Friday, September 30, 2011

Bella Befana Bazaar

The Aviano Officer and Civilian Spouses' Club puts together a bazaar featuring vendors from across Europe as a fundraiser for AOCSC philanthropic giving and educational scholarships. Will and I went to check it out, not really knowing what to expect. There were all different kinds of vendors: food, furniture, knick knacks, clothes...everything really. Like the fat kids in disguise that we are, we bought a lot of food. We meant to go again before the last day to shop for reals, but we got lazy. I guess that's a good thing though because we really shouldn't be spending a lot of money.

candied nuts
chocolate covered Belgian waffle
smoked cheese
German wine

As I was spreading our deliciousness out across the table for a feast, we got an unwelcome visitor.

nasty bug

It's some kind of silverfish on crack or something. I screamed and stood on a chair until Will took care of it. And by "took care of it", I mean he punched it.

Will punching the nasty bug

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Country Life

Will kind of grew up in the country, but I definitely am a city girl. So I was really weirded out by this strange noise outside our house. It took me a while to actually figure out that it was coming from outside. It then took me a while to figure out what it was. There was a cow trailer parked right outside! A real cow! Yeah yeah, like I said I'm a city girl. I was thoroughly amused by the cow. I hung out our window for a while trying to catch glimpses of it. Will wandered off after a few minutes, completely bored with the situation.

Ech & Will

I tried to get a video too, but as soon as I hit record the mooing stopped. Of course.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FMO & Gas

Just so happens, we were able to schedule FMO to drop off our borrowed furniture and the Italian gas company to turn on our gas on the same day. FMO will ring the doorbell and call if necessary. The gas company is so busy that they require that we sit outside next to the box until they arrive. They gave us a window of a few hours to meet them. I took a lawn chair and hung out by the gate since our box is outside our gate. Since it was morning, there were a lot of people were coming and going to the bar. Most of them were really friendly, offering a smile or "Buongiorno". Our landlord's dog (Nuvola) hangs out at the bar and she came over to hang out with me. She's such a cutie and was great company.

Italian dog

FMO arrived first. They dropped off a washer, dryer, two transformers, three wardrobes (closets), and a dish for us to catch AFN on our tv. I wanted the wardrobes on the third floor but they bullied me into putting them on the second floor. Rather than carry them through the house, they put the ramp on the back of their truck as high as it would go and passed the pieces through the window.

Aviano FMO delivery

The gas man arrived pretty quickly after they left. Thank goodness, because I didn't want to spend all day waiting outside. He was very nice, but spoke only a few words of English so we couldn't chat. He had a cute little car jammed packed of his work tools. I was going to offer my chair for him to sit in while he worked, but he pulled out a little stool. It only took about 5 minutes for him to hook up his little contraption and get everything running.

gas man
gas man

So now we can cook on our gas stove/oven and take hot showers! I'm one happy lady.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Exploring Our House

Even though we moved into our house, we still hadn't explored our family room/party room. Drake came over to hang out with us and he and Will poked around in the building. They found that the kitchen was stocked full of cooking and eating utensils. It looks like our landlord uses the room occasionally.

Italy house
party room
party room

The room will be really for our get togethers. We can keep people out of our house if we want and the mess will be contained to a specific area.

A disastrous Ikea trip

We learned a very valuable lesson today: Don't trust our GPS.

It started out with lunch on base with Pierce and Jasmine. They suggested we all check out Ikea. None of us knew exactly where it was, but we all agreed that we should be able to search it on the GPS. 2 hours later..."Did that sign say Austria!?!?" Yes, our stupid GPS took us to a whole other country and it took us through the windiest road through the mountains for no reason. And guess what? When we finally got to Ikea, it was closed.

We were all pissed and tired and stressed and I had to use the bathroom. So we found a gas station and everyone got out to stretch our legs.

I learned that Austrians are really nice people. Austrians speak German (I think) but I somehow figured out that the bathrooms were outside. I started pulling on doors and some random guy filling up his car called over and motioned to go around. My stance must have screamed "I'm doing the pee pee dance in my head". I made Will come with me because who knows what's behind the building. We found a coin slot on the door. What!? Is it a vending machine that's going to pop out a toilet? I fished out a .50 Euro coin and it spit it out. I tried again and it spit it out again! At this point, I'm looking around for a bush or something to duck behind. Will went inside to try and ask for help again. Eventually he figured out that she has a button behind the counter to release the door...for free.


