Every year we are surprised by how quickly May comes around and this year is no exception and suddenly it’s time to head away on a new adventure. There is a lot of planning and saving that goes into living this wonderful lifestyle. We have chosen to sell our lovely spacious house and move to a small lock-and-leave apartment, freeing up money to purchase our 11.5m Dutch steel cruiser in France. What we sacrifice in living space we gain in living. And so this year’s adventure begins!
Monday May 8 we flew Singapore Airlines to Singapore, 7 hours on the ground where Alan banged into (not literally) Terri, a Virgin flight attendant he used to work with and had a great catch up which whiled away the time. Still, by the 5 hour mark, the middle of the night for our body clocks, we were starting to fade and looking forward to some sleep on the next sector.
Finally we landed in Paris some 30 hours after leaving Christchurch and jumped on Le Bus to head to the Gare de Lyon and our hotel. It was only about 9am local time and of course our room wasn’t ready so we headed out again, across the road to a very nice cafe for a second breakfast and a relaxing session of people watching.
Back to the hotel and our room was ready so we stashed our luggage and went for a long walk, wandering down to l’Arsenal marina to check out the boats followed by a lazy walk to the Rive Gauche (left bank), the old Latin Quarter. It was a lovely day to be wandering the streets of Paris, albeit in a jet lagged state. Later we heard on the news that morning there had been an armed hold-up of a high-end watch store with €800-900,00 worth of stock grabbed. Also the Gare Du Nord was locked down while police searched for 3 terrorists. The next day we counted 12 vans of police in convoy passing us. Sirens are the constant background noise to life in Paris these days.
So we walked the streets of Paris every day, visiting the Bastille marché one morning (I will do a pictorial post of the lovely sights of the marché) and that afternoon we wondered into the Place des Vosges for a peaceful rest in the tranquil surroundings.
Later we decided to attack the ever annoying task that is obtaining an adequate supply of internet on the boat. We had heard about Free, a telecom company with good deals and, the important thing, they accept NZ credit cards so we decided to try our luck at their Paris branch. It took a while to find the place and once inside we were given a list of shops where we must first go to purchase a modem as they didn’t sell them. So off we went. The first store didn’t sell unlocked modems. Neither did the second store. Feeling really tired and annoyed we decided to retrace our steps to Free and have another go. This time we were given a number and sat down to wait our turn. About 30 mins later a young guy called our number and, yay, he spoke English. Hurrah! And even better he suggested we didn’t need a modem but instead sold us a SIM cards or Alan’s iPhone and attached our NZ Visa card to the account so that we can pay our monthly fee automatically. Even bigger hurrah (see last year’s debacle with Orange).
And so now we have a new French phone number which we can keep from year to year and hopefully 100GB of 3G and/or 4G every month. I say hopefully because we will see how it goes out in the countryside which is where we spend 80% of our time. I’ll keep you posted (if I can get an Internet connection, haha).
Anyway, on Friday we took the TGV to Dijon and collected our Europcar rental car, a new Toyota Yaris, and headed off to St Jean de Losne and Silverfern. The boat looked in pretty good nick considering she has been sitting in the water, neglected, for 7 months. We lugged our bags on board and then drove to the local Intermarché for supplies. After making the bed up we crashed soon after. I was exhausted but it was nice to be in our cosy French home away from home at last.
Since then we have made use of the car and visited Autun, an hour and a half drive away, through the Route de Grand Cru (all the best vines and wines this area has to offer). Autun, originally named Augustodunum , was founded by the Romans in Emperor Augustus’ era and is a stunning town as the photos show. Very quiet on a Sunday though with all but the restaurants closed.
Another day we drove down to the commercial centre in Chalon sur Saone to pick up a yoga mat for me and other bits and pieces for the boat.
We are planning on heading out on this year’s journey by this weekend if the weather holds but for now we are just pottering around, planting our herbs and geraniums for the year and generally cleaning and tidying along with some socialising with the Kiwis and Aussies here in the marina. It’s a beautiful day today and we are loving our life right now.