As you can see things look much better than they did 1 month ago. We put a sign up in the yard and an ad starts today. We still have a window to fix and I'm checking into getting a realtor out to do an official market analysis as well. It's possible we'll just list it depending on the analysis. We want to try by owner for a few weeks though.
We'll put a big post out and flyers here sometime next week and I'll boost the ad with a picture as well.
Please pray that we sell this thing quickly. The market has softened a lot in the last 2 months. We would like to think that we'll have favor from the Lord and we won't have to sit on this house for too long.
Saturday was a good day. A very good day.
James agreed to accompany me to the house and help me out. We noticed that all the rest of the garbage was gone! Ike, our landscaper was hard at work when we arrived. His crew had all the grass removed from the entire front, back and side yards. The sod was there all ready to lay in the front yard and the back was nearly ready for hydroseeding that will be sprayed on Monday. I'm excited to see the results.
The weather was good, so I put the second coat on the front door. Dark Blue. It makes the front look so much better. I have a nice brushed stainless kickplate that will decorate the bottom of the door. I'll get that on sometime here in the next couple of days and it will really spruce up the front and add the needed curb appeal.
James and I painted the front window washing deck and facia boards and the porch stair railing as well. It really perked it up. We also got all of the smoke detectors in and some trim painted too. A good day's work in all.
I met with Miles, the electrician to see if he had any updates on the electrical problems too. He had good news. The breaker box does not need to be replaced after all. After taking it apart some more he found that it was an uncommon double box setup. We don't need a new incoming breaker, a new panel, or wiring of any sort! So I don't have to shell out another $600 - $1000 for that. I believe in miracles!
So, Saturday was a good day. A very good day.
After the nearly 2 1/2 tons of garbage removal on Saturday 9/16, we could finally begin to see the yard. We knew it was rough and had about 800 doggy presents scattered all over. (Side note: unbeknownst to us we each found several such prizes throughout the day and were unaware until the stench brought realization of our little package, prompting an immediate trip to the side yard with a stick.)
Rod and I just stared at it and while we felt great about getting rid of most of the garbage (we figured we still had another small load to go), the magnitude of the landscaping issues began to sink in. I mentally began tallying up the hours of labor it would take to get it ship shape. No one in their right mind would pay top dollar for a house with the yard in this kind of condition. Do we pay the $$, have a GREAT yard, lose some profit, or do we scimp on the yard and hope to sell it anyway? We did the math. Landscape it is.
I stomped into the house to find our old stained Kitsap County phone book and began calling local landscapers. Within a day or two we had bids. We got more discouraged: $6000, $5500 (phone only - weird), and then Ike, guy just starting his business, (got his name off of Craigslist) came in at only $3,700! Ike's bid included items that the other $6000 bid didn't. We hired him on the spot. We'll have a fully renovated yard! Oh guess what? Ike will remove the rest of our garbage too!!!! I almost wet my pants at the news.
Ike was going to start on Tuesday or Wednesday, but the heavy rain postponed that and he didn't start until Friday and will probably finish up today, Saturday. James and I are heading out today to do some more exterior painting (second coat on the front door, the front window washer ledge) and install smoke detectors; we'll take a peek at the finished product.
I'll take photos and share! Stay tuned.
One of the smaller bedrooms - before of course (my taste in colors isn't that bad!)
Well down came the ugly fan/light in the living room (didn't even have any lightbulbs in it) and we put up a modern brushed aluminum one to replace it. James came to the house to help and I put him up the ladder to do the honors. Guess what? The wires were weird and there was an extra that he couldn't figure out what to do with. Oh, I know, James isn't an electrician, but he HAS put in hundreds of lights over the last few years. We decide to have someone look at that.
So off the ladder and into the kitchen to figure out what to do with the new stove. The old stove was pretty gross and had been hard wired into the house. We had disconnected it a few days before and it was sitting there waiting for someone to get it connected up. I spent about a 1/2 hour cleaning the void left by the old stove (yes, it took that long!). Turns out there's not enough wires! We decide to have someone look at that too.
My brother Dave had also noticed that we had only a 60 amp breaker for the whole house (usually 200). That means any large power draw could cause the main breaker to flip and the entire house go dark. Not good. We decide to have someone look at that.
