We made it!

Ciao! We made it to Vicenza. RW and I ended up flying on separate days due to a flight change. KLM canceled a flight and re booked us on a non-pet friendly airline, so the easiest and quickest thing to do was split the animals up and take the first available acceptable flights. RW flew with the cats and arrived Saturday, while I continued the farewell tour for another night and day.


Here are some random thoughts so far:

Schmitt did fine on the plane. He was tired of his bag by the third leg and whined a bit. Luckily the lady in my row was a dog lover.

Schmitt in his bag.
Schmitt in his bag.

Schiphol airport in Amsterdam was awesome. It reminded me of a club or lounge due to the cool lighting and awesome stores and sweet sitting areas. They also had a lot of great, fresh and healthy food options. When I exited through Customs to take Schmitt outside, the guys asked me what brings me to Holland. The answer: “My dog has to pee.” They thought that was hilarious 🙂 Their security lines were the most efficient that I have ever seen. Automated boarding pass scanners let you into the secure area, and then the belt for carry ons had multiple places to get the bins so everything moved quickly.


Flying into Venice reminded me of flying into New Orleans. Lots of small islands and patches of green in the middle of water, slowly getting bigger as you get closer to the city. NOLA is surrounded by green, compared to Venice which is a ton of old buildings with red roofs that rise up out of the water. One could jump off the roof of the buildings into the Adriatic.

My sponsor/first friend picked me up at the airport. She went to VT and got here a couple of months ago. RW knows her husband from his classes at Benning. We ended up locking the keys in the car so had some quality time to chat while we waited to be rescued.

At least it wasn't that cold out.
At least it wasn’t that cold out.

RW and I are set up in a hotel for a few weeks. It is one bedroom with kitchenette right on post. So that will be alright I hope. The cats seem to be doing just fine and the dogs don’t care as long as there is a couch on which to sit.

The little cat has found his happy place.
The little cat has found his happy place.
Back to normal. Spoiled pets.
No lizards to chase here.

The TV has an MTV Music channel so that is awesome. So far it has been a mix of pop, alt rock, and European videos. The hotel also has an espresso machine. FOR FRIZZLE. Whatttttt.

I am never going to sleep! MWAHAHHAHAHHA
I am never going to sleep! MWAHAHHAHAHHA

We went for a run around post today. It is tiny, full of boring brown buildings and surrounded by barbed wire. Is this what Piper and the OITNB crew feel like?!

Tomorrow will start all of the in-processing and procedural things that will hopefully get us into an apartment sooner rather than later.

Talk to you all soon, thanks for checking in!


Moving in 3…2…1…

The last two weeks have been hectic. RW finally got the go ahead to proceed with out processing from Ft Benning and setting up the move to Vicenza. As I write this, the final group of movers is here loading up into the truck.

We fly out Thursday morning via Atlanta and Amsterdam. Schmitt will be my carry on bag, while Murray and the cats will be under the plane. Our layover in Atlanta is long enough to retrieve Murray and take both dogs out for a couple of hours. Getting our plane tickets sorted out has been the most stressful part of the process so far. The army chooses a ticket for us, and then we had to call each airline to ensure there is space on each leg of the flight for all of our pets, and then get back with the army to actually book the tickets. It is clear to me after dealing with multiple airlines that being a Delta Skymiles member is well worth it, as calling through their line was the only time we received information that did not change every time we spoke with someone new. United and Lufthansa need to communicate better, as we spent over an hour going back and forth between the two airlines, trying to determine who actually was in charge of a flight segment. As of press time, it is still unclear who is operating that flight. Good thing we are flying Delta instead 🙂

The movers came in three separate trips- one for permanent storage stateside, one for unaccompanied baggage (which is a small air shipment thay arrives to Italy in 30-45 days), and then our large household goods shipment, which arrives overseas in two to three months. I sent an air mattress, some kitchen goods, and winter clothes in UB, so if we find an apartment we will have some of our things while we wait for the HHG load to arrive.

As for when we arrive in Vicenza, we will live in a hotel on the Army base until we find permanent housing. No clue how long that will take or how difficult that may be. We plan to live as close to downtown as we can so we will see what we can come up with.

Stay tuned for more updates this week as we say Arrivederci to Sarasota!

