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A month seems like a long time, doesn't it? Not if you need time to spare after doing all the admin!

Initially we stayed in Palermo, Italy (Sicily) for a month, then on to Catania for another month. Seemed loads of time to have a good look around and see if these places would suit us as a retirement option. Nope. Not by a long shot!


After a whirlwind tour of south east Queensland to say goodbye to friends and family, followed by another whirlwind tour of London, Chester and Newcastle in the UK to say hello to friends and family, we were exhausted. The months of lead up to selling the house and leaving our home behind, had completely shattered us. As much as we loved seeing friends and family, it was also quite exhausting. So when we landed in Palermo and were 'finally alone' I got sick.


It happens. A lot of lead up to a major event (say, a wedding) does wear you down. I was in bed for most of the first week in Palermo and when I started to feel alive, my husband started to wane. We still went out in the evenings and did small things some days, but I felt robbed. We did do a lot once we were back on our feet, but it felt rushed. It was only in the last weekend that we really got out of the city. We needed more time. When we set out on this adventure, we knew we would need the minimum of two months in a place to really experience it. I figured two months would be alright in Sicily, even if it was in two different cities, but it wasn't. As I'm writing this, I am already into week two in Catania. No idea where the time went. Revised minimum - three months.


We travelled from Palermo to Catania... more later!

You can see Palermo in a week... if you get up every day and run around to all of the sights. We're 'old' so we do not want to act like a bunch of teenagers. We are also there to see if it is a place you can 'live' in. We go to the supermarkets, fresh food markets and such to find what we want to cook with and to find what is available in each place. Some people may find that dreary, but we love it! We also have found that there are daily things

we do at home (in Australia) that we now

have to source elsewhere. That can be challenging!


For instance, in the UK we needed two things; new passport photos and some printing/scanning. I may already have told you about this, but it's amusing. In Australia, passport photos are done at the post office and email copies are also sent to you immediately. Not in the UK. We found a dodgy booth that took the photos (which turned out not to be the right size) and they were emailed direct to the passport office. It costed nine pounds. money wasted as it turned out. To get printing done we ended up wandering the town and happened upon the library. We had to join the library to use the printer (after logging on and then showing the card to the librarian) then we had our printing. We then signed the relevant documents and logged onto a different computer to scan on the old fashioned scanner. It worked beautifully but a ten minute job became an hour plus. We laugh about it now. Actually, we were laughing at the time as well.


Now in Palermo, we had similar issues. We needed to send the new passport application to the UK. We asked our Airbnb host whether we could buy envelopes at the post office. He said probably not as he thought they only did stamps. He had no clue where to buy an envelope.... I suppose the new generations don't do snail mail? We didn't even try to go to the post office after that as we googled other peoples experience. It's all in Italian and most people queue for ages, only to be told they were in the wrong place. We had already had enough of Italians pretending not to understand us (Yes, we tried to communicate in Italian as much as possible) so this was not something we were going to put ourselves through. We opted for a safer, yet more expensive option.


Brexit has caused a lot of complications

With my husband in bed (still not feeling great) I trundled off to the nearest DHL office. With my dodgy Italian and my google translate app open on my phone (for emergency) I asked about sending it to the UK. "Certamente" the store operator said... after 20 minutes of spelling out the addresses (thank goodness I learnt how to spell in Italian) we got the package sorted and paid for. Only 48 Euros - yikes! Apparently it would have been cheaper if UK was still in the EU.... damn Brexit.


Anyway, what I'm saying is that things we take for granted overseas takes a lot more research, and time to do elsewhere. At least the first time... Of course, if you plan to live somewhere, you probably have computers with printers at home, so it's probably a mute argument. What I'm getting at is that in a new place, if doing every day administration stuff, it can be difficult overseas.


The hardest thing for us is the dreaded One Time Pin. I may have mentioned this before, but as I write this, my husband is on the phone to Australia, trying to find a way to connect his credit card (back) into his Wallet App. Due to having an overseas number and the bank not sending SMS codes if you register as being overseas, the only way to do this is to turn on roaming on our Australian number to get the code. The catch? You have to have roaming on each time you use the Wallet App. If you have an overseas number, all of your cards disappear from the App. Not kidding. If there are any whizz kids out there who can bypass this system, I am certain there are hundreds (if not thousands) of people who would pay for the service. Incidentally, we would have roaming, but on a trip as long as ours, it's extremely cost prohibitive. Our banking is still not sorted. That will be a continuing thread through these blogs, I am sure. As I find out new things, I will share them.


Another fun fact, slightly different, is that I wanted to go to the Doctor in Italy to get a new prescription. Italy and Australia have a mutual agreement where doctors are concerned. You can show a valid Medicare card and away you go.... fantastic if you speak Italian. If looking for an English speaking doctor, don't do it in the summer. They go away on holiday! Ended up in the Chemist where they could order what I wanted once I showed them my repeat. Brilliant! Same thing in Vanuatu by the way. If you know exactly what you need, you can buy most of it over the counter. Cool. Handy!


We have three months planned in Greece next. It's a whole new kettle of fish. Anyway, I will tell you what we thought of Palermo soon. Let's just say it's fantastic....but not. So many contrasts. All I know is that our opinions may have changed if we had more time there. Perhaps it is where we will find Utopia.




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