Dec 26, 2008

White Christmas!

We had a great Christmas. Santa was really good to us! I got to experience my first snow on Christmas! It snowed late Christmas Day Evening and we woke up to about an inch of snow the following day! We were celebrating Reamers birthday (and Christmas) with some friends. We looked out the window and noticed that the snow was falling and sticking! It was very exciting! Champ loves the snow and got to play in it (even though there wasn't much). He still had a great time. Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

Earthquakes in Vicenza!

I have never felt an earthquake before, until now. A few days before Christmas, Reamer and I were just hanging around the house and all of a sudden, my computer starts shaking back and forth. I yelled to Reamer if he knew what was going on and he told me that it was an earthquake. Our entire apartment starting moving back and forth and things were swinging around. I thought that earthquakes would be like vibrations and really shaky, but it was more like a back and forth movement. It was really strange. Apparently we had 3 that day. When we looked outside, people were all walking around like normal and they didn't seem to notice, but being inside was a different story. We really felt it! Hopefully we won't get any more, it was kinda scary!

Dec 24, 2008

Malta Vacation

We went to Malta with some of our friends and had an amazing vacation! Malta is off the coast of Sicily and because of it's Mediterranean climate, it was about 10 degrees warmer than Italy. One of the things that we liked the most was that the official languages were English and Maltese. (yep, that's right, we got to speak English to almost everyone!!!) We felt so empowered and able to do anything because we could ask questions and speak to others and for the most part, we were understood!

We toured the ancient Catacombs and played around. It's kinda scary but somehow it was sort of fun at the same time.

We also saw some amazingly beautiful and lavish churches. St. Paul is said to have shipwrecked on the Island of Malta, so many of the churches pay tribute to him.
The scenic views were beautiful in Malta but very different. They almost reminded us of a Middle Eastern city. Most of the buildings were built very low and square shaped and were almost all a sand color. The island is very small and we probably saw most of it. The land is beautiful with green hills next to the very blue Mediterranean Sea the sandy/white colored buildings blend into the land accentuating the islands beauty. We ate lunch on top a a hill overlooking the beautiful views and finally being able to ask for our food in English! Because Malta seemed to be the "Florida" of England (a lot of older English vacationers...) there were some things that made us feel at home. Of course the language as I previously mentioned but also the food. We were so excited to go to a Hard Rock Cafe! I would usually never go to such a place on a vacation, but we were excited to eat some real American food!!! The hot wings and fajitas were amazing!!!!!! I would go back to Malta just for some American hot wings!! We went to the bars and danced to "real" music and not techno!! (well some techno...) We had a blast!

One of the guys with us is branced Artillery and was so excited to go see a huge Maltese Cannon! At first, I wasn't too excited, but when we got there it was awesome. We got there just in time for demonstrations and reinactments! We even got to participate. Ross and Chris shot the cannon (blanks of course). And Reamer, Janet and I got to dress up in uniforms and shoot rifles. We even got to scream and hit a target with a bayonet (I was excited to scream RANGER.... even though they Maltese guys had no idea what I was saying!)

We had a great time in Malta and we might return when we want some hot wings and burgers or maybe just to play dressup and shoot some guns!!

Dec 16, 2008

Christmas Market in Verona

We went to a Christmas Market in Verona on Sunday. The entire town had georgous Christmas lights on every single inch of the town. It was the first day in a very long time that it did not rain, so it was a great day. At the market, they had everything from Christmas decorations, to men in tents doing infomercials for random gadgets. Because it was the first day without rain in a really long time, I think that everyone in Italy came to the market.

This market is a celebration of Santa Lucia Day. My friend Janet told us all about it. We actually saw some ladies dressed up as Santa Lucia in town as well as several Santa Suits. The tradition is that on the 12th of December the children leave out a bowl of water and a carrot for Santa Lucia's donkey. They also leave a little note telling her what gifts they would like to receive. She leaves them presents that night.

I think it's strange that customs can vary so much in between different regions in Itlay. I would have thought that all of the traditions would be the same throughout the country. Also, the donkey thing is kind of weird too!!

