Sundays are interesting days in Europe. Everything is closed. Everything. We found one large grocery store that is open until 1pm, but that’s it. Sundays are literally a day of rest. I kinda didn’t know what to do with myself.
I knew the deal with Sundays beforehand, thanks to a heads up from my Montpellier sensei, The Haute Housewife (or Natalie, if you prefer names). Dave and I went grocery shopping on Saturday, making sure we had enough rations to get us through Sunday’s meals, but when the day actually came, we weren’t really sure what to do. We had considered the beach but upon looking at the Sunday bus schedule, we figured it might be better to adventure that way another day, when the bus comes more than once every couple of hours.
We’d heard that Montpellier has an awesome zoo and aquarium, so we took to the interwebs to see about the schedule for either of them. Both were open, but the zoo warned that the animals disappear during hot weather and we weren’t interested in trekking out there just to see animals not show up. That left the aquarium. And, bonus, it was not only open on Sunday, but accessible via tram.
Sidenote: Montpellier has a few different options for public transit. For longer trips (think city-to-city) there is the train. Then, for travel within the greater city limits, but outside of the city center, there is a bus. Finally, for trips around the city center (essentially as far as I can tell, anyway) there is the tram, which looks like an above ground subway and is similar to Muni in San Francisco, I think. The tram is where I’m most comfortable and kinda have a grasp on the stops and the directions which will ultimately get me home, which is a plus.
So anyway, we headed to the Odysseum, which is a huge shopping center (which we discovered on Monday) but also has the aquarium on the edge of it. We just did the aquarium on Sunday (it was the only thing open, really) and saw some interested marine life. I also got to “steer a ship” during a storm, which was an exhibit made for little kids (and me, apparently) at which the floor moves up and down behind a faux ship “dashboard” (I don’t know what you call the control panel of a ship. I will have to ask Dave’s dad. He’d know.) It was a cool detour between learning about the creatures of the ocean.
By the time we returned home, I was fairly tired from all the exploring of the week. The day before, we had gone exploring over to Dave’s school and learned that it was about a 35-40 minute walk (one way) from our current residence. There is a bus stop nearby so Dave will probably take that occasionally and walk when he feels like it. Which will probably be often. That man can walk. And in flip-flops no less. I’m terribly impressed because if I plan on walking anywhere for more than 15 minutes, I’m switching to my Nikes to save my feet the hassle. Not him. He could probably scale a mountain in flip-flops and still be comfortable. But I digress…
Saturday night, after stocking up for the Sunday closure, we explored some more and found a patio where we stopped to have a glass of wine before dinner. It was around 5pm and we had to kill time because we were going to go grab a bite to eat but they eat so late here! 8pm is on the early side! If you ask me, 8pm is halfway between my dinner hour and my bedtime. But since we were going out in public to eat, Dave insisted we wait as long as we could stand it so we didn’t stick out since the restaurants are still practically setting up for dinner service at 6pm. I told him I didn’t care if I was eating with the senior-discount crowd, 7pm was as long as I could hack it that day. We wound up a restaurant right outside our place, which wasn’t bad (not great, but not bad).
I’ll do a post on observations of Montpellier life soon but one of the things I noticed that they take their time when serving and delivering the check. They really do take that slower pace of life thing seriously. They bring take your beverage order then give you plenty of time to think about your meal choice. Then it takes some time to prepare and be served. They really aren’t concerned with flipping tables. It’s not a bad thing, unless you’re ready to leave and you are waiting for the check. We try to watch other people to see about customs of the specific restaurants and whether or not it’s appropriate to get up and ask for the check or if sending body language signals that we’re finished is customary.
Yesterday (Monday), life had returned to the area and we have been on a mission to find Dave some sneakers (it will be the rainy season soon and even he won’t wear flip-flops to walk to school in the winter when it’s cold). While we were at the aquarium, we noticed signs for a few stores so we took the tram back there yesterday to do some exploring.
Holy hell, Batman.
It was like an American shopping plaza and outdoor mall where everyone spoke French. I think I hit sensory overload upon entering Géant Casino, we quickly realized it was like a Costco and a Super Wal-Mart had a baby and named it Géant Casino.
It had everything you could possibly imagine: socks, bicycles, luggage, produce, cereal, small appliances. Good grief. Dave and I were shell-shocked. An ice cream cone was the only way to snap me out of it…at least that’s what I told Dave would do the trick 🙂
We didn’t even buy anything because we weren’t sure where to begin. Sheesh. To boot, we didn’t even find Dave any shoes elsewhere in the mall. The same mall where GUESS clothing is almost TWICE the price (in dollars) as it is in the States. I compared with Leigh last night. A pair of jeans here is 150 euro but is currently offered for $98 in America. That translates to $187.50 in France. I need to get started with an importing business stat.
Phew. So that’s the latest. Dave walked over to school today to get his student ID and whatnot. I’m supposed to be conjugating French verbs so I can know what the heck people are saying here but this blog was overdue. I would have done it yesterday to help with the length a bit (now it’s a novel) but someone from the group Anonymous took down GoDaddy and therefore my site(s) with it. Big jerks.
plus d’histoires à venir
(more stories coming soon)
So glad you are getting settled in and that you’ve discovered the Odyssuem. It’s the land of Ikea, which I’m sure you’ll be visiting often when you get your apartment 🙂 And the aquarium is really cool – we went with our nephew this past spring. Although, I thought that shipwreck thing was too scary for kids!! ha!
Loved the post. Thanks for taking the time to write it. Merci pour le cadeau. (hope you know what this means, because I don’t, other than the thank you part!)