Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Day 7- a regrouping day

Today marks the halfway point of our trip. Wow. I can't believe we've been gone for a week. It's been so incredible and I know I'm going to be sad when it is over.
After our long day yesterday, and perhaps because it is day 7, we were weary today. Spent the day reading on the terrace, doing laundry and a bit of strolling. One thing I like about doing trips like this on our own, is that there is no set agenda. Part of what I enjoy is soaking in the local culture and watching and observing.
We've discovered more about this town, Aix en Provence. It is an ancient city dating back to 123 BCE. There are hot springs here that the Romans discovered and put the place on the map as a military colony. Aix means water...so...water in Provence. Looking at the city with that knowledge now brings it into an even more fascinating place. Also, while it is a popular destination for French tourists because of the spas, it is a city of its own. There are a couple universities here, and a law school or two. It used to be the capital of Provence I believe, so there are still many government seats here. As we have wandered the last few days I see many college-aged students, looking like they do everywhere. And that is who keeps the pubs busy at night!
One thing I enjoyed yesterday was watching the children go to school as we were walking to meet our tour guide. Some with parents, most elementary and older walking or riding a scooter (not motorized) along the cobblestone streets. They all veered off to different little side streets, leading me to believe there are many different schools. I asked the guide yesterday and yes, most attend different private schools but there is what we know as public school available as well.
After our tour yesterday I started noticing things I hadn't before. Such as the true age of some structures. Wow. And walls made before mortar. And remembering and relearning yesterday about the mineral deposit called ochre that comes in many different hues. Most old buildings here still have ochre  (oak-er) in the plaster.
We haven't really experienced any rudeness,other than a guy yesterday. We were in a small town and after climbing up several steep hills we wanted to stop for something to drink and go to the bathroom. Unfortunately we asked for the toilette first to which he said, "Theeeesssss is a hotel and res-taur-
ant!!! Not a rest (rolled r) stop for trave-lors" Haha.
Being a great and proud eavesdropper, I'm disappointed I can't make out some conversations. I try to pick up words, but no juicy tid-bits for me. Jon's French has come back strong after being here a few days. He still can't follow casual conversations because of the speed, but he was able to carry on a conversation with the desk clerk today without using any English. I would love to live somewhere long enough to be so immersed in the language that I understood it without translating it in my head. But there are 2 little boys and another one on its way someday that will keep me from ever doing that. And that's okay. We feel so fortunate and truly blessed to be sharing this together.
Tomorrow we are off to Italy. Bon Soir (Good evening) for now.

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