Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where did I leave off...? France!

It has been quite awhile.  My dreams of blogging on the go and keeping up-to-date on our trip were dashed.  Without my own laptop or even real plans of where we'd be staying the next night, my thoughts and energies were focused elsewhere.  Oh well.  Here I am now, blogging from our cozy Iowa City apartment.  I have quite the crush on this city, but more on that to come.  I plan on writing a new post for each major place we visited (in some cases this will be countries, in some cases it will be cities).  I also made a new tab just for travels, so feel free to re-browse whenever :)

So after our little New Jersey stopover, we boarded a plane for Barcelona.  We were supposed to spend the first ~28 hours there, hostel was even booked! But we ended up flying in exactly 24 hours later than planned, so we just boarded a shuttle bus from the "normal" airport to the discount airline section (i.e. barely any food options and not air conditioned).  We flew Easy Jet from Barcelona to Lyon, France.  It wasn't the most ideal way to get near Faverges, France, but we searched high and low for train possibilities and flying into Grenoble and Geneva.  In the end, Lyon it was. 

The total cost for the flight (including bank fees for "buying abroad" and some of Easy Jet's fees) was $113 USD.  This is quite the deal, considering that is after the exchange rate, and it was for both of us!  Also, I was extremely lucky that my French professor, who was in the process of relocating near Faverges for his retirement, offered to pick us up at the airport and drive us to my host family's house.  
Michel and Monique lounging in their pool
 It was absolutely wonderful to go back to Faverges after 4 years.  I fell in love with the area when I studied abroad, and the romance was rekindled again.  I thoroughly enjoyed showing Alex around.  What was a bit unsettling was my (lack of) language skills.  I have taken some French classes here and there since college, but haven't spoken it regularly since the last time I was in France!  I was also nervous about staying with my French parents.  I hadn't kept up the best communication with them, and they don't speak any ANY English. 

When we arrived, I choked.  I resorted to miming and was completely frustrated that I was going to feel like a complete fool for the next 3 days.  After setting our stuff down, we rejoined Michel and Monique in the garden for a small tour (for Alex) the gears began to turn.  Luckily, my knowledge of gardening broke the awkwardness.  The good 'ole middle school vocabulary for raspberries, beans, strawberries, and zucchini came right back to me and broke the ice.  After a rough couple of hours, my French flowed much more quickly and with ease.  I let go of the fears that I wasn't grammatically correct and embraced the fact that I was with some incredibly caring and kind people that once again let me back into their home and hearts. 

Our time in France was filled with delicious meals (oh the food!), walks to the market, hanging out with Clement (Michel and Monique's 5 yo grandson), going to Annecy (nearby city), and seeing other host parents that I had known from 4 years back. 
Homemade jam, fresh bread, croissants, orange juice, and tea.  What our breakfasts looks like everyday!

Just to give you an idea of how amazing these folks are, when I told Michel and Monique that Alex and I wanted to take them out for Kebab (a Turkish restaurant that has similar fast food/casual restaurants all over Europe) so that we could thank them for their hospitality and so that Alex could try Kebab (it was his first time in Europe).  Michel agreed that going out would be nice, but said "We will pay, my house my rules, we are paying for you" (that is my pathetic translation, and how simple our exchanges are). 

Without a doubt Alex and I will be visiting again, hopefully sooner than another 4 years. 

For your viewing pleasure:

Walking to the market in Faverges with Monique, Alex and little Clement.

Discovering cool things along the way like this snail!

Walking through this beautiful valley.

Rooftops of Annecy

The shores of Lake Annecy, on a walk with Monique, Annie, and Alex

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