Winter exile – part 10 – Lavagna to Milan to Home

TLDR – Last few days in Lavagna relaxing and exploring. A train ride to Milan to visit Phil. Horrible vomit covered Bus and taxi ride to the airport. Fly to Belfast, then Bus home, legally – Exile over…..

Friday it’s cold in Lavagna

It’s cold out this morning, only 2 degrees out after the sun has come up. We’re holding out in the warmth of flat watching a movie. Followed by homework in the kitchen with momma. We made it indoors until about noon when we had to take the kids out for some exercise and give everyone else on the building a break from their noise. It’s 7 degrees out now and feels nice on the sun; glad we managed to hold off leaving long enough for some heat. We made it about 20 meters from the front door before Roxi broke down enough Michelle gave up and took her back upstairs for a nap; le sigh.

We agreed that I’ll take the kids to a park or two and get some food before heading back to the Flat. When asked if she was going to nap with Roxi Michelle says “do you think I’m going to waste alone quiet time on a nap?” Sure hope she enjoys a small break for the madness of our children. The kids and I played parkour at the beach on the rocks, stacked rocks, hunted for sea glass, and built things with sand.

My Shoes are wet, Might as well go swimming in my undies
Snuggles at the end of the rocks

Maddex and Khaleesi both managed to get their shoes wet in the water. Khaleesi stayed out of the water after dipping her shoes in. Maddex used it as an excuse to go wading into the waves chest deep. After the beach, we walked back home and spent the rest of the night coloring and watching shows. We put the kids socks and shoes on the radiators in the flat to dry. They don’t take long to dry at all, maybe a few hours.

Saturday – River and packing

Another cold morning out we’ll try to stay in and wait for it to warm up. We kind of got to wait, we left around 0930 and planned to walk up the river between the two towns, Torrente Entella. Before the river, we stopped at the park with rings by the marina for some play time. After the park we walked through the marina towards the river. It looks like there is about 30km or more of walkway along the river between our town and one 28km up river.

Some touch-up paint and this baby will be good as new
PLaying at the Park with rings – Roxi about to flip over

We only made it about 2k up the river walk before the wind coming down the hills over the water was too cold for us to comfortably carry on. We turned right and walked inland hoping the buildings would shield us from the wind. Along the way home, we found two new playgrounds to play in. We also stopped in at Conad for additional food supplies; the kids keep eating, go figure.

Walking along the river
new to us park with spring-board thing used for earthquakes

One of the parks had a flat platform with springs under it that was fun to jump up and down on. I used it to simulate earthquakes for the kids. Shaking it side to side until the kids fell down from the movement. Back at home we took some naps, watched shows and ate food.  Around 1600 Maddex and I left Mila in charge of Khaleesi and Sleeping mom and Roxi and we went to the beach to play in the sand. We built a Mega rock stack taller than Maddex then we climbed on the rocks. While we were away climbing a couple of groups of people came and took pictures of our creations.


Back at home, we did our best to pack up and eat everything left over in the house, We plan to check out and leave tomorrow morning.

Headed to Milan – Lost some Luggage

We meet with the owner to return the keys, then left our part-time home for a week at about 1000. We’re catching our train at the station in the town next door near the castle park. The first stop on the way is the castle park where Michelle stayed with the kids while I went and picked up some food for the train ride. We boarded the train on time at 1130 headed to Milan.

Bought that teal roller on this trip lost it on this trip.

About two stops later Michelle asked me where the suitcase was. I said “Oh,,, well,,, I guess it’s back at the train station” – Well fuck. We got off at the next stop and caught the first train back. Maybe took 30 minutes. No suitcase. Asked at the office if they had it, nope. They said to ask the cleaner around the corner. Talked to him via a translator.

He said he noticed the suitcase and watched it for about 10 minutes, but did not want to go get it because the owner might come by and yell at him. Then he said it vanished and he figures it was stolen. Sad face . That suitcase had most of our clothing, all of our bathroom stuff, Surface laptop we use to watch TV, the kids bowls and spoons, all of the kids school books, all of our chargers, and the Anker Bluetooth speaker bar we use for TV.