There is another strange tradition dealing with a Christmas Witch. It seems like every booth that had Christmas decorations, somewhere in the mix was a scary Christmas Witch. It seemed to strange to me so I had to find out about it! In Italy the children wait until Epiphany, January 6, for their presents. According to tradition, the presents are delivered by a kind ugly witch called Befana on a broomstick. It was said that she was told by the three kings that the baby Jesus was born, she was busy and delayed visiting the baby. She missed the Star, lost her way and has been flying around ever since, leaving presents at every house with children in case he is there. She slides down chimneys, and fills stockings and shoes with good things for good children and it is said leaves coal for children who are not so good.

I also found out that Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) puts out presents on the night of Epiphany (Jan 6) as well. It seems like these kids get a lot of presents! Apparently, Babbo Natale is gaining popularity and Befana the witch is the more traditional gift giver. (I feel like these kids must be confused!) Oh well, at least they get lots of gifts! Merry Christmas!

Dec 15, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Argo's

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Italians put everything on Pizza

Seriously, I'm not kidding. You can make absolutely anything when making an Italian Pizza. Here is a picture of our friend Chris eating a french fry pizza! YUMMY!! (not really......)

Dec 8, 2008

Italian Rotten Tomatoes--what does this mean?

When Reamer and I first moved into our apartment, the power kept going off because I was using so much power at once. (I am unable to run the washer and dryer at the same time... and don't get me started on the dishwasher). But this does nothing to help my story along. So....

One night, the power went off again. So we kept flipping the switches on the fuse box, but we couldn't get it to turn back on. The entire house was completely dark and we couldn't get our Real Estate Agents on the phone (they call our landlord for issues because he only speaks Italian). We had no other choice but to ask for help from our Italian neighbors. Everyone that lives in our apartment building is related to our landlord, so we knew that we could get some help. So we reluctantly went upstairs knocked on a door and hoped for the best.

A sweet old lady answered the door and clumbsy Italian/Spanish/English language came rushing out of my mouth. I even think that I did some sign language as I tried to explain to her the problem. But somehow I got the point across and her grandson came and helped us fix the power. Both Reamer and I were shocked that I could sort of communicate through my mumbo jumbo of languages.
I decided to thank her by giving her some homemade AMERICANO Chocolate Chip Cookies (a novelty here in Italy--Biscotti is their type of cookie). I also wrote her a note in Italian ( helped) thanking her for being such a good neighbor and for helping us. I think that she really appreciated it because after I did this, eveyone in the building has been extra nice and smile at us all the time.

She came over to "chat" the other day for about 30-45 minutes. What an interesting conversation that was! There were several topics that we had no clue what the other was talking about, but some things were easy to understand. She is 87 years old and sweet as can be. She wanted to make sure that I knew that if we ever needed anything to come ask her for anything at all. She enjoyed my Christmas decorations and thought the apartment looked Bellisimo!!! She looked at pictures of Reamer (he isn't home much, so they have only seen eachother once or twice). She liked his military uniform and thought that he was handsome.

My only concern is about the gift she gave me. She returned my tupperware dish that I sent the cookies in, but inside of it were ROTTEN TOMATOES! I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why she would give me Rotten Tomatoes and I can't figure it out! I think that she is just really really old and going blind and didn't realize that they were rotten. I've been wondering if this is some strange tradition or something, but I have yet to find any information on it. Let me know if you know anything about this as a custom or if you think that she is just old. I know her intentions were good, but yuck!!

Dec 5, 2008

Vicenza at Christmas Time

Vicenza is one of the best places to be during the holidays. The town reminds me of something out of a disney movie. Everyone walks around town all bundled up in their hats, gloves and scarves just to visit with friends or to do a little shopping. The town is decorated with beautiful Christmas lights and a huge tree is in the big piazetta in the middle of town. When I look around, I feel like I am in a little Christmas village. (you know, the little Christmas villages that people set up as decorations for Christmas...). I really enjoy just walking around and feeling the Christmas spirit. I have decorated the house, and it looks great. I've been playing Christmas music, and I am feeling pretty Christmassy!! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Now I just need to start my shopping!

