Europe is now halfway through the summer season and while new government-imposed restrictions were implemented at the start of this week in France, that will still not stop most of the people to enjoy the warm weather to soak up under the sun, enjoy the school holidays and be with family and friends. I always say this in most of my Instagram posts, always keep safe and observe proper hygiene and safe distancing.
Now, as an Asian in Europe, one of the things I noticed here in France was that there was not enough shade to protect us from the harmful rays of the sun. Yes, there are some trees on the streets but most of the time, you will have to endure it and walk on the sunshine. Nobody (or only a few) uses umbrella, too.
I have two days off from work because I have some expiring holidays this month that I have to use. I don’t know where to go and as I was reading my book of France (it includes some stories, tour guides and maps), I checked how much to spend, what to see and do, the health and safety regulations and I came into a conclusion that, nope, not now. I still cannot go and it made me sad. That would somehow contribute to the local economy but with all the options I’ve had, I cannot go any further than my neighboring towns for now. I’m thinking about where to go and what to do tomorrow, but today, I decided to go to Nice.
I don’t know if I will be able to continue with this series of The Sunday Currently. Depending on how you look at it, Sunday is either the start or end of the week. For me, it’s the end of a week/weekend, and today, I started my morning by attending the online streaming of the Catholic mass officiated by H.E. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in Rome.
I planned to go to Nice to explore the shops but I feel lazy going out in the hot weather, plus some of the shops that I want to go are closed today. So I decided to focus more on my blog by posting some travel stuff and scheduling some short stories that I wrote a few years ago.
I had the chance to trek the mountains surrounding Mt. Pinatubo in 2017 with my friends/colleagues from Bangkok and Manila. I went to the Philippines in May to conduct a training to a new team in the office and during the weekend, we decided to explore the mountainous area wherein the last recorded eruption was in 1991. I was still young that time, but I could still remember the seemingly endless ash fall raining down upon us and the dark skies that covered the major part of the main island of Luzon.
Moving to Europe was an entirely new adventure for me, and one of my dreams would be to visit Spain, whatever region, whenever. It came true when one of my best friends went for her annual European business trips during autumn season in Portugal, and we decided to hit the streets of Spain this time. The last time we met, we were in Paris. This time, it was the chance for España. It was in 2019 BC (before Covid19).
We chose Barcelona because it was the easiest place among the options that matched our schedules and budget. We were both busy at work so we also did not have the time to plan an itinerary for a week of adventure.
I believe that most people here in France was tuned in on TV last Easter Monday, April 13, a French public holiday. President Emmanuel Macron has scheduled a speech at eight in the evening and we anticipated that an extension of the lockdown would be announced. Indeed, the confinement will be extended until the 11th of May and at that point, I told myself that I can still manage. Sometimes, it was taking its toll on me mentally and emotionally. I have to reach out to my family and friends, and it was difficult. In those first few days that I was confined here in my apartment, I had my firsts with the things I have been wanting to do.
I was able to bake my own bread. I am not a professional baker, so the bread that I made was not perfect. But I am willing to try again, and hopefully, the yeast would be my friend soon.
It was June 2019, where there was a long weekend holiday, that I decided spontaneously about going somewhere else. My colleagues had plans already, and I thought why not do something on my own?
So, I decided, on a Thursday that I will go to Avignon. I have a Michelin travel book of France, and I have been browsing that day where in the country should I go next and saw the beautiful photo of an unfinished bridge, hahaha!
It has been almost two years since I moved from Asia to Europe, particularly here in the south of France. Life in Côte d’Azur is different from the other places in Europe. Right now, it is winter. But our winter here is nothing compared to our neighbors from the north. Mornings are difficult but halfway through the day, it was very sunny that we have to take our coats and bask in the warm rays of the sun. With those months of adjustment in this new life, I decided to try on blogging. I would like to share my lifestyle and travel experiences that hopefully will help some. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more.
According to Wikipedia, the Île Sainte-Marguerite is the largest of the Lérins Islands, about half a mile off shore from the French Riviera town of Cannes. The island is approximately 3 kilometres in length and 900 metres across.
Last October, me and my colleagues decided to visit the islands as there was an ongoing exhibition about the Man in the Iron Mask. The mystery that surrounded this unknown prisoner has brought us to the island. Also, this island has a forest filled with guided paths and areas for picnic. It was a calming respite from the crowded scenes of the mainland.
What can I say? Time flies when you’re having fun. And I did, still do. I have always wanted to go to Europe and the opportunity given to me by my job to move and work in France was something that I could not pass. It has been a year since that momentous move. I’m still trying to cope with the culture and language, but I’m enjoying it.
One of the things I enjoyed doing was traveling. As a resident, I can go anywhere within the Schengen countries without worrying about visa since I’m a Filipino passport holder. Within a year, I was able to travel to Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Spain, and some parts of France. I have my favorites but that will be in another post.
Living in France is a challenge for an expat like me. Not only with the language, and the culture, but also with the bureaucracy. French offices love papers, a lot. I made sure that I accomplished all the forms that HR sent me before moving here last year. The company hired a third-party team to help expats get settled easily. In less than four months, I finally got my resident card. Before the year ends, I finally got my health card and social security card. By the new year, I finally had my own general doctor, dentist, ob-gyne – which are all very important to me.
Now that somehow, I’m settled here, I want to focus on the things I want to do on the side when I’m off from work. I want to be re-acquainted with the arts, say hello to my brushes and paints again. Also, to dedicate time to finish writing. Hopefully by the end of 2019, I was able to complete one original story and make it a book. I’m in the process of one right now. Perhaps when I have the time to share the progress, I will put it here. Right now, I’m trying to put my presence back in social media, starting with this blog, and then Twitter, Facebook Page and Instagram.
Before 2017 ended, I was contemplating a decision to try my luck in applying for a position in our office in Nice, France. I even remembered telling this to my Dad over a bottle of wine and some nuts. After my Christmas holiday in Manila, I went back to Bangkok, invigorated. My manager called me to his office and, surprisingly, asked about the position (as it was still open), and if I’m interested. He factored in my strengths and weaknesses, aside from the fact that I’m single and it would be a great opportunity for me to grow and experience more. I told him that I was thinking about it. There were two positions open, one in Miami, FL USA and the other was in Nice, FR. While the cultural adjustment in Miami would have been easier, I have always wanted to go to Europe so I said, sure, why not? I tried for the position.
After two conference calls within three weeks, I got the position and soon, I’m bound for France. It’s going to be a new chapter for me. I remembered my sister said that if this decision made me feel excited and scared, then I should go for it.
I will definitely go for it.
From tom yum to a croissant. The comparison might not be the same but hey, the transition is happening. I’m moving out of Thailand and off to France. And it’s going to be soon! 🙂