Better late than never

Better late than never.

I imagine that’s going to be a very strong returning theme for this blog/journal/whatever you want to call it. A lot and also nothing has happened since I last updated in October (!!!!!! YIKES!)

We’ve moved into our apartment since then, as well as ventured out of Aix a couple of times. We’ve even travelled to another country!

But we’ve also spent a lot of time sitting on the couch and trying to catch our breath from all the culture shock. Without sounding ungrateful for the incredible opportunity we’ve been given, moving to another country is TOUGH. Jonathan and I have both had days where we are OVER IT. Sometimes all we can do to keep sane is keep track of how much longer we have here. But then other days, the sun comes over the horizon just right and the birds sing the right song and the food is really freaking good and we can’t help but smile.

But anyway, enough waxing poetic about moving and struggling and loving France and wanting to smack France. I know why you’re here. “Sara,” you say. “You’re a professional photographer. Why haven’t you posted any beautiful photos yet?! We’re all trying to live vicariously through you.” To which I say, “Yes. I know. I’ve been experiencing some performance anxiety. Also, moving to a country is way different of an experience than visiting it.” BUT WORRY NOT. I have taken some photos (mostly of our travels. Aix is still very cold and gray) and will now be posting them. (Does that sound as self righteous as I think it does? Oops. Sorry…)

Okay, I can’t stall any longer. Here are some pictures from a couple different trips we’ve been on:

Gap, France:

We went to Gap with one of Jonathan’s past co-workers while he was visiting another work site here. He had a car, we didn’t (and still don’t.) Naturally, we were along for any trip he wanted to make. So we jumped in and drove. We saw the Alps (HOLY COW THEYRE HUGE) and ate some pretty good crêpes. We saw a beautiful lake with a chapel just sitting on an island in the middle of it. A little research post-trip revealed that it was the “Chapelle Saint Michel.” If you’d like to learn more about it, click here: We saw giant Christmas trees in Gap, as well as a giant puppet? Marionette? We never saw it moving so I’m not really sure what it was. It was pretty cold once the sun started to set, so we began our trip back home. We made a few quick pit stops in different towns, including one that had a beautiful river running through it. We got there as the sun was setting and it was pretty incredible.

Marseille, France:

We’ve been to Marseille twice now. The first trip wasn’t great but the second one was fine. I watched Jonathan play Magic in French which was a blast and a half. I didn’t take any pictures though, so just imagine us crammed into a small cold room for a few hours playing a card game and Jonathan trying to speak French and the French players trying to speak English. They did a much better job. But hey, practice is practice.

Zürich, Switzerland:

This was the big one!! We’re incredibly lucky to have some people in our neck of the woods that we actually know. Cory and Jessica moved here a little over a year ago and have experienced a bunch of the joys of moving that we are just now running into. It was so surreal to spend Christmas and New Years’ with our friends in Switzerland. Just a year ago, we never would have imagined that this was where we would be. 

We also celebrated Jonathan’s 28th birthday in Zürich which became even more surreal when we realized one of his very good friends from NCSSM was going to be in Zürich on his birthday! Let me tell you, sitting in a German beer hall with friends from back home while a band plays German and American pop-songs was one of the weirdest and greatest moments of 2018 for me.

While we were in Switzerland, Cory and Jess took us to Rigi, a mountain that’s part of the Swiss Alps near Lucern. To get to the top, we had to first take a boat across the foggy lake and then ride a cogwheel train up the side of the mountain. The whole time we were on the train we couldn’t see the top of the mountain because of the clouds and the “lake-effect.” Suddenly, the train was actually inside the clouds and then the next thing we knew, we came out of the clouds and were surrounded by the Alps bursting out of this blanket of clouds while the sun cast this magical orange light everywhere. I was speechless and my jaw was on the floor of the train. Once we got off the train we hiked up to the top of the mountain to get the full view. It was unbelievable. We were surrounding by this ocean of clouds with giant mountains popping up all around us. It felt so alien and bizarre, like everything under the clouds was just nonexistent.

We stayed at Cory and Jess’ apartment for New Years and stood out on their balcony and watched all the fireworks going off all around us and up and down the mountain ridge they live on. It was a phenomenal end to a whirlwind year.

In other news, I’ve started taking French classes, which is equal parts exciting and terrifying. The classes are about 4 hours a day, 4 days a week and little to no English is spoken in them. Some days I feel like I’m totally getting it, and others I just nod and hope my teachers don’t call on me. The good news is that I was able to ask for medicine for Jonathan at a pharmacy in almost all French. Baby steps.