Debbie and Ken's Excellent Adventure – we take off…..



As I walk around the city or jump on the trams, it feels more and more like “home”. Different, but also comfortable and familiar. Little things still interesting (like they call WiFi, “Wee Fee” due to their alphabet’s sounds), and yet not as much different feeling as the first time: it’s all about the people, our friends, and just living our lives in such an environment that we are not used to.

Friday night was dinner and Music Night at BJ’s. This was wonderful. We all brought something and just chatted and “grazed”. One of my favorite friends, Geoffrey, was there, and since it was the first time I’d seen him in 2 years, I was delighted that he was able to attend.

Music Night Dinner

Music Night Dinner

A yummy cold cucumber soup made by BJ, some dips/tapenade with bread and rice crackers (for the gluten free in the crowd), wonderful cheeses and Geoffrey’s delicious chocolate mousse for dessert. Lots of wine, of course. The perfect French dinner! The music portion of the evening was delightful. Lots of singing, guitar playing and Geoffrey on his sweet sounding oboe. I kept thinking that this was the perfect evening, and I was enjoying it all so much. BJ is always a wonderful host and makes it all look easy and seem comfortable. Since it was fairly late by the time we were done, and the trams were running further and further apart (or not at all), we decided to walk most of the way home. A beautiful evening and Geoffrey walked with us until it was time to turn into his neighborhood. By that time, the tram had come to the station we were at and Lauren and I jumped on to get home. A wonderful memorable evening.

One item that I loved on BJ’s table: the olive oil spray.

Olive Oil Spray

Olive Oil Spray

It doesn’t spray in a fine mist, but in just the right amount for putting on vegetables, bread, or anything else, without pouring a big glob or having to use your finger to narrow the flow. What a great idea!

Olives at Outdoor Market

Olives at Outdoor Market

The next morning, we go to a wonderful open air market (we would call it a Farmers’ market). It feels like a celebration and the food is abundant and all local, of course.

Besides what we usually have at our Farmers’ markets, they also have refrigerated cases for meat and fish. This market is every Tues. and Sat. and where a lot of people buy all of their food.

Meat Cases at Outdoor Market

Meat Cases at Outdoor Market

When we got home, it was Lauren’s turn in the kitchen, and she uses ingredients on hand. A wonderful brunch on the terrace.

Lauren's brunch on the terrace

Lauren’s brunch on the terrace

Saturday night we met up with Saphia, Mounia’s twin, who was new in town. I met Mounia 2 years ago and have kept in contact with her. She is now in grad school in another part of France. We took Saphia under our wing. We went for dinner at the “Kafelin”: a cat café! You eat/drink and then play with the cats in the café. An interesting concept and I’ve heard of these types of cafes springing up in NYC and LA, maybe?

Cat Club

Cat Club

Lauren and Saphia at Cat Club

Lauren and Saphia at Cat Club

Hairless cat

Hairless cat

They have about 6-8 cats, including a completely hairless one (see above): interesting and unique.

After the weekend, Lauren and I jumped on a train to Barcelona, which is only about 3 hours away. We stayed in an air bnb in a good location. It was really cheap ($27/person/night), including our own private bathroom. It worked out well. We had a wonderful 3 days playing tourist. I had been to Barcelona 3 years ago, but it was fun to show it to Lauren. Everything in Spain is fairly inexpensive, so we ate and drank good wine for very low prices. We walked and walked and also used the subway. Everything was safe, even late at night, as there is a definite police presence. That’s another great thing about Europe: everything is so close. It’s so easy to just go to another country, sort of like our going from IL to WI. So many people travel around and have a much more cosmopolitan viewpoint.

Back to Montpellier by mid evening from Spain and with nothing in the house for groceries, Lauren and I go out to eat in Montpellier, just choosing a random little restaurant at 10 PM. We eat outside, late at night, leisurely, surrounded by the old city’s buildings, walls, and streets. So French! The meal is not that expensive and was delicious. I am getting better about using my limited French and making myself understood. It feels like an accomplishment.

Michael and Odile have been at the flat while we were gone and have left a great drying rack for the laundry. Remember: no dryers (too much electricity), so I am thrilled and call it my big “Bad Boy” dryer.
I have trouble originally figuring out how to set it up, but when I do: voila! So much more space to dry. I’m thrilled! (Funny, it’s the little things that please me so much.)

Bad Boy Drying Rack

Bad Boy Drying Rack

Ken arrives the next day from the States, jet lagged, and tired, but glad to be back in Montpellier. I’m so happy he has arrived so we can once again share this experience together.