The countdown begins…

Upon completion of his current course, RW’s commander wants him overseas as soon as possible. This means the move is becoming more real. I am sad. Part of me wishes that I had left my vet job and gone straight to Italy and not had the chance to really enjoy this town and my friends and my life. It would have made it easier for sure.

However, instead of being sad (which is easy), I will focus on the happy bits of this move.

I will ride my awesome Dutch City Bike around town! Basket for the dogs is on the way.

photo 1

I will shop at the daily markets with this super cute basket from my dear friend Margaret, and think of her every time I fill it with goodies.

photo 3 (2)

I will wear winter clothes again (never thought I would be excited about that, but good Lord, Florida you are ridiculous)! I will meet a ton of people and expand my circle of friends. I will get to work out all the time, maybe even train for a big race. I will learn to cook something delicious. I will become fluent in another language. I will eat tons of amazing foods and drink gallons of great wines. I will travel and see millions of cool places. Perhaps I will figure out a life plan while I am at it (ok, maybe that is pushing it).

After all…..

photo 4

Ci stiamo muovendo per l’Italia!

A heaping tablespoon of luck, combined with a pinch of RW’s awesome Army skills, led to the news that our first duty station on this round of the Army will be Vicenza, Italy. For those of you who knew we were slated to go to El Paso, Texas, you will recognize this as a major upgrade. Not only is living in Italy a great opportunity to immerse ourselves into another culture, the unit to which RW will be attached is a very good one, which is great for his short and long term career.

Vicenza is a city located in the northeast region of Italy, about 40 miles from Venice and 120 miles from Milan. Learn more about it here if you just can’t wait to know more! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicenza.Vicenza on Map of Italy

For all of you architecture buffs, Vicenza is the home of Andrea Palladio, whose Palladian style of architecture is found world wide. Think the White House as well as Jefferson’s Monticello and Rotunda.

the Rotunda at UVA.
the Rotunda at UVA.

The last two weeks have been a flurry of my Type A tendencies, as I aim to learn as much as possible about Vicenza, visas, Army health checks, apartments, driving rules, cars, caffes, airline pet rules, the best in cabin dog carriers, wine, bicycles, dog baskets for said bicycles, gyms, running routes, and where to buy kitty litter. Contrast this with the fact that the Army might tell me everything it thinks I need to know in its own sweet time… sigh. You can just imagine how hard that is for me! The entire Army experience is great for me to work on slowing down and going with someone else’s flow.

For now, no dates are set. RW may have another course that starts next week and will last one month. A likely scenario is that he will depart for Italy shortly after that course finishes (sooner if he does not get in). I am waiting on my official passport and no fee visa, as well as dependent health check approval before I can be added to the orders and get a plane ticket. Those documents may be back in time to leave with him, or they may not. Either way is fine- we will be living in a hotel for up to 3 months when we arrive, so his earlier arrival may help us get settled more quickly. There are a couple of options for housing, but I am hopeful that we can use a realtor to help us find our dream Italian apartment. I imagine cobblestone streets, caffes on the corner, my bike parked downstairs… Oh, and a parking spot and laundry. I am ready to live less like an American in general but certain things are non-negotiable.

Piazza dei Signori
Piazza dei Signori

The other pieces of the plan also all depend on the timeline. Bringing the pets is logistically challenging as we can only bring one pet each in the cabin with us, and there are often heat embargoes and restrictions on pets checked under the plane in the summer. I am still torn as to the best plan- bring two, leave two until someone can fly them over as carry ons, leave two and ship them in a month or two, or carry and ship them all on our flights. Unfortunately I think the trip will be stressful either way so I just need to pick the “least worst” option for the pets.

Right now we are in the process of trading in one of the SUVs for a smaller car with better fuel efficiency. Not only are the roads and parking spots much smaller in Vicenza, but gasoline is almost $10 per gallon! We do get some coupons, but not enough for a gas guzzler.

Due to the Statute of Forces Agreement between the US and Italy, I am not allowed to work there while on my no-fee, military visa. Acquiring an actual work visa is another bureaucratic process, and coupled with the fact that I am not eligible for an Italian veterinary license at this time means that I will most likely not be working in a traditional sense while there. I have some ideas for myself but nothing is flushed out enough to converse about it.

So that is that. Hurry up and wait! I am so excited for this adventure and cannot wait to share it with you all, whether in person, on this blog, or through Skype.

View of Vicenza, thanks Wikipedia
View of Vicenza, thanks Wikipedia