Sunday, August 3, 2014

First Experiences in Milan

An update after the first 1.5 weeks in Milan...

I am sitting in a coffee bar as I type this. The internet at our temporary apartment is horrible. So Richard is watching the kids as sit here sipping my cappuccino and using the wifi. Thanks Richard! After 1.5 weeks in Milan, I want to give an update on how we are and what we think of Milan so far.

Flight and arrival:
We took a night flight here and flew business class, courtesy of the company. It was my first time, and I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Gabriel and I sat next to each other and played with the buttons for the first half hour. Fortunately, there wasn't anyone sitting near us, as we made our chairs go up and down all the way and opened all the compartments.

We flew on Lufthansa and they were so nice to the kids. Each kid got an age-appropriate toy to entertain them. However, it wasn't long before we all settled down to sleep for the remainder of the flight. Hope had her own seat, but she ended up snuggling up with daddy. So cute.

Temporary apartment:
Our temporary place is near the center of the city and we often walk to the metro to get places. We ended up getting an unlimited pass for August. This gives us access to the metro and all trams. Tram #19 drops you off right in front of our place.

Here I am with Gabriel upon arrival as we wait to meet our landlord. The location is decent, but we continue to struggle with internet access as well as a leak under the kitchen sink. Hopefully those get fixed quickly.

Bars are popular here. But they're not like American bars. Here, there are coffee bars everywhere, and Italians love to get an espresso and relax mid-day or after work. Our apartment came with this coffee maker called a Moka pot. The landlord laughed when I asked him how to use it. You put water in the bottom half, and a metal filter sits in it which holds the coffee. Place it on the stove, and the water boils up through the coffee and into the top part. Pretty neat! I bought American coffee originally, but after getting some flack from friends, I plan to try the Italian grinds next.

Women here seem to rarely wear pants/shorts. It's much more common for women to wear skirts/dresses. When they do wear pants, the pajama pants are really popular right now. I noticed them slowly coming into style in America, but here it's very common. They look something like this.
And the shoes..... Oh the shoes! They do have good taste in shoes here, but most of the shops sell them for around €100 minimum! That's about $135! I'm hoping I can find some more reasonably priced stores.

I get looks and questions often from people surprised to see I have more than one child, and they all seem to think I'm so young too. I can see why people living in the city would want to only have one child. It's difficult to get around with kids here. They also seem to have kids later in life. So I'm definitely a rarity. Even though the Milanese don't have many children, most of them love kids. I can't tell you how many times someone has reached out to rub Gabriel's hair or touch his cheeks. It seems to be perfectly ok to touch someone's kids. He was confused at first, but now he likes it. He gives a cute smile and says "ciao!", knowing they will get a kick out of hearing him speak Italian. Most restaurants also make sure to feed the kids first or at least give them some bread to nibble on. So it seems to be a kid-friendly place.

It's now August, and most of the city is closing down as everyone goes on holiday. This is a tradition, since usually August is so hot. Most Italians head to the beach or some other fun place. When they're gone, the city turns into a gost town. Shops and restaurants are closed for the month, and the streets are less busy. We were planning to visit the French Riviera in August for some relaxing beach time, but after seeing the prices during this peak season we have decided to wait until later. We do have a two-day trip planned to Belaggio, which is the town which the famous hotel in Las Vegas is named after. It's just north of us and located on a lake with picturesque scenery. I'm very excited to start traveling!

Gelato here is considered a snack, not a dessert. So it has become a common activity for us to meet Richard after work at the local gelato place and then walk him home. And it's so tasty! Each gelato shop, which can be found on most streets, carries a variety of flavors. I want to taste them all, but I sure do like the Nutella flavor!

Things I Don't Like:
1. Stinky people - I'm not sure if it's all Italians who don't shower often, or just a few, but I almost always smell someone while I'm out and about. Yuck!
2. Dog poo on the sidewalk - So we're in the city, and there's not a lot of grass. I get it. But at least pick up after your dog! So gross.

Overall, we are very much enjoying it here!
Until next time... Ciao!