I called Miles, an electrician, to look at all the above issues as well as put in the two new room thermostats. Guess what.
1. The light in the living room probably never worked, at least the wires didn't appear to be hooked up correctly or go to anything. He has to re-wire it. That'll be $125.
2. He needs some parts and wires to get the stove done. That and the thermostats is an easy fix and only $55.
3. Big problem with the breaker box. The type of wire used was incorrect. Yes the main breaker is way too limiting. The situation is not safe. Fixing it up would be anywhere from $600 (basic fix) to $2000 to re-wire the whole box.
Garbage In -
You've heard about our garbage. We have old TV's, a washer and dryer, soon we'll have an old stove out there too. There are toys, blackberry bushes, old lighting fixtures, two toilets, broken vinyl blinds, about 200 pop cans, 2182 cigarette butts, tree branches, an old BBQ and an even older bike, to name just a few items on our growing pile. It's time to do something about it!
We had signed up for a huge dumpster with Port Orchard's Waste Management company immediately after signing our house deal, hoping we'd have it in place when our deal closed. Well, we kept getting put off; "it'll be there next week" was what we were told - two times. We were almost into week three when I got a call at 7:00 a.m., the dumpster was there but they couldn't park it. The driveway was too steep. Our extra parking wasn't quite wide enough and required a street permit from the city. I quickly decided that we'd forgo the dumpster and figure out another way to get rid of our garbage. Sigh...
All week I got bids coming in for debris removal: $850, $800, and the lowest at $700. It sounded like an awful lot of money just for some garbage. So I arranged for a 24 foot Budget rental truck for Saturday the 16th. $100. My brother David, Rod, my soon-to-be son-in-law Daniel, and I spent the day loading the truck with all of the garbage we could. Believe it or not it didn't even all fit!!
Rod, David and I had the task of dumping it. We waited at the transfer station over an hour just to get in, then the fun began. We kicked, threw, heaved, and lobbed garbage out of the truck for over an hour. It was actually kinda fun. When we weighed out and paid ($212) we had dumped almost 2 1/2 tons of junk! No wonder we were exhausted and very grimy.
Speaking of grime. All three of us felt like we had a layer of dust and dirt that made it into every pore of our body. We washed our hands, faces, and wiped down our clothes; to no avail. We just plain felt dirty. On the way back to the rental place to return the truck we were all blowing our noses (each of us trying to gross the others out by how dirty our kleenexes were with black gobs of debris) and using sanitizer on our exposed epidermal areas.
We're about 12 days into our project and now we have two almost new bathrooms and the hardwood floor (courtesy of Ikea) is being installed. We'll be putting in carpet in two of the three bedrooms and in the family room downstairs.
Originally the master bath was going to be tiled using materials that were intended for the dining room. The former owners had selected several tile colors and had them there waiting for use. Well I wanted the flooring to flow between the rooms and elected to have the hardwood throughout the living room and dining room. So, we were going to use some of the tiles in the master bathroom to re-do the floor and shower. Guess what??? We couldn't find a box that wasn't full of broken pieces! Someone must have dropped them when they were moving them. All but about 3 of the boxes were ruined. So now we're over budget on the master bath. I had to go out and purchase new tile. Another $500. It does look nice though.
Our labor costs are a few hundred over as well. Adam charged us more per hour than he charges James (my hubby). We're not sure why. He also tried to charge us for his trips to the hardware store. I didn't pay for that though. He didn't say anything when I gave him the money for the lesser amount.
Lesson: Don't assume anything.
Our painters came over the weekend and sprayed every room. The house looks so much better!! We needed them to do that quickly so that Adam didn't have to work around them. Having them come on the 1st weekend worked out pretty good. One problem - they literally sprayed everything. We should have specified that they tape off the outlets so we didn't have beige paint all over them. I ended up spending hours scraping paint off of them so we didn't have to replace them. They also sprayed the doorbell box & the thermostats too. I'm having a really hard time getting those clean. Not sure how I'll take care of those. I refuse to buy new ones.
Lesson: Don't assume anything.
This is a photo of the family room before we got to it. Nice, huh?
