Having our bags take holiday’s without us proved to be a blessing in disguise. We got to travel on trains and buses without the hassle.
Travel light, travel easy.
From these words it is obvious my bags have returned. Relief !!
Trains From Marseille To Our Boat
Prior to departure from Hobart we had pre purchased first class tickets for the train. Stupid idea, and waste of $50, when we got to the train we couldn’t find the correct carriage and ended up going where ever we could find a spare seat along with the masses who were heading in the same direction.
Live and learn.
We were just grateful we arrived at the right trains each time and headed in the right direction. On one occasion we asked for directions (probably very poorly) and got incorrect information. It was the Captain double checking the information that saved us.
Old v New
Ancient buildings, train conductors wearing cute little square hats and blowing whistles to say the train was about to depart felt very old worldly. Train strikes, noise, pollution and sitting around with lots of other people felt very new worldly.
The old couple appeared to be in the know as they had brought a packed lunch to make the journey more enjoyable. At one point the train stopped in the middle of the country as the strikers had to be moved on by the police and the army.
Yes you read right Army!
What the hell!
(A sneaky photo as I wasn’t prepared to ask permission)
I had a hard time reconciling local train drivers needing the weight of the French army to sort out differences.
I didn’t know the protocols and wasn’t prepared to ask someone with a big gun. Maybe train duty is like baby steps training for the soldiers before they go and encounter greater enemies who may have their own guns…. Or maybe I have no idea on how mean spirited upset workers can be and what a reasonable response is….
No one else seemed too fussed, it was a nice day and we were heading in the right direction so in the end the French “PPRFFF” was worthy.
Once moving, watching the landscape and homes go by was like watching a movie in 4D. Still pinching myself that I am now in the Mediterranean. Stone houses, vineyards and field after field of unknown produce made for great viewing. However sleep soon overtook me for much of the journey as I was starting to feel the effects of the changing time zones.
My Captain tells me the movement of the train (minus the noise) was good training for the movement of a catamaran. Not sure about the truth of his comment, but as I needed sleep I didn’t care to argue.
First Steps Aboard
The moment we had been waiting for had finally arrived as we disembarked at train station Peppignan. From here it is a quick trip to the port town Canet de Roussillon and aboard our new home.
It’s hard to describe the first moments of moving about on my new home.
It was not as I had imagined. My first impression was that she was bigger than I remembered. Then in my dreams there was much excitement, joy filled welcome, popping of corks and kisses. Instead it was a quiet, gentle moment. The act of moving off the dock to the boat marked the passage of one life to another.
Captain Gaz with Mike “Man of International Waters “enjoy first moments.
What Is Living Aboard Like Thus Far
As yet we have still to take our boat from the marina as the commissioning process is slower than we thought. Instead for now Miss Catana is a very expensive houseboat. The most important fact is that my home is now living on board a boat.
I have moved to the suburb of Catana.
Never could I have imagined that there could be so many Catana’s from old to young in one place.
On my street I have two very close neighbours. One is the skipper of the mega 65 foot getting it ready for unknown owners. The second is a French couple who have purchased a second hand newish 50 ft. The wife looks like she has come from the boat catalogue along with other features you would put on a yacht.
Our girl looks small in comparison to the 50 footer on one side and the 65 foot on the other. The money and resources to have a 65 foot boat is so mind boggling I can’t even go there.
Just in case you don’t know the difference in size. Our boat is big to us but she is only a baby compared to the boat next door.
Horses for courses and I wouldn’t swap.
Bathrooms and Beds Are Important
Mum you will be pleased to know the bathroom is working well, though we have baby sized toilets. Like in kindergarten you have to bend down a long way to get to them. However the major bonus is that the toilets are easy to operate, use salt water, quiet and not electric. Also yesterday I was told that fixing any issue with toilets is the Captains duty. What a stella idea that is!
Based on the production of food from the kitchen week one I can say the kitchen / gallery is a roaring success. Everything takes a little longer, there is certainly less room than our old kitchen but the view is fantastic. The fridge and freezer in particular are the very best of quality. Handy.
Our bed is very comfy. Every night I have slept like a baby. Maybe it is the boat thing, maybe it is exhaustion but insomnia has not been a problem since we arrived.
A Rookie Error Has Taught A Valuable Yachting Lesson Early
Our boat is yet to sail and I already have had a saturated bed and linen problem.
After enthusiastically scrubbings the decks down I realised that I had left the hatches open in my bedroom. The angle of the window flap was perfect projection for all the water to pour straight from deck to inside and all over my bed.
When I had all the wet linen out as well as mattresses the boat looked more like a Chinese laundry than a luxury cruising yacht. Still not all bad, as there was sunshine the next day and we used little electric heaters to dry the mattress over night.
Take away lesson: Check and shut before you move or turn on a hose.
Other First In Our New Life
The French Pace
This seems like as good a time as any to mention the French pace of life. It is certainly slower, less bothered. I just don’t see people moving as fast as what they do at home.
