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David and I have a lot of time on our hands. No job and we are not allowed on our boat! We are also working through the growing pains and pleasures of living in Europe.
That being said, simple, day-to-day tasks take an inordinate amount of time now. Laundry? 110 minutes, and that’s just for the washer, never mind line drying your clothes. Simple things are different here too. I have seen a washer/dryer combo unit and an oven/microwave combo unit. Wearing sneakers out in public while not participating in some kind of exercise sends a clear signal that we are Americans. And ladies…panty hose are in!
There are certainly plenty of different things that are good too. Public transportation is pretty amazing. In Paris, La Rochelle, and Amsterdam there are bike rental stations, much like David and I used in Miami when we were there for the boat show. Houston is getting them as well, but the infrastructure in Houston is not biker friendly. In Amsterdam, there were clearly defined and separated lanes for cars, bikes, and pedestrians. Breakfast is usually a pastry or bread, which David is really enjoying. Everyone has been very friendly to us, and are mostly at least bilingual if not tri-lingual (way to go education system). Not to mention the fantastic history you observe all over the place!
I told David if we ever want to live in Europe, we should do it right after living on Starry Horizons – we will be used to smaller spaces.
A great example of living in Europe right now is my first attempt at restocking toiletries. I made the wonderful mistake of leaving my mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and face wash behind at our first place. They would be empty by now anyway. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, our AirBNB did not come with any of those items so we needed to restock.
Shampoo and conditioner? At the grocery store, easy peasy. Face wash? That required a trip to the pharmacy.
In Amsterdam, most text has its headline in English, and then the small font (i.e. Important stuff) in Dutch and French. So finding the skin care section was pretty easy. Narrowing down the choices is a daunting task. Let me show you an example. The only English words on the bottle I ended up buying are “Garnier skin naturals” and “new pure active fruit energy”. Ummm…I can confidently say it goes on my skin.
Now I focus on the French, since I know zero Dutch. It surprises me how much French I can read (or, get the gist of) from knowing English. The bottle says:
“mousse purifiante douceur” (ok, mousse, purifying, clean) (google translate: gentle cleansing foam)
“assainit tout en douceur, aide à éliminer tes imperfections” (something like assists you to clean and eliminate imperfections)
“Extracts de pamplemousse et grenade” (I already know the funny word pamplemousse is French for grapefruit and thanks to the picture accompanying I now have learned that grenade is French for pomegranate)
Now I have face wash. Or, maybe it’s body wash, since it doesn’t actually say face anywhere on it. Either way, I’m clean!
I am enjoying the immersion aspect of learning the language. While La Rochelle and Ile de Ré are tourist towns, they are tourist towns for French and British, so we haven’t met many other Americans. My vocabulary is expanding (mostly with food words), so I need to be studying my conversational French in my free time more, in order to stop sounding like a two year old (poulet, s’il vous plaît !)