We hired the contractor that James regularly uses. He was between jobs and does great work. He was to start right when the house deal closed - Friday 8/18. That meant I had to shop my head off and make sure he had all the materials in hand that he would need for the first couple of days work.
The first shopping trip was pretty fun. I bought tub surrounds, light fixtures, sheet rock, mud, painting supplies, paint, sinks, faucets, and more. I shopped my head off (carefully tracking how much I spent of course)! Unfortunately half way through Adam's first workday, there was something I'd missed, so he had to run off to the store. I hated that. It meant I hadn't thought through absolutely everything - bad Kat. For the next two weeks while Adam did the bulk of the interior work putting the bathrooms and hardwood floors in, I took multiple trips out each week after work, driving the hour trip (that's with no traffic - one way) out to Port Orchard.
By the end of the week...I'm dead. I think I've worked about 100 hours. I worked all weekend and spent several nights at Home Depot getting more materials and then making the trek out to the house.
Rod has met the neighbors. He thinks George is having an affair with the lady across the street. He went into her house, shut the door, and didn't come out for a long time. Hmmmm. He also tried to convince Adam that the nice big tree in the front of the house was incorrectly planted right on the drain field, while it is obvious that it is not. There's that nice big patch of green grass that denotes the drain field about 15 feet to the East of the tree that is a dead give away. Hah! Take that George. We're not cutting down the tree just cuz you don't like it dropping leaves on your driveway.
Problems. The heaters in the house don't work. Even though my first post on this does mention heat, we didn't know the heaters didn't work until later. We had to get an eletrician in to take a look. There we had our first cost over run. The house has individual wall heaters and none of them worked. I had to fork out about $800 bucks for new heaters and then the cost of the electrician. But I still feel pretty good because our initial estimate included some $$ for major roof repair and it turned out only to need cleaning. So, I think we'll be o.k. Yeah!
We now have a pile of garbage in the front yard that is taller than me. There was still some stuff from the original owners: tv's, chairs, broken toys, dressers, BBQ's, and other junk, plus the original tree trimming and blackberry brambles from our first furious cutting frenzy. Now we've added toilets, shower stalls, sinks, and a tub surround that is sawed in half. Our house is looking just great - kidding. Although Rod did come one day to find a neighbor lady pawing through all the junk. We also kinda had our eye on a bike that was left, but noticed it was missing a day or two later. We're pretty sure it wasn't George though. He seems to be pretty well off and doesn't look like the type to dig through rubbish.
I think I signed up for a trip to the nearest psychiatric hospital. What was I thinking?
My dearest husband, James, regularly buys and sells houses. Some turn into rentals, others he sells after extensive remodeling and pockets a sweet chunk of change (which we then use to go on cool vacations - see May/June postings below). Well after a few months of watching "Flip This House" and "Flip That House" and "Property Ladder" and other various cable shows on real estate I thought "Hey I can do that!" So after saving up a bunch of money, I joined forces with my brother-in-law Rod and we bought a house to fix up.
The house came to us by way of a friend of the guy who cuts the hair of the cousin who knows our pastor...anyway they heard that we (my husband) buys houses. So James goes out and checks the property out, estimates the cost to fix up, crunches the numbers, and realizes it would be a good one for Rod and I to sink our teeth into. Less than a week later, we have a house deal signed. We were so excited!
I naturally took the role of the project coordinator/manager and began plotting schedules, booking construction talent; Rod and I chatted on the phone daily making plans on what we would fix, how, and how much we'd spend. We even spent a day at the home cutting down trees and clearing branches before the house deal even closed (the house was vacant).
Here's what needed to be done:
1. Entire yard renovation
2. 2 entirely new bathrooms
3. New flooring throughout
4. New paint throughout
6. New lighting in many rooms
7. General repair of deck
8. Roof and house pressure washing
9. And about 1000 other miscellaneous details
The house is in Port Orchard, Washington. It is 1660 Sq Ft, 3 bedroom 1 & 3/4 bath with a family room and nice sized yard. The house and yard are a garbage pit and need a lot of clean up and care.
