Jerry and Sandy

Jerry and Sandy

Jerry and Sandy

We are two "sort-of" grownups that have decided to leave our workaday world for a "gap year" in Europe. We would like to experience the daily life in another culture and better understand it's people. We are starting out in rural France and at this point our next stops are still open.

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona February 11th 2013

Hi there, We have entertained our first visitors from the US - My niece Katlin and my sister-in-law Julie from Maine. They came in through Barcelona since it is the closest and cheapest airport to our home in St Chinian. So we had the challenge of negotiating in a new country. We drove to get them, about 4 hours, on the French and Spanish superhighways. Feeling confident in our new ability to negotiate French ticket and toll gates, we set off to Spain. But not so fast.... Turns out the Spanish have a different system to pay which involves either a prepaid card or your own VISA. It must be helpful to understand a bit of Spanish to negotiate the toll booth signs. Failing that, we were greeted at each toll booth by a Spaniard yelling ... read more
Dripping with Art!
Organic Architecture
Sacred Forest

Europe » France » Languedoc-Roussillon » Saint-Chinian January 17th 2013

With Christmas over, it is Bonne Annee to all of you from St Chinian. Part of our desire to live for a time in one place, was to experience life as a citizen and not a tourist. The quiet winter months in Southern France provide the opportunity to find our what our French neighbors do while preparing for the influx of summer tourists. First big news -- We had snow yesterday!! it's the first time ever that I haven't had to figure out how to get to work and get staff in. All that we had to do was enjoy the scenery. We got about 4" but that was enough to close all the village shops for the afternoon. In Britain, the salt machines are called "gritters". I don't think they have a name here because ... read more

Europe » France » Languedoc-Roussillon December 4th 2012

We are living in the Languedoc region in the Southeastern part of France. Ths area is the largest wine-producing region in the world! Not just France but the world! So it seems like we should talk about the things we have learned and consumed related to wine. We started our trip up north in Poutou Charentes, where St Emilion is located. It was in October and we were lucky enough to be there during 'Vendange" or harvest. Vines everywhere and lots of commercial production. But we visited a small local producer, Domaine Lascaux. We were greeted by Christian who was a wealth of knowledge about French wines and their production. We learned that there are strict regulations in France for sulfites in red wine but none for white wine. Consequently, the white wine can be chock ... read more
Christian The Winemaker
Bountiful Harvest
Unloading the Fruit

Europe » France » Languedoc-Roussillon » Saint-Chinian November 1st 2012

I am changing my approach with this blog. There has been so darn much to see and do, I am currently about 12 cities behind and a month late in my blog. This doesn't give the reader much of an idea of what we are doing now. So on the advice of a seasoned blogger, I am going to jump to the present and catch up later with cities we visited in the Poitou Charentes region. So we are now in St Chinian which is in the south of France, West of Provence. We will be here until at least April, or about 6 months. We chose to live here because of the climate, the history and the wine. We read that this area was a well kept secret. Since it borders the Meditteranean, the climate ... read more
Canal outside our windows
Our Living room
Cooking French style

Europe » France » Poitou-Charentes October 8th 2012

We are going today to a town called Brantome east of Angouleme. It is known as the "Venice of France". We lived in Venice CA and are anxious to see if this town is an worthy rival for the title. There is a small church here and what was once a monastery is now offices including the Tourist information office. The beauty of this town is clearly the river and the park beside. This park was built as a place for the monks to meditate and it still serves the purpose well. A few souvenirs shops and cafes line the cobblestone street along the river. Since we are here in the fall, the town is not as jammed as it could be. But the weather is still warm enough to encourage outside wandering. So we wander ... read more
Entry to the town
Venice of France
Life along the canal

Europe » France » Poitou-Charentes October 5th 2012

We decided to expand our horizons and take a road trip to Castle De Rogeac or the Castle in the Rock. It was built in the 12th century but there have been folks living here since prehistoric times. It was a natural cliff with a cave that the builders expanded until it became a multistory castle. It is well protected with a great view of all the land around, so good for defensive action. There are two approaches labeled Steep and easy. In my opinion, both require a bit of sweat. Of course, how else would you get into a castle on a cliff? On the lowest level, the kitchen is a great picture of cooking in those times. Lots of antique utensils and a beautiful 16th century sideboard. On this same level there is a ... read more
Inside the Castle
A life of crime
Receiving villagers

Europe » France » Poitou-Charentes October 3rd 2012

At the recommendation of our hosts, we are off to visit our first village - Aubuterre. Aubuterre is about 15 minutes from Chalais and is listed as "One of the Beautiful Villages in France". This sounds like the perfect recommendation for a visit and one you will see us use in the future. This village was built in the 11th and 12th century with a typical "Centre de Ville" and shops around. For us, it is an opportunity to practice our driving skills in narrow, twisty streets. Sure am glad we decided on a smaller car. Better to have a bit less leg room but turn the car in with all it's fenders and mirrors. In the early days of the village, the monks carved an amazing underground church out of the cliff. Once finished, it ... read more
More shops
cafe life
Entrance to the underground church

Europe » France » Poitou-Charentes October 1st 2012

Finally, after months of planning, we have arrived to begin our adventure in France. We are starting in a less visited but very beautiful area of France called Poitou-Charentes. It includes Bordeaux, St Emilion and the areas south and east. The Maritime portion of this area has lovely seaports on the Atlantic. But we will be living for a month in the Charentes, which is far different. Farmlands abound and at this time of year it is all about the last harvest and turning the dirt for the winter. Cognac is within this region but the local farmers make an apertif called Pineau de Charentes that is a less alcoholic tasting combination of wine and cognac in red and white varieties. Our small village of Chalais is about an hour south of Angouleme. It is typical ... read more
Our living room in Chalais
Our 1st French dinner
Our host Tony

After spending 5 months working at a hospital in Los Angeles, we are ready to begin our drive up the West Coast to see our friends in Oregon and Washington. The folks at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance gave me a great sendoff and I am grateful for the time I spent there. In my experience, faith based hospitals have a different approach to the care of the patient and the family. At Little Company of Mary, this is described in their motto to "ease the way of others". During the time I spent here there were so many experiences of thier caring behavior. On Nurses day, they met nurses at the door and blessed their hands. When a manager decided to move to another organization, they had a "sending forth" ceremony in which ... read more
Sister Terrence and I
The Perioperative Gang
OR Stars!

Our home base is Seattle Washington. As we started our journey, we packed our things in storage and rented our home. After saying goodbye to our great friends in Seattle, we took off for our first stop in the adventure. We are beginning our journeys with a short stint in Los Angeles, specifically Marina del Rey. Sandy will be working at the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrance. While Jerry will be enjoying the life 2 blocks from Venice Beach. Our apartment is located only a few blocks away from the canals of Venice patterned, on a small scale, after those in Italy. The boardwalk in Venice is it's own entertainment. Folks feel very comfortable in displaying their own unique personalities. It's surprising to see folks selling marijuana at legal clinics for a $79 visit ... read more
venice canals
o2 stand
Venice man

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