Day 1–Living as an expatriate in Italy

Today marks the beginning of a new life as I pursue living as an expatriate in Italy. If you’ve been following my blog, you know I recently returned from five weeks in Europe with a quick stopover in New York. I decided while I was Moscow visiting my brother that I would accept his generous offer to live in an apartment he owns in Alba Adriatica, Italy a beachside community near our extended family who lives in Villa Pigna, Italy.

I returned from New York last night after a three day whirlwind tour tacked onto the end of my European vacation. Today I woke up very early (for me) and got the ball rolling on this new journey. My goal with my blog is to morph now into the experiences of an expatriate. I’m hoping that anyone who stumbles upon blog this will find it useful if they are contemplating this step or are actually preparing to move overseas. Continue reading

Days 33 & 34, New York

I met my brother’s girlfriend, Marina. What a delightful young lady. We hit it off immediately and had a wonderful time together. They were staying on the opposite side of Central Park from me so it was a very short walk. I strolled through the park, once again enjoying the runners, bikers and stroller-pushing moms. I arrived early at their hotel, the Pierre, so I went into a cafe and ordered a coffee and a muffin.

Their hotel was beautiful, part of a hotel/condominium development that was probably seventy stories high. A condo had recently sold in this building for $120 million dollars. Who has this kind of money other than Russian oligarchs an Arab sheikhs? Continue reading

Day 32, New York

Wow. I am sitting here nursing very tender feet and toes. I think I walked more today than I did in any city in Europe. That’s the way it feels, anyway. Of course, it could be due to the fact that I’ve been walking for five weeks and my feet are screaming, “Enough!”

Whatever the reason, I’m now sitting in my hotel room and I ain’t movin’. Okay, maybe to the john, but that’s it. I wish I had a basin to soak my feet. My brother and his girlfriend arrived today and they are in their hotel room on the other side of Central Park from me. I am too tired to go and see them.

Continue reading

Day 31, New York!

Eight-thirty a.m. and I’m awake. I arrived yesterday around 2:00 p.m. at JFK Airport in New York. The nine and a half hour flight from Moscow seemed to go quickly, probably because I was watching movies the entire time, “Big”, “Ray” and another one I can’t remember. Hey, I just woke up, what do you want?!

It took nearly four hours to get to my hotel a couple of blocks from Central Park. I took a shuttle because a taxi was $65. Perhaps I should have taken the taxi. The driver must have been from Mombasa because I was car sick from his driving. Traffic was horrible, one of the reasons it took so long. By the time I reached my room, I thought I’d take forty winks to get my energy level up. I slept instead for thirteen hours. Best night’s sleep I’ve had in awhile. Dreamed I was on the cast of Friends. Where did that come from??

The hotel room is $150/night and tiny. Bathroom is a closet. This is, after all, New York City. I almost feel like I’m back in Europe. It makes sense, New York City developed much like the European cities because it was settled by Europeans and suburbanization didn’t occur until after WWII. Portland developed much later as did much of the western cities in America. This is why we’re so spread out.

After a shower and my complimentary breakfast I’m heading out to do some sightseeing. Hmm, I’ve been spoiled by complimentary breakfasts in Europe. Wonder if this one will just be Costco muffins and Folger’s? Not sure what I’m gonna see or how far things are. It’s supposed to be 81 degrees today but probably humid. There’s so much to see–Times Square, Wall Street, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, Broadway, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty. How does one decide??

Tony and his girlfriend arrive late tonight so I probably won’t see them. Tomorrow we’re going to the Empire State Building, a comedy club, the Comedy Cellar and then out for an Italian dinner. I leave at noon on Wednesday for home.

Then I go into overdrive.

Days 29 & 30, Moscow

Today, Friday, was truly a lazy day. Woke up after 10:00 a.m. as did my brother. Barry is up every day at 6:00 a.m. We had breakfast and lounged around the apartment. Around 1:30 p.m. we decided to take naps. How pathetic is that?

