guy was a furry angel the entire 31 hours. All that he asked in return was the ability to pop his head out of his slightly-too-small carrier from time to time. Even on those occasions, he made known his distress with a polite scratch or two to the inside of the carrier; not a single bark. Our seatmate for the 7-hour Newark-Lisbon leg didn’t even know he was next to her. Great dog or the greatest dog?
  5. Perugia is beautiful. After the longest single trip of our lives, our welcome to Perugia was absolutely awesome. Our quick-witted and extremely friendly landlady Dorine picked us up from the Cortona train station (not the original plan, but that’s a-WHOLE-nother story) and drove us about 30 minutes into town. Along the way we got the dime tour, which included the nearby Battle of Lake Trasimene, the city’s Etruscan walls, lots of churches, and some other non-historical stuff that Kiley and Dorine discussed.
    Our little studio sits at what may be one of the highest points in the whole city, is located exactly 452 feet from the central piazza, and has a stunning balcony facing west. Stepping out onto the balcony a few minutes before sunset, we each took a deep breath and instantly felt relaxed. It’s going to be a good month!

-Mike

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