Most of the stuff we can replace with things at home or pick up at our next stop. The biggest bummer is the Surface because that’s going to be costly to replace and it’s our main source of zero effort kid entertainment – Netflix and Plex. Plus I use it to edit blog posts. When we make it to Milan we’ll have to unpack what we have, take inventory, figure out our needs and head out shopping for essentials.

The Next train to Milan was delayed 45 minutes. Instead of leaving at 1130 for Milan we ended up leaving at 1415 one bag light. Total for the trip – On ruined suitcase at the airport on the flight out. One lost REI bag in Rome most likely, and one left suitcase at a train station.

Roxi passed out and Khaleesi photobombing
We made it to Milan, and lost nothing else along the way

We made it to our place in the dark, checked in, and went to a Flying tiger by a different train station to pick up a new charger block and some cables, followed by a corrfour to shop for some food. Back at home, the kids had cereal for dinner then went to bed. Michelle and I tried to sleep on the futon but the 3 sections were not level at all. We put the mattress on the floor but it was too thin for me. I ended up sleeping with the girls in their bed.

Cool lite up building along the walk
The kids ran through the water – sadly nothing turned on and sprayed them

The kids have one king bed, and a bunch bed in their room. The King bed is where I slept. The most comfortable bed I’ve been In for the entire trip.

how I slept covered in little girl – not bad other than Mila hitting me with her arm all night

Monday – explore in the cold

It’s 3, feels like 1 out right now. Missing the southern coast of Spain where it was much warmer. We have enough clothing left over that was not in our luggage to bundle the kids up and head out into the cold. We need to pick up some more clothing and a cat5 cable so we can Netflix on the SmartTV in the flat. South of us a bit is a park called Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli that appears to have a playground in it. Across the street from the playground in the park is an electronics shop that opens at 0930.

We set off for the park around 8:30 and played on the slides for a bit. The electronics shop at 5 meter cat5 cable for 14 Euro. Just what we need to have some hot internet action on the TV back at that the flat.

Exercise area in the park
Playground in the park – Khaleesi said she was trapped in Jail

Doing inventory last night the kids each had almost 2 outfits of clothing. Michelle found a large three-story discount clothing store that looked be fairly cheap called OVS not too far from us. We walked there from the electronics shop and bought everyone a shirt, a few pairs of pants, and some socks. Michelle picked up a long sleeve shirt with buttons on the shoulders I like. – She is a true fashion Icon breaking up her solid color signature shirts

Back at home we set up the TV with its smarts, logged into Netflix and let the kids watch a few shows while we cooked them some lunch. After lunch and a nap or two we walked south into the core of town to the apple store to pick up a new Apple Watch charger for Maddex and I. Held off on getting a new watch. Going to wait until Michelle in the states in March and let her get me one and skip VAT.


The apple store is underground in a large square. You have to walk into the glass hall with waterfalls on each side to go in. A bit south of the Apple store is a Milan cathedral. The fifth largest cathedral in Europe. Taking some 600 years to complete. Looks pretty massive. We went to line up to take the tour of the inside.

Hope they are doing renovations behind the curtains
Michelle says “is this all you’ve got?”

At the head of the line is a sign that says you have to buy tickets, lame. It goes on to say you also need to buy tickets in advance. Guess we won’t be going inside today. We walked around the outside and watch the herds of pigeons in the square then headed home for the night. On the way home I gave each of the kids a ride in the backpack. Mila is always asking and I tell her she is too big. Maddex occationally asks, he is totally too big at ~70 pounds. What ever I can do this. I gave them all a ride.

When I put him down on the park bench he just stood up because his legs hang down so far

After shower time for every one I took Maddex and Mila out shopping for a bit more food and left the other kids back home. I let the pick out a treat to share. They picked a chocolate Santa to eat on the way home. Mila reported our shopping as her highlight of the day.

The kids on the futon mattress watching a show

Tuesday – We found Phil

We started texting Phil around 9 in the morning asking where he is and what he’s doing. He arrived at about 0700 taking an overnight train in from Paris. He said he was not allowed to check in to his place until about 1300. Should have thought about that ealier,  we could have offered to store his luggage and let him use our place while waiting. Oh well. Phil was at the cathedral we were at yesterday when we linked up.  We agreed to meet in 45 minutes at about 1000 in the play ground in the park. Phil does not have EU roaming so he has to find us without using Apple’s find my friends.

