mercredi 3 avril 2013

weeks 26-31 - catching up

Yes, I've been off the blogging for a bit - as several of you have now commented, I'm taking that as consideration/compliment that sometimes people are reading and I'm not just sending to the wind.
Also, really haven't had groundbreaking updates to share so somewhat less inspired to sit and type about my day to day walks to school, market shopping, cooking.
Have been finding the winter more challenging in that the reality of not working is real, the day to day schedule a bit small in scope, the sense that my progression in French is stalling a bit and our overall social network/time is quite limited.
It is what it is and it's where we're/I'm at. Plus lots of cloudy days and rain/sometimes snow is less helpful. Again, it is what it is.
As we're moving back in to more places to visit and things to be engaged with, this too shall pass.
That said, the girls and I did enjoy a week in Provence while Marco spent his last two weeks of his course at Ecole de l'Air (French airforce school on the army base in Salon de Provence), though the weather wasn't spectacular and the landscape was still brown as it was too early for spring/flowers/colour/lavender.
What was cool to see was the aerobatics team who was on the base practising for an upcoming competition so each morning, we were treated to some low flying air spectacles. Marco even got to see the fighter jets with their tri-coloured smoke climbing move one day.
It was interesting as Marco's brother and sister-in-law gave Geneva a novel for Christmas that followed a 15 yr old Montreal kid on an adventure through Roman ruins/history around Aix-en-Provence as his dad, a famous photographer, was in Provence to shoot a coffee table book. We did refer back to this in reflection on what we visited.
Highlights of the first week of March in Provence:
- Sat lovely sunny aft 3 hr drive - Salon-de-Provence not such a draw but ok
- Sun lovely sunny day in vieux port of Marseille with Marco - glad for that visit and the view from the Notre Dame on the hill looking down on the port
- Mon sunny but breezy cooler for Roman ruins in Arles, Nimes and Pont du Gard (bridge- stunning sun setting view of this old massive Roman aqueduct bridge
- Tues cool, windy and bits of rain for Aix-en-Provence cathedral visit - craziest church I've visited yet with 5 different centuries/styles represented - and walk about. Disappointed as we wanted to do Roman thermal baths but just for adults
- Wed cool, windy and more rain for market day in St Remy-en-Provence and Avignon: didn't realize how big Avignon is and yes, we sang at the bridge
- Thurs cool, windy but sun eventually for Mediterranean beach side town of Les Sainte Maries sur la mer, wilds of Camargue and salt flats
- Fri sun found us and we found a protected little beach just on the west side of Marseille where we hung out for a picnic afternoon. What we didn't find was the theatre in the next town over where we'd intended to see Hotel Transylvania - oh well
- Sat departure - sun again and the sad part of leaving Marco for another week there as we returned was tempered by heading to Limoux to visit their long-running carnival (both longest in history and longest in duration as runs each weekend from Jan to mid-Mar) to meet up with our Irish/Spanish friends. Was World Day at the carnival that weekend so crowded into the square in centreville to see performers from Brazil, Cameroon, Spain, Turkey - lots of good fun and energy. We ended up spending the night at our friends' in their village house in St-Jean-de-Minervois as we didn't get enough visit time
- so Sun was a hanging out day in the area we stayed last summer/over Christmas. Nice to be back and really good catch up time with friends
Marco finished his course work - bravo - and did well on his first segment. We spent his first week back sorting our tax stuff to get it ready for our accountant (exciting!) and last week, Marco attended a composites course back at ENAC which he'd wanted to do for a while.
We had more visitors arrive the weekend before Easter - yay! - Andrea who I worked with at J3 and her friends Maggie and Mark stayed with us from Sunday til Wednesday and we all enjoyed the new faces and additional company. I rolled out my "Sandi Mariotti walking tour of Toulouse" as well as drove to Carcassone for an afternoon. Then the gang headed on to Barcelona where we joined this past weekend to celebrate Marco's birthday/Paques.
It was fun being back to sunny Barcelona - big city energy is good in doses. What's not fun, we've decided, is driving in Barcelona. We made it well into the city in daylight however, being Easter weekend, the apartment we'd rented (in a different neighbourhood - just off of Las Ramblas) was proving very challenging to drive to as Las Ramblas was closed to traffic due to a Good Friday procession to the Cathedral and was the only route to get to the apartment/closest parking lot. We parked and I walked down to sort out/get keys when I got stuck in the crowd as the procession moved across the street - would have been enjoyable if we weren't trying to get checked in to our apartment.
We decided not to fight it and left the car parked in the lot where it was, trucking our gear down for a good 15 minute hike. The Cava and Rioja tasted superb following, along with the market picnic of cheese, olives and bread which Andrea and Co. had secured for our arrival.
This visit focused more on local walking around Las Ramblas/Barrio Gothica/El Born, markets and eating at recommended spots, along with a mountain top amusement park visit as Marco's choice for his birthday activity. Stellar views from the roller coaster down on the city and the sea (as I'm told - I was happy to hold bags + jackets ;)
Girls continue to do well in school - whether they adore it or not - and Geneva has created a design for the school logo in the annual competition which has been selected as one of 2 from her grade level to be considered in the final design competition among the 4 grade levels. Bravo!
We look forward to upcoming spring vacation time with friends, then my Dad in Scotland and more family in England and then neighbours starting summer vacations with us. We will also look forward to where the world takes us in the coming months.
Hope the world is treating you well - cheers to spring.
a la prochaine,

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