Bienvenue à Toulouse

This morning we woke up in Toulouse. It’s been a week since we’ve moved to France (though the majority of our time so far was spent on vacation in Paris) and still it’s hard to believe that this is our new home.

We officially embarked for France the last Thursday in May. I spent our final morning in Connecticut packing our remaining belongings, while Matt stopped at the office for a few last-minute meetings. Just before noon he came back to pick me up and we played luggage cart Tetris, squishing all of our bags onto the bellman cart so we could get everything down to the rental car in one trip.

I think we’re starting to become pros at all of this moving around. When we got to the airport, Matt pulled up to the curb in the drop-off lane and we scrambled to shove all the bags right inside the doors of the check-in lobby before we got a ticket for parking in that lane. The one thing I’m not a pro at yet is timing when I need to use the bathroom, so I perched on one of our bags contemplating if there was any way I could get about 300 pounds of luggage across the hall to the nearest bathroom by myself (that, by the way, is not an exaggeration on the weight. I know because I saw the scale for those suckers.).

Our flight was out of Boston at 7:00, so we made sure to arrive in plenty of time for some pre-flight wine and cheese. As a nervous flier, a little liquid courage can go a long way to making the experience a little more relaxed and enjoyable.

While we sat, we discussed our thoughts and emotions on the big day finally being here. Matt admitted he was finally feeling the excitement; leading up to that Friday was such a whirlwind that nothing really sunk in until our bags were packed again and we were headed to the airport. I was excited, of course, and I guess a little nervous realizing it was game time. By the next morning, we would be in France and living there for an, as of yet, undetermined amount of time.

We imbibed and savored our last few hours on U.S. soil before boarding our plane and heading off to our new home. After dinner and drinks were served I fell asleep passed out and in about seven hours was able to look out the window and get a first glimpse of French soil.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

We caught our connecting flight out of Paris to Toulouse without a hiccup and were soon landing in our new city. During our flight, I made my first attempt at conversation in French when I asked our flight attendant for a coffee. I know my accent and pronunciation must have made her cringe, but she was polite enough to not comment on it and kindly handed me my cup of Nescafé. I spent the rest of the flight going back and forth between the French and English articles in the in-flight magazine to see if I could add some new words to my vocabulary (Matt was sitting a few rows behind me and apparently doing the same).

When we got to the airport, we got directions from the rental car desk to find our car. We only wandered into one wrong garage before we found our car and, miraculously, all of our bags fit into it! Then we made the most amazing discovery-Waze works over here! So we were able to use the app to navigate the narrow streets in Toulouse and find our new apartment (or in French, appartement).

We found some parking spaces out in front of our building and, not knowing if we would get a ticket there, lugged all of our bags into a rather small elevator to get to the lobby. There we comically tumbled out, bags and all, like clowns in a car.

In the lobby, we ran into one of Matt’s colleagues and his wife. After some quick introductions and discussions about getting the car parked before we went up to the room, Matt went with his colleague to take the car to the garage and I waited with the woman at the front desk. She explained the hours for the gym (yay, we have a gym!) and laundry room (boo, we have to do our own laundry!) while we waited.

After Matt returned, he signed some paperwork and we got final instructions before dragging our luggage back into the elevator and finally making it to our room. After about 18 hours of traveling, we were finally going to be able to kick our feet up and take in the breathtaking view from our room.

Well, we could kick our feet up after we grabbed some snacks. At this point we were also incredibly hungry, so we took a stroll over the canal to the closest little grocery store and picked up some treats.

We were like kids in a candy shop and I could have bought everything, but Matt kept us on track and, in the end, we stuck with staples of bread and cheese (and a few little treats).

We sampled a small bit of everything (except the shampoo and body wash of course and, surprisingly, the wine) as we made dinner plans with Matt’s colleague and his wife for about 7:00. I’ve learned that 7:00 is the earliest that many restaurants open for dinner. Late meals are certainly going to be something to get used to.

Dinner was at a cute little bistro called Winter Garden. It was tucked down a little alley not far from the capitol building. The server was kind and put up with me practicing my French to order goat cheese-stuffed raviolis and chicken. Matt got duck gizzards and duck breast. All of the food was delicious!
 We made sure we had room for wine and dessert as well. Matt ordered a pistachio ice cream and I ordered a chocolate mousse cake that was soaking in a vanilla bean custard and topped with fresh whipped cream.

The server kindly gave me a quick French lesson when I tried to order the billet (ticket) instead of check (l’addition). So I added a new phrase to my word bank: L’addition s’il vous plait (the check please).

The capitol building at night.

We took a short stroll through town after dinner to digest our food and made a quick detour for a night cap at a bar called The Classroom. It was a delightful evening, but Matt and I were both fading fast. So we called it a night after the last drink and the four of us made our way back to our apartments. Thus ended our first day in Toulouse and the first day of our new life.

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