We are currently exactly 1 month into this project. I initially plotted our schedule such that we'd hold an open house on the weekend of October 9th. I'm am hoping we'll be done sooner. Why, you ask? Well, my dearest little sister is pregnant with daughter #2 and the week we closed on the house deal she went into premature labor at only 7 months along!!! She's been on bed rest and IV medication to keep that little sweetie in there a little longer. So, knowing that she'll most likely give birth early, I'm driving to get this thing done before Sierra is born.
Will we make it? Come back and read on and see!!
Our day started out well enough, the sunrise over Venice made for a beautiful send off. We woke up very early, grabbed the early Vaparetto (water bus), heading to a location near the train terminal where we caught a bus to the Treviso airport.
The Treviso airport is a tiny regional airport used by Ryan Air that has about 10 seats for about 500 people, all with bags, back packs, purses, shopping bags, pillows, and other assorted travel items, all ready to head off to...wherever. To be fair, there was evidence of a new terminal being built that will probably be ready for use sometime within the next decade. Whew.
We flew from Venice to another smaller regional airport in the outskirts of London (Stansted), then took an express train into the heart of London where we had detailed instructions on which lines of the London Underground, or "Tube," to use in order to get us quickly to London Heathrow for our flight home. What transpired sounds like something out of a movie.
At first things went fine, got onto the right line, transferred to the next line, all in keeping with our instructions on getting to Heathrow. However, due to two separate construction projects, as well as a line with a train stoppage due to a signal problem, we were forced to be re-routed two more times! So with only about an hour and a half to spare, Mandy and I were literally and figuratively sweatin' it (it was actually quite hot that day) as we slowly progressed our way to the airport.
We were at one station on the outskirts of town when we heard a muffled announcement about replacement bus service to Heathrow. Almost simultaneously I saw a small sign identifying that stop as the one for said bus service. I made an exclamation to Mandy, grabbed my bags, and hoisted myself out of the train. I turned and saw her, bags in hand ready to join me when the doors slapped shut between us! I'll never forget the scene: both of us staring at each other on opposite sides of the doors, mouths open in total shock. We were separated in London with only about 75 minutes until our flight home!!!
We missed our flight.
Mandy and I hooked up again at the airport; we probably would've made the flight had she not been mis-directed to the wrong terminal. But, oh well. We booked flights home into Vancouver, B.C. instead. It all ended well. A long, tiring, but interesting day(s) - we figured we were awake for over 24 hours.
Yesterday was Florence (Firenze) day. We took a very early morning train down to Florence and a late night train back. We were absolutely exhausted by the time we got back to our room.
First things first, we saw the beautiful Duomo with the colored marble carving facade which is truly spectacular. Then we immediately made our way to the world's best gelato down by Santa M. Croce church for the Riso gelato. We each had a nice big serving and knew we'd had the best.
We had made internet reservations for the museum that houses the famous David sculpture, but all did not go well. We had confirmation numbers, order numbers, etc, but apparently not the right paper. So we raced to a nearby internet spot, print out more stuff from the confirmation email and brought it back, and it still did not work. We went back 2 times with different information from the reservation email and it apparently was not correct. We never made it in!!! We were hot, angry, and very bothered. How can you be in Florence and not see a museum?
But the day did get better. We went and consoled ourselves with another helping of the Riso gelato. We figured it was either a consolation prize or else we were having one for "the boys" back home that were waiting for us. (Guys, it tasted really, really, really good.)
I found Italian shoes! 3 pair to be exact; something that was on my list of things to buy here in Italy. The salesman was very charming. Mandy found the perfect leather jacket. We felt much better about our day.
Our feet hurt so very badly after circling the main part of Florence about 3 times, that we actually changed our train reservations for an early train, which meant we got back into Venice around 11:00 p.m. instead of 11:30. We got pretty goofy on the ride home cuz we were so tired. We think the people behind us might have figured we had tourettes syndrome because we kept yelling out °For Chette" (Fork in French), which actually sounds like something we would never say in the US - you can guess. I also made the mistake of telling Mandy I had subscription sunglasses. She figures I get a new pair every month or something. We even took pictures of each other with food in our teeth.
It was good to be back in Venice and rest.