Dec 2, 2008

I've got Skills!

Thanksgiving/Christmas was a hit! I made my first Turkey and dressing! I was rather impressed by my cooking and happy that everything turned out pretty good. We had about 7 people over and enjoyed my fancy feast. I was worried that I couldn't imitate my grandmothers dressing, but amazingly I came pretty close. Since I have never really been a cook, this was a big deal for me. I have realized that I am actually an ok cook and I'm proud of myself for preparing such a big meal all by myself.

To my family's suprise, I even served dinner on my china (even though almost everyone at the table was an army guy---except for Janet...). They probably didn't notice the china or the crystal, but I did. I was really happy to be able to have a fancy dinner that I prepared. When I was younger, I always told my family that I would never serve Thanksgiving on China. I would have it on paper plates, paper napkins, and plastic utensils. But now that I have grown up, I couldn't wait to use my nice things and have a beautiful table.

It was so great to have our friends over to share in our Psyudo Thanksgiving. They were all good sports about it, and even said "Happy Thanksgiving" several times. I guess it wasn't hard for them, c'mon, most everyone that came was a single guy and when someone offers a free huge meal, they don't say no! I am going to have to practice my cooking on them some more! I know Reamer is happy about my new skill. (He ate so much food....)--Which made me feel good. I guess I need some more reciepes! Anyone who has any fun reciepe ideas, send them my way!

Dec 1, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving/Merry Christmas!

I was unable to celebrate Thanksgiving this year because we were traveling and touring with our friends Carol and her mom. We had a great day of hiking the CinqueTerre and saw some of the most beautiful sites we have seen in Itlay thus far. We had a wonderful time, but Reamer and I both were missing some Turkey so I decided to have Thanksgiving a few days late. So even though my Christmas decorations are already up, we are having some friends over tonight to celebrate Thanksgiving/Christmas with a Turkey, my grandma's dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, rolls, pecan pie, chocolate cake and some cookies! Oh, and SWEET TEA! I haven't had any sweet tea since I've moved to Italy!! This is my first time cooking Thanksgivng dishes, so wish me luck! (Thankgoodness these army guys are willing to eat Turkey again!)

Nov 21, 2008

Traveling with friends

I have been kind of MIA for a few days. I have my first group of guests visiting from the United States! My friend Carol, her mom and her mom's husband have been here for about a week now. We have been going non-stop! We have been to Venice, Rome, Florence and of course Vicenza. Today we will take a day trip to Verona! They will be here for about another week and we will be traveling quite a bit. I left my camera in Rome but I am having it sent to me by our tour guide, so there won't be any pictures for a while. (Luckily the tour guide found it!!!)

I will write more after we return from our many adventures in a couple of weeks! I sure will have a lot to write about!

Nov 13, 2008

Italians are horrible drivers!

Yes. It's true. I got hit by a car too. Let's set the scene. It has been really rainy and foggy here for the last week or so. Very dreary! I had to go to post to buy some things from the commisary. So, I got on my bike (rain and all) and rode through town toward post. I was only about a block away when the incident occured. The road that the base is on is pretty busy and I never ride on the actual road because it makes me nervous. I always ride on the sidewalk, because I think it is safer. (ha ha ha)

This street has several houses that are behind big stone/brick fences with automatic fence doors. A girl quickly opened her fence door and sped out toward the street, on the sidewalk (where I was riding) without even looking. I saw her for about 1 second and tried to stop, but the ground was really slippery and I had no time to actually stop. She crushed right into me. I toppled over on top of the front of her car. Luckily she wasn't going very fast.

She felt really bad (thankfully she spoke English) and helped me fix my bike and gave me her information so that she could pay for any damages to my bike that I might find. My bike is fine and just needed to be realigned and the chains needed to be put back on.

