Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review of the UK

Here are our pictures from London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow:
London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh

UK highlights:
-Evensong service at Westminster Abbey
-Dinner at Bothy's with Kelli and AJ our first night in Glasgow
-Organ service at St. Paul's Cathedral
-Strolling the Jubilee Walk by the River Thames (tons of random street performers)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Review of Holland

We really liked the Netherlands. The people were really friendly and spoke English amazingly well. Here are pictures from the cities we visited there:
Some Holland highlights included:
-St. Bavo's cathedral in Haarlem
-Corrie Ten Boom house in Haarlem
-Flemish fries in Zandvoort
-Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam
-Delft (a very cute town!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Freezing in Edinburgh!

Today we went to Edinburgh, and unfortunately it was the worst weather of our 9 days of travel. It was snowing and really windy (the kind of wind that inverts your umbrella) the whole time. We walked up the Royal Mile and saw the castle then we spent most of the rest of the day inside. We went to the Giles Cathedral, the National Museum of Scotland, had lunch at the Elephant House (the "birthplace of Harry Potter" as JK Rowling used to write there), the Writer's Museum, the National Gallery, then we went by the Sir Walter Scott monument and headed back to Glasgow. Tomorrow we head back to Lyon and we are very ready... we are so tired!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Today we started out at the Hunterian Museum where we saw an interesting collection of deformed stuffed animals, coins, and a little art... then we headed over to the Kelvingrove Museum, another interesting but random museum of fine art and natural history. We briefly caught up with some other assistants also traveling in Scotland. We ate at a Scottish restaurant near Kelvingrove, then we headed over to the East Side to see the St. Mungo's Museum of Religious Art and the St. Mungo's Cathedral. We finished up the afternoon at Starbucks in the City Center. We cooked for AJ and Kelli tonight... Doug made his yummy broccoli pecan pasta and I made a salad and apple cobbler. Tomorrow we'll see Edinburgh!

Monday, February 22, 2010

more London and now Glasgow

Yesterday we started the day with a visit to the Natural History Museum. In case you don't know, Doug has a little-boy-like fascination with dinosaurs, so he was very entertained. Next we went to Buckinham Palace (which is kind of a letdown if you are expecting Versailles). Then we headed over to the British museum where we saw everything from the Rosetta Stone to mummified cats to Blue Willow dishes. Next we went to the London Tower and Tower Bridge. After that we went to St. Paul's Cathedral for an organ service. We had supper at another English restaurant and then came back to the hotel to pack.
This morning after a big breakfast we took a LONG bus ride to Stansted airport, where we had a delay because it was snowing a lot in London. We finally arrived in a very sunny Glasgow. Kelli showed us around a little bit and then AJ picked us up and took us back to their "flat." They took us out to a nice restaurant for a very yummy 3 course Scottish dinner. Tomorrow we'll explore Glasgow and then Wednesday we'll see Edinburgh!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Westminster and more

On our first full day in London we started out with Rick Steves' Westminster Walk. We saw the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and more. We had lunch in the Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martin in the Fields church. We returned to the Westminster area after lunch and strolled the Jubilee Walk where we saw tons of street performers. There were a few of the standard paint-yourself-a-metallic-color-and-pretend-to-be-a-statue, a few random dancers, people in random costumes, a few musicians, and the weirdest were probably the lady with over 6,000 piercings and the man walking around with a live snake around his neck. We went to Westminster Abbey for the Evensong service, which was really neat to participate in. For supper we went to another English restaurant... I'm not so impressed by English food, but it has been nice to have CHEDDAR CHEESE!! Anyway, we're very tired but still have a big list of things to see tomorrow!

Friday, February 19, 2010


We'll against all odds we made it to London! It only took 3 trains (on one of which we stood for an hour) and an hour and a half on a bus. We checked into our hotel and went out to a Rick Steves recommended English restaurant for supper. Tonight we are taking it easy... tomorrow we'll see the city!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Amsterdam and Delft

This morning we checked out of Haarlem and headed to the big city of Amsterdam. We did Rick Steves' Central Amsterdam walking tour (which included sampling raw herring!) and then went to the Van Gogh museum. After the museum we were pretty tired, so we hopped on a train to Delft. Delft is SUCH a cute town! And our hotel is really nice and in a great location! So we dropped off our bags and strolled around for a while, stopping by a grocery to pick up some Dutch specialties, including some delicious looking little cakes. We came back to the hotel for a while and then we went to an Asian restaurant for supper (Rick Steves' said it was popular with the locals and he was right!). Tomorrow we head to London (HOPEFULLY!)... the Eurostar is not running all the way to Brussels because of Monday's accident, but we are hoping to get on in Lille. The service is extremely limited (1/3 normal service), so we'll see!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We made it!