Friday night we go to a big InterNations party that BJ is in charge of, as she is the Ambassador of the local chapter. InterNations is a worldwide organization that provides a structure for people from other countries to meet with the locals and each other. It is free to join. It is also where we met a lot of our friends originally. The event was a celebration of InterNations’ 8 year anniversary of being in existence. There were about 80 people from all over the world spilling out into the street: old/young and in-between. I talked to people from Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, Poland, Israel, the States, Britain, France, etc. etc., sometimes in halting French, sometimes in their halting English, and sometimes just acting things out: the universal language. I of course loved getting the traditional greeting: 3 kisses on alternating cheeks (2 kisses in Paris, 3 down here in Southern France) from all the young men in attendance! It felt like this is so where I want to be at this moment (not just because of the kisses, of course…LOL).

Busy week coming up: tonight, playing Barbu (French card game) at BJ’s, tomorrow, Cooking Club at Geoffrey’s, next night: Trivia game (they call it “the quiz” and questions are in both French and English, at our favorite hang out bar near our old flat). On Wednesday, my brother and his wife come to visit for a few days and we’re off to see my favorite musician, Maugan, and hear his band play.

I feel like I’m getting into the rhythm of my life here more, and really enjoying it, even the second time around. What does that mean going forward? I don’t know, but it is definitely something on my mind.

Bisous, my Blog Buddies. Thanks for visiting and being interested in my experiences here. More in about a week or so……



  1. I love following you on this journey! Looks like you are having a wonderful time. It has been raining non stop since you left Beaufort.

  2. Loved this blog. You are getting so great with your descriptive writing! I wish I could be there with you one day as the days sound idyllic. The cat in the photo with Lauren and Saphia looks so much like my angel cat in heaven, Rattan. And your dryer is just like the one I bought when the twins were born!
    So glad everyone is together and that you are staying safe and full of sweet life. Lashana Tova! All is well here. Jim is hanging wallpaper today in the East Wing guest vanity area. Gorgeous! The floors and tiling are to begin next week but the plumbing supply store has not received our Kohler order for shower parts yet so the tiling has to wait. We hope to have both bathrooms done by the first week in October.
    The twins just turned 8 months and are in great shape. Pictures to follow. Mom and Dad are beginning to look for a larger home, perhaps with a shorter commute for Dad working in NJ. Mike and Alex were here for the Labor Day weekend and we had a wonderful visit. Lake Cruise, lunches at Good Vibes in LG where you can eat vegan meals that are delicious, shopping, dining at home, walks in Kishwaukeetoe, and a visit to the County Fair where we met our friends who own and rear Clydesdales and got to meet baby Em who was born in May. She is so big!! We watched the draft horse show with wagons of 6, amazing! Then it was off to see the other animals and vegetables and a small tasting of fair food that was very enjoyable. We took the guys back to the airport later in the afternoon and made our way to the market in Milwaukee to replenish our spices. The Spice House was having a 20% discount on everything but since they closed before we could get there we settled for their smaller satellite at the Milwaukee Market. We had Kepler with us and it was 93 degrees so Jim and I took turns shopping while one of us stayed in the car as it was running to keep Kep cool. Jim also took her out for a walk and she had a cool drink before we headed home.
    Life has been fully rewarding and we are blessed with good healh, family, friends, and humbling prosperity that we love to share.
    We had our student involvement fair for AAUW Student Org at UW-Whitewater which was very successful. The first program of the Geneva Lake Branch was wonderful last Thursday night. Our speaker, Dr. Penny Portman,from UW-Whitewater is an expert, very articulate, and engaging. We left feeling much more educated.
    Lots on the calendar for AAUW, Whitewater, Young Auditorium, Milwaukee Rep and more. We will be in NYC for Thanksgiving. The twins may be walking by then! I started my stint as President of the Civic League and we have our Membership Social here on Tuesday Night. Should be fun . . . ice cream social with a Not-A-White Elephant Sale. Members will bring small gifts wrapped simply and all gifts sell for $5 each ( they have to be nice). When the gift table is empty the fundraising portion of the evening is over. Should be fun.
    Well, lots more news for another time. Miss you madly. Love to all. XXXOOO, R

  3. Dearest Deb, Loved this blog. You are getting so great with your descriptive writing! I wish I could be there with you one day, as the days sound idyllic. The cat in the photo with Lauren and Saphia looks so much like my angel cat in heaven, Rattan. And your dryer is just like the one I bought when the twins were born!
    So glad everyone is together and that you are staying safe and full of sweet life. Lashana Tova! All is well here.
    Well, lots more news for another time. Miss you madly. Love to all. XXXOOO, R

  4. Deb, great to hear from you again and read about your latest adventures. So glad that you are enjoying yourselves.

  5. That drying rack looks dangerous – didn’t know you were so handy! Gives new meaning to the phrase….”nice rack’….ha ha!

  6. I can tell by your blog how very happy you are on your trip. Sounds like a return trip is already being planned. Miss you.

  7. Hey, DL!
    What a beautifully written story of your journey thus far! Very vivid and inviting! You are having such a wonderful time – I see and feel your delight.
    Hi to Ken and Lauren!
    Love you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s