Hello everyone! It has been a month since we left Seattle and it is finally time to start telling the tale of the Senior Nomads. We've had quite a range of experiences so far - including three visits to the OFII (Office of French Immigration and Integration) to get the final stamps, stickers and medical checks (including the obligatory chest x-rays!) needed to complete our French Visas. We can now officially move through Europe for one year without any challenges. We could not have done it without Mary's help in navigating the system.
We also have a European bank account and for at least this month, French phone numbers. Those will change as we move to other countries. It's best to contact us through e-mail and we should have access to the Internet more regularly now. In case you don't have our addresses, here you go:
We've had some great luck in finding free accommodations so far. We could call this blog Senior Mooches! It all started with a couple of weeks in the Murray Robinson guest house on Mercer Island. We had leased our house for a year, and needed a good home - and we got one!
We have a great little apartment to come and go from in Paris that is just a short walk from Mary's house. We spent the first week there and then moved into Mary's 350 sq. ft flat to look after Marcel (1) and Coco (3) for ten days while Mary and Greg did some traveling for work and a little well deserved relaxation.
I could fill a separate blog about those ten days! In the middle of the which Michael came down with Strep throat and was quite ill. We had a doctor make a house call and the meds seem to help.
Did I mention it was over 90 degrees most of the those ten days? Luckily, the kids were able to attend summer creche (daycare) during the week - that saved some of our sanity. They are a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too. Coco's English improved a bit and my three year old 'French Speak' is better, too!
Also during that time, daughter-law-law Jenny Campbell swooped into Paris after a great Nike work retreat in Stockholm. It was great to see her and sort of surreal to have her with us. It felt like we were just sitting around home! We had some great food and wine and she and Mary had an excellent night out.
Michael was able to get close enough to enjoy the final laps of the Tour de France finish by going around the Arc de Triomphe. The finish was at night as part of the celebration of the tour's 100th anniversary...so the mood was festive and colorful. I think it was a big highlight for him so far.
So back to Senior Mooches. We were able to see our long time friends Jenny and Graham Fairbanks - they have lived in Paris for at least 25 years. Jenny worked for Michael years ago at the London ProServ office. They have the most delightful upper crust British accents, and their French is impeccable. But most importantly they have a lovely rose covered cottage in Normandy, that was sadly going unused for most of August. After the ten day tour of duty, it was the least we could do to take it off their hands. A lovely, week long respite complete with sun, a hail storm throwing down stones the size of cherries, thunder, lightening, more sun and lots of great walks and cozy book time.
Now we are at the beach in Quiberon. A lovely seaside town in Brittany where Gregoire's parents live. So there are two sets of grandparents - yeah! We are staying in Greg's mother's guesthouse. It's really a separate wing of her home - but large and quiet with a great kitchen. It does, however, feel like a 60's time warp. Every wall is papered in a different pattern and the tile colors are classic.
We are settled here until the 27th of August. It will be nice to have lots of beach time and family gatherings. We've already been to a traveling circus that would never pass the PETA test in America. You can walk right up to pet the camels, long horned cattle (don't know why), a zebra, ponies, etc. and the 'advertising' truck that runs through town blasting music over the loud speaker had a live lion and a tiger in cages on board. Crazy!
After a couple of days back in Paris we are heading to Amsterdam for two weeks, and then on to Copenhagen and Stockholm. Not sure after that. Guess that's the Nomad part! We'll stay in touch.
Thanks for following along,
Debbie & Michael Campbell
The Senior Nomads