Off to the USA

To start off with we have house/cat sitters. They were picked up from one of the Perugia stations. Leah & John from Florida. We had a day to show them the ropes.

On Tuesday we left Umbertide for Fiumicino to a new hotel with parking. We said farewell to our house and cat sitters. I hope they have fun and good weather. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and mild temperatures for our drive to Fiumicino. It has been so long since we did this drive. On the way we stopped for panini at the Autogrill. They sure have it all over the rest stops in the U.S. Here is a pic of my panino.

We found the ISA Residence hotel. It sits in a nice, upscale neighborhood. It is new to us and we chose it because it had long term parking. We spent the night there and took the shuttle to the airport the next morning

We also had a good dinner at the seafood place called Altavela. We chose it because of the reviews and also because we could walk there. The people were super nice. We would go back if we ever stay at the ISA again. My spaghetti con vongole veraci.

We checked in on Wednesday morning at the United airlines counter for our trip. There sure are a lot of things you have to do to check in nowadays. We spent some time in the comfortable lounge for United airlines. Almost makes up for the service on board.

The flight was uneventful and arrived an hour early. We rented our car and drove through rush hour traffic to our rented house in our previous town, Old Town Alexandria, VA. We are not used to the traffic here. In my previous working life I did the drive we did yesterday every day to and from work. It was horrible but I listened to books to make it tolerable.

We went to the mega Wegmans in Alexandria for something for dinner and some wine (of course), then headed to our house. It is quite nice.

Thursday. First, a serious shopping trip for provisions. A few observations. There is a brand new Wegmans here in Old Town. An amazing store. So much is prepared foods, kits, dinners ready to heat, even veggies already sliced, baguettes whole but if you’re too lazy to cut into slices you can buy it sliced. It is all about convenience it seems. I guess I get it. People are busy.  They have regular stuff too. Paper products and things you need other than fancy food. They also have the coolest thing I’ve seen. Hard to describe but it’s a gadget that grabs your shopping cart and it goes down next to the escalator you’re on and at the bottom you just pick it up. Pretty amazing! Oh! And they bag your groceries for you!! …and you don’t have to weigh your produce like in Italy.

My sister arrived around lunchtime. We walked about 20 minutes down to the new waterfront development since we moved which I had heard about. Very changed from our time here. We had lunch on a pier. It was an amazing 77 degrees. Why not take advantage?

Friday we spent several hours sorting through the storage. There were several goals. One, find the art work. Two, find the shelves for the tall display stands so I could give them away. Three, find the china. Four, unpack the furniture which I was giving away. Five, find my Kitchenaid mixer which will be given away.

My cousin, Brack, who lives nearby was a lifesaver. He had a friend with an antique store and he took my library table and two chairs. Brack took a lap desk that belonged to my Dad. My sister took the painted, antique German shrank (wardrobe). So the only large thing left was the display towers.

We sorted through the boxes and found all the things we needed to find and made a big pile of trash. Turns out my two oriental carpets didn’t like being in storage for ten years and were completely ruined. Sad to say as they were fine pieces.

We went out for a walkabout yesterday, we visited my sisters old apartment and our old home. We looked at all the new development and we decided to go to Hanks Oyster Bar in a new location near where we used to live. It was a pleasant lunch in their rooftop bar.

For dinner we hit nearby Vermillion last night. It was expensive but good enough. The prices are pretty eye watering for wine and the tips (which we are not used to) add so much to the cost of a meal. They need to get rid of the tipping culture. Delicious beets four ways. Very yummy.

I am going to sign off for now but will post more about the shipping etc soon.

22 thoughts on “Off to the USA

  1. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hey Carlo, yep peak bloom is right now. But we don’t have time to go see them. They are going to cut down 1200 trees after they are finished blooming this year. The tidal basin wall needs repair and the trees are in the way. Sad.

  2. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Sally, no we don’t tip in Italy. If you feel like it you can leave a euro or two on the table for the server. They don’t expect it though.

  3. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Carlo, there is no percentage added for a tip. The cost of your meal covers any service you get.

  4. Carlo

    I heard this morning that the cherry tree blossoms in the Washington, D.C. area are at their peak this week. Hope you get to see some in your activities in the area! They are a beautiful icon of the nation’s capital (full disclosure, also my birthplace!).

  5. Sally

    You don’t tip in Italy at all? I live in France and usually leave five or 10% and a coin or two for a drink.

