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.
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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. . . .
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.
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.
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.
The adventure continues. . . .