After 8 trains and 14 hours, we made it to Haarlem late last night! Because of the train accident on Monday, all of the trains between Paris and Amsterdam were really messed up. So, instead of taking 2 trains (Lyon-Paris, Paris-Amsterdam), we took 8 trains (Lyon-Paris, Paris-Lille, Lille-some random town in Belgium, some random town in Belgium-Brussels, Brussels-Antwerp, Antwerp-some random town in the Netherlands, some random town in the Netherlands-Den Haag, Den Haag-Haarlem). Whew! So, today we stayed around Haarlem in the morning, then we went to a nearby beach town in the afternoon. Pictures coming soon!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weekend in the Languedoc

So I thought we were going to Provence this weekend, but we actually went to the region west of Provence called Languedoc. On Friday morning we first went to the Pont du Gard. WOW!
Doug said the water wasn't that cold... but in the end, he did not get in

In a nearby tunnel, Doug found some extraordinary icicles...

Next we went to Nimes and saw the outside of the Maison Carrée (built in 19 BC),
had a nice (big!) lunch...
and a visit to the Arena (best preserved of all Roman arenas, built first or second century AD)
and we visited the Tour Magne, part of Roman rampart ruins
Then we headed towards Uzes to our LOVELY bed and breakfast. It was so nice!
Saturday we had a yummy breakfast and then went to Uzes to the market. We also visited the duke's castle and cathedral.
Then we went to the village of Roquemaure their annual Valentine's festival.
We also saw the relics of St. Valentine (maybe) which were brought to Roquemaure from Rome in 1868.

What a fun weekend! See all the pictures here:


Yesterday there was a group of 18 from Harding at church. We had a big potluck afterwards and got to talk to many of the students. They were very interested in the assistantship program.

Tomorrow morning we leave for Paris-Amsterdam-Haarlem. So, next update will be from Haarlem!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Retraite des Femmes

This past weekend was the ladies' retreat in Aix-en-Provence. It was actually at a former monastery about 30 minutes from Aix. It has recently been redone and the rooms were really nice. I shared a room with Lia, the girl we met a couple of weeks ago at the Bundys'.

It was nice to get to know women from Beglium, France, and Switzerland... many of them I had met before either in Geneva or at the ladies' retreat I attended in 2006.

ladies from Paris teaching a song in Créole
an attempted group picture

We returned to Lyon Sunday after church and potluck in Marseilles. The Marseilles train station is really pretty and has a nice view of Notre Dame de la Garde.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Visite Médicale

We have now been in France for nearly 5 months, but it wasn't until yesterday morning that we became official temporary residents.

Upon arriving in France (in September) we sent all of our passport copies, visa copies, work authorization copies, and necessary forms off to the OFII (Office Francais de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration). We waited, waited, and finally a couple of weeks ago we got our notice with our required medical visit scheduled for February 1st.

So we went to the OFII, not really knowing what to expect, except for a few things we had heard from another assistant, Erin. We showed our appointment papers to the secretary, we waited in a room for a while (with many people of many nationalities), then I was called out first. I was weighed and measured (with my big coat and boots still on) and then given an vision test. The nurse asked if I had diabetes, if I had a problem with weight, and if I wanted to have a bloodtest. I answered no, no, and no, and then she told me to go into this tiny little dressing room with a door on the other side and she said something quickly that I didn't understand... something about my "soutien-gorge" (bra). So I asked her to repeat it, and she told me to take EVERYTHING off the top and then go into the room through the door on the other side of my tiny little room. So, I followed her instructions, peeking out the door into the big room. There was a lady talking on her cell phone who gestured me to walk over to a big machine. She didn't seem alarmed that I was topless, so I was glad to know I had understood the first nurse correctly. After a chest x-ray (she talked on her cell phone the whole time!), she waved me to go. So I put on my clothes and went out to the waiting room. Doug came out shortly after me and we confirmed with one another that we had similar experiences. We then waited for a while and then I got called out by a doctor. He took me to his office, held my x-ray to the light to show me and told me my lungs were perfect (not that I would have been able to tell if anything was wrong by looking at the x-ray!). He asked me a few medical questions- any big diseases in the last year? The diabetes in the family? The mother's breasts okay? The high blood pressure? I told him I thought my father had high blood pressure and he advised me to not eat too much of the salt. He grabbed my neck (kind of strongly) and told me to swallow and told me my thyroid was good. He checked my blood pressure and said it was perfect and pushed around on my stomach (which was terribly uncomfortable because I had drunk 2 big cups of tea before we came and really needed to go to the bathroom!). He listened to me breathe with a stethescope and then told me everything was good. I went back to the waiting room for a while longer. Doug got called out next. A while after Doug returned, we got called to the desk and gave our proof of residence and were told to go to a different waiting room. So we waited a while longer and then were called back to an office where a lady asked a few questions confirming name and work, and then put a new visa sticker in our passports. We also got to keep our chest x-rays, by the way, and were advised to keep them for 10 years... Doug said he will frame his.
So, all together, the process took about an hour and a half... well 5 months and an hour and a half :-)