Thursday, January 9, 2020

Van life, or anchoring problems?

Well, as there are massive strikes all over France today our train tickets to go down to Catalunya were worthless. Fortunately we get a full refund.  Also fortunately, my amazing sister who we just spent a couple of wonderful days with in Paris, knew about an app that let's you hook up with cars that need to be moved, so we're in a campervan for the night!!!!

It has not been entirely flawless, in part because we aren't properly renting the van anf in part cause its not really fully equipped.  But still very cool, and as it costs 1 euro to rent it (plus gas and any tolls), it's pretty cheap, and you can cook, which is very nice.  Difficulties? We couldn't grt into a parking lot to get the man a coffee cause we're too tall - I can stand up inside which is sweet sweet sweet, so we had to park down the road and walk back 20yards.  No biggie. 

The man has saved the day twice over, first we had some trouble getting the stove to light, but he got it going!!!!!! Pasta with Canned cassoulet as a sauce.  Very tasty.  The other problem he solved was potentially more serious.  We're in a municipale campground, which asks you to pay 10cents an hour.  Not exorbitant, but as a result you need to check in and out.  We dutifully check in, get the little ticket with the code to get out and it tells us to put it in the front window. Ok!!! I tuck it up there and it disappears, like it's been sucked down vlby some kind of sea creature, into a finger wide gap between the glass of the windscreen and the top of the dash.

I mean, what the absolute f#ck.  Who on earth désignés That into a car. Well, we now know how to open up the hood, and we've closely examined inside the glove compartment, we've inspected the entire passenger side footwell and unscrewed part of the panel on the top.  Finally, in desperation, cause we can't leave tomorrow without this ticket, the man just randomly blew down the gap in the hopes that something might happen, when low and behold, out it pops!!!!!!

What we couldn't figure out is how to make the Lower bunk into a proper bunk.  So, it's kinda pulled up one side and I'll have to sleep on it diagonally, but the man's driving tomorrow, so he gets the better long enough, flatter upper bunk.  I'm just the Google interpreter.

Its an adventure!!!!

Monday, January 6, 2020

*Phew* sometimes it's complicated!

Well well well.

I love to travel, but sometimes, man o man, it gets complicated.  We're supposed to be leaving tomorrow to go down to Paris and then on to Catalunya, the original plan was a train to Paris, then a couple of days later, a train to Perpignan - cause the train that goes right to BCN doesn't accept dogs (????).  Then a rental car for 2 days from Perpignan to drive down into Catalunya, leave the dog and me behind the man returns the car and comes back on the train.  Complicated enough, you'd have thought...but

The first train, they automatically - as in they told me after I had purchased it and I had not choice - the mailed the ticket to my address in Canada.  Not convenient as I am not in Canada. 

Then the french went on strike.  But it seems that train is travelling!  YIPEE!!!

But, the next train is on a day they are declaring a massive national strike, and so my darling sister got me onto an organization called driiveme, which links people who want a one way rental to car companies who need their cars repositioned and if it lines up, you get a car for a Euro.  Yesterday we waffled around, do we book it or do we reserve it and hope for the best, you see as it is a car rental agency, it is a little risky as all the cars may be needed that day and they cancel on you.  Well, we figured that as it was a national strike there would be a good chance that every rental (I keep typing 'renal' car - something completely different!!!)  anyway, there would be a good chance that every rental car in the city would be rented and we'd be stranded.  So we sucked it up and booked a camper van, on a 48 hour trip Paris to BCN.  Fingers crossed this works out or my sister will be singing that old line that 'guests and fish start to smell bad after three days' except her apt is a little small, so two will likely do it!!!

We got an official notice that the train from Paris south is cancelled, so we had to go through the process of getting our money back for that, and cancelling the rental car from Perpignan.  The car was easy, the train a little trickier, because with so many strikes, there are about six different places to cancel tickets, but I think we did it right in the end. 

Hopefully the actual travel will be easier than this part has been!

