We left Chicago a little over an hour after our scheduled departure on Tuesday; I don’t know if I’ve ever left or arrived from/into O’Hare on time! I was able to sleep some on the flight, but Alex struggled and dozed only a little.
Due to our delayed departure time, we arrived in Paris late. This wouldn’t have been a problem except that we only had a two-hour layover. We were able to depart the plane by 9:40am, but were skeptical about making our next plane, which was scheduled to depart at 10:15am! Where we landed required us to walk down stairs off of the plane and take a bus to the terminal. From there we needed to go through security again. Normally this would not have been a problem, but we were a bit… PACKED in our carry-ons. To make matters worse, the security agents could not agree on the proper procedures. We were told to only remove laptops and liquids (but leave our shoes on), and then once our things had gone through the X-ray machine, we were told that ALL electronics needed to be removed. At this point, I had already sorted out where all my liquids were in my carry-ons that I had previously shuffled around, but now Alex was pulling electronics out right and left. By the time we made it through France’s confusing security protocols, we needed to board yet another bus to another terminal. We kept trying to speak peace and trust into the situation but it was difficult! We departed the bus with 5-10 minutes to spare. At this point, we had to pass through immigration and then sprinted from one end of the terminal to the other. When we arrived at our gate, we were told that boarding had just finished and we would need to take the flight later that afternoon.
Later that night with no bags in sight, we walked back to the school and headed out with the new foreign teachers and leadership for pizza at a restaurant/beach club that is next to the sea. Breath-taking views were to be had as we sipped wine and ate wood-fired pizza.
The next day we were thankful for the trip we took on our own to the grocery store, seeing as we only had what we had put in our carry-ons. After arriving at school, we learned of some confusion as to where the bags would be delivered. After a failed attempt to contact Air France to redirect the delivery to the school and not our home, I left Alex at school to track them down and went downtown with the rest of the new teachers. We learned all about the bus system, where the train station is to Milan (to catch high-speed trains for travel), major landmarks in the city, and had our first Italian espresso (well some did, but I wasn’t in the mood – I was wanting all the tea I had packed in my bag!), worked on setting up our phones, ate delicious street paninis and found where several shops are that would help us set up our homes. In the middle of all of this, Alex had four of our bags in his possession and had managed to get the home from school (there are some SERIOUS hills to heft them over!) and caught a taxi to meet up with us. The day ended with an American-style barbeque in the courtyard with, you guessed it, more wine! Exhausted, we dragged ourselves home and into bed. Jet lag has yet to be a problem for the two of us!
On Friday, our group along with three returning teachers, met up to visit some local beach towns via the water. The boat ride was fun with plenty of salt water splashing our faces (Alex was quick to put away his camera!). It was a fun day spent at the beach, eating seafood and pasta with pesto (a Genovese specialty), and walking through the ever so posh Portofino. By the evening however, Alex noticed tennis ball sized welts all over his arms. We stopped by school on our way home and showed our principal. Concerned, he shuttled Alex into his car and they left for the pharmacy. Some medication and topical cream later, Alex has his bug bites under control. We think the mosquitos are different here, which caused the extreme reaction!
On Saturday, we met the entire group downtown with another staff member who has lived in Genoa for over 20 years. He took us on a walking tour of the old part of the city. I enjoyed seeing all of the medieval portions of the city, even if we were walking around in a complete down pour! Never fear though, it cleared up by early afternoon, leaving us with plenty of time to grab a few things we needed and lunch at a café. One interesting thing we’ve learned is if you order a drink in a restaurant, they will typically provide food (sometimes for free, and other times with a service charge). The café we chose provided the eight of us with three plates of sandwiches, providing us with lunch for the price of a glass of wine!
Today we were able to sleep in and go to IKEA to pick up a few more things for our house. In my next post – which I PROMISE will be much shorter – I’ll give you a tour around our home. For now (if you are still reading this!), check out Alex's photos from the past few days!