Today we are meandering Venice one last day. We are packing up, and weighing our bags to make sure we don't go over our weight limits. Tomorrow we come home.
It will be good to be home.
We saw a comical sight: a pigeon was walking around the Nice train station with a string tangled around his feet. We figured that his so-called Pigeon "friends" played a trick on him. I can hear it now, "Hey Sam, lets tie Carl's feet together while he is napping!" Thankfully Carl could walk okay and could fly even with his shoe laces tied together. All is well in the world of Carl.
Okay, I just got pigeon poopoo all over my hands, sweater and map of Venice. Great! Now Mandy has to hand feed me the cough drops.
Our room was ready in Venice and so were we. We shopped our heads off, got lost about 50 times, had a great meal on our way home - at least we though it was the way home, and finally made it home.
We got Stoph's dress today and It was in a huge box, which we knew that we could not carry around. We went into Nice to look for a bag to carry it in, however there are not many bag stores in Nice! We finally found something that will work and went back to Villafranche. The rest of the day we laid on the beach and rejuvinated out tans. Then we caught a sleeper train to Venice!
The train was an interesting expierance. It was swaying - we swayed for days afterwards and in fact we are still swaying. The old lady that shared our couchette snorred and the train had all kinds of racket. The train was also quite hot on the top bunk and cold on the bottom, so none of us were very comfortable. But we made it with a little sleep and overall it was an experiance.
This day we visited Monaco and the highlight was the palace, the museum and the church all up on the hill overlooking the city. From the Palace the view of the city is spactacular. The gardens were gorgeous and the whole area by the palace was kept immaculately clean and well manicured. Down in the city it was a little different. The Grand Prix had just ran a few days before so there was scaffolding and bleachers every where. We got to walk on part on the track!
Monaco's marina was crammed with yachts; not just your average yacht. The 115 ft yacht that Kat liked was dwarfed by a dozen or more boats in the 150 foot + range. Truely amazing.
We walked around Nice after trying to return the car. I'm afraid that the whole car thing may end up biting me in the hind quarters. The Gare (train) station office was supposed to be open, but was not. I finally asked a clerk from another rental agency and she said to park the car somewhere and drop the key in the box, which we did (though I did forget to fill the gas tank). Anyway, I won't go into the whole story here, suffice it to say they will be hearing from me.
We checked into our hotel; old but comfortable. The view is wonderful from our little terrace; we can see the tiny harbor, marina, and part of the town.
We were sitting on a fountain ledge in a tiny square when we spied the cutest little coal black pug wandering around the table legs of the open air restaurants. He explored, sniffed, marked (or so he thought), and generally meandered around. He was adorable. About an hour later when we had sat down to eat, several blocks away, I felt something weird around my feet, voila! There he was again. We were a little concerned that he might be lost because he looked very well taken care of and was wearing a collar. The waiter shooed him away and he moved on to the next restaurant. We didn't see him the next day, so we assume all is well (we hope).
Today we leave our small hotel between Frejus and St. Tropez and head further East towards Monaco. We found the tiny town on the sea where we'll be staying the next couple of nights, Villefranche Sur Mer (means: free town by the sea), dropped off our luggage and then drove back into Nice to drop off our rental car at the train station.
We were supposed to turn the car in there before 11:00 a.m., but the rental desk was closed for some reason, so we had to do the key drop thing as a neighboring car rental desk told us to do. We did so, but I am feeling a little anxious cuz of the scrape; I wanted to talk to someone about that. Oh well.
After turning the car in, we decided to find this Russian Orthodox church that was nearby. We found it without too much trouble, took some photos, and as we were turning to head down into "centre ville" I asked Mandy where our backpack was (I was carrying our orange beach bag). Her eyeballs nearly popped out of her head when she realized she'd left it back at the train station on some steps by the rental office. I informed her that it held all of our remainig train tickets as well as a multitude of other sundry items of great importance. She immediately turned around and, well, I couldn't keep up with her. She was gone in a flash. By the time I made it back to the station she was heading towards me with the biggest grin on her face and the tell-tale straps of the backpack slung across her shoulders. Whew! Everything was intact. We couldn't believe it. It had been almost an hour sitting there on the steps of the station and no one had touched it. Truly a miracle.