I was worried it was a squatter toilet. It's not that I didn't master them when I was in Tanzania...it's just awkward is all. It smelled like all kinds of awful and it was basically a port-o-potty, but it was pretty pimped out in there. The seat pulled down and the bowl flushed.


The GPS screwed us again on the way home. It took us off the autostrada and around a creepy backwoods road for no reason whatsoever because it put us right back on the autostrada at the same point we exited. It was an unnecessary trip chock full of frustrations. But we got a heckuva story out of it and I got a great first impression of how helpful Austrians are.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

MOVE IN DAY!

Despite not knowing when our gas will be turned on...
Despite not having a bed or any other furniture...
Despite the ridiculously early hour...

moving in
moving in

Will and I were as giddy as children on the morning of their birthdays or Christmas. We finally got our keys to our new Italian home!!! We stocked up on cleaning supplies and other necessities for the house so I could give the house a good cleaning before the movers delivered our things.

We had some terrifying fun catching stink bugs and tossing them out the windows. When we pulled down the screens we found their favorite hiding spots. They were attached to almost every screen we pulled down. They hop around and squirm until you throw them, then all of a sudden they know how to fly. I'm counting my blessings though. I'd rather deal with stink bugs than spiders and lizards.

stink bugs

The biggest comedic moment of the day was picking up our new futon from the warehouse. We weren't completely sure we'd be able to fit it in our little Focus, but we had to try. The guy took our receipt, pulled out the boxes, and took off on a forklift to another warehouse. I'm not sure what we would have done if my Tetris skills weren't on epic level. We pushed both seats all the way forward and angled/wedged everything in. In hindsight, we probably should keep bungee cords in the trunk for times like these.

Will had to scrunch down in the backseat and used my jacket to sort of hide. I had to drive with my elbows touching the seat behind me. Every time I turned, I had to scoot the wheel instead of turning it fluidly. I was paranoid someone would hit us or the police would catch us. I'm pretty sure Will took a nap back there. Luckily it was a quick shot down the road to our house.

While I cleaned, Will put together our futon. It'll be our bed until our shipment comes in. Hopefully by the end of the week according to TMO. After that, we'll use it as a guest bed/couch in the guest room/game room.

The kitchen was the first thing I set up and we made sandwiches for our first meal. I had a pb&j. Will had a turkey. I foresee a lot of sandwiches until our gas is turned on on Tuesday. Then we graduate to Top Ramen.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Open Love Letter to my Husband

Dear Will,

I love looking at our wedding pictures and reliving that day. I was so in love and so happy to be finally spending the rest of my life with you. I had been waiting almost two years for the day and finally we could say our vows and be together.

You first caught my attention by making me laugh over spilled salsa (I stand by my claim that it was you who spilled it). Even now, years later, you still make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts and I can't breathe. When you have a full conversation with me in your sleep, your strange ability to remember the most random quotes, when you try to rap, when you try to sing, your silly dances.

During the last month of college I was so stressed working and frustrated with everything; but you were there on the phone every night encouraging me, talking me down off the ledge. I couldn't have done it without you and I still lean on you today. You're always there for me when it seems like the whole world is against me. I can count on you for soft words, lots of hugs, and junk food to make it all better. And when that doesn't work, you tell me to suck it up. When we go through all the tough parts together it doesn't seem so bad.

The first time I flew to Anchorage to see you, I was so nervous and excited! My hands were trembling and my throat was dry when I walked out the baggage claim door. All that went away when you stepped out of your truck, took my bag, and gave me the sweetest hug. That's when I started to know that I was falling in love with you, being with you felt natural and unforced.

I'm both amazed and not surprised at all that we've made it so far. I'm amazed because we had...have...so many things working against us. I'm amazed because I feel so lucky to have you. I'm not surprised at all because it's so obvious we're perfect for each other.

There are so many reasons why I love you: I can be a total geek in front of you, and you keep the teasing to a minimum. You eat everything I cook, even when I won't. You don't judge me when I stuff my face with junk food, with the exception of Twinkies. Even when we're fighting and we're both so angry with each other, we usually end up laughing by the end of it...usually because you start it. You're always by my side if you're able. If I want to lie around on the couch all day, you're putting on a movie and sprawling out next to me. If I want to go shopping, do laundry, or explore some cave I found online, you're putting on your shoes and grabbing the keys. Even if you're in the middle of a week of 12's at work and you're exhausted, you still find time for me. The list goes on and on and every day I find something new to love about you.

You are my shining white knight, my prince, my soul mate, the love of my life, my forever, my fairy tale ending, my best friend, and my everything. Most of all you're my husband, this I'm most grateful for. Happy first anniversary.

