Greetings from Italy where last week I greeted two couples from Minnesota to my soon to be adopted country, at least in theory. It was a very busy week in terms of making sure everything worked according to plan, but as we all know, there are always bumps in the road. Having the internet working again made it easier, but best laid plans always have bumps, so was this past week, mostly focused on the business at hand. Two sets of families having left last week, two arrivals and three sets of clients arriving to Italy at the beginning of October, which is not that far off. What is more challenging however, is that I am now in my last two weeks here myself, before I have to abide by the EU’s rules and overstay my tourist visa or simply travel on my passport. By this time next year, it should be very different.
As I mentioned, and having faith and trust things will work out, one of my suppliers, not the first time, not the second time, but more are having technical difficulties. It makes it very difficult to complete tasks if your partners don’t hold up their end and clients trust you to make sure everything is done. Overall, I have a very good relationship with my travel partners, but being able to handle an overload, with one, has their system seemingly breaking down on a regular basis. And while apologies and excuses fill the emails, the tasks can’t be completed and I am frustrated, which leads to my clients being frustrated. I also only have my reputation and that is everything to me as I am not in the business of selling commodities but providing a service that my clients have dreamed about. The last thing I need are issues arising, but they do and it is how I handle them, that in the end, makes my clients happy and that is the goal.
Last week was not all business though, even this blog is more a reflection of that. Saturday, I attended my first Italian wedding and as long as I am with Rosa, I am sure it will not be my last one. It was held in a very little church, with wood beams and stone masonry. It was quite modest in a little town about 40 minutes outside of Rome. I could not tell you the name of the little village, but you had to go up into the mountains to get there. I don’t know if I have ever been to a Catholic wedding before and certainly have not been to one done in Italian, but it was a very nice service and while there was the religious aspect, of course, it almost seemed more lighthearted. I did not understand all that was said. First, my Italian is not up to speed, and I am not a Catholic, but knowledgeable enough to understand the process and the priest even seemed to have a sense of humor. In the end, it was a very pleasant experience and then there was the food……
I am very glad I attended this latest event in London called the Global Travel Marketplace and I connected with some new potential partners from France, Spain, and Africa, which I am trying to expand in my portfolio of destinations I cover, and more later in a future blog. I also connected with some Italian companies, hotels, and tour operators, and was, at least in part, given the amount of time here in Rome able to understand their Italian. Replying in Italian is a different story and that will take more time. In the end, it was a good conference and trade show event and look forward to working with them in the future, as I am always looking for new ideas for my clients here and beyond. I also was able to understand and even reply in French to some of my French colleagues, but that is because I learned to speak French as a kid, and it is funny what you retain.
What I found most important from last week and being gone, even the few days, is how much I missed being with Rosa. I mentioned in last week’s blog that the most important thing in my life is my relationship with her and while we were only a one-hour time difference away, I felt a void. I know how I will feel when I must go back to the states in a few weeks to wrap up part two of the housecleaning in Minnesota and then drive east. First the long flight back via Amsterdam. I am used to this, then the whirlwind loose end wrap-up and the 1500-mile drive with the last of my possessions there in Minnesota in a U-Haul trailer to my east coast residence, for now, over 3 or 4 days. Originally, I needed to be back there for a conference outside of Boston, but that has been cancelled, but more when I am rolling down the highway. I don’t want that to come along too quickly.
In any case, even though the bill was paid and apparently the lady who lived here before did not pay her internet bills, which Rosa also did to catch up, when we called, there was something else wrong. So, it ended up being another 24 to 48 hours before we could use the internet. This was after calls almost every day, and the bureaucracy had another excuse.
In the end, and something I had been thinking about anyway, I got an Italian phone and phone number, which, through the past 4 days has been my lifeline and cost much less than my US phone, both for the initial outlay and per month. It is not a contract, simply a month to month, so when I am not here, I really don’t pay if I leave a penny on account. And, maybe, just maybe, when I return from the UK, we will have internet, which we paid for in the first place since day one and then I don’t have to tether my Italian phone to my computer and US phone and use up my gigs for no reason. I would like the internet company to provide a refund of the lost week, but I do not have great expectations about this.
Welcome to Labor Day weekend back in the states where everyone is, celebrating, well maybe not celebrating the unofficial end of summer. Here in Rome, we had a bit of a reprieve from the heat and while it is not creeping towards 100 degrees Fahrenheit, it is still in the low 90’s on days. This is Rome and this is Italy. The dog days of summer are behind us and in the distance, the autumn to come. September is here and it has been, an interesting summer here in Italy. I have already welcomed some of my clients to Rome, and just this last week, a family that did a Mediterranean cruise with a stop here. Also, several other sets of clients have arrived in Europe, some right now in Florence and coming our way. It is exciting for me to meet clients here or not in the usual places. I am very lucky have clients all over and sometimes, I don’t meet them in person, but when I do, especially here or another foreign location it is a very nice experience.
Weathering the Storm with the Wandering Puffin