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As you can probably tell from the details in my last fee posts, my week in Agel really flew by. So I’m on to the next leg of my adventure where I will be studying French for 4 weeks in Aix-en-Provence.

However, before I move on to sharing that adventure, I want to share some photos of the wonderful little house that I have been staying in this week.

When you enter from the street you are greeted with this view.

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And you can proceed into the living area from there.

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Since I had access to the castle next door, and was tagging along on adventures with the group staying there, I didn’t spend much time in these areas. I pretty much made some espresso every morning before getting ready for the day, and then headed next door.

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This very short journey took me

  • out the back door, which I never had to lock since it opened into the private castle grounds

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  • across my private terrace that also didn’t really get used

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  • past some wonderful gardens

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  • up a stone stair way

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  • and through a door that needed a very large key.

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Of course, after my wonderful stay in Zambia, I would be remiss to not include photos of the sleeping loft (yes there were stairs to get there, but not a ladder) and of the bathroom that never ran out of hot water.

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A cool quick of the place was that from the window you see in the bathroom, you could, if you wanted, step out onto the street.

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It was a great stay, and a very much needed break between teaching and studying, in a very charming place. But now it was time to head off for that studying, the first step of which was to navigate back to Montpellier without the GPS – no, I didn’t give up on it, I just had to return it. And the second step was to lug my bags from the rental car drop off to the train station. Both went fairly well, thought not without any hitches. I took the wrong exit from a roundabout and wound up back on the autoroute, but it a good spot to exit again right away and be back at that same round about shortly thereafter. After lugging my bags to the station, I had to navigate both a lunch counter and the bathroom with them before boarding the train, and when I boarded, my seat was at the other end of the car.

But I made it to Aix, and the woman I was renting a studio apartment from was there to beet me as planned. And I had a day to settle in and remember where things were in that city before starting classes Monday morning.

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With my time in Zambia over, I headed off to France.

Of course this is much easier to say than to do. My first flight was just after 1 PM, so the cab picked me up at 11 (the Livingstone Airport is quite tiny so this was more than enough time).

After a short flight to Johannesburg, I had about a 7 hour layover. Even with lounge access this is a long time, but with a guitar in tow it would have been difficult to head into the city, plus the airport is not really close to much of anything. So, after 5 weeks of bad nails, well maybe 4, I opted for a manicure and pedicure to pass at least part of the time. Then I headed to the lounge.

My next flight was on EgyptAir to Cairo, not too surprisingly, but somewhat disappointing none the less with two long flights and a layover with them, they are a dry airline. Less comforting was that the plane from JoBurg to Cairo looked like it was about to fall apart, at least the interior was. And the guide for using the video system was anything but user friendly. It just listed the movies in order without a channel number, and you had to count from the top down to figure out which one was where. The system was supposed to have touch screen navigation, but that didn’t really work either. Thankfully, I slept most of the flight.

I then had 5 hours in Cairo, which gave me time to get some breakfast and freshen up a bit as well as get caught up on some personal work. Then I was finally of to Paris. I wish that this plane was what we had on the longer flight, as it was much newer and had much nicer seats.

Finally, I was in the country of my destination, but I still had a long way to go. And upon gathering my luggage and heading off towards the train, I realized that one of the wheels had broken on my bag. Of course I realized this after leaving the baggage area so I couldn’t easily make a claim, I know wheels aren’t generally covered, but the bag was cracked as well, so I will still to try to do this. Note: this makes the score suitcases 2, me 0 for this trip.

This time, I had about 3 hours until my train to Narbonne. But at least I was getting to the last leg of my trip. Finally I was on the TGV, and just had to stay awake to not miss my stop. The rest was easy. My arranged cab driver was there waiting with a sign, and got me safely to the chateau, where I met up with Ihla, owner of Drifter Sister and she got me settled in the little house right next to the castle where I would be staying for the next 6 nights.

And after 37 hours of travel, yes 37, and I didn’t even change a single time zone, I was ready to settle in after essentially losing a day and then some.

But, of course it was around midnight, so I had to be up pretty early again if I didn’t want to miss the outing to Collioure the next day, and I really didn’t want to miss it as it was one of my favorite day trips when I stayed in the castle with one of Ihla’s trips 3 years ago.

Needless to say, I made it, but I will leave the story of that trip for another post.

Greetings from Istanbul, yes you read right, Istanbul.

I must admit, that when things started getting violent here a few weeks ago I was worried that the trip I had planned for months would suffer, but so far, so good.

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I am here a day ahead of the rest of my group, so have just sat down to dinner at the rooftop restaurant of my hotel with this as my view. And so far I have not seen any sign of the issues that are developing daily.

That said, they will affect us a bit as we need to be a bit more cautious about where we go, and tomorrow before my friends arrive I have been told to stay close to the hotel or to walk towards the port. Neither of which seem to be bad options, and it wasn’t so much that other areas would be dangerous, more that streets might get closed between my going and returning such that I might have troubles getting back in an area where I don’t know my way around.

The journey also had a few issues, but I am sure all will be resolved soon. There were crazy thunderstorms in the US yesterday and as such my flight was about 2 hours late leaving and nearly as much arriving. This made what was to be a leisurely connection be not quite so and resulted in my bag not making my connecting flight.

Of course the ensuing paperwork took so long that I was sure my arranged ride to my hotel had left so when I didn’t see a placard with my name I didn’t even thing to retread the instructions to make sure that I was looking in the right place, which of course I wasn’t. Thankfully after a few text messages and some probably expensive calls to the US I was able to connect with my driver.

The drive was also interesting, we kept getting off of what appeared to be main roads to wind around and then join either the same main road or another one, I couldn’t always tell. Sometimes it looked like we were heading down a dead end only to have a new route appear just in time. I think out was to avoid traffic, which was quite slow but I’m not sure it helped all that much.

I then got a great surprise, they had arranged for our tour guide to meet me at my hotel even though I was arriving a day early. So after checking in and freshening up a bit (thanks to the travel kit I got on board since I was in first) I was able to have a drink with him, chat a bit, and then he took me to a local shop to buy something to wear tomorrow.

Finally, I must admit it is a strange feeling sitting here waiting for my check and hearing Rhapsody on Blue in the background, not the normal setting that I hear that in!

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