Hi from very cold Grenoble!
More about that in a minute…How was your week? Ours was a mix of quiet, relaxing days and some interesting and exciting experiences:
Flying south: On Monday 4 flocks with about 1000 cranes in each flew overhead, on their annual migration from Northern Europe heading south for the winter. They were quite noisy, swirling around, trying to sort out the V-formation in which they usually fly. It was quite a spectacular sight and great to see something unique to this area.
The topic of this week’s French lesson (by necessity) ‘How to buy new tyres’ David hit a nasty pothole on the side of the road on the way to French lessons on Wednesday (getting off the road to allow a truck to pass) which resulted in two flat tyres! The front tyre was immediately properly flat so I called our French teacher, Christine, to tell her we’d be a bit late. Unfortunately, I forgot how to pronounce ‘pneu’ (the French word for ‘tyre’ which, oddly, has a pronounced ‘p’) and instead said ‘nue’ (which means ‘naked’) so Christine was probably wondering why we’d be arriving at her house late and flat naked!! Then we realised the second tyre was going down. As we only had one spare, I called Volkswagon assistance and they were going to charge 200 euros to come and help us. I tried to call Christine again to ask if she could come and take me into town to get another tyre but she didn’t answer so I had to walk to her place – 25 mins walk. She and I went back to the car, got the two flat tyres and drove into town to try to get new ones while Dad stayed with the car. We couldn’t get the same tyres as what we had (it’s imperative that we return the car with the same brand of tyres) so bought the cheapest available; it was going to be an hour’s wait so we went back to the car and called Dee and she came and took me back into town to collect the tyres (Christine had to go by then). The spare is only good for getting you to a garage, not for regular driving. By the time we got home, the whole process had taken 4 hours and nearly 180 euros and we still have to get two more tyres of the right brand! I did learn a lot of useful vocab to do with tyres which came in handy when we ordered the other two tyres and had the ones on the car rotated (good thing I looked up ‘balance the tyres’ before we went because ‘balancer’ means ‘to throw away’!) For David, the afternoon was a lesson in patience!
Walking in a winter wonderland: On Friday we drove across to Grenoble which is in the east of France, in the alps region. The drive took 6 hours, a bit longer than we expected, but the usual ‘route barre’ and subsequent deviation took us a good half hour out of our way and it rained most of the time as well which slowed us down (though this didn’t have the same effect on anyone else!) We’re staying in the apartment of a friend of Tony and Dee – Pasquale is away for 2 weeks and kindly offered us her place for that time. On Saturday, after doing a bit of shopping (including buying a coat for David, gloves for both of us and a winter cap for me), we drove to Chambery – a lovely town. The drive back became quite exciting when it started snowing! It was lovely driving in it and we enjoyed seeing it fall. This morning (Sunday), we woke up to everything covered in white and it snowed pretty much the whole day. The top temperature was zero! We went for a walk late in the morning and it was great seeing snow everywhere. Cars were driving around with a thick blanket of snow on their rooves which looked quite funny – it was even funnier when a car stopped next to us at the lights and all the snow on its roof slid forward and down, completely covering the windscreen! The driver had to get out and push it all off before he could keep driving. There’s not much to do on a cold, snowy Sunday afternoon but there is always the cinema so we went to see the new James Bond film – it was in ‘Version Original’ (English) and, as there were 3 screenings of the film in French during the afternoon, we thought there’d be the two of us and a couple of poms in the English screening so we were surprised to find we had to join a long queue and in the end there were about 1000 people in the theatre!
If the weather is good during the week (it’s not supposed to snow at all), we plan to visit Chamonix, Mont Blanc, Geneva and Annecy and ride a few cable cars up a few mountains. Hopefully it will be an interesting and spectacular week.
Below are some of our recent photos.
By the way, daylight saving has just finished here so we’re now 10 hours behind Victoria, 9 1/2 behind SA and 8 1/2 behind NT.
Hope you all have a good week – look forward to hearing from you…
Chris and David