I feel fine other than bruises on my leg and some soreness. After my accident, I can't imagine Reamer's. Mine was nothing like his. I'm really glad that he was Ok after it.

This country is crazy. The drivers are insane.

Someone told me that we needed to find a safer way of transportation, but I don't think that is possible here. Apparently, this country has the most lethal accidents in the world. Cars treat other cars much worse than they treat the bikers.....

And I'm not going to even get started on motorcycles and mopeds.

Don't worry mom, I'm fine. Just a little sore with some small bruises.

I promise we will be careful, but just in case, say a little prayer for our daily transport. :)

Nov 9, 2008

Back to Normal

Reamer and I love hosting parties and get-togethers. Especially during football season. We have always enjoyed having guests over to our home. We finally were at a point where we could have some friends over to our house without being embarassed about the mess. We thought that it would be perfect timing to have a few friends over to watch the Alabama game. Especially since two of them were LSU fans and one went to Alabama grad school! Of course we had another Ohio State couple, but they were pulling for Bama to win anyways!

Even though it wasn't a big deal, it just made me feel like things are getting back to normal. Now that the house is finally starting to come together and we can watch American TV shows and football games I am feeling a little more like myself. Traveling Europe and having great adventures is amazing, and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but there is something so comforting about eating hotwings and cheese dip and watching some football with friends! Oh, and Roll Tide!!! (what a game it was!)

Nov 2, 2008

Marostica Italy

This weekend, we went with some friends to an antique market in a nearby town called Marostica. The medieval town of Marostica near Vicenza is located in the beautiful foothills. The charming town is surrounded by the ancient walls of its two alluring castles. The biggest castle sits ontop of the hill looking over the town.

The walls stretch all the way around the city and follow to the top of the castle. After spending several hours doing some treasure hunting at the antique market, we decided to explore the castle's walls and made a hike to the top. The view was exquisite and showcased the charming town.

The castle has a magnificent restraunt that looks over the scenic view. We had an afternoon espresso/cappuccino and enjoyed the feel of sitting a top the hill looking over the town like we were the royal's of the land. We enjoyed the trip and will definately return to try out the alluringly beautiful restraunt that sits in the castle walls for a special dinner.
The town of Marostica is best known for its square which is a giant chessboard. The antique market was held in the middle of the checkered square, so I wasn't able to get a picture of it. Each September of every even numbered year, a human chess game is played in full medieval costume on the square of Marostica. The festival was canceled this year due to rain, and we were unable to attend. We would love to go the year after next to witness this interesting tradition.

Oct 30, 2008

Helping Eachother Cope

Meghan, I came across this entry just today -- I realize it is several months old. Tom is my brother. Tomorrow is one year since he was killed and I've been spending a lot of time googling his name and his handle "tommym1080" to read about him and find people like you who have been touched by his life. It helps this week -- which is very tough on all of us. Thank you for your post. And my best to you, your brave husband and your family. -Sarah

For anyone who has been reading my blog for a while, you may remember my post about LT. Tom Martin. If not, feel free to go back and read it again. It is listed as Tom's Ranger School Blog. Tom was killed in Iraq last Oct 14th. I just saw the comment on my old post from Tom's sister. It is amazing that she found my post and that now we are somehow connected. I'm glad that she found my blog and knows how sad I was to read about Tom's death. It is another reminder of the sacrifies that many soldiers and familes are making in this time of war. It shows us how many people are being affected through loss and suffering.

One of my new hobbies is to read the blogs of military spouses and families. You wouldn't believe how many blogs there are that are written by military spouses. I'm starting to believe that it is a condition of being a military wife. Reading these blogs helps me understand that the things I'm feeling are normal and Ok. Sometimes the stories and sadness are overwhelming and other times I feel supported by people that I don't even know. I think that blogging gives us an outlet to vent and read about the events in others lives. This brings us all closer together to not feel so lonely.