We spent a minute giving a big thank you to Jesus for the safekeeping of our bag.
We will wander around Nice a bit before heading by train back to Villefranche. We'll probably go to Monaco tomorrow.
Saturday June 3:
We had a very full day today. Breakfast consisted of things we picked up at the local casino (grocery store): yogurt, cheese, rolls, and jam. It is much cheaper to do this than to pay almost 15 Euro to eat at our hotel. We took it back to our hotel to eat on the terrace and were informed that no eating was allowed! It can make a mess; understande, No? Ouie, we did understand and went to eat in our car in the parking lot. We thought it was weird.
We then went on to Grasse, walked the old, somewhat dirty town, and then drove on up into the hills more to see some caves. The caves were amazing. Apparently a farmer that owned the land found the small opening and over a period of a few years opened it up some and built stone stairways down, and down, and down....the cave has an assortment of stalagmites and stalagtites and other rock formations and colors. It was very interesting.
From there we went back down to Grasse where we kept our appointment with the Galimard institute where we created our own fragrances. I loved that. We measured out various base notes, mid notes, and top notes. It was really fun and I'd like to go back sometime and make another one. We can order our fragrances again anytime.
After our sweet time in Grasse, we meandered back down towards the Riviera and into Cannes (pronounced Kahn), where they just finished up the annual Cannes Film Festival. This town looked very lively and was even larger than St. Tropez, and full of even more money (wasn't sure that was possible). It reminds me of when we walked around Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive years ago. You can see the wealthy (and not-so-wealthy) walking among the expensive shops, coming off of mega yachts in the marina, and generally trying to look impressive to anyone watching; mainly Mandy and I and hundreds of others eating along the promenade.
We left just after sunset, around 10:00 p.m., and drove back to our hotel in St. Aygulf - dead tired after our very long, very fun day.
Re-cap of June 1 and 2:
ON Thursday we left Cassis and drove down to the Cote de Azure, towards St. Maxime and St. Tropez, to a little town called St. Aygulf. We checked into our small hotel and then drove on down to St. Tropez.
St. Tropez was amazingly full of money!!! The marine was full of multi-million dollar yachts. We shopped around the town for a few hours, found the rocky point that showed off a glowing sunset, and then selected a marina-front restaurant for dinner. Our waiter, Antonino, really wanted to take Mandy out after dinner, "if Maman eees o.k. with dotter being safe vid good man." We said we'd be back the next day and left giggling. He didn't seem to understand her being engaged, or the big rock she sported on her finger. Poor Antonino.
On Friday, I woke up feeling not-so-good again. I had coughed a lot in the night and knew this bug was really starting to take hold. I had my voice back, but the coughing is getting significant. It looked like rain outside, so we decided to do laundry and get our nails done instead of sightsee anywhere (we were definitely NOT going back to St. Tropez). I had a really honest-to-goodness French manicure. A beautiful french girl gave me the white-tipped French manicure, all the while trying to converse with me in French. How cool is that?! She did a great job too. She was sweet as she was trying to communicate with the few English she knew. We both did a lot of hand waving and hemming and hawing trying to think of words or point to pictures or items that might help explain what we were trying to say. It was a blast and somehow it all managed to work out.
Warm Rain! Because of the rain and lightning we are doing laundry, got manicruès, and took some time for Kat to take her nap and get well (she has been struggling with a cough and a sore throat). We thing that tomorrow we will visit Cannes where they have the celebrities from last weeks Film Festival.
Words: ForChette = fork, lardons = sliced ham, pain = bread.
P.S. Be sure to click the titles for a link to a photos. This one is A photo from our terrace in Cassis.
Today was a lazy day by the pôol. We got a little pink and walked around the marina town a little bit. French words are Frite = fried/ fries, creperie = crepè shop, leverie = laundry, fruit de mar = fruit of the sea/mussels.
We left Cassis and drove to Frejus where they have not so wonderful shopping and very wonderful las plages (beaches). We checked into our hotel; the pregnant lady who seems to own it is quite a neat freak, and then we drove to St Tropez. The city has some very expensive shops and dozens of large yachts in the marina. You could see the money dripping off of the wealthy couples. There was one restaurant where the floor was white sand and suede and leather seats; it was very elegant.
