Sunday, June 19, 2011

Eclectic Tirana

 Glenn and Sidney in Skenderbeau Square, the  main  square in  Tirana

Tirana is wonderfully eclectic.  Every inch of the city seems to be under construction in one form or another.  From what we've been told some of the construction has been going on forever and we shouldn't expect to it be finished before we leave.  That sounds a lot like DC, doesn't it?

Zosia in front of the Lumi Lana.  An Albanian  friend said that DC has the Potomac and Tirana has the Lana.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A travel top ten

We're here at last.  We've settled into our temporary (for the next three weeks or so) home and are recovering from jet lag.  Here's a quick recap of what I've learned over the past 48 hours.

10)  Scheduled flights and assigned seating are merely suggestions for the airline industry and are not requirements.  All three of our flights were delayed and airlines do not feel that it is necessary to seat an 18 month old near his parents.

9) Per Alatalia policy, children under two "are not allowed" to have their own seats and must be lap children.  Car seats are deemed to be unsafe but sitting on their parent's lap for 8 hours is.

8)  Sidney is like his mamma and does not sleep during transatlantic, overnight flights.

Waiting out the first flight delay
7)  Moving overseas with 8 large pieces of checked luggage, 4 carry-ons, a car seat, and an active 18 month old is quite the experience no matter how much pre-planning one has done.

6)  Mamma's big black purse is actually a diaper bag, important document holder, leftover food storage  container, and generally the most important piece of baggage we have.

5)  As a whole, Albanians and Italians are patient, children loving people.  The only dirty looks we got during our travels were from single Italian men.  On both the flight from Boston to Rome and Rome to Tirana, numerous people, both men and women, offered their assistance in holding Sidney or carrying our bags.

View from main terrace
4)  State Department standards for living quarters are much higher than DOD and we are now reaping the benefits of their higher standards now.

3)  Based on our drive from the airport, all those years of riding the bumper cars is going to pay off.  Driving in Tirana puts a whole new meaning on the term defensive driving.  I'm going to recommend that JMAS adds a one-day bumper car driving program to their curriculum.

2)  From what we can see from our oversized terrace, Tirana is as colorful, eclectic and chaotic as everyone has said.  We are so excited to be here.

1)  I am married to the most patient man on earth.  If an explanation is needed, see numbers 2-10 above.

Friday, June 10, 2011

In Transit

A trip to Maine isn't complete without a stop at LL Bean
So what do you do when your life is in boxes and you have no place to live for a couple of weeks?  You cram all eight of your large checked bags, your six questionably sized carry-ons, and the "freebie" car seat into your tired SUV and hit the road to eat your way up and down the eastern seaboard.  

We've spent the past week meandering through my old  haunts and introducing Sidney to everything early summer in New England has to offer.  After leaving a scorching 100+ degree DC we arrived in Maine to definitely chilly temps. There is a reason fleece is part of the official state wardrobe.  Sidney had his first dip in the Atlantic Ocean (a definite shock to his little toes), sampled all things blueberry- ice cream, pie, soda, yogurt, fresh berries, and  muffins, dined on popovers at the iconic Jordon Pond House, shopped his way through LL Bean, and did battle with the largest black flies I have ever seen.  Yes we played tourists and I loved it.  The weather turned out so perfect that it has us wondering whether we could live there on a full time basis.  Like all New Englanders, these fleeting warm days of summer make me forget what the other nine and a half months of the year are like.

The most important part of our journey, however, was spending time with family.  Mimi, Grandpa, Uncle Stan, Aunt Jess, and the dog cousins entertained us, fed us, and were awake with us during the middle of the night - refusing to sleep episodes.  They didn't make any bones about the fact that while they were glad to see Glenn and myself, Sidney was the main attraction.  Saying good bye was bitter sweet but plane tickets to Albania are being purchased by all parties for fall and winter visits.

Visiting an old hangout
As we made our way south to Massachusetts we again encountered oppressive heat that felt more like DC.  We spent more time with family- Gigi, Great Uncle Bill and Aunt Sue, caught up with old college friends, and ate our way through the Pioneer Valley.  Rediscovering my college and early adulthood haunts with an 18 month in tow is certainly enlightening.  Who knew that so many of these places have high chairs, changing tables, and children's menus?  

Today we head further south to Maryland to spend time with Glenn's family.  We're naively hoping for cooler temperatures and a little boy who wants to sleep before 11 pm.  While we are excited about our next adventure, we're savoring our last days of our time here.  At this time next week we should be clearing customs in Albania and starting with the next phase of this adventure.