Here is a link to my previous blog

Oct 29, 2008

I've been tagged

This blogging thing is pretty interesting. Most of my blog readers are not bloggers themselves just friends and family trying to keep up with our adventures. But once you enter the blogosphere, new and interesting habits form between yourself and fellow bloggers. You begin to follow other peoples blogs and get to know them and follow what they are doing.

I have been "tagged" by one of my fellow bloggers and new friend Uma. I'm supposed to tell 6 interesting facts about myself. I will tag a few people as well so that I can learn a little bit more about some of my favorite bloggers that I keep up with. So I will tag Liz, Christina, and Janet. I won't be mad if you don't do it, but come on--- it will be fun!

Fun Facts!
1. I love musicals. I know, I'm a dork. Growing up, I preformed in tons of community theater plays. I loved it! I used to dream of being on Broadway and starring in a cheesy musical. My favorite is Legally Blonde. I know the entire show from start to finish. I will preform the entire thing for anyone who would like to see it.

2. Even though I am a serious girly girl, I like to camp, hike, and mountain bike. Reamer introduced me to these fun hobbies and many people were suprised to find out that I actually enjoy them. (one of them being me!)

3. One time, I beat up my sister! If any of you know my sister, you wouldn't believe me. I have always been the girly girl of the family, and she has been the sports girl. She even played rugby! She has always been a lot tougher than me. But this one time she made me really mad, so I just beat her up. My family called me Mohammed Ali for a few months after that. Luckily, she forgave me. I think that she was in such shock, that she froze and didn't know what to do. It actually made us grow closer together and after that we became best friends.

4. Math is really hard for me. I know this sounds weird, especially because I have had a career in finance since college, but it is true. For some strange reason, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something that I thought was really hard for me and so, I decided to make it a career. I don't understand why I do things like that?

5. In college, I had the best car ever! It was a 97 Toyota Paseo. Most people would have hated it, but I loved it. I was a convertible and I have so many awesome memories in that car. It was sort of a piece of crap (duct tape holding up the back window, fishing line was used to sew the top on, scratches and dents were all over it, it smelled like mildew because rain would pour in the windows through the duct tape), but I still loved it. It was so tiny that it could barely fit anything in it. Reamer and I would load that thing down traveling from college back and forth to Newnan and you couldn't even see out of the windows. We went on so many road trips in that car. If you sat in the back seat, your head was higher than the front windsheild. It looked hilarious. But my friends and I loved riding around T-town with the top down and music blaring! So many fun memories! (I didn't change the oil in it, and the engine blew up. After 7 years of driving it, I think it was time for it to go anyway.)

6. I absolutely love TaeBo! I know that it is really nerdy, but Billy Blanks really inspires me. You can't get a better workout than with the Advanced Ripped TaeBo video ! I have around 25 TaeBo tapes but I have one that is my favorite. I might even be able to do it without the video. It is sort of embarassing, and I know that it isn't as popular as it once was, but it is still AWESOME to me! Just remember, "you gotta give something to get something...." That is what Billy always tells me!

Ok, time for my tagged bloggers to give me some fun facts! Happy Blogging!

Oct 23, 2008

Crazy Italian Drivers!

Don't worry, he is fine, but Reamer got hit by a car. He was doing a mountain biking PT and followed the PT leader the wrong way down a one way street. I have already established that Italians are crazy drivers and obviously this is true.

Against Reamer's better judgement, he followed the guy leading the PT down a one way street the wrong direction. A guy was speeding around a corner and didn't have time to stop before hitting him. Apparently, Reamer flew over the car and landed on his head. Luckily he was wearing his helmet.

Reamer's mountain bike is completely totaled. He broke his baby toe and has some minor scratches/bruises. He says that he feels fine other than being a little sore. He is upset about the bike, especially since it is his main way of transportation. I'm sure that he will buy a new one as soon as possible (despite the crappy exchange rate!).

Seriously, he is fine. So don't worry. I guess the major lesson here is to wear our helmets at all times, and follow all traffic laws at all times, no matter what!

Oct 22, 2008

My Celebrity Pup!