Here they seem to hurry slowly.
Shopping in France has been an alien experience for me. This fact has caught me by surprise.
Supermarkets have a gazillion little items and options. So much to choose from. Yet in the super store we visited the shelves were so noticeably random. Apparently the suppliers rent space and they in turn decide what goes where. This organised chaos coupled with language issues made an already slow process more so.
If you love cheese this is a cheese Mecca.
Rows and rows of different shapes sizes and smells of cheese available, so much it would take a year to sample, let alone understand the finer points. We are though, having a decent crack (with some local French advice) at sampling the best on offer of cheese and olives available.
Bread. The bakers must be demi gods in their towns as their produce is divine.
Fruit and vegetables are also on the amazing list. Spanish peaches taste unbelievably good. They are squished in size so more disc shape than round. Yogurt comes in individual small jars rather than family size jumbo, while milk is mostly in long life form, not fresh….
Coffee. Special mention as I thought I was being a smarty pants when I ordered my first two cups of cafe, and received two short blacks, so strong I found myself unable to drink the contents of these tiny cups. Holy mother, apparently the French coffee is mild compared to the Italians, the locals must have cast iron guts to cope. Lesson learnt, I now order cappuccino which has at least a milk base to assist with the drink transfer from cup to body, or I shall stick to drinking tea.
The End Process Hasn’t Failed To Surprise
Checkouts. Every place seems to have huge queues. Long lines of people waiting to depart with their money, let down at the final exchange process. I cannot for the life of me work out, why only a small number of workers deal with large numbers of ever patient customers waiting to pay. At the same time you can see obvious management, with managerial costume, move up and down aisles looking self important. Crazy as it occurs in each and every store.
The Sunday market is the only place I have had instant service between seller and buyer.
Put simply Customer is Not King in France.
The Mediterranean. Even saying the word feels mystical. Our first swim – Salty Warm and Alone.
Our first opportunity was at 9 pm on the second night in. It was a watery delight. The water temperature is currently around 25 degrees. It is so nice to jump into water and not think your heart has stopped momentarily because of the cold! This is a very happy exchange with conditions at home.
The sand at the local beach is not as friendly as you may think. Course sand that is OK to walk on, yet for some reason there is a band of sharp rocks from ankle depth to waist high. Ouchy.
Time Is Different
Moving to a boat has changed the pace at which we do things. Things just take longer.
It is a good thing we are starting in France as the locals seem to understand the move slowly approach to life.
Yesterday was my first day of hand washing with a two bucket system. Standing in the sun watching a new world go by, challenged my need to go faster.
Graffiti is everywhere. Amazing buildings that have been here for centuries and someone thinks it’s OK to spray tag line on the walls. Are they mental in the head? Seriously.
This beautiful lighthouse is on the beach, has a base covered in spray paint artwork and name sharing.
Shopping in the supermarket for 3 hours in the total of 6 hours worth of shopping. I am yet to be convinced.
Most Memorable Moments Of Trip Thus Far
My first morning, I awoke, I started to think “how many days to go, what to do, busy, busy” Then I opened my eyes and looked at the view and realised exactly where I was. It was a sweet moment.
This is the wake up view. I took a photo straight away to remind myself how lucky I am.
One night, I awoke at midnight to an almighty noise. I went out to the front of the boat and was surrounded by colour and operatic music. This day was the national festival of music and as I sat alone immersed in fireworks and music it continued the surreal feelings of wonder I am currently going through.
Meeting my French Laure for the first time. The hugs, the laughter her presence on the boat has made it better.
Random Facts of Interest
The French think drinking red wine out of the recycled yogurt jar is nottt goood. (Please say that in a French Accent). Me I thought it was a top solution to no wine glasses.
If you take money out in public it must not be visible in your wallet at anytime. Be warned doing this will give your French hosts the horrors. Pick pockets on the other hand will be very interested to view the contents of your purse.
When parking a Catana 50 next door to the new Lagoon 47 make sure you allow for windage. Watching your boat have another run into her, looks quite painful and requires some hard explaining.
Most surprising is how difficult it has been to find a Sports Bar in these parts, that will be showing the Spanish v Australia game tomorrow evening.
How Am I Feeling
I certainly have a sense of how far from home we are.
The long flight and the continual differences, let you know you are a stranger in these parts. Realising that this is it and there is no turning back, increases the emotional intensities both good and bad. My emotional roller coaster is derailed by the small things but less and less each day.
When I think about my three and imagine what they are doing at that moment. Reading emails from my mum or seeing people walking dogs, they are all emotional hot spots that sting.
Then I am pinching myself with amazement at seeing what I see and being in the place that I am. Enjoying sunshine and warm water. Sitting on an amazing boat and knowing that she is ours to enjoy and learn on. I will be happier once the boat is moving and the shopping ends but if I had to give the experience a rating so far, it would be a 9/10 . This is more than my expectations and the same for my Captain. I can say we are very Happy.
From Canet de Roussellon