As I sit to type my first blog entry - first blog, formidable! - I'm looking out over the red tiled roofs of Toulouse and it's still feels like a vacation. The reality of the year we are now embarking on isn't yet hitting us... we're feeling like we're practising living here.
Reality will definitely set in on Tuesday, when the girls start school and we really will be entrenching ourselves in this beautiful city pour une annee.
That said, we have a bit more reprieve as Marco doesn't start school until the last week of September.
What are we going to do while the girls are at school for the next three weeks? Figuring that out... adding to the list.
Yes, we have the running lists... what do we need to sort out in our lives - Geneva's cell (portable... a bb) is contracted with Orange so her birthday wish from July is now realized and she is connected. Sort of, as her plan is limited to 1 hr calling in France (who would she call right now except the friends we made in St Jean?!) and expensive to call/text Canada so that is off limits. Which means she can text (me, right now as that's all the live contacts in France she's got) and surf/email - though still sorting how to get gmail into her mailbox.
Oh, the demands of technology.
As I look around our 2 bed apartment, I see ample ways we'll stay connected. Two laptops with the free wi-fi (wee-fee, girls love the French pronunciation), 1 itouch (Elena's on it regularly - yay, facetime), 1 iphone, 2 landlines (fixe - white phone is French line and black phone is Canadian line) and when Marco's bb gets a French SIM, 2 bbs. Wow, then Geneva will be able to bbm too!
Facebook has been the daily photo album of choice - hope all are enjoying!
So what are my learnings of our first almost full week?
Lesson 1: The first fear when we saw this apartment about the bedrooms being noisy is completely the case. We've dubbed our part of the busy street noise at night the "drunken Muslim marakesh on motorcyles." Picture that as a scene - lots of boisterous embibbers - though likely not (all) Muslims, blaring Arabic music, 2 stroke screaming scooters and motorcyles plus the buses and delivery trucks as we are on a major street. Good news is, this noise mostly ends by 2 a.m. Then by 4 a.m., garbage trucks and morning delivery trucks start up in earnest.
We did realize on our return that the bar across the street is also a betting hall - lovely - it's right beside the all night epicerie - which serves the loud mob.
Saving grace? It's been unseasonably cool for the last few days since arriving - praise somebody for closed windows and shutters at night! And of course, the view from the open concept living room/dining room/kitchen is lovely and quiet, and the neighbourhood really is convenient and safe.
Lesson 2: I still buy bread like a Canadian. Which means too much. Which means the ladies at the boulangerie look at me funny when I ask for the whole loaf and following, I realize it's way too big to finish in one day. Which is how long it's supposed to last. Learning... will keep practising ;)
Lesson 3: You can find ways to improvise when you're living like poor university students. Case in point - you realize your double bed is really a futon and the mattress is killing you by night 2 (not just the drunken marakesh keeping you awake). Solution: Winter duvets double as mattress topper. Next...
Lesson 4: Three flights of stairs up to the apartment will eventually get easier. Especially if you have less than 8 bags between 2 people (duffel, shop or grocery, we've done all so far).
Lesson 5: Good wine is available for 4 euros 50. Yum!!
Looking forward to seeing what the next week brings.
The sightseeing walks each night have brought back to us the reasons why we're here - not that we need to escape the apartment which begins to feel small and close and we're sick of each other's company so fresh air is needed. No, it's the amazing opportunity to soak in a city with much beauty, history, culture, art and another language we may eventually speak properly (sort of).