Love,
Ech

K&M Studios

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Castle Hunting

"I don't know, guys," I said eyeing the map. "It looks pretty far. I think we should take the car."

If only Will and Drake had listened to my wise words.

Since arriving in Aviano,  I've seen signs pointing the way to a castle. I heard snippets of information at Right Start and during our Benvenuti Tour. But no one told us the exact location of this alleged castle.

Our original plan was to walk west and watch for signs. I knew there were signs of the Mountain Highway west of here. As we were walking down the hall to the elevator, I spotted a map of Aviano framed on the wall. We found our hotel and the castle but there wasn't a legend so we had no way of measuring the distance. My estimate was that it was a pretty far walk. The guys thought it wouldn't be and insisted it was a nice day for a walk. It's not like we had any time constraints since they were done with work for the day.

"Except for maybe the sunset," I thought. But I didn't say it out loud. I just followed after them.

The roads here change at the drop of a hat. You could be on one road for several blocks and never realize that the name had changed. That was one of our challenges during our castle hunt. We would be watching for the next street sign and find we had skipped over a whole section of our journey without noticing it.

Aviano
Italian Alps

We ran into a church with a statue of Padre Marco d'Aviano. He was born here in 1631 and did a lot of missionary work in Italy and across western Europe. He's buried in the royal tombs in Vienna so we'll have to watch for him when we visit.

Padre Marco d'Aviano
Aviano
cat

Parrocchia Santa Maria Maddalena
Via Montello, 2
33081 Aviano

After passing through several of Aviano's (for lack of better words) sub-sections or (maybe a better descriptions) neighborhoods, we finally reached Castello di Aviano. No one told us that the name of the sub-section/neighborhood is named after the castle. Also, no one told us that the town is built into the castle ruins.

Castello d'Aviano
Castello d'Aviano

We walked through the entire town before we got to the castle. In fact, it's right next to the "leaving Castello di Aviano" sign. The towers themselves were a bit anticlimactic. There were newer buildings erected next to them, so we weren't able to get close to them without going through someone's gated courtyard. We were able to walk up to the church though and we got a great view of Area F from the archway.

Castello di Aviano
Castello d'Aviano
Castello d'Aviano
Castello d'Aviano
Castello d'Aviano
Castello d'Aviano

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Emisfero (Pordenone Mall)

We had big plans to go hiking today, but sleeping in plus rain put a stop to that. Pierce, Will, and I had a brainstorm session on what we could do indoors. Movies (only in Italian today), bowling (closed on base), Ikea (over an hour away). Oh yeah, let's go check out the mall! None of us have been to the mall here in Italy yet. We Googled the location, swooped up Drake at the dorms, and headed out.

The mix of stores is similar to the malls in the US. Lots of clothing stores, some shocked us at their triple digit price tags. We found the equivalent of a Best Buy, but everything is in Italian so no one came out with new movies or video games. In the end, I ended up with a couple tops, a pair of hair clips, and some makeup.  A very conservative shopping trip for me.

Emisfero (Pordenone Mall)
Emisfero (Pordenone Mall)
Emisfero (Pordenone Mall)

We stopped in at McDonalds and it blew our minds how nice it was. The trash cans were all automated compactors and the kids building had a basketball hoops and bicycles hooked up to some sort of video game.

McDonalds in Italy

Emisfero Centri Commerciali - Fiume Veneto
Via Maestri del Lavoro n. 42
33080 Fiume Veneto (PN)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Around The Posta

We spend so much of our time wandering around The Posta. It gets boring around here sometimes. We try to have fun.

Hotel Residence Posta
Hotel Residence Posta
Hotel Residence Posta
Hotel Residence Posta
Hotel Residence Posta

Not So Sunny Sunday

I had all intentions of sleeping in late and being lazy all day. But then Will opened the fridge and realized we're running low on food. Since the commissary is probably closed tomorrow for Labor Day, we dragged ourselves out to base to stock up.

Again, once we got back, I had all intentions of lounging around in bed. But then Pierce and Drake started banging on the door, stating that we were all going to get gelato. Not a question. A statement. Lucky for them I have a new found weakness for gelato. We got caught in a quick rainfall and ate our gelato under the awning of a nearby store in the Gray Mall.






On our walk back the The Posta, we passed by an alley. The guys had dubbed it "Crack Alley" because of its slightly creepy appearances. Turns out there's a pretty good pizza place down there that they found not too long ago. For fun we all decided to explore more of Crack Alley and were pleasantly surprised.






The path spit us out on the road adjacent to the street The Posta is on.