It's no surprise that we love December in Cortina (last year I wrote about it here) and last week, I wrote an article for the Steamboat newspaper (here) about how living in Cortina in December is like living in a snow globe.
And it is, of course, because there are lights! And glasses of Prosecco! And giant Christmas trees! And skiers! And fur!
There are also some things that you have to battle in December though (and I don't just mean the crazy tourists with their crazy dogs).
The post office, for one. This December, I went to the post office six times - pretty standard for December, you may be thinking. Here's how the post office in Italy works though:
There are no lines (of course, because no one would stand in them anyway). Instead, when you walk in, you take a number from a machine by the door. The number system works like this: there are three letters (E, C and P) and then there are numbers to follow each letter. So, you may get E33 or P55 or C18, depending on which button you press on the machine.
There are usually two postal workers working at any given time, although there are windows for four. The workers make their way down the list calling out "E55! C20!" as they become available to help you.
Now, I'm not Italian, but I know how to read my slip of paper that says P40 on it. Other people though, are very confused by this. For example, if E20 is called, they may run up to the available window even though they have P20. Apparently, no one is actually reading the whole number which includes the letter.
Anyway. As you can imagine, it takes quite a long time to buy stamps.
Once you finally get up to the available window, you have to be prepared to spend. Of course the price of stamps to North America shot up this year (right before Christmas), to 2 euro and 30 cents per stamp. So to everyone we sent a Christmas card to this year: please save those for next year as well.
The other problem with the post office is that it's the only place in town where you can buy boxes to mail presents in. This means that people tend to bring shopping bags filled with presents that they pour out on to the post office counter while the postal worker finds a big enough box which is then assembled, packed, taped, addressed and finally, paid for. In Italy this process takes about 23 minutes per person. Also the post office only takes cash.
But! Now that it's December 22, I'm done with the post office! The most expensive Christmas cards in the world have been sent and all the presents have been mailed. Now it's time to tackle the grocery store. With that in mind, I'm taking the rest of the year off!
Ryan's mother is arriving tomorrow for Christmas and we're going to be relaxing and drinking Prosecco and watching Ryan's games (you can watch the live ticker here).
So! We hope you all have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year and we'll be back on January 5th, ready for 2015! xo