I think our elevator, called a “lift” here, deserves its own post. We knew when we moved here that we would probably live in a tall building and somewhere near the top. And we knew, as Mark had learned during his previous visits, that most of the buildings only have stairs—no lifts. I know what you’re thinking—well, what about people in wheelchairs? And the answer is—I have no idea what they do, probably not live in the city. I mean, this place is not very handicapped-friendly….

As lazy as we are, we thought, “Well, if we have to walk up a bunch of stairs, at least we’ll get some exercise”. One small problem. Guiseppe is a Basset Hound, and Bassets often have back problems. So, while we can walk up 6 flights of 22 stairs each (quick you mathematicians—how many stairs are there in all??)*, Guiseppe cannot. No problem, we thought. We’ll just get some contraption and carry him up. Go ahead, laugh out loud. We know: THAT’S RIDICULOUS!!!

So, when Vesko (our real estate agent of sorts…) told us this flat had a lift, we were thrilled.

Until we saw it.

Ok, until I saw it.

I had imagined a good, old-fashioned silver elevator where the doors open and close on their own and Muzak is piped in for your 10 second ride to the top of the building. But this is what I got:



Is it just me, or is this thing actually a closet that was converted into an elevator?


It holds one person comfortably, 2 people closely, and 3 people who must really love each other. Let’s not discuss what happens when you add a slobbery dog into the mix! The buttons do not light up with the number of your floor. There is no arrow on the outside to tell you if it’s going up or down. There is no need for such fanciness. The lift does not stop until it reaches its destination. That means nobody else gets in at a different floor. You have to wait until the people ahead of you get off and the lift comes back, and THEN it’s your turn.

The ride up to our flat takes more than 40 seconds. You see each floor as it goes by. During our first ride, I asked Vesko:

“So…what happens if this lift gets stuck?”
“What do you mean?” he asked me.
“Well, you know, if it stops working while we are inside of it and I have no way to get out and I am trapped? What happens then?” I asked, as I began to hyperventilate. (Meanwhile I heard Mark snickering behind me.)
“Oh, don’t worry, that won’t happen. It is an old, German-made lift and it hasn’t broken down in the two and a half years I’ve been here”, he assures me.

Ummmm…..am I the only one who sees that he DIDN’T ANSWER MY QUESTION.?????I was hoping he would say, “Oh, you just push this button and the police, ambulance, and fire department come running to save you”. But what I got was, “That won’t happen”. So, for the first 3 days, I said a few Hail Marys every time I entered the lift. Then I realized it would be smarter to form an escape plan in advance. I carefully observed how the lift went up and down and came up with this plan:

1. Carry my cell phone at all times.
2. If the lift stops in at a floor, break the small window of the closet door out and use some MacGuyver trick to reach through the window to open the door and/or scream.
3. If the lift stops between floors, part of a closet door will show:
Bust open this part with my Superhuman strength. Then send the hound out to find someone to rescue me, you know, like you see them do on Animal Planet.

There you have it. That’s my plan. But I still say a Hail Mary or two during my 40 second ride!

*Even though I say I live on the 5th floor, actually it is the 6th floor, because the first floor doesn’t count as one, it counts as zero.

**Have you figured out how many stairs there are yet???