Monday, October 20, 2008

residence permits, furniture, parks&recreation, and FreeBox Internet (...Huh?)

Big news--we now have our Cartes de Sejour (residence permits)!!! Okay, well, that isn't exactly true, but we have temporary ones that are valid until Christmas (the real ones are pending our mysterious medical evaluations and the translation into French of a few documents).

So, now that our first (of many) prefecture visits is out of the way and we have our temporary residence cards, we have moved onto the next task on our list: getting internet in our apartment. We left off with the promise of the impending connection in our very own apartment. Turns out, things are not quite so simple in France--go figure! One of our major discoveries here has been that it is only reasonable to expect to be able to accomplish roughly two things every day--one thing in the morning, before the French take their two-hour lunch, and one thing after, before the businesses start to close (around 6pm).

There was a time when we thought about resisting the urge to get internet in our apartment to keep from spending too much time online. But, it turns out that Rebecca could do a lot of the work for her class from home on the internet and being able to talk (via Skype) to people at home is also a BIG plus.

So I (Jeff) stroll into the cellphone store on the ground floor of the building adjacent to our apartment and ask the Sales Associate about the poster advertising "FreeBox," a package deal of Internet + Cable TV + Phone for only 30 euros/month (less than we paid for internet alone in the US).

Associate: Do you have a phone number?
Me: No, that's why I'm here.
Associate: You need to go the France Telecom office to find out what your phone number is before I can give you FreeBox.

...I walk down the street to France Telecom and wait in line for a while...

France Telecom: Address?
Me: 35 Rue Gambetta
France Telecom: Which floor?
Me: Second.
FT: I have two numbers listed on that floor. Do you recognize any of the names listed on these accounts? (since there are no apartment numbers or letters, they can't tell what name goes with which apartment)
Me: Uh, no.
FT: Well, you'll have to talk to your landlord and find out where/when/if these people lived in your apartment in the past.
Me: Great.

Long story short, it may take a little bit longer for the internet...

Now for some good news.

We have furniture, and it rocks: a beautiful pine table to eat at, comfy chairs to sit in, a stereo to listen to, and a bed to sleep in, a fabulous blue couch, coffee table--even a TV (which we haven't turned on yet :P). What more could we want? We've filled up some of the floor space, and now we're working on the wall space. Rebecca took a walk to Parc de Blossac (the large park in the center of town) on Sunday to sketch some landscapes (and some surprises) to paint. We also plan to frame a few of the "ride a day" pictures Jeff has taken (the blog is called A Ride A Day, after all).

The Poitiers Farmer's Market takes place on Saturdays in La Place de Charles de Gaulle. Last week, we did a quickie trip, getting only a few things because we didn't yet have electricity in our apartment (no cooking, no refrigeration), so as expected, this time we bought two trips worth, WAY too much stuff. Well, maybe not, since it all fits in the fridge...

(Fruits, vegetables, eggs, cheeses, cured sausages, a case of assorted local wines, ...

....and an entire oxtail to make "Soupe a la Queue de Boeuf")

The weather has been wonderful, with cool, crisp mornings and warm, sunny afternoons. The leaves are starting to change, and Jeff has been taking advantage with a couple of long bike rides exploring the countryside. He has developed a set of pre-ride map-reading capabilities to make the rides more enjoyable--routes with both low traffic and an abundance of scenic distractions, mostly in the form of old churches, chateaus, castles, and abbeys, which are plentiful in the Poitou-Charentes region.

(an 11th century church in Morthemer)

(one tower of the medieval city in the center of Chauvigny, which is one of the most well-preserved in all of Europe)

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