Champ is finally here and we feel like we are actually at home now that he is with us. Even though our household goods are not here, our apartment feels more like a home!

Dogs are everywhere in our little town. Around 5:30 everyday, people start coming outside to have a coffee at the outdoor cafe's, drink an apertivo (an early evening cocktail), shop and just walk around town to socialize. During this time of day, you see dogs everywhere. It is a very hectic time of day with the streets covered with bikes, people and dogs. I was excited to see how Champ would react to his new town. (and a little nervous!)

The first time I took him out, I felt like a celebrity. Usually the Italians aren't very friendly and seem a little stuck up. They are very concerned with fashion and appearances and unless they know you, they walk around with a scowl on their face. Well, if you want to know how to make friends here, just walk Champ around for 10 minutes and you will talk to the entire town. I was shocked to see how much attention we got. Everyones eye's were on us as we walked around. I've never felt like a celebrity before, but having him by my side made me feel like I was Britany Spears. People would stop conversations and I could hear words like "Bella, Bello, Bellissimo, Cane," Etc.... Tourists want to take his picture, store owners were coming out of their stores, people on their bikes would stop to take a look and everyone was smiling at him (and me!). Of course, Champ was eating this up! He loved the attention! I knew that he would get some attention, (because I think he is the most beautiful dog), but I had no idea how much he would get. Our town is pretty small, so I don't think it will last forever once people start seeing him more often, but for now it is pretty cool.

SIDENOTE: Every time Champ gets upset or stressed out, he gets a really bad case of diarrhea. It has been so bad in the past that we have had to take him to the vet for medicine. We were anticipating this problem because of the 10 hour flight and stress of being in the cage for that long. But when he arrived, he seemed to be OK and I was hoping that we weren't going to have that problem.

The next morning after the debut of my beautiful Celebrity dog, I was excited to see if he would still get the same attention. I first took him to the park to let him do his business. Everything was fine and he seemed to be doing great. I decided to walk him around the cafe/shop area to show him off once again (there is no grass in this area, just cobblestone streets with designer stores and cafe's serving morning cofee).

We window shopped and walked around receiving attention from everyone we passed. He seemed happy to be around all of the people and dogs and I was happy to show him off. Then, out of nowhere, he squats and spews the runniest doggie dirrerah I have ever seen. I only had one baggie left, and there was only so much that I could pick up. There was nothing I could do except stand there in embarrassment hoping that not that many people would see. I cleaned it up to the best of my ability and searched for the cafe to get some water to try to clean between the cobblestone (there were tables outside, but I couldn't find the actual restaurant or a waiter to help me). After looking for help for about 2-3 minutes, the people who saw the incident had already passed by, and I could think of nothing else to do but flee the scene. I felt so bad for my pup and could tell that he thought he had done something wrong by the look on his face. I reassured him and took him to the park again in case he needed to go again.

There are so many dogs here, I know that has happened before, but at the time it was pretty embarrassing. I guess until his problem is better, I'm sticking to the park to avoid that from happening again!

But once he is feeling better, we will definitely be returning to receive some more celebrity attention!!

Oct 13, 2008

Technology is Amazing!

We finally set up Skype on our computer and I have realized how amazing this software is. You can talk to any other Skype user for free online and you have the use of your webcam so that you can see the other person. If you keep the program up at all times, people can call you whenever they want and you answer it just like a phone. You can also put up away messages or sleeping messages if you don't want to be bothered.

After living in Italy for about 2 months, it was great to use Skype to call our friends and family and chat away! Seeing the person on the computer actually gives you a more normal feeling and you don't feel as distant from everyone. I definatley recommend that everyone download this program to the computer especially military families! It makes you feel as though you are closer to you loved ones even if you are on the other side of the world. Check it out at

We are also going to get a program called SlingBox! This is really neat! You can put a peice of equipment on a TV and it will send the signal to our computer in Italy. We are going to ask our family to put the box on their TV for us to use. It will send us all of the channels from their U.S. TV. There is a second piece of equipment that we will attach to our TV that will send the signal from our computer to our TV and it will be broadcast like we are watching TV in the U.S. You can also buy it so that it will play in HD quality so you know that Reamer will definately have to set up the HD component so that he has crystal clear picture.