  6. Carlo

    With regard to tipping, I recall an 18% Service charge was automatically included in the bill. Maybe that’s not so in Italy but is was in Germany and in the Netherlands only recently. I may not be remembering correctly but I recall that you only add a small tip if you want to for exceptional service because the service charge is already included. I never liked that because sometimes I didn’t think the service deserved it.

  7. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hey Karen, tipping is horrible. And I find it amusing the culture is so ingrained in the North American mentality. They are almost physically unable to not tip in Italy. They feel tremendous guilt. Even though it is not expected. It needs to go.

  8. Nancy Hampton Post author

    hey Royane pal, we will be here another week. I did send an email today. You’re a gem. Thanks for the beautiful portrait!

  9. Karen

    Yes, tipping has become an insane add-on in post-pandemic North American culture. Don’t feel pressured to tip 20% unless the service was exceptional! Anything more than 20% is just silly. A good old-fashioned 15% should be acceptable, but some machines in stores and restaurants start at 18% now, so I always choose the custom tip option.
    When we were in Vegas in December, we ate in an egg-themed breakfast place in Resort World. The price of the sandwich I ordered wasn’t exorbitant, but then I hit 20% tip at the checkout (no table service… this is all just someone at a cash register and someone handing me a sandwich over the counter!). I didn’t notice until I read the receipt when I sat down, that they had automatically included a 20% tip then I had added 20% more! I was ENRAGED! I wanted to take it to the manager and demand a refund of the extra 20% I had added, as there needs to be signage or the cashier needs to inform clients before payment, that there is an automatic 20% tip. It’s unfair to the consumer if they don’t, and frankly, I presume it’s illegal of them to add an automatic charge without so much as a sign or a word about it.
    I was persuaded to just let it go, but I am a hawk now when it comes to checking the receipt at restaurants for added tips and charges.

    It’s rather out of control, I think! Servers aren’t making as little money as they were during the pandemic, when we tried to help them out by adding a higher tip than usual. It’s all back to “normal” now in restaurants, so they need to collectively knock off this crazy inflated tip business!!!! Sheesh!

    All of this is to say that I understand your comments about tipping in North America! Never mind the average price of a meal out now. It’s ridiculous! Hence why we don’t eat out much anymore. We can’t afford to!

  10. royane mosley

    Hi there dear friends. Just off to bed early as usual was hoping for an update from you. You did well, you seem to have managed this whole seemingly exhausting trip with what you had to do. Safe trip home and kisses on the noses of your boys for us. I am sure , they are just like our boyz and missed you terribly but will not let on they did.

  11. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Lindsay, yes, choosing to leave stuff in storage was my biggest moving mistake. I’m so glad to finally bite the bullet and get is sorted. I’m sending some stuff over to Italy. Probably stupid but it is really my favorite things.

  12. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Carlo, you’ll be happy to know my shrank looks great in Cindy’s house. They just got back and sent a picture. They have your shelves for your shrank. Not sure how you’ll ever get them. Old town is the same, but different!

  13. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hey Matt, so far it doesn’t feel so strange as I thought it would. I will try to summarize at the end.

  14. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Shelbylynn, I was really devastated. One of the two was quite costly 25 years ago. Really sad.🙁

  15. Nancy Hampton Post author

    Hi Barbara, we lived in Old Town 16 years. I like the town. So walkable. The hotel is no frills but clean and good for an overnight. The parking is €5 a day. Not bad.

  16. Lindsay

    What an interesting snapshot of a brief visit to America. It’s a shame about your carpets obviously not meant to be.
    Personally speaking I’ve never had a positive experience with storage, it usually goes on for longer than you intend, that out of sight out of mind thing. Then of course the cost because you’re a sitting target ! It’s great you’re dealing with it now.

  17. Carlo

    Welcome back to your old stomping grounds! Hope all goes well closing out the storage unit. That will be a relief. It was for us. Regards to Cindy and Bill. Safe travels to you and Luther.

  18. Matthew Daub

    Sounds like you’re getting a lot done! So sorry about your rugs, such a shame to see that happen. I’ll be looking forward to your take on the USA these days after not being back for so long. So much has changed. Be well . . . Umbertide awaits!

  19. shelbylynn727

    I am terribly sorry to hear about your rugs. I know they are very expensive. I purchased one last week and they are costly.

  20. Barbara Anne Wickstrand

    Hi Nancy! Thanks for all your insights! I had no idea you were from Old town! I grew up in Fairfax and lived in Old Town for a bit. The traffic is miserable! We may stay a night at the hotel as well. What was the long term parking cost? Our trip back to the states will be 3 weeks long so we can’t decide if we want to leave car or not. Thanks! Barbara

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