Saturday, October 4, 2008

An Epic Voyage

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(the driveway to our house)

My last post was from Chicago, this post is now from our new home in Sanvensa France, our home for 1 year. We left Chicago on Sunday the 28th in the evening, but we had to be at the airport way ahead because we had to check in the bags first and then come back and check in the dogs. It actually was super easy. O'Hare has a special "oversized" check-in and there wasn't even a line. The man (Steve) who helped us was really cool too. We had 6 bags total (including our bikes and Bruce's extra wheels), he never weighed our bags and only charged us for 2 additional bags. It could have been much worse, if a bag is over 50lbs you are charged $380.00. Steve was so great with the dogs and let us hang around with them until the last minute. We only had to wait 15 minutes to board the plane and we left on-time. Within 10 minutes of the doors closing they gave us our pink tags that said the dogs were loaded on the plane. I was so relieved. Now we only had a 7 1/2 hour flight to get through. That was a breeze. Usually we have a 12 hour flight from Los Angeles and sometimes we have a lay-over. 7 1/2 hours went so fast. We landed in Paris at 9:00 am on Monday the 29th. Now came the tricky part.

We went down to baggage claim and got all our bags (remember we had 6, including 2 bike cases) and then the crates with the dogs were wheeled out on a big cart. Stella's crate is manageable, but Dashells is giant. The dogs were great and very happy to see us and I'm sure had to pee super bad. Dashell started crying (whistling is more like it). Then we looked at all our stuff, holy crap there was a lot. We had to get 3 carts and they were piled high with bags and bike cases and dogs in crates and we had to maneuver them to the rental car desk, not an easy task. People were staring at us....not because of the dogs, but because of our bike cases. Well, I'm sure they were just staring because we had so much stuff. The prepared Americans, here we come! Everyone always stares at our bike cases, I'm sure wondering what they are or if they know what they are they are looking at Bruce like he's a professional cyclist. It's pretty funny. We made it to the rental car desk and I took the dogs out, not many options. But then we had to get to the rental car, again not very convenient. It was hilarious and we were tired and the dogs were confused. We finally got the car and packed it up, we had no room to spare and in fact no room for the dogs in the back. We all had to squeeze into the front. Not bad with tiny Stella, but I had to share my seat with a 75 lb golden retriever. We had a hotel near the airport but the tricky part was finding it. The airport is a joke and nothing but confusing. We went the wrong way about 10 times and finally stumbled upon the right street. We were so happy when we saw the hotel. We showered and went and had a lovely lunch and then went back and took a 2 hour nap. Then we got up and took the dogs into the village and walked around for a couple hours. Back to rest and then out to dinner that night. We had a lovely meal at a little restaurant in the village.

Tuesday morning came way too soon. It was so foggy in/around Paris and at 7:00 am it looked like 4:00 am. It was cold and damp too. But we knew we had a long day ahead of us. We had to drive over to the Dordogne to a small village to pick up our 1985 peugeot stationwagon. A car we had paid for but not yet seen. We met Arnold who we bought the car from and there it was, our little Claude. We call it Claude because that is the name of the man who owned it...it's only owner. It took us 4 hours to get to our new car and we still had 4 more to go to get to our house. But in France you don't get in and out, we had to stay and talk with Arnold and we ended up there for 1 1/2 hours. We left with 2 cars and headed down to our house. By the time we got here it was pitch dark and our house is in the country and we had a really hard time finding it and I mean a really hard time. So hard that we thought we might have to sleep in the cars. The people taking care of the house thought we were coming in around 2pm, so they didn't leave lights on for us. It was so dark. We flagged down a car and spoke to the lovely french homme about our house. Had he heard of it "les costes". "no" he said. Then he said, in french, come to my house and I will call one of my friends, maybe they know of the house. So we followed him to his house (2 minutes away from where we were) and he called his friend and yes, his friend knew where the house was, we were about 2 blocks from it, we turned around right before the driveway. So the lovely man got back into his car and took us to our driveway. Now, everyone says that the french are not nice, but I'm telling you they are lovely. Maybe in paris they are not nice, but in the country they are great people. We took him a bottle of wine to thank him for his troubles. We were both so tired when we arrived and luckily we had stopped at the intermarché for some grocery's, so we had eggs, croissants and some wine and went to bed.

The next morning we awoke to blue skies and we were so excited to explore our new house and land.  The dogs freaked out...not in a bad way but in a good way.  There is so much land for them to run in and Dashell has already found a rabbit hole, well many actually.  He's obsessed with finding a rabbit and it's the first thing he runs to when he's let out (it's a bit obsessive). We actually just let them out the front door, no leashes, no worries that they'll be hit by a car or run away.  It's so amazing, they are in heaven.