Cold enough a pond in the park is starting to ice over

Phil was a bit late and we were about to leave as it was cold and the kids needed to warm up. As we were leaving Phil ran after us and caught us; Good because we wanted to see Phil. We walked back to our place where we warmed up inside and caught up. Great to see Phil again. Been many moons since we saw him Last at Reesman’s wedding. – Like a dick I somehow forgot to get pictures of him. WTF Kev?

After Phil left we had some breakfast and a nap then took off to the train station to work out how to catch the bus to the airport for the morning. We worked out where we needed to go then walked through a park on to some shopping to purchase Michelle a few new things. The kids were a bit annoying not able to be still and quiet enough to allow shopping, so we gave up shopping and walked back to the big park with the playground for some more playing.

Found a new play area in our park at our last visit

We finally Played the kids out of energy. Walked back home Maddex volunteered to be in charge of navigating to our flat. He did a brilliant job we made it back home without getting lost. At home, we watched a bunch of shows, cleaned, packed, and ate. After eating Mila, Maddex and I went out for a walk to pick up some food for breakfast tomorrow.

To Belfast

We were packed up and out the door to the Bus station at 0900. We paid for our bus tickets and boarded the bus. About 20 minutes in Roxi vomited all over the place. I gave Michelle my shift to clean up the mess. A few minutes after pucking we were at the wrong airport. Seems no one understood what was going on when we told them what airport we wanted to go to.

Girls in the taxi before the vomit

Figuring we’d not have time to make it back to the city and bus to the other airport we took a taxi for 100 euro to the other airport. About 10 minutes before the end of the Taxi ride Roxi pucked all over Khaleesi and herself. Roxi does not seem to enjoy ridding in a car. We cleaned up and exited the taxi. The drive said he has kids and understands.

Roxi getting out of the Taxi covered in breakfast – not looking super happy

What an annoying stressful morning for a long ass travel day. To make for the mess getting here the airport is small and void of crowds and lines. We flew through security, had some food, went through an additional passport check then we waited.  After the gate opened we boarded the bus to the plane, boarded the plane and flew to Belfast. We did not have any plans after landing other than take a bus into town and figure out WTF to do.

Our last meal until we made it home
Girls showing off elves in their pants before boarding the plane

Landed and Magic happened

Magic happened on the 8th we were not aware of until the 9th. On the 9th a piece of postage showed up our house in Dublin requiring a signature. Someone at home signed for the mail and sent us a picture of the mail while we were in the air. The mail said, basically “We’re allowed to live in Ireland for 4 months while I look for work / get hired by a new job” – tears and joy and shit happened – We are going home.

Instead of bus into town and finding a place to stay, we bused into town then switched to the Aircoach that would take us to Dublin city center. On the way to city center we stopped at the airport and the bus driver moved our stuff to a different bus and asked us to change bus for the rest of the trip – Bank error in our favour – the bus we were moved too is the normal bus we take home from the airport – instead of Bus then Luas home from city center we are headed right next to home at the Clayton.

For 18 Euro we rode the bus from Belfast Europa bus station all the way to the Clayton hotel next to our house; not bad at all. Around 2000 we were home in our house eating chicken trays and chips, unpacking our stuff and putting the kids to bed. It’s been over a month since we’ve been home. We had an amazing adventure, but it sure feels great to be home, and out of Exile…

The rest of the Pictures

Coloring in our massive Kitchen Dining room
Khaleesi was pretty proud of being able to climb to the top


Dad take a picture of in this Rock throne
Throne built for two princesses
Walking inland from the river



A stretched zoo – I might NEED one
Totally wanted to buy this on the spot, but resisted finding the owner
One of our fabulous lunch spreads
Stacking rocks
Working on his story on the train to Milan
Mila Found a cave to explore in the park
Michelle working on her Crane Kick
Lunch in our Milan Flat
no clue what this is, but it looks neat
Entrance to a cool glass domed shopping area next to a huge cathedral
huge cathedral thing next to the glass-domed shopping place
Khaleesi standing up in the backpack to better be in the picture
Maddex was super happy to be in the backpack again
Some massive stair case we had to climb. Poor guy had a break in his calm when we showed up
The kids ran around this a good five times – and they were still out of control


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