Back to reality

4 Nov
3 November 2016. Returning to the U.S. has not been without surprises. It still amazes us to walk into a grocery store and see the embarrassment of riches available in the land of stuff. Sure, the shelf space devoted to pasta is minuscule compared to that in Italy, but my God we have everything in our markets! From French cheese to cosmetics and prepared foods, we can get it all in one stop. Italy has its many charms, but I can appreciate an efficient supermarket and access to food items other than Italian.
Here are some of our observations after a few days of wandering around Portland:
Yup, lots of olives here, but at double the price we paid in Roma!

Yup, lots of olives here, but at double the price we paid in Roma!

  1. The reason people order 400-calorie flavored lattes at Starbucks is to cover up the taste of the coffee.
  2. Mendicants will give you a sincere compliment when hitting you up for a donation. Apparently my color coordination was quite stunning, according to one panhandler. I did not donate to his cause.
  3. People park where they are supposed to.
  4. We had forgotten about samples in the grocery store. You can practically have lunch walking through an American market.

    We had forgotten about samples in the grocery store. You can practically have lunch walking through an American market.

    Boxed wine takes more shelf space at Fred Meyer than pasta does in our little market in Parioli.
  5. You cannot live without a car if you live more than a couple of miles from the city center. It took me 2 transfers and 75 minutes to go 9 miles in Portland on public transportation: Bus to MAX light rail to Portland Streetcar. Ridiculous. 
  6. Food is crazily expensive in the U.S. and the price of wine is criminal. 
So many people have asked what’s going on with our return, I thought I would add a quick rundown of the past week.
We happened upon a wedding at the city hall while wandering around Frankfurt.

We happened upon a wedding at the city hall while wandering around Frankfurt.

We flew out of Roma to Frankfurt on Thursday, October 27. We spent two nights there so Janie, our sweet 20-year-old cat, could recover from the shorter flight before the long one to the West Coast. Just going to Frankfurt, she had to be in her carrier for 6 hours what with the transfer from home to FCO, waiting time, flight time, and getting to the NH Hotel at FRA. Janie did well with the flight and hotel stay. She explored our room extensively then settled in to take a nap.
Janie relaxes with her mousie at the NH Hotel, Frankfurt,

Janie relaxes with her mousie at the NH Hotel, Frankfurt,

On the 29th we took the overwater 10+ hour flight to Seattle on Condor Airlines. You might ask why the routing FCO-FRA-SEA when we needed to go to Portland. There are precious few carriers that allow animals in the cabin on an over water flight: only KLM/Delta, Lufthansa, and Condor. KLM/Delta out of Amsterdam to Portland was crazily expensive and Condor offered some attractive pricing out of Frankfurt. Our seats cost less on Condor and they charged half as much for the cat under-the-seat, for example, as Delta did four years ago.
Waiting at FCO, Janie has a look around.

Waiting at FCO, Janie has a look around.

The 29th was a long, long day for all of us. We nabbed premium economy seats so with Janie under my feet we had a little extra legroom. I took her out four times in flight, scofflaw that I am, for cuddles and to check the cleanliness of her carrier. Fifteen hours from hotel to hotel is a long time without a litter box. I had lined her carrier with a sheepskin pad and taped an absorbent “wee-wee pad” around it, which worked well to keep her dry.
We traveled light: a rollaboard, which we checked, and a daypack each. About 1/3 of the capacity was stuff for Janie: collapsible/disposable litter boxes, litter, food, dishes. We each had a couple of changes of clothes and a laptop. Our needs are simple. Arriving at the hotel in Seattle Janie wasn’t sure if she wanted dinner or a litterbox first!
On our walk yesterday, a little waterfall. So very Oregon in the rainy season.

On our walk yesterday, a little waterfall. So very Oregon in the rainy season.

Sunday, we drove to Portland, which was fun after such a long absence. It was raining, so we felt appropriately welcomed to the Pacific Northwest.
Our son invited us to stay with him while we search for a house and get re-established, so we are doing just that: settling in, overcoming jetlag (coming west sucks), getting pre-approval on a mortgage, shopping for a vehicle, and today we start looking at real estate. We are unpacking some of the 10 boxes we shipped from Italy and starting to reconnect with friends (thank you Voyageurs Femmes for the grand welcoming last night!) and learn our way around on public transportation.
We have only been gone from Roma for a week and the 4 ½ years we spent there is already starting to feel like a dream. Did we really do that?


19 Responses to “Back to reality”

  1. rjkeranen November 7, 2016 at 20:05 #

    Welcome back! Will let you know when I’m back in Portland and see if you and Ric are around!