We spent the day unpacking and getting things organized.  Then we called our friend Jacques and he invited us to dinner that night.  As je ne regrette rein has probably found out, when you go to someones house, it's never for a quick visit.  You must allow at least 4 hours.  We arrived at 7:00 and had a wonderful ratatouille, with wine and bread and a salad and then a homemade fig tart.  Buy the time we left it was 12:30 am.  We could have stayed longer too, but I was fading fast.

Yesterday we had to return the rental car.  Which meant driving to Albi, which is about 1 hour south of us.  A beautiful city, but hard to navigate when you don't know where you are going.  We drove around and around and got lost and finally found the rental car return and were happy that was out of the way.  We can't wait to go back to Albi to explore.  Last year we went and spent the day there, but there is so much more to see.  Then Kathyjo and Michael came over around 1:30, they are the caretakers of our house and really nice people.  They brought lunch and wine and dessert and by the time they left it was 6:00 pm.  See - at least 4 hours!  We were so tired yesterday and actually went to bed too early, because at 12:00 am, we were both wide awake, so we got up and ate a little bit and i-chated with our friends E&K and my sister. We finally fell asleep around 3:30 am and were up at 8:30 so that we can get used to the time change.  

What we are hoping for is a day not to have to do things, take back things, pickup things, etc...just a day for us to relax here at the house and get into a groove.  Right now we are still figuring things out.  Today we had to get dog food, a tire pump, get credit for the cell phone go to the bank and get gas.  Of course we forgot that things close between 12-2:30, and ended up out and about at noon, so we had a lovely lunch in Villefrance-de-rouergue and then when things opened we went ran our errands.  Right now Bruce is busy putting our bikes together right now as we are planning our first ride tomorrow down to our favorite village St. Antonin Noble Val.  We still have to register our car, visit our bank associate for our checks and debit card on Monday, visit the Marie (mayor) in our village of Sanvensa and a few other things, but this weekend we plan on biking and relaxing.  It's funny but I am loosing track of what day it is. We don't have a television or a telephone here at the house, only internet, which is pretty cool. I do know that this year will be amazing and life-changing and that we'll have some beautiful pictures to show you and great stories to share. Although I'm a bit pissed off about the photo thing. This is where you are spoiled when you live where you have cable or high speed internet, we don't have that here so it takes me about 10 minutes to download a picture. I know there has to be a better way, we have so many beautiful photos to share with you.




23 comments:

Betty C. said...

I see you just posted this a few minutes ago. Welcome to Aveyron! That is a definite bummer that you don't have broadband Internet where you are...then again, we only got it here about three years ago.

Randal Graves said...

if a bag is over 50lbs you are charged $380.00

Ouch.

And you're completely destroying our long-held notion of the snooty French.

The fact that you guys are going to have so much to explore and get lost in - planned getting lost, not the 'what the hell road is this?' variety - well, c'est chouette !

That's terrible about the slow internets time. Best find the nearest cybercafé type deal because we want to see the shots. :)

Lesley said...

So glad that you arrived safe and sound. I hope you have a nice quiet Sunday with plenty of time to "get into the groove"!

La Framéricaine said...

Oh putain! C'est super sympa!

J'adore les Français qui t'aident quand tes vraiement dans la merde!

J'adore aller chez les gens et parler pendant des heures, de tout et de rien. Chez ma belle soeur ça peut durer 8 heures entre le déjeuner et le souper avec seulement une petite promenande entre les deux où les gens ne s'arrêtent même pas de s'entre parler.

Vous allez vite améliorer votre français!

Chapeau!

Michelle said...

Oh, a lovely long post.

I am on my way out the door so just scrolled through, yes they arrived, yes dogs are fine, yes they found their house!

I'll be back later to read properly.

I'm very excited for you!

Leesa said...

Hey there!!

Un grand... BIENVENUE EN FRANCE à vous deux et tes chiens adorables, aussi!! Je suis très contente de savoir que vous avez bien arrivées dans cet pays magnifique!! Et par rapport les gens sympas qui avaient vous aidé -- BRAVO!!! Je trouve que les français sont très doué pour ça!!
J'ai bien aimé lire tout que tu as raconté sur le blog... Il y a toujours les choses qui arrivent ... mais tout est bien passé à la fin...
Bon dimanche...
Leesa

Non, Je ne regrette rien said...

