Goodbye, Australia… Hello, France.

We ended the first chapter of our sabbatical adventure on Sunday night at 11:05 pm. That is the precise time that our Qatar Airways flight departed Perth International Airport. On one hand it was a relief because prior to that moment, we had spent the entire day frantically trying to get ready to go. This frenzy included buying a new suitcase at Target (yes, there are Targets in Australia) to replace a suitcase for which we had broken a wheel the first day of our trip (for future reference, don’t roll a fully loaded suitcase down the stairs, and then, don’t wait until the absolute last-minute to buy a replacement suitcase).

As we should have expected, the new Target suitcase was a piece o’ crap. The zipper separated several times while Ang was trying to pack it. Once we got to the airport we decided to just bite the bullet and buy a quality suitcase. The picture below shows Ang transferring her clothes from the new suitcase to the even newer suitcase in the luggage store in the airport. Syd is helpfully observing.

luggage
Ang in the luggage store at Perth International Airport moving her stuff out of the crap suitcase (grey) to the new and hopefully much better one (blue).

On the other hand, it was really hard to leave Australia. We loved Perth and made many wonderful friends and colleagues there.  Our friends Kevin and Donna drove us to the airport, and it seems fitting that we would spend our last bit of time with them. Our departure was very much a bitter-sweet affair. (Here’s a selfie we all took in Fremantle a few weeks before we left. Why do they look so glamorous while we look like a bunch of dorks staring into the sun?)

Kevin and Donna
A friend-filled selfie at the top of the war memorial (Monument Hill Memorial Reserve) in Fremantle.

Yes, it was difficult to leave a place that had very much begun to feel like home; however, it was time to begin the second chapter of our sabbatical adventure—seven weeks in Dijon, France. But first we had to get there.

The first leg of our journey was an 11-hour flight to Doha, Qatar where we had a relatively quick two-hour layover (click here to read about our previous adventure in Doha on our way to Australia). Here’s Syd standing in front of what may be the world’s saddest looking statue. Not sure what theme they are going for here, but clearly this guy’s flight has been delayed for way too long.

doha
The airport in Doha is pretty cool.

Our flight time from Doha to Paris was a relatively painless seven hours. Once in Paris we had to hang out in the airport for seven more hours in order to catch our train to Dijon. Dijon is only about two hours southeast of Paris; however, by the time we got onto the train we were all pretty ready to be done traveling. Here’s a very sleepy Syd and Ang on the train. They were both asleep about 15 minutes after this photo was taken. Sadly, one of us had to stay awake lest we miss our stop in Dijon.

train
The train from the airport in Paris to Dijon was awesome. Too bad we were so tired. Before the sun went down we were able to see a bit of the countryside, including yellow fields of canola in bloom.

We arrived in Dijon at 10 pm. Lucky for us, the person from whom we are renting our apartment was at the train station to pick us up and show us to the apartment. Our apartment is pretty cool. It is in the heart of the historic center of town. Here’s what the first floor looks like. I think we’ll be pretty comfortable here.

flat
Similar to our stay in Perth, our apartment here in Dijon is a long-term Airbnb.

Dijon is beautiful. We’ve spent the first couple of days getting over our jet-lag and exploring the narrow cobblestone streets, quaint shops, and Gothic cathedrals that make up this part of the city. I think we will have a lot of fun exploring streets like these. . . .

street2
Pretty much everywhere in the center of Dijon looks like this. Many of the streets are pedestrian-only.

And these….

street1
Dijon is known for its half-timber houses. Here’s a nice example on the left side of the street.

Here’s a portion of the city as viewed from the top of Philippe le Bon toren (the tower of Philippe le Bon). The panorama at the beginning of this post was also taken from the tower.

dijon from tower
The tower provided some really awesome views of the city and surrounding hills. The top of the hill in the upper right of the picture is planted to canola, which at this time of the year produces brilliant yellow flowers.

The video below shows the 13th century Église Notre-Dame (church of Notre Dame) and the surrounding town as viewed from the tower. Our apartment is less than a block from this church.

Of course, we’re not here in Dijon as mere tourists. We’ll be living here for the next seven weeks while I work with my colleagues at INRA (Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) (Click here for an overview of my sabbatical plans).

As far as work goes, thus far I’ve been able to get my INRA access badge and my tram card. The tram is basically a light rail service that gets me from the historic area in which we live to the Université de Bourgogne (where INRA is located) in about 15 minutes. Still working on my wifi access, though.

badge
Getting a pass to ride the public transportation in Dijon is more of a process than I was expecting. Notice they had to take my picture!

Over the next several weeks we’ll post more extensively about our adventures in Dijon. For now, I’ll close with this picture of some graffiti we came across near the Église Saint-Michel (Saint Michael Church). It seems appropriate given the nature of my research and the work my colleague Stephane Cordeau and I will be doing while I’m here. It’s not too often that you find weed-themed graffiti that does not look like the kind of weed that gets you stoned, even if this particular specimen appears to be a cross between an apple tree and broccoli.

weed

The adventure continues. . . .

One thought on “Goodbye, Australia… Hello, France.

  1. Nice! Enjoy France. Very different environment. Amazing to juxtapose the pics from Australia with the pics from France. I love those wooden framed houses and what I always think of as the “Parisian”-style buildings with the sloped roofs and inner courtyards. We had woodcuts in my childhood living room of streets that looked very similar – we brought them with us from Strasbourg.

    Liked by 1 person

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