Friday, December 19, 2014

France to Spain and back to France

I love moving, but I don't like packing and unloading a big moving truck.  We rented a truck that we hoped would be big enough for all our stuff.  Fingers-crossed.  On Saturday, we picked up the truck and drove it back to our house here in France.  We spent the afternoon loading it up.  And everything fit, even the ping-pong table!  We went out to dinner, since we didn't really have anything else in the house and I had no desire to cook.  We headed down to Gaillac and our little bistro and had a lovely dinner.
It all fit!

Sunday morning we were up at 5:30 because we had to leave the house by 7.  We had a meeting scheduled with the agency that helped us find our house at 11:30 to sign the contract.  They were nice enough to come in on a Sunday to do this for us.  Something that would never happen in France. Bruce drown the big truck and I followed him in the car (with the dogs).  It's about a 3.5 hour drive, but it took us 4 with the big truck.  We signed the contract, got the keys to the house and headed over to start unloading.

We decided to unload everything into the garage and then take stuff as we needed it into the house. That way we can be sure where we want everything and we won't be surrounded by tons of boxes. It only took us about 2.5 hours to unload, compared to 6 to load. We finished at dusk. We then headed into Girona to our favorite pintxo bar for dinner.  It was so so good and we toasted our new life in Spain.
These are only the cold pintxos, the hot ones are amazing too.

Monday it rained all day. The only rain in the forecast for the next 10 days. We had some errands to run and we had lunch out and then spent the rest of the day unpacking. We had a nice quiet dinner in our new home. On Tuesday we headed down towards Barcelona to visit IKEA.  I love IKEA but hate the IKEA fatigue.  We had to take the big truck because we were buying a new couch, chair, mattress and bed frame and of course we bought tons of little things.  On our way back, I mentioned that it was the 16th and Bruce said "What, I thought it was the 15th?" We then realized that our rental truck was due back an hour ago - mind you, we were 5 hours away from where we rented it.  So we rushed back home, packed up a few things and headed back to France.  Again, Bruce in the big truck and me following with the dogs.  9:00 pm, we got back home, exhausted.  They rental company was so nice, they didn't even charge us extra for bringing it back late.
Dashell not really understanding why we are at an empty house.
We are now back in our empty house in France.  It's cold and wet here.  We have had a fire going all day.  We don't have any heat, except for the fire, because we don't have oil in our tank.  We sold my beautiful range, that I'm sad to see go, but our new house had one almost just like it.  I'm going to take the money and buy a pottery wheel.  I haven't thrown in years and our new home has a great studio space for Bruce and I.  So I'll be back at it soon.  Tonight we are going to see our good friends C&T and R&T for dinner.  It will be sad to say goodbye, but we hope that they'll come and see us and we'll be back here for climbing too.  Tomorrow we'll finish cleaning the house and meet with our landlords to turn over the keys.  Depending on how we feel, we might head down to Spain tomorrow afternoon with the dogs and this time the 2 cats.  I'm ready to get into our new warm cozy home and start unpacking and getting settled. Exciting things coming our way.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Back to "the office" one last time.

Hiking up to Amiel, one last time.

When we first moved to France back in 2008 we had stopped climbing.  If you've read this blog for a while you know that we stopped climbing and started road biking.  In fact, our first year here we road almost every day.  It was a great way to see the area, but sometimes it was so cold I couldn't feel my hands or feet.  I met Bruce climbing and we had climbed in some amazing places, but one day we decided to try something different, so we first started surfing, then I started doing triathlons and then we started road biking.  But when we came back to France in 2010 we looked around and realized there was so much amazing limestone just minutes from us, we had to start climbing again.

Nellie lounging at the cliff.

It was hard to get back on the horse.  I was afraid of falling, afraid of leading and we started out on the easiest climbs we could find.  But we were both hooked again, we put our bikes away and spent 3-4 days a week climbing on the most beautiful limestone.  That was 4 years ago, and we are still climbing as much as we can.  I'm not so much afraid of falling or leading anymore and I'm not doing the easiest climbs either.  In fact, this year I did my hardest route ever.  Not bad for 51.

When we first started climbing again, the perfect place for us was Amiel.  It's 10 minutes from our house and has great climbing.  Easy stuff to hard stuff and lots in the middle.  We'd call it "the office".  It's a 30 minutes hike up and you get the most beautiful view of a tiny village call Penne.  If it's during the week, it's usually just Bruce and I.

Looking down towards Penne.

The last 2 weeks we haven't seen the sun.  It's been cold, wet, gloomy and cloudy.  Nothing makes me more depressed.  But today it was sunny and perfect climbing temps.  Mid 40's and blue skies. It was a perfect day to go to Amiel and get one last day in at the office before moving to Spain.  I would have been sad to leave this area without saying goodbye to Amiel.

So today we hiked up and spent 4 hours climbing.  It was great.  I said goodbye to Amiel and told her I'd see her again one day (which I'm sure I will), I also thanked her for bringing me back to climbing.
She's been good to us and we'll miss her.  But I'm sure we'll be finding some new amazing places to climb in Spain.

And this was the sunset today from our yard.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

And the house we chose is....

Fantastic.  First we narrowed our picks down to two.  And then finally to one.  It was a hard decision, we loved both houses, but they were very different.  One was basically a villa, seriously a villa, but once we spoke with the agent about all the other "fees" to keeping the house (gardener, pool cleaning, etc...) the rent basically doubled.  Too expensive for us.  The house we chose is perfect for us and we loved it the minute we walked in. Big fenced in backyard, 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, studio for Bruce and me, lovely back terrace, great kitchen and lots of light.   It's in a tiny village of about 100 people (no commerce) about 15 minutes north of Girona.  It's also part of a 1,000 year old castle.  It doesn't connect, but is right next door to the castle, which has been restored and it stunning.  The owners of the house and castle are super nice people too.  He was a michelin star chef, who then sold his restaurant and then bought the castle, restored it and opened a restaurant in the castle.  But this year due to health reasons, the restaurant is closed.  She is a famous potter throughout Spain.  They love art and are lovely people.

I'll post some pictures once we move in and get settled.

So excited about our new adventure!

Our landlord was so nice and took us up to the village that our village is part of to get our census. She thought it would be easier for us if she was there.  We got the letter we needed (to show the police for our NEE).  Then we headed into Girona to visit the Police, who give us our NEE card.  We ended up being there for 2 hours, not because of long lines, but because everyone was so nice.  A few of them spoke english and they loved that we were originally from California.  They told us where they were from in Spain and showed us pictures of their home towns.  I swear, everyone is so nice in Spain. We have to return to the Police in 30 days to pick up our card, but we got our number, so that's a good sign.

So we have a house, we have our NEE card, we have a checking account in Spain.  It's all coming together.  We rented a truck and will be taking our stuff down to Spain on the 15th, then we'll come back up to France to clean our house here and then we'll turn around and pack up the dogs and the cats and move into our new home in Spain.  Can't wait.