But it underscores the result of nearly five weeks of non-stop travel and activity. We’ve seen so much, done so much, experienced and eaten so much that we’re beat. I think five weeks is probably the maximum amount of time I could ever take off, not that I will ever have the chance to do it again. Continue reading

Day 28, Moscow

I got to see my nephew! I got to see my sister-in-law! My brother finally heard from them this morning. Turned out that they were having problems with their phone connection in Bulgaria. They arrived late last night and my sis-in-law called asking us to have breakfast with them. We slept in very late and didn’t even have time to shower so we ran a comb through our hair and rushed over to her luxury apartment overlooking the Moscow River. From there we went to a local Georgian restaurant called Odessa Mama for breakfast.

Afterward,Tony returned with Anton to his apartment to meet some renovators. We went to the Christ the Savior cathedral.  This church was torn down during Stalin’s years, the marble being used for the Metro. It was re-built fifteen years ago but, according to my sister-in-law, Katia, it is somewhat vulgar because it is not the original. No matter. Barry and I couldn’t get in because we were wearing shorts. There’s a stringent dress code and apparently men showing sexy legs can’t enter. Continue reading

Day 27, Moscow

I have to admit that I’m having a hard time even paying attention to Moscow. Now that I’ve made the decision to move to Italy, Italy is at the forefront of my mind. My brain is already concerning itself with the details that must be attended to in order to make this transition smooth. I’m thinking about the people I want to see before I leave. Most of all, I’m just excited!

I feel like a little kid who knows what he’s getting for Christmas. I pray that this actually comes to fruition. Maybe I should have waited to make this public? No! I cannot go there. I cannot over-analyze what is happening and my decisions. I have to forge ahead and do my best. Continue reading

Day 26, Moscow and…soon ITALIA??

The biggest news today is not what we did in Moscow. However, I will chat about Moscow and get it out of the way.

We pretty much relaxed today. My brother, Tony, had to take his Ferrari in for some work so Barry and I relaxed. I blogged. Barry played Angry Birds. When Tony returned, we visited the military museums near New Moscow City. Continue reading

Day 25, Moscow

So, our first full day in Moscow. We all slept in since we were all exhausted. Got up around 10:00 a.m. and my brother made us breakfast. He then took us to Red Square so we could see all the sights. The main points of interest, in my humble opinion, are at Red Square–St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Tomb and the Kremlin and Kremlin museums.

As we sped towards downtown, the location of Red Square, I was amazed at how Moscow has changed in fifteen years. Back in 1999, the ruble had collapsed and the Russian economy was teetering. It had only been a few years since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the new Russia was taking its first tentative steps into a capitalist economy and a free society.

As a result, everything was dirt cheap, nobody spoke English and there was little economic activity. Now, with the escalation in oil prices and the rapid development of the oil industry (along with the attendant incredible wealth), Moscow has become a city of the future.  Continue reading

Days 23 & 24, Warsaw…and…MOSCOW!

I forgot to mention in my previous posting that last night we returned to our favorite little Polish restaurant where our favorite little waitress worked. The food was so good that we had to go again. Our waitress, Alexandra, was working. She goes by “Ola” for short because, as she explained it, “‘Ola’ is short for ‘Alexandra’ in Polish”. After a wonderful dinner, we went back to our apartment.

Our little apartment in Warsaw was quite nice. It’s tiny, and I mean TINY. It is definitely an “efficiency” apartment. It is the size of what we would call a studio apartment. The kitchen is smaller than a closet yet there is a washer under the countertop. The bathroom is actually larger than the kitchen. There is a “bedroom” that has a half wall separating it from the kitchen and “living room” and “dining area”. The “living room” had a futon and some cabinets for storage. I marveled at how easy it was to accommodate our accommodations. It spoke volumes to me about us as Americans and our wretched proclivity for wretched excess. Do we really need half the crap we have? Continue reading