    Still raising kids…



  2. Josh Baker November 6, 2016 at 22:03 #

    Welcome back!


  3. Chloe Erkenbrecher November 5, 2016 at 18:22 #

    On top of which, most Italian restaurants are awful and have no idea how to prepare a good pasta. Our family simply won’t go to them.


  4. ckleonard November 5, 2016 at 04:30 #

    Oh! I can just imagine your walking through places like FM after being away. I must admit tho, FM is someplace I avoid unless I need a particular item that I can only find there. My shopping over the years here, keeps me going to the small places. Maybe I should live in Italy or somewhere else? Loved reading about your trip home with your special consideration for Janie! She must have been the only one of the 3 of you who arrived back in Portland totally rested! I would have done it the same way. Can’t wait to see you!


    • GoodDayRome November 5, 2016 at 16:22 #

      It is a trade-off, isn’t it? We will shop the smaller places too, for specialty items, and the Farmer’s Market. Hope we can see you soon. Will be on touch!


  5. Marcia Miller Kakiuchi November 5, 2016 at 01:20 #

    Traveling with Janie was like preparing for a trip with a baby with all you had to bring. She is so dang cute with those stuffed mice too!

    I agree! Food and wine here is crazy expensive. Lots of choice, but all pricey.

    Can’t wait to find out where you’re going to settle down! Yes!!!! Buying a car is a pain too.

    Love your blogs!!!


    • GoodDayRome November 5, 2016 at 16:19 #

      It was like traveling with a baby…but at least this one did not cry and disturb the entire plane. It seems we’ll have a car on Wednesday. Would have been today but we have NO insurance after 4+ years of car-free living, so it will take a few days to get the binder given it is the weekend. Luckily Derek is willing to cart us around today!


  6. Karen Lloyd November 4, 2016 at 22:41 #

    Welcome back! Hope you can find an independent coffee house with decent coffee … just can’t do Starbucks anymore. Best of luck with the “settling in”. Enjoy our beautiful fall weather and colors.


    • GoodDayRome November 5, 2016 at 16:18 #

      Thank you, dear Karen! We are working our way through coffee houses. A lot of espresso is not very hot. I don’t get that!


  7. gayleseely November 4, 2016 at 21:18 #

    Welcome back, we are SO GLAD to have you closer to us again. But I recommend you wait before you settle in and buy anything that is attached to the ground. And when you do you buy something you should choose one that is perfect for Italian visitors who will come and stay in you place while you stay in theirs, in Rome. Or Florence, or Ortesei, or maybe even Milan. Perhaps find an ‘exchange’ partner before you buy. That would be such a perfect set up. You could have little cards made up: Laurel and Ric, Portland Oregon and Roma. Aaaahhhhhhhhh

    Liked by 1 person

    • GoodDayRome November 5, 2016 at 16:16 #

      If only the budget would support homes in both places!


  8. Bill Walls November 4, 2016 at 19:27 #

    Life in the fast lane, good bye slow food. I am glad everyone arrived home safely. Regards,

    Liked by 1 person

    • GoodDayRome November 5, 2016 at 16:15 #

      Thanks Bill! There is slow food: all of the espresso places take SO LONG to pull a shot and at one of the high-end grocery stores that has a wood-fired oven told us it would take 20 minutes to make a pizza. Huh? Dar Poeta could pull on out in about 5 minutes!


  9. Chloe Erkenbrecher November 4, 2016 at 19:25 #

    Welcome back to the land of plenty and I hope you have enough money to pay the grocery bill. We had lunch out yesterday that consisted of burritos, a tostada and 2 beers and it cost us more than a five course lunch for 2 in France, that includes wine. Ah, well, you are right, that there is little here that one can’t buy. I’m sure that you will soon be in your new home and Janie will be happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • GoodDayRome November 5, 2016 at 16:14 #

      I looked at menus for a few Italian restaurants in Portland — some that we used to like very much — and they A) mostly have pasta and few secondi, and B) costano molto! I think we’ll stick to cooking a casa.

      Janie is happy and seems very settled in at our son’s place.


  10. Maarja November 4, 2016 at 19:05 #

    Welcome back to Oregon! I think we have a dry day or two ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    • GoodDayRome November 5, 2016 at 16:12 #

      Thank you Maarja! Looking forward to seeing you two!



  1. Left coast life | gooddayrome - November 17, 2016

    […] Last time I shared some of our observations after only a few days back in the U.S. In the past 10 or 12 days we’ve noted many more. These are things we took for granted until we lived overseas for 4 1/2 years. Now, they are astounding. […]


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