Friday, December 19, 2008

Here We Are In Belgium and France Part II

DH getting into our little car. It is a Renault, Clio. It's a diesel and gets fabulous mileage. We were in St. Omer, France getting our french legality done. We had to go within one week of being in the country. It was so frustrating to get there. First of all, it took us about 1 1/2 hrs to program our GPS. Normally this should take just a minute, but no matter what we punched in, it would not give us a location. I even called the Mission Office and they tried and tried to help, but nothing worked. I finally punched in Mayrie, which means City Hall or The Mayor's Place in French, under Points of Interest and it worked. It took us a bit over an hour to get there. When we arrived at the location, we were told that they had moved to another building for which noone knew the address. Somehow we found the right building and got to the right place at 11:50, but they close at 12:00 for 2 hours as does all of France and Belgium for lunch. Luckily for us, two of the ladies stayed and completed our paperwork in 15 minutes. We were so relieved.
One of the streets in St. Omer. The streets here are sooo narrow. By the time people park on each side of the road and there are two cars driving, you barely miss each other. Also people are very aggressive drivers. I'll tell you, it is so stressful driving here. It takes 3 of us; DH, me and the GPS. Also the laws are different and the signs are all different. The street names are not at the corner like we are used to. If you can even find a sign, it will often be on a building or on the street or somewhere nearby.
On the way home to Mouscron. Notice the signs. They are mostly in Dutch. Some also have the French names underneath the Dutch.
Some pretty farmland in France.
Fields on the way home.
These are the streets in Mouscron which is in Belgium. Many of the streets are brick, but these are not.
On the way to our house. The green cross is the Pharmacie sign.
Close to our house. It has rained almost every day. Everything is very mossy. There is moss growing on everything, buildings, trees, fences, the road, everything. The weather has been very cold. Usually it is about 1C and stays that cold all day. Cars are covered with frost and windows are icy every morning. The day breaks about 8:00 in the morning, but even then it is barely light. By 5:00 p.m. the sun has set and it is very dark. The days are very short. I suspect summers will have very long days. Of course, we are so far up north. We are the same latitude as Labrador, so of course the winters will be cold here. We have seen the sun on some days and that is very cheery. Otherwise, it looks pretty cold and grey. We wear a sweater and coat as well as scarf and gloves and hat outside.
This street is close to our apt. Our apt. in on the 3rd story. To get to it you have to pass 3 locked doors. The first is from the outside to the little foyer, next you must unlock the door to the inside of the apts, and finally you open up your own apt . The stairs are marble, very narrow, and very windy. Our apartment is quite a nice size. We have a large room in which we have two long tables that are used as desks with 2 wobbly chairs. In fact we have to prop one of the tables against the wall on 2 sides and with the other table on the 3rd side to keep it standing. We have a dining table and four chairs which will need to be painted and have the seats re-covered, a bookshelf, and 4 lounge type chairs. The room was a stark, ugly white, so DH has already painted it a very nice taupe like color. I will have to take some pictures. The walls are brick with some sort of covering on it, so I have not yet figured out how to hang anything, athough we did hang up a clock on an existing huge nail. The kitchen is small, but very nice. We also have a room from the kitchen used for the water (barrel) heater and storage. There are two bedrooms. There is a tiny toilet room which has a toilet and a toy size sink which has only cold water. You can be sitting on the t and washing your hands at the same time. There is also a larger bathroom with a sink, tub and washer and dryer. The washer only has a cold water faucet. Luckily there are cold water soaps. Our dryer is new, but doesn't work, so we are waiting for a new dryer. The apt has water radiator heating systems. The main room has two and the other rooms each have one. They work quite nicely. We also have two narrow balconies, one in front and one in the back.
This is construction directly in front of our apt. We don't know what it's going to be, but it is something huge. They have brought in tons and tons of dirt and sand and have moved it from place to place. They work all day long beginning at 8:00a.m. and working until 5:00. However, on some days they only work until 3:00. Most people here have a 30 hour work week.


marcia@joyismygoal said...

I lOVE hearing all this you are a good writer life is so different and seemingly relaxed is it really so ?

Robin said...

How fun it is to me in a new country for the holidays. I sure miss you. Glad to know you how have internet and phone.. We can see all that is happening with you guys. Love ya

Yvonne said...

This is so neat to read about. What an adventure. I love that your hubby has already painted your apartment.