This technology thing is really exciting for us and will make our life here much more comfortable. It's amazing what we are able to do in this day and age and it's exciting to see how far technology will go to make our life more comfortable in the future. Check it out at

Oct 5, 2008

THIS IS NOT SANITARY! (only read this if you want to be disgusted!)

**Ok, I stole this picture and idea off of my friend Janet's blog, sorry but I couldn't resist.
I had to let all of you know who are planning to visit us what you will encounter. For some strange reason Italians think that this is a more sanitary way to use a public bathroom. In most stores, offices and general areas you will find a normal American-style toilet but in restaurants and bars, you find a hole in the ground. Now, this may seem like a good idea, but if you are a woman and you have been drinking (which you normally do --AT A BAR!) this becomes somewhat difficult. (espically if you are wearing heels and tight jeans!) Please notice that there are no handle bars or or anything to help you with this situation. Just your own will to be strong, squat like you are working out and not to fall over in the disgustingness that is all over the floor. I don't want to scare anyone away from reading my future blogs by getting too graphic, but I'm sure that you get the picture. I'm positive that a MAN invented this novel idea to torture women and to trick us by labeling it as sanitary. Believe me, this is anything but SANITARY!!!

Oct 3, 2008

Who needs a car??? Not me!!

My new best friend is my bicycle. I take her everywhere. As of now, we still do not have our car so my only mode of transportation is my bicycle. We live in the center of the town in Vicenza about 20 min bike ride to post. Many of the streets around our house are for walking/bike riding only, so they are really nice to ride on especially when the weather is nice.

Everyone here bikes. Women ride their bikes in skirts/dresses and stilleto heels. (while smoking and talking on a cell phone). At first it is kind of funny to see, but I am getting used to it now. Typically I ride my bike to post everyday. I go to the gym, check the mail, go to the commisary and get the necessities. I usually enjoy the ride, but at times it is pretty scary.

Why is a bike ride scary you ask??? ITALIAN DRIVERS ARE INSANE!!! In a country where the culture calls for pleasant and lengthy social interactions and laidback ways, these people turn into devils on the road. They zoom and zigzag as fast as their sport cars and smart cars will go. Using no hesitation in passing someone even if they come seconds from having a head on collision. Mass transit is everywhere with huge city buses that drive the same way the small cars drive. Because of the age of the town, the buildings are very close together which means that the roads are pretty small. These roads must accomadate drivers, walkers, busses, and of course-bikes! Also, instead of 4 way stops, here they have traffic circles which is kind of scary if you are riding a bike.

Of course, Reamer has no problem jumping on his bike and entering the world of crazy drivers. He has No Fear! I, on the otherhand, feel differently and get nervous when I begin my journey to the post everyday. For the most part I enjoy feeling the nice weather and seeing people, shops and buildings as I ride around---UNTIL I AM ABOUT 1 INCH FROM GETTING HIT BY A HUGE BUS! (I'm exaggerating mom, don't worry, I'm safe)

Just as I feel nervous and want to get off my bike and enter the tiny sidewalk I see the 85 year old woman in front of me speeding along with her groceries and a nun in full nunswear passing me. (ok, I might be exaggerating again, but maybe not) Seeing all of these Italians gives me the courage to venture on. Everytime I make it to my destination, I'm proud of myself and realize how much I enjoy the journey.

However, there are times when I DO NOT enjoy my trip. Last week after leaving the commisary and realizing that I bought too much, I had to return home on my bike with a 50 pound-stuffed backpack and groceries hanging off both sides of my handlebars. (the extra weight on handlebars make it so difficult to control the bike) I spent the entire walk/ride cursing myself for not realizing how much I was buying. I'm sure that I was a sight to see on my bike with my helmet on (you are required to wear a helmet on post but no Italians wear helmets and usually I put it in my bookbag when I ride through town to fit in, BUT MY BOOKBAG WAS FULL!). My huge overstuffed bookbag which made me hunch over because it was so heavy and plastic bags hanging from my handle bars which made me wobbly. I'm sure all of the Italians laughed at the crazy American trying to accomplish this task. All I need is a basket on my bike which I have yet to find. But believe me, I'm looking!!!!

