Well, I’m ready to come home. I think. Not really, but for some things. I miss my washing machine, as the ones here are jokes. I miss my hot-water heater. And I miss my friends, dog and daughter. Otherwise, I could easily stay here indefinitely.
Last night we met an American couple who’s been here for three years. Older than us, but not by much. They’d gone from retirement in Florida to France, and seem set on staying. They explained how they sold everything they owned, transported the bare minimum to Paris, where they rented a storage unit and have apartment-hopped in several-month stints since. Trying to find just the right neighborhood, they said. They’re both on the French health system. “And if you’re over 65, they don’t even require you to speak French,” the man said. They’re going for permanent residency, and likely will get it.
This was one of several conversations with English-speaking people we have had in the past month. A British father/son pair in Segueret (the place we found the wine) explained the idiocy of Brexit, and I told them that if we switched just a few names around, they could be explaining Trumpism. One of the other people on the Paris bike tour was a feisty lady from South Dakota, who referred to Kristy Noem as “Governor Barbie.” She said she didn’t worry about offending anyone who might overhear, because no one who’d be offended would be in Europe in the first place.
So hey, the resistance lives.
But sooner or later, we have to leave the land of two-button toilet flushes behind, and for us, it’s this weekend. It’s been a great trip. We got our exit Covid tests today (both negative), so that was a relief. We’ve stood on packed subway/tram cars, walked through densely populated outdoor spaces, masked indoors, unmasked (mostly) outdoors, and have been fine. Vaccination rate here now tops 85 percent, yet mask compliance is pretty thorough. If you like, there’s a New York Times op-ed about the European mask situation that I more or less agree with.
What else do you want to know? How about the topless-beach thing, maybe? It’s been warm enough that on sunny days, there are a fair number of sunbathers on the beach, even in October. But topless women? Only a very few. When I was here as a young person, it was reversed. (Or so I was told, by my resident friend.) What changed? I blame camera phones. It’s one thing to sun your boobs if you are among friends, but if you know some creep can put you in a “Best Titties on the Riviera” loop on Pornhub without you even knowing, that’s a deal-breaker. I did notice that women will change out of their wet bathing suits into street clothes without excess modesty, and no one seems to look.
In our final days, Alan has turned into Jimmy Stewart in “Rear Window,” sitting on the terrace watching the square five walk-up floors below. There’s a strange woman who seems to be juggling, but doesn’t — she throws a ball from hand to hand and another up in the air. Two guys messed around with a drone this morning. There are domino games on the tables. And we watched an influencer with a full video crew walk and pose by the fountain through several takes. If there’s a murder down there before we leave, he’ll be a star witness.
Tomorrow, we take the train first to Marseille, then the TGV to Paris again. Maybe a final update from there.
Heather said on October 14, 2021 at 11:18 am
There was a washing machine in a Lisbon AirBnB I stayed in a few years ago, but I couldn’t make head or tails of the symbols. They might as well have been hieroglyphics. I was too nervous about ruining my clothes to try it.
Now that I’m freelancing, my plan is to spend a few weeks or even a month or two in Italy or elsewhere in Europe every year. Probably around March, as that’s when the weather in Chicago gets really tiresome. I’d love to retire there, but yeah, all my friends are here.
Snarkworth said on October 14, 2021 at 12:00 pm
Heather, I can relate. The washing machine in our room in Spain appeared to have a drying cycle, but we’d misread the hieroglyphics. It did not. We arrived at the airport with plastic bags full of wet laundry.
nancy said on October 14, 2021 at 12:08 pm
Exactly our experience, too. The one in Paris took FOUR HOURS to wash and dry a load. I had no idea it would dry, too, but it did, and man — what a concept. The drum is already tiny, so when you add heat and the clothes don’t have nearly enough room to tumble, it’s just like baking them, in a wet ball, in an oven. That is, they came out wrinkled and have stayed that way.
The one in Arles didn’t have a dryer, but there was a heated towel rack in the bathroom, and we made it work.
The one here was a disaster. I think it’s broken. It ruined one of Alan’s shirts and didn’t clean anything. I’m throwing away a couple of tops that just weren’t made for this sort of treatment. More room in the suitcase for gifts. Ugh.
Scout said on October 14, 2021 at 2:34 pm
We fantasize constantly about chucking this MAGA infested BS excuse for a country to be an ex-pat in Barcelona or somewhere in Tuscany or even Bogota where my wife was born. But we have 6 cats, 3 kids, 4 grands, and 6 greats, my elderly Mom and many friends we’d be far too far away from. It’s a nice dream, but unlikely I could ever bring myself to actually do it.
I would love to spend a month at a time elsewhere though. That would be lovely.
