Saturday, May 22, 2010

Osservazioni . . .

. . . da Napoli

Uno: As DoD civilians overseas, we have "commissary and exchange privileges. The commissary (food store) has just about everything carried in U.S. supermarkets, the prices are less, and there are no taxes - sales or VAT. The exchange is like the largest K-mart you ever saw. Clothes, electronics, furniture, tools, sporting goods, jewelry, hardware. No taxes there either.

Due: We're trying to learn and use Itialiano, and the locals are trying to improve their English, which leads to some odd situations. A clerk will say "thank you," and without thinking I'll say "prego." Or, I'll say "buongiorno," and he will say "hi!" The real problem with knowing only a little Italiano is that when I say something that is pretty much correct, they assume that I speak the language. Wrong. I NEED my Rosetta Stone diskette.

Tre: Cell phones here are really cheap compared to the US - assuming you don't call the US or other countries. I've had my cell for a month, and only spent €15. Of course, I don't have that many people to call.

Quattro: For calling the U.S., we use both MagicJack and Skype. MagicJack is a bit scratchy, but, since it thinks we're still in Virginia, all calls back to the states are free. That has been a lifesaver, since I have had to call the Virginia DMV, our health insurance company, and several other critical contacts. Skype to Skype video calls are great for family contacts.

Cinque: I spend less than half the time travelling to work as I did in Virginia Beach. Even with the "interesting" habits of Italian traffic, it's a half-hour or less each way. That saves me an hour per day. In a working year, that amounts to about 230 hours, or almost 10 full days of time that I can use productively rather than sitting in traffic. What could you do in 230 hours?

Sei: Garmin, Google Maps and Bing are among the greatest inventions of all times.

Sette: Napoli may be the allergy capital of the civilized world. Of the 30 days here, I have had sniffles, coughing, sneezing and sinus drainage for more than half of that time. I am seriously hoping that it is a virus.