Friday, January 3, 2020

Visitors and what we do all day

Went into Amsterdam yesterday to meet up with some friends from Catalunya, he's Dutch, but has lived in Catalunya for decades, and prefers it there.  She lived her for five years with him, so speaks quite good Dutch as well.   He wasn't from anywhere near Amsterdam either, so I ended up being tour guide for them, which was very odd for me, but also shows that we've been here a while as I can find my way around the city without much of a problem, at least the more or less central parts of it. 

It was fabulous to see them, we've been luck this year with more people coming to visit.  One of the things we talked about was that if you're the one who buggers off into the blue, you are also the one who has to make the effort to maintain friendships, part of why we go back to Catalunya (also it's Catalunya, and as an added bonus, it's warmer and doesn't rain so much) and Canada. It's important to put that work in, it is also fabulous when they come and visit though!!!  They also asked what we do all day, and honestly, the same stuff everyone does, except we don't go into work.  Like many people who work at home, I spend part of my time working online, we take the dog for long walks, we buy groceries, get some exercise, read.  I still can't get everything done in a day that I'd like to.  I've got to take the dog for a vaccine tomorrow, normal stuff. 

Today I walked the dog for a shorter walk as she still seems to be recovering from whatever she got in Glasgow and her sleepless night on the ferry with the endlessly barking dog, so long walks are off for a bit.  I had an unfun errand to run in town, I bought some mushrooms and buns for the man's first birthday celebration, I'd found a perfect book for him, entirely by accident, while we were in Glasgow, and as we're heading off with only knapsacks on our backs again, it didn't make a lot of sense to carry it off with us, only to have him carry it back again, so, TA-DAAAA, and excuse for a birthday dinner!!!

Greek yogurt with sugar and Ikea ginger cookies for dessert.  mmmmmmmm.

Then I did some yoga, some more work, dealt with more life irritants online, made dinner, read a bit, walked the dog, rescued a tennis ball she found after she dropped it in the lake - she was very careful thereafter when she put it down - and played a short game of fetch with her.  Finished my book, which was great!  My sister in law had told us about a series of crime novels that were set in Medieval Girona with Catalan characters, the principal character being a Jewish physician, and Eldest found a used copy and got it for me for Xmas, it was really good!  An auspicious start to 2020 reading!!!

Now a quick right up and to bed.  Zzzzzzzzz

A day, pretty normal.  Tomorrow will likely be similar, but different. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Years Eve in the Netherlands

Well, we're back from our trip to Glasgow for Christmas which was wonderful, and I have to say that Kelvingrove park is the best dog park I have ever ever been to, and I already miss it.  It was great to get to hang out with the kids, although youngest could only be there for three days, and the dog got sick for part of it.  We got some lovely walks in as well as touring around Glasgow, though nothing is open over Xmas, so we didn't get to the tenement museum, and the man didn't make it to Govan Church, the coolest thing to see in Glasgow, hands down.

Anyway, we made it back to the Netherlands in time for New Years Eve.  Now we'd heard that the Dutch go over the top with fireworks, and kids have been banging some off for a month now, this was like nothing we'd ever seen before, and the Catalans love fireworks.  This, however, was a whole new level.

The fireworks were going off all evening, fortunately Stella is completely unafraid. Chuck would have been a mess.  And it was pretty loud, but you honestly got used to it.  Then it was midnight.  Allow me to try and describe.  Imagine it is hailing heavily and you are under a canvas tarp, that is the base sound.  Now, at the same time, there are a large number of horses running back and forth over wooden bridges.  In addition, many many people, lets say at least a hundred, are shooting off hunting guns continuously, and added to that, at least once a minute, someone shoots off a cannon, near you. 

And we are in a remote area on a boat, not in a big city.  I cannot imagine what it was like in Amsterdam.  I gather that many people go off to Belgium in the summer to stock up on hundreds of Euros worth of fireworks that have to be stored in a special safe for half a year.  They can only, legally, buy them for three days before new years.  But it seems that lots have an at home store of them.

They are utterly bonkers. Apparently in some parts of the Netherlands, the tradition includes setting cars on fire!  Nice.

The firework litter this morning was impressive.