Happy Birthday Maria!

Yes, we have back-to-back birthdays in this family!  Maria had a wonderful birthday today.  Her birthday (and Nicholas’) was announced on WINK 104 in Harrisburg, and we listened to it online after lunch!  Maybe some of you heard it? 

Today was actually like a normal routine day.  Probably from reading my blog, it may appear like its been a long vacation for us.  And while the first week felt that way, we’ve settled in to our “real” lives here in Florence.  The boys worked on their studies this morning while I did some prep work for my classes.  After lunch they continued working at the apartment with Maria while I went into my classroom center to check on my students’ language studies.  Late this afternoon, we left at about 5pm to go to soccer practice.  Soccer practice runs from about 5:30 to 7:45.  The boys do a lot of running and foot skill exercises.  They actually do a drill where they sprint over small hurdles.  The session ends with a scrimmage.

A few of my students (thanks Alison, Elena, and Deborah!) took Maria out to dinner while I took the boys to soccer.  And before you call me a lousy husband, we’re planning on going to dinner tomorrow night.  So that’s two dinners for her birthday!

I didn’t take any pictures today, so I leave you with a few “cultural differences” that we’ve noticed here in Florence:

1.  All doors push in.  Drives me nuts as I am so used to pulling doors open…

2.  There is no carpeting anywhere.  Slippers are actually sold in the supermarkets.

3.  At restaurants it is rare to get tap water.  Many restaurants won’t even serve it.  Instead you get bottled water:  “with gas or no gas.”

4.  This is probably true all over Europe, but change comes in 2 Euro and 1 Euro coins.  (1 Euro is now about $1.41) So I am collecting a pile of pretty expensive loose change!  I am still used to quarters being the most valuable coin.  

5.  “No tipping” is the general rule of thumb here.  Waiters, cab drivers, etc. are paid a salary that does not depend on tips.  I still haven’t gotten used to this – I am used to the Steve Martin rule of thumb in My Blue Heaven:  “I tip everyone.”  

6.  As expected there are a lot of smokers here.  However, no smoking is permitted in restaurants, shops, and most buildings thankfully.  So it is just noticable on the street.    

7.  At meals, the first course is pasta, then a meat course, and then(!) a salad.  Then dessert, of course!

8.  I turned our TV on only once in eight days.  We get the Pentagon Channel, CNN, and BBC in English.  That’s about it.  Nicholas and Thomas watch You Tube once and a while to get their TV fix.  

A domani,

Karl

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2 Responses to “Happy Birthday Maria!”

  1. Tim & Amy Says:

    Happy Birthday, Maria !

  2. from Geneva! Says:

    Doors! Here in Geneva, everywhere I go the doors are sliding glass in this section of the city – (grocery store, hotel, ITU, etc) the trick is to figure out which panel of glass is going to slide open. I’ve headed for the wrong one more than once! I’ll smack into the wrong one yet!

    keep the blogs coming!
    M

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