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Sun Mar 22 2015: If I Had A Million Dollars

Aaaand we're tired again.

We rode further north underneath grey skies, typical of early spring in France. Branches are bare, the air is cold and the boring straight roads dump our weary bikes onto the outskirts of Dijon. We're staying at another AirBnB and our host Alain greets us at the apartment. Alain speaks only a bit of English - unfortunately about as much French as I do, but when he sees our bikes, I can sense that he really wants to ask us questions about our trip, but discussing anything above and beyond logistics just devolves into pantomimes and hapless, confused shrugs.

I really wished I had paid more attention in French classes at school. This is turning out to be the biggest regret of this trip - that I had the opportunity not just to learn another language, but to do it at an age when my brain was way more malleable such that new languages would come easier later on in life, like the way it does with Neda.

This church looked interesting, so we stopped for a break

Neda is Shocked to discover her bike can't use these charging stations.

We've actually chosen to stay in Dijon because we're meeting a couple of Internet friends here! Colleen and Dan are American ex-pats living in nearby Switzerland just a couple of hours away and when I mentioned to them our planned route, they volunteered to meet us along the way. Colleen is very active on the forums and has written up several of her motorcycle trips, but since she used to live on the west coast, I've never actually met her. But that didn't stop her from greeting us at our apartment with a big smile and a hug! Funny how you can feel like you know someone without ever having seen them in person!

We spent a nice evening over dinner chatting about bikes, Europe, travel - all things near and dear to our hearts. This animated discussion continued over breakfast the next day and I realized we were so engrossed in the great conversation that I hadn't taken any pictures! So as they were leaving to head back to Switzerland:

Wishing Colleen and Dan a safe trip back to Switzerland! See you again, soon!

We had been in Dijon for a few days now, just vegging in the apartment that we hadn't even made it outside to see the old city. Supposedly it was quite pretty. We're really dragging our feet to do any kind of sightseeing, but before leaving Dijon, we made a half-hearted effort to see the historic centre.

Cobble-stone roads mark our destination

Rows of chimera on the Church of Notre-Dame

Inside Notre-Dame, beautiful!

And my favorite - candles.

We walk around the old city and stumble upon a merry-go-round

Buildings showing off their half-timbered frames are examples of "colombage" architecture which is very common in France

And of course, when you're in Dijon, you have to try the Dijon mustard!

They say the best Dijon mustard is Edmond Fallot. We have never seen so many flavours of Dijon mustard! We visited the factory store downtown. It was a lot of fun trying all the different flavours until the store kicked us out when it was evident we weren't going to buy anything... So expensive! We're planning to pick some up in a grocery store where we know it will be cheaper than in the tourist district!

Hobos 4 Life! Window shopping...

Well, that was nice. Let's go!

Leaving Dijon

Onwards to Paris!!! Well, not quite...

We're still so tired, so we've booked into another AirBnB apartment in Vauréal, a suburb just 40 minutes north-west of the city. We've waited all winter to see Northern Europe and now that we're here, we don't really feel like going out. I don't feel so bad hibernating inside because the weather has been so grey, cold and rainy.

Our little suburban hideaway

Marielle, our AirBnB host, has welcomed us into her apartment by leaving us with a bottle of wine and a tub of something called terrine, which looks and tastes like pâté. I asked what the difference was, she couldn't explain, but she said it was *definitely* not pâté! I looked it up later on the Internet and still couldn't understand the difference. It seemed to be one of those funny Parisian je-ne-sais-quoi-mais-il-n'est-pas-pâté-certainement! :) But terrine turned out to be one of our favorite foods, and we kept going to and from the grocery store to buy more tubs of I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Pâté....

On a sad note we can't find any of the fancy Dijon mustards in Vauréal! We're only a couple of hours away and they only sell the plain Dijon mustard here. Totally regretting not stocking up on all the different flavours now. :(

Neda has found a new hobby!

For a while now, Neda's been plagued with a lack of a hobby. Unlike the blog, which I pretend to keep updated (but actually never do), she needs something to occupy herself. She's read over a thousand books while we've been on this trip, she's on Level 9,372 on Candy Crush and she's slowly going out of her mind. While I'm content to read and write, take pictures and edit videos, my wife is more of a hands-on kind of person and needs something physical to do, which is why she likes cooking, hiking, yoga, etc.

She's found the perfect hobby in needle-point. It keeps her hands busy, is portable enough for motorcycle travel and she really enjoys it. Neda told me it was something her mom used to as well.

I've been so worried about Neda's mood for a long time now, but already I sense a change from her previous bouts of restlessness.

Dropping Neda off at the airport. In the rain, of course...

Since we're staying in Vauréal for a while, we looked into flights to Italy so Neda could visit her sister and niece for a long weekend. I knew RyanAir flights were cheap, but I didn't know that it literally costs €19 to fly from Paris to Milan. It cost us more in gas to ride from Vaureal to the airport and back... Crazy!

So off she went! And while Neda spent time with family, I had a grand ole time not updating the blog and gorging myself on terrine!

With Neda back from Italy, our social calendar fills up in Vauréal

Marielle moved into her boyfriend's place while we stayed in her apartment and she invited us over for dinner one evening. They just lived down the street from us!

Hanging out with Marielle and Stefane

Our hosts were so friendly and gracious and although their English was not very good, it was still better than my French, and we were able to share a little bit about all of ourselves. I really like seeing how other people around the world live their everyday lives, how some things are so similar to us, and how other things may look and taste like pâté but are not.

Sorry, I can't let it go. It's pâté.

Stefane cooking us a traditional French meal from the region with cornish hen. Merveilleux!

We were introduced to Stefane's little boy, and they both encouraged him to practice his English with us. We spent the evening huddled around an iPad and an atlas sharing the pictures we had taken and pointing out where we had gone on the map. I realized that Marielle and Stefane were seizing the opportunity to demonstrate to Stefane's son how important it was to learn English.

And if things go according to plan, there'll be an additional future world traveler able to learn and converse in multiple languages wandering around this planet!

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