We wished that you all were here!
Click the Title - it is a link.
We thought yesterday was windy, but we were mistaken; today was windy, VERY WINDY! It would have been warm, except for the wind. We had our last breakfast in Les Baux, it was a tasty way to end our visit in this tiny town.
We drove to Marsailles, which was not covered by our map, but we made it o.k. Once there we toured around the waterfront area doing some shopping. Almost all of the city is under construction right now which made it tough to get out of the city, not to mention that it was rush hour. When we finally made it out and started over the hills towards Cassis, it was almost one and one quarter hours later. But boy was it worth it when we started down the other side and saw the red cliffs and the Mediteranean that makes up Cassis. It was spectacular and worth the effort.
We checked into our four star hotel where one whole wall of our room is a sliding glass door that opens to a terrace overlooking the rugged shoreline (Mandy says I shouldn't say "rugged" but should use "cliffed" or "boulderly" cuz she thinks rugged is reserved for scruffy men on Black Angus steak commercials). We love our room.
The pool is right on the edge of a small cliff with lounge chairs strategically placed around it, all overlooking the sea. The pool actually looks like it flows over the edge and into the sea.
Then we took a 10 minute walk into town and selected a restaurant from dozens all lined up waiting to be chosen. We had a 4 cheese penne pasta dish and salad. All-in-all, a good night.
P.S. New words for the day: saumon = salmon, amandes = almonds, taille = size, heures = hours
5/29 Upper 70's, windy but warm
It was an easy drive to Nimes, but difficult finding where to park once we got into the city. We circled the city three times and probably through it twice via half concealed alleyways (I'm sure some of them were one way - not our way) but we finally found a spot to park.
We enjoyed seeing the many churches and historic buildings. Nimes has a great Roman arena dating from about 150 AD; the best preserved of it's kind and still in use today (we think they were preparing for a bull fight). There were a few other Roman sites, one called Maison Carrèe, a Roman temple.
Kat lost her voice, but is feeling well enough to pursue touristy things. We ate dinner back in Les Baux: Mandy had pizza and Kat had dessert.
New French words for the day: Ouverte = open, anchovè = anchovies, thon = tuna, bierre = beer, chivros = spicy salamie or pepperoni;
I am perplexed to learn that an issue I found puzzling in our area has even reached France. While on our way to Nimes, we saw two lost soles; alone and forlorn looking on the side of the road. We almost stopped to attemt a rescue, but it would have caused an accident, so we kept on, though their plight never left our minds. Feeling guilty, we kept ourselves alert on our return trip hoping to see another in need of rescue - nothing. We vowed to watch, alert and ready for the remainder of our time here (though we suspect Venice will not have the issue).
After much thought and conversation, we had an idea to start a non-profit organization called "Lost Soles, Internationalè" or something similar. Clearly we have a global issue here: shoes left alone & stranded on the side of the road.
Those of you who wish to donate may do so by contacting us and making your generous donations to us at any time. Your support is graciously appreciated.
OK, we have been here for two days and gotten lost 4 times. However, we still think we are doing well considering gravel roads, lack of signage, and the foreign language. We spent the main part of Sunday hoofing around Avignon and then meandering many scenic roads trying to find Les Baux.
When we finally did find Les Baux, we were pleasantly surprised. It sits high above the valley and is literally carved out of the rock. We happened on a parking lot just before we reached the town with signs to a cave; we had to investigate. After walking past massive blocks of stone there was a passage lit with blacklights. Inside was a wine cellar! After tasting some not-so-good wines, we made our way up to the town itself where we had to park outside and then walk in.
We are staying at Le Prince Noir, a very unique B&B. It is carved out of the rocks. We have a beautiful terrace that looks out over the town and the valley.
We could not resist the Crepes; deciding it would be our dessert, figuring we would have dinner later. This gave us the fortitude to manage bringing our car into town after all the tourists left and drop off our suitcases. We drove up 6 foot, scratch that, 5 foot wide cobblestone streets, pedestrians had to scramble to get out of the way in order to escape our inexperience on these roads.