Finally I returned home and felt pretty proud of myself. After cooking dinner I realized how difficult it was to go from the start of the meal to the end of the meal. Not only am I attempting to cook full menu's (something I used to never do) I have a much more difficult path to take in order to prepare it. It has made my meals that much more satisfying. But seriously, I'm looking forward to getting our car. I still want to ride my bike as much as possible, but grocery shopping will be reserved for the car, not the bike.

Oct 2, 2008


For my first visit to Germany, I'd say that I had a great time! We went to Oktoberfest with several of our friends and couldn't wait to start enjoying the festivities. After the long train ride and a hike to find our hotel, we finally made it to the main event. I really wanted to purchase a beer maid outfit, but they were around 100 euro and in american dollars, that would have almost been $160! So I decided to settle for German braided pigtails so that I would feel like I was fitting in! But I really wanted one of those cute outfits, maybe next year! Oktoberfest was seriously packed with people! It was difficult, (almost impossible) for all of us to stay together because the crowds were so thick. We walked around for a few hours taking in all of the sights, sounds, food, smells, watching drunk people-- all while trying to get into somewhere to have a beer. You must be seated at a table in order to get a beer. Finally we found a table in the Spaten beer garden and the real fun began!

The beer maids are awesome!! They carry a minimum of 7 beers all in one hand. Each beer is about a liter, and I even have trouble holding ONE up for a long period of time, so I can't imagine how much their wrists hurt! We enjoyed some Snitzel (spelling?) and potatoes. (Reamer was in heaven with all of the German food we ate--DonerKebabs, Snitzel, Pretzels, more Donerkebabs). We learned how to Propst correctly which is what we call (cheers). You must attempt to splash your drink into the other persons drink (to make sure they are not poisioning you). You can imagine how hard you must toast in order to acheive this. We even saw a beer stein completely break due to the forceful propsting (and of course this was from a member of our group of strong Army guys).

In the beer garden, we met people from all over the world, but somehow we ended up talking/chanting with the table beside us for most of the night and what do you know, they were Italian (we can't get away from them..j/k). After we had a few beers, the rowdy Italians taught us a bunch of their soccer (futbol) cheers! We stood on the tables for hours chanting soccer cheers and singing American songs. We just went back and forth. The Italians even knew some country songs.
We were pretty upset that we weren't at the Alabama game, but Reamer wanted to make sure that we still supported our team. He spent 30 minutes teaching about 20 Italians Rollllllllll Tide Rolllll!!!! They were happy to shout out the cheer as long as we returned the favor and supported their favorite soccer team!! It was hilarious to see them screaming Roll Tide and making the motions. It sounded like a lot of them were screaming Tiiiiiiiiddddeeeee Tide! I don't think that they understood Roll. But it was still really funny and made us feel like we were a part of the game. We got into the inside of the tent as the night was ending and saw the craziness going on around us! It was really fun!

We woke up the next morning and niavely went to the train station. We didn't think that there would be any problem with getting a train home but were we wrong. The disgruntled German train worker let us know that we would "NOT be getting to Italy at all today by train!" All seven of us were trying to rack our brains and figure out a way to get the boys back for morning PT. Missing it is not an option!! Even though everyone was freaking out a little bit, we actually had a fun time tracking around Muchen searching for bus stations, airports and rental car places. Finally we decided to rent a car and drive home. Luckily we found a rental car place that had two cars going back to Italy and we would get a discount on the price.
Even though we were exhausted, the trip back was great. Germany and Austria are beautiful. We saw the beautiful Alps and so many castles. I can't wait to go back and see more of those beautiful countries. We are going to have to go back soon!