Uh-I'm so jealous of all of these beautifully written comments in French. (Kicks self in butt to study more). breathes sigh of relief re: dogs and car and big trip and wishes you well on your big adventure. chat soon!

Our Juicy Life said...

Betty - we love this area, thank you for the warm welcome...although warm should be used as it's freezing and only October, oh my. We have satellite here and the internet isnt' slow but downloading pictures takes a while, i might have to go with a smaller size which is a bummer as the area is so beautiful, but at least I'll get some on. Hopefully we can meet soon.

Our Juicy Life said...

Randall - yes 380.00 if you are just 1 lb over 50. Scam, but out guy was great and didn't even weigh the bags and I know 2 of them were over 50. We lucked out.

I think everyone believes the french are rude and maybe in Paris they are (Leesa???) but I'm telling you the people in the country are wonderful and friendly and welcoming.

Like I told Betty - the internet isn't slow just downloading and I think I was trying to download pictures that were just too big.

Oh we can't wait to just take a left and see where it takes us. We are off right now to the market in St. Antonin (our favorite village).

Our Juicy Life said...

lesley - a quiet sunday, nope not this one. we were invited to our friends "family" sunday dinner with his 3 children, 2 grandchildren and son-in-law, but I'm sure we'll have a wonderful time and it's great practice for our french since none of them speak english.

Anne Norcross said...

Snooty French...well Marc's mom would definitely argue with you about that. We have had nothing but wonderful times in French with relatives in Paris, Lille, and the South. I think it all is how you present yourself to them. If you come across as a "snooty" American, well then they will give it right back to you. If you get toward San Tropez let me know. Maxime is there as are Natalie and Guy. Anne, Marc's cousin, has a beautiful farmhouse outside Toulouse as well.

Anne Norcross said...

You forgot your phone calls to me to find directions. It might not have seemed funny to you, but on my end it was quite hilarious. My phone battery was almost dead, I'm in the apple store yelling "Hello...France!" and then trying to figure out on a cell phone how to call internationally. Thank God for Verizon, they were great in setting up international calling for me and making it work immediately, otherwise I would never have been able to call Andy or you.

La Framéricaine said...

You are gaslighting me again with "Our First Ride." Did you put it up and then take it down? That is so funny. I see it and I go to read it and presto, "this page not available."

Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman have nothing on you and me!

Glad all is well!

Rowena said...

Glad to hear that all turned out rather smoothly on the flight over. Yay for the dogs!

I, myself, just went through a 24-hour flight for a return trip home to Hawaii. Reading about your adventures from this side of the world makes it sound even more fabulous!

Our Juicy Life said...

Anne - I didn't say the french were snooty...I love them, most people from America think they are thought. Even people who have never been to france. When we were in Paris eveyone was lovely and friendly and in the country people are even nicer.

I didn't mention your crazy phone calls because well i don't know. But you saved the day with the calls and finding Andy and having him find us so we could find the house, only problem is Andy said it was 200 meters from the little bridge, but in fact it was more like 2000 meters. we were almost to it, but turned around thinking we must have past it. argh!

Our Juicy Life said...

LF - man you are on it...quick to my blog! Well I posted the pics but then when I posted it they were cut off and you could only see 1/2 of them. I spent the longest time getting them on there, so then I quickly deleted it. I had to post smaller pictures but if you click on them you can see them larger.

Our Juicy Life said...

Rowena - oh my 24 hours to hawaii....you must have been so tired, but at least you ended in Hawaii. What island? We love Oahu, the North Shore especially.

La Belette Rouge said...

I am so excited for you. This is sooo exciting. Your first French post and it is fantastic. I knew that between you and JNRR I would be able to get my fill of living vicariously. I am so happy that your beloved dogs got there safe and sound.
I know your internet is not all you hope---but I am so glad you are not letting it stop you from posting. Merci for that!!!xo

Leesa said...

Hi there...

Just wanted to get back to you about Parisians... I have soo much fun when I go up to Paris-- we're in the banlieu (south of Paris near Orly airport) so I don't (can't really say I live IN Paris- just the region Parisianne)... Anyhow, I digress.. Parisians are LOVELY.. I meet so many of them everywhere I go.. metros, cafe's, walking in the street... everywhere... And out of 100% of them... I have only run into a few here and there like 2%) ... that were downright rude or mean about something...
I find them to be very helpful, often going out their way to help lost people... and very friendly and pleasant around town and in stores... No prob. here... I have had worse time with the "weirdos" in LA- You know what I mean, right? There are some really WEIRD people in L.A.!!!!! Vive la France!!!!

Leesa said...

I see my spelling sucks... OOPS!

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