Dinner was pesto pasta and an assortment of fromage since we knew what those items were. We figure we know about 40 French words now: Chantilly (whipping cream), jambon (ham), fromage (cheese), sortie (exit) - we took a few wrong turns to figure out that one, rouge (red), vin (wine) :), le addition (check please), crepes (crepes), poulet (chicken), limonade (sprite), and a few more.
We finished off our six mile walking day by sitting on the terrace, taking sunset photos (Kat got an earful about Daniel). It was very romantic with the warm air coming up the rocky mountainside. In fact Mandy mentioned that she wished she could have shared some of the
fresh pesto pasta with Daniel since he loves it so.
Today we are visiting Nimes and hopefully Pont du Gard.
We will tell you all about it tomorrow.
P.S. We found a huge scrape on the driver side door of our car in Avignon. Good thing we purchased the extra insurance!
Today is Sunday and we really had to look hard to find an internet cafe that was open. We are in Avingnon and most of the shops are closed, but the restaurants are really kickin. We were treated to a marching band of what looked like high school students. (yes Daniel, we did take photos).
We visited the Papal Palace here that dates back to the 900 to 1300 AD, the town goes back to 900 BC! We saw some incredible views, walls, towers and statues. Hopefully we will be able to post pictures in a day or so.
Today we are sweating like jambones (ham in French) as it is 90 degrees out. We would elaborate more, however these keyboards have the letters in all the zrong places; and it ,qkes it reqlly hqrd to type: Ze donùt have the pqtience to sit here qnd figure it out enough to keep on zith our story:
Nqndy qnd Kqt: lol
I have two - no, three days left. I think, but I could be wrong (I was wrong once before a few years ago). I've been so busy this last week that I think I accidently mailed my head off to someone and forgot to put postage on the package, AND my return address. There's a challenge for our the trusty USPS!
I'm so glad vacation is just around the corner.
We leave Friday around 7:00 p.m., non-stop to London. We'll arrive at Heathrow around noon or so and then immediately have to get to the middle of London to catch the Eurostar train that goes under the English Channel and into Paris. Once in Paris we have to train over to another station across the city in order to board a high-speed train down to the Avignon in the Provence region in the South. We'll be traveling 26 hours straight. Sleep in a bed will be sweet, I'm thinking!
One of my other nieces (no she didn't have a birthday) is getting married in August. She spent part of a year in France last year as an exchange student, and while there purchased her wedding gown. Mandy and I will be picking up her dress and bringing it home with us! I'm finding that this makes me feel very important here. I can just picture some action movie about us trying to keep the gown intact, away from thieves, unscrupulous hoteliers, and MY forgetfulness. I can tell you, if I came back
In case you're wondering, here's our basic itinerary: our first several days will be around Avignon, Arles, Orange and other similar hilltowns before we head to the coast: Cassis. After Cassis is the Frejus/St. Tropez area and then further East to a small town just outside of Nice. Our last 4 days will be in Venice before we jet back to London and on home. We'll be gone for 15 days!
Europe, here we come!
In two weeks my daughter, Mandy, and I head off for Europe! We're very excited about the prospect of connecting as adults and enjoying history, beautiful scenery, and beaches.
True to form, my husband's countdown to our "D" (departure) day is again flawed but fun. See, you don't count the current day and you don't count the day you leave either. Of course, Sundays are a day of rest, so you can't count those; so I believe he has us down to about 11 days until we leave. We really leave in 15 days.
Mandy and I are going to fly to London then take the Eurostar through the Chunnel and on into Paris. From Paris we'll quickly hop onto a high-speed train down to the Southern portion of France. We'll spend about 5 days in the Provence region where we'll visit Arles, Avignon, Cassis, Orange, and more. After those towns we'll head off for the Riviera! We have several stops along the famous beaches there in towns close to Nice, Monaco, and St. Tropez. The last four nights of our trip will be in Venice, one of my most favorite places to visit so far. I know Mandy will love it there.
We'll try to post as we go so you can all see what we're up to. Depending on our access to the internet and other technological goodies, we may even be able to post a photo or two. Please feel free to comment too.
We leave on Friday evening on May 26th and return on Sunday June 11th. Yipee!!!