Hello all, This is another post from Ange as I can’t seem to convince Bruce to write anything yet. I’ll work on him, I promise.
So, we’re over our jetlag and starting to work out which way up we are now. We’re also getting the hang of where things are, somewhat. Just in case you haven’t been given these links yet: this is our house location, this is a good overview of Lyon and this is a link to some random landmarks in Lyon.
Also, there are two numbers you might like to know in order to get through to us cheaply from Australia (cost of a call to Adelaide):
- Ange Adelaide Skype
- Adelaide VOIP (when we set up the handset later today)
Ask us for the numbers. Please be nice and call after 7pm Adelaide time, otherwise you’ll wake us up (even thought we might actually deserve it).
Also, we took some pics of our flat and some things right near it.
One of our most exciting jaunts so far was our trip up the Basilique de Notre Dame de Fourvière. This ominous building looms over Vieux Lyon (the medieval bit of town, where we are) from the top of a very steep hill. We didn’t know what it was or why we had to go there, but we did. We checked Google maps and found the best path up there and wandered up there by way of rue de Boeuf (Beef Road), a bloody great staircase and a pretty rose garden. As the sparrow flies, this is probably less than a kilometre from our house, but it is a long way UP. It’s also well worth the trip. The cathedral is exquisite (even the crypt is exquisite), the view over Lyon is amazing and the walk up there is gorgeous. We took LOTS of photos.
We also ducked into the Smoking Dog pub on the way home, which we instantly fell in love with. I’d heard about it long before getting to Lyon and figured it was a must. It’s got a wall of books opposite the bar! It also happens to be an English pub, so while we were having a quiet drink the place filled up with rugby fans. After a few beers, the idea of hanging out with random English people and watching England Vs New Zealand looked pretty appealing. It was very unexpected, but kind of fun.
Changing topic completely, we’re loving the Lyon Markets. They have so much awesome food for sale every morning until lunchtime. However, we still felt the need to seek out the Asian grocers so we could get a few bits and pieces. Chinatown was surprisingly easy to find, but the prices are still fairly steep and the Asian veggies didn’t look too crash hot. Now if only we can find Englandtown..
We still speak French pretty badly. I’m sort of at the stage where I can read most stuff (and guess the context of the missing words). My grammar is okay, thanks to all that high school French. I am doing well with the Pimsleur and Michel Thomas lessons, however none of those conversations seem to come up on a day-to-day basis, so it’s not been very useful yet.
So, most conversations just go something like this:
Shopkeeper: !@#$% !@#^&^$@$ @#$^&*%^%
Us: *terrified look* Je ne comprends pas.
*some serious pointing ensues, followed by a purchase that we hope is the right thing*
Madness, I tell you. 🙂
Our satellite TV claims to have multiple language options on most channels, so we get kind of excited when we see shows that we know are in English originally, only to find that the only languages available are French and German. Or sometimes something really unexpected, like Turkish. We’re really not sure why the English sound isn’t one of the options. However, we did find a run of Law and Order shows in English one night which was truly relaxing to take in.
Today we’re hoping to do something a little touristy and look at Lyon’s secret tunnel system (traboules). There seems to be a self-guided tour of the public traboules which explores the buildings surrounding our house. Apparently some of the more impressive ones are on the other side of the river, so we’ll probably do that another day.
PS. If you want photos of our jaunts around Lyon as they happen, then keep an eye on here.
Now, our biggest problem of recent weeks has been our air freight. The original booking our agent made with Thai air was changed after problems in Bangkok, so our gear ended up with QANTAS. For some reason, QANTAS decided it was okay to leave it sitting around in London (1.5 hours fight from here) for 5 days. After some frantic emailing to Jetta and their head boss yelling at QANTAS, our stuff finally got handed to Air France who got it to Lyon.
Then the trick was getting the air freight. This turned into a paperwork chase reminiscent of “Love and other catastrophes”. We knew it was going to cost a lot, but we weren’t prepared for the headaches. This was very silly of us, since everything about France says “You will drown in bureaucratic paperwork”. So, we hopped onto a bus to the airport (17 €) only to be told the cargo area was nowhere near the main airport. We ate some airport lunch (10 €) so that we didn’t get too grumpy. Then we jumped into the biggest taxi we could find and drove around to the cargo area. The Air France person couldn’t find us in the system as all our tracking numbers were for different airlines. She found us eventually because we knew exactly when the flight got in the night before and how it came to be in their possession. Then she gave us a form and told us we’d need to go to customs and get it signed. She also said that when we got back we’d need to pay her 40 € for something or other.
We ran over to customs and got pointed into a rabbit-warren of office windows and shown the correct window. The people behind the window were lovely, but could only speak French. So, they couldn’t tell us what they needed from us. I handed over my phrasebook/dictionary in the hope that they’d find what they needed (Note to self: next time get them to write it down and look it up myself). The guy there got the giggles and started reading all the most useful phrases, like “I am pregnant” and then looking at his belly and saying “C’est vrai!” (“It’s true!”) and laughing himself under the table. It was actually funny and it was hard not to just stand there laughing all day, except that we had a taxi outside, a tonne of boxes to pick up and limited funds to pay for the taxi. They did understand we were in a hurry when I mentioned the taxi, and somehow worked out what they needed from us by photocopying my passport, looking at my wedding ring, getting me to write down our address and tell them we had an inventory of goods with the baggage.
But that was only getting the piece of paper stamped. Then Air France had to get 43.91 € from us. Unfortunately, they had no change because they couldn’t find the cash box (they didn’t think to look while we were at customs?). So, we wound up grovelling to the taxi driver for change. With that paid for, we then had to wait for the gear to be moved outside (they didn’t think to do that while we were at customs? or at least while we were paying?). But, it only cost us 20 € ($40) for the taxi to wait for us that whole time, so I think we got off fairly lightly. The trip into town cost another 44 € (50 € including a small tip). So, all up, the day cost us around 140 € ($280), about 4 hours, some gratitude to the nice bureaucrats and taxi driver, plus a diminished life expectancy due to extremely high stress levels. But it’s over for now.
The big news is that we’re moving to the other side of France (Yay – more logistics!). Bruce will be starting a contract in January with Agralis in Agen, presuming we can sort out the paperwork involved. This is fantastic, as they need someone who knows the industry and knows Sentek gear. He’ll need to learn French madly in all free moments, though. Bit of a challenge. 🙂
We’ve started looking for a house in Agen. It seems that there are lots of tiny apartments but they are all very cheap! It’s hard to find something that isn’t a teensy tiny apartment (even if you’re willing to pay). However, we’re talking prices of under 200 € per month (About AU$400/m) for a small, very average flat or 300 € per month (Approx AU$600/m) for a much nicer, tiny flat with a pool. Considering we were paying $800/m for our last place in Adelaide, which wasn’t very big and had terrible space usage, I think these places look great. We’ll just have to be very selective about layout, size and conveniences. Plus, there’s still the option of fully furnished houses for just under 400 € per month if we’re willing to live a bit further out (not far at all). There just aren’t as many of those to choose from.
We might have to drive across to Agen once or twice in the very near future. This is a pretty scary prospect to say the least. We’re not even used to being passengers on the wrong side of the road, let alone driving! I’m scared that I’ll go the wrong way around a roundabout or something. Or that I’ll shut my eyes and scream while driving the correct way around it. Something like that. In fact, the hardest bit will be turning corners: making sure we get into the right lane will be a trial, as will making sure we look in all the right places for cyclists. Scary scary scary!
Anyway, that’s me all blogged out. I’m working on developing a habit involving more frequent, shorter posts. Hopefully by getting Bruce to write some of them. 🙂