the realities of moving abroad.

So, we've posted lots of pretty (and yummy) photos of our new city. It's seriously awesome here. We love it.

BUT, at the end of the day it was still a move. And moving, well, it sucks. Anyone that has ever packed up, loaded a UHaul and/or driven across country can tell you how miserable moving can be. Packing up and catching a plane is easier in some ways and harder in others.

It feels like we've been here for a while now, but in reality the move was just about two weeks ago. I think we've blocked out memories of the move day for our own sanity. But, here is a bit of what we remember...

As I was waiting for my baggage in Rome, Rob was renting our car. We rented a huge Fiat wagon so that it could hold our dog kennel, 4 suitcases and huge iMac iLugger. We had room to spare, which allowed for a trip to Ikea once we arrived in Florence (yes, yes, we just love to punish ourselves and make things difficult).

The first problem was that Rob -- who had just learned how to drive a stickshift a week earlier -- discovered that sticks are a little different over here. He told me that he stalled the car out 5 times before he was able to exit the parking garage. Thank goodness the rental guy felt bad for him and gave him some pointers!

Rome Fiumicino is actually a really well-designed airport and Rob found me in no time. We loaded my luggage, I said hi to Winston (as Rob yelled "Babe, seriously, you can say hi to him later"), got the GPS running and headed out on our way. There may have been a bit of gear-grinding in the beginning (I think that's what that smell was).

The drive from Rome to Florence was BEAUTIFUL and pretty easy. We were amazed how smoothly everything was going and jazzed to get to Florence and chill out. Hahaha...jokes on us! Once we arrived into the city, it was driving chaos. Stop and go. Hills. No lines painted on the streets. Crazy Italians on Vespas. CRAZY.

Our real estate agent's office was closed (like all other Italian businesses) from noon - 3pm, so we had a few hours to kill. You know, with a dog, thousands of dollars worth of luggage, a car we can barely drive, and all on a few hours of sleep. Awesome.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Kate, why didn't you just ask your agent to wait until 12:30 for you." This is my reply: "Dear Non-Italian, the Italiani take their afternoon breaks very seriously."

So, the question became how on earth do we fill 2.5 hours of time. A trip to Ikea, of course! When our GPS failed to route us to the right spot (more driving, yes!), I suggested heading in the direction of the airport because I had seen the big Ikea sign last time we flew into town. You see where this is going right?

Well, eventually we did find the place and dazed and overwhelmed, I went into Ikea while Rob stayed with Winston and the car. I purchased a few necessities and fought the urge to buy the standard useless crap I usually get tricked into at Ikea. Then, it was back out to the car to pack it full of more crap. It was at about this point that we realized that with no on-street parking unloading our car was going to be the opposite of awesome.

Break for happy memories: Winston is the coolest dog EVER. Dude didn't make a peep, even after spending 14 hours enduring airline travel and 6 hours in the Fiat from hell. Best. Dog. Ever. Either that, or he was just petrified we were going to sell him to gypsies and on his best behavior. Or, his body was shutting down as a result of lack of food, water and human interaction. We're not quite sure.

Back into the whiplash machine and the mean streets of Florence, we made our way to our agent's office. With no food or water in the last 6 hours, our bodies (and minds) were beginning to fail us. It took about three tries for us to find the right address and parking. BUT, we were able to take turns going into the office to sign our lease and about a half hour later Rob walked out with our keys.

After about a half hour of driving in circles on one-way, cobblestone streets we were able to find a parking spot relatively close to our apartment. I made one trip (mostly because I am a lazy, useless human being), while Rob made about 12 carrying all of our stuff around the block to the apartment. We were totally ready to collapse and go to bed.

Except that we had no bed sheets, food, towels or the basic necessities needed for life. Oh, no pet food either, which was sending Winston into a deep depression. So, out we went and walked to the department store in the center of town and a grocery store near the Ponte Vecchio. We walked mostly because the thought of re-entering the Fiat made us both want to jump into the Arno.

I grabbed anything that looked like it could even remotely provide adequate shelter/sustinance and about two hours later we were finally back in the apartment. We made a substandard meal of pasta and sauce, took showers and immediately went to bed. That was our first 12 hours in Italy.

Fun bonus: it was pouring rain the entire day.