Julie Robinson said on October 14, 2021 at 4:04 pm
Between Covid, an aging mother, and moving twice in 16 months, I’m pretty content to stay home for a bit. It’s like hearing about the latest Chicago woes with the police union; what city/country is functioning well these days? And at least I can count on my washer and dryer. The day will come when I can’t wait to leave, and then I will.
JodiP said on October 14, 2021 at 4:51 pm
Great update–getting those negative COVID tests is a relief for sure, even though I joked I would’t mind 2 weeks in a hotel room just to read to my heart’s content. (I have the app on my phone to check out library books for my Kindle. Or I guess I could buy Kindle books from amazon if needed.) Take breaks for yoga, maybe some TV.
I wonder if the non-juggler is working on balance. I am kinda “tippy” and doing that exercise while standing on one leg has been recommended.
Moving across the pond is one of our goals. Just need to get enough $, so hopefully in 8 years. Would be sooner, but my wife is 6 years younger.
I hope the trip back goes smoothly! Our return was a little bumpy. We stayed at a hotel near the Dublin airport because we had a 6:30 a.m. flight. Left my suitcase on the hotel shuttle. A very nice luggage cart guy provided emotional support while we called the hotel. Got suitcase back in 20 minutes. Same guy helps us see where Delta desk is. Went to Delta checkin, completely empty. Same guy helps us figure out since KLM is taking us first to Amsterdam, we need the other terminal. Walks us halfway there.
We get in a looong line. I see that our flight is actually for 6:00–I’d misremembered. It’s about 5:00 now. My wife does a great job of telling me calmly five times the worst that will happen is we re-book. The line moves very slowly because there is ONE AGENT. KLM pulls through though, because it’s on them. They delay the flight. We start sharing pet photos with people and sharing travel tales. The one agent works very quickly with each party; we all get to go through the fastrack security line and walk quickly to the gate. Two different airport staff on the way ask us if we are on the KLM flight and keep pointing us in the right direction. We get on, make our connecting flight no probs, and get home.
susan said on October 14, 2021 at 5:18 pm
Ugh. Reading about all y’all’s travels gives me agida. I really dislike the getting to places. If I could astral-project, that would be so dandy.
Sherri said on October 14, 2021 at 5:49 pm
It can be hard to feel like anyplace is functioning well right now, because the noisy people are *really* noisy, even in places where they don’t come close to representing more than a small fraction of the community. Social media makes it easy for small groups to organize and spread fear and disinformation quickly.
Deborah said on October 14, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Having nightmare thoughts about missing international flights reading Nancy’s post. Also getting laundry to dry in European dryers is frustrating. We ended up asking for drying racks which were way better than any drying racks we have here. Towering for one thing and way more stable. We were ruined for any drying racks you can get here.
Deborah said on October 14, 2021 at 8:19 pm
I’m in moderation, damn I probably spelled my name wrong again. Sigh.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on October 14, 2021 at 8:23 pm
Sherri, I may steal that paragraph. Perfectly put.
Sherri said on October 14, 2021 at 9:13 pm
Steal away, Jeff(tmmo).
My latest challenge is to figure out how to plan ffor what to do when a bunch of people show up to our (virtual) meetings just to yell at us about the same thing. We usually take public comment about anything for up to three minutes per speaker, but with the overhead of dialing them in and cutting them off, it’s more like five, and that adds up quickly if more than one or two people sign up to speak. We’re already just a group of volunteers meeting 3 times a week for around 2 hours, with another couple of hours of reading to do to prepare for the meeting. It’s a bit much to ask the commission to listen to repetitive yelling as well.
Dexter Friend said on October 15, 2021 at 2:27 am
All I know is that Canada is open again…seems to have happened a couple weeks ago.
basset said on October 15, 2021 at 7:38 am
Another reason the newspaper business has gone to hell:
JodiP said on October 15, 2021 at 9:03 am
Susan @7, I definitely didn’t mean my travel story as a discouraging tale! I find the whole thing kinda funny. Hiccups are just part of traveling–things rarely go exactly as planned. Our trip was so enjoyable–so much history to take in, great meals, beauty, hotels, very friendly folks. And I never do laundry on trips…just wear the same things repeatedly in different combinations.
LAMary said on October 15, 2021 at 10:36 am
I can’t read the words Au Revoir without thinking of Nixon’s departure speech. He pronounced those words as Awe Revwahr. I was in college at the time and a French friend delighted in imitating Nixon saying those words.
JMG said on October 15, 2021 at 11:44 am
So glad your trip was enjoyable except for the laundry, an unsolvable French problem. Alice and I leave on Nov. 3.Four days in Paris, then TGV to Bordeaux for a week with our daughter, who works there, is completely bilingual and is applying for dual citizenship. She is a salesperson for a wine exporting firm, territory the US. These are the kind of wines normal people only read about. Last week she sold five cases to a US distributor for $50,000. That’s wholesale! But then, it was Chateau Margaux ’05.