Part 1 podcast report: I’m a guest on Join Us in France!

Join us in France podcast recap part 1

I’m a huge fan of podcasts, whether they are about France or something else. If you’re a fan of the Join Us in France podcast and you also follow me here on Frenchified, you’ll get a special treat with the December 10 episode. I did an interview a couple of months ago with Annie about my trip to France this summer and we talked about a lot of different things.

I never really did a trip report here on the blog, so I may as well do one now. You’ll hear a lot of it on the podcast, but of course there was quite a bit left out for time reasons. I don’t have those limitations here so I’ll share everything that I can remember.

What got left out of the podcast: the pre-France part of our trip

First stop: Dublin

Our trip started out with a few days in Ireland. We did this largely due to the flight availability. I use the United Explorer credit card as my main way of paying for pretty much EVERYTHING and racked up a ton of miles during the Covid times. While we could have flown directly to Poland or France, it would have been more inconvenient as far as travel goes and it would have cost a lot more miles to do so. Instead, we flew from Phoenix to Los Angeles, then straight to Dublin.

My husband, Zbyszek, had never been to Dublin before, so it was something new for him. We did have a bit of a monkey-wrench thrown into the works when my prescription glasses broke one day into the trip. We spent a good part of the first day walking around looking for a place to get them fixed. Although we used Google Maps, we got disoriented and wasted a lot of time just wandering around before we finally found a place with a Fast-Fix that could take care of them.

I had been to Dublin in 2018 and done the whole touristy thing. My husband didn’t really want to see the Book of Kells or any of the Guiness things, he just wanted to spend time on the beach. Our AirBNB was on the Strand, so that was perfect! We took a day trip to Houth on the DART and had a delicious lunch. Mostly, our time in Ireland was to deal with the jet lag and recover from our flight. We spent time just relaxing, walking around, and hoping that the lost cat in the neighborhood made his way back home.

On to Poland!

I think that I mentioned on the podcast that my husband is from Poland. He was born in Gdansk and moved to the US in the early 80’s. We went there in 1994 for our honeymoon, but he hadn’t been back since then. I was there in 2018 with the kids and I had told him that it had changed quite a bit since 1994! Communism had just fallen back then, and they still were very much an Eastern European country back then – you couldn’t buy a lot of things in the stores, and it was a bit of the wild west as far as regulations and what you could count on.

We stayed in an apartment in the old town of Gdansk, right near the market. I did talk about our lodgings on the podcast a bit – we stayed in AirBNBs the entire trip, and luckily I’ve had only good experiences. It was the perfect location, close to everything we wanted to see. My husband was thrilled to visit the places of his childhood, but he was also stunned by the transformation of the country. I had told him that Poland was very much like any other EU country, but I don’t think he really believed me, or he just didn’t understand what that really meant.

While in Poland, we visited some family who still lives there (cousins and aunt/uncle) and the graves of those who died while he was living in the US. We also went to the place where he lived as a child – the longest apartment building in Poland and one of the longest in Europe! Some things had changed, some things looked exactly the same.

One thing I definitely didn’t mention on the podcast was his trip to the local library. He had a book about ocean ships that he brought with him when he left Poland in the 80’s. He decided to return it, over 40 years later. He was really nervous, because he thought they might try to charge him a fine.

I went in and tried to explain the situation to the librarian in my very poor Polish. She was utterly confused, even with the help of Google translate. I convinced him to come inside and explain the situation. The librarians thought it was weird but funny that he brought it back.

Anyway, we spent two weeks in Poland and my husband enjoyed seeing the country after so many years. He had been concerned that he wouldn’t fit in, that people would be “angry” at him for leaving, for all sorts of crazy things. He found that most people were welcoming and kind, the country was doing quite well, and that he wouldn’t mind going back again for a visit or a longer stay. We saw churches, made a day trip to Oliwa, and visited the really interesting world war 2 museum.

On to France – with a very brief stop in Amsterdam

After our two weeks in Poland, we were finally headed to France! We had a SUPER early morning flight, which meant the car picking us up for the airport would be there before 4AM. I was surprised when they showed up exactly on time and we got to the airport with no troubles. We had a layover in Amsterdam – about 8 hours, so enough to go out into the city a bit. We took the train into the main city center and walked around for a bit.

While we had enough time to take a few pictures, walk around and buy some postcards, it wasn’t really enough to DO anything. So, we didn’t see the Anne Frank house or any other tourist attractions, but we can say that we’ve been to Amsterdam. The airport is quite nice, but there wasn’t a lot of open seating as it was really crowded. We grabbed some lunch and headed back to wait for our plane.

We finally arrive in France!

This is where my interview with Annie for the podcast begins, so some of this may be repetitive if you listen to the episode. As I explain to Annie in the podcast, the visit to France was less of a vacation and more of a fact-finding mission. We are only a couple of years away from retirement and we are considering our options for where we’d like to live – whether part-time or full-time. While my husband has been to France before, it has always been as part of a tourist group. He’s never been on his own, and he’s not visited many different places.

As I explain to her on the podcast, I wanted Zbyszek to see a wide variety of options – big cities, small towns, and medium cities. I also wanted him to get an idea of what housing was like – apartments, houses, townhouses, castles, etc. I wanted him to see Normandy and Brittany, but I also wanted to go to parts of France that I’ve never visited. She called my episode of the podcast “the road less traveled” and it was accurate – we went to a lot of places that were off the beaten tourist path, because I wanted him to get an idea of life in France, not vacation.

I had heard good things about Bordeaux, and that’s where we started. After our flight from Amsterdam took off, the pilot announced that due to an issue with the luggage loading system at the airport, almost NO bags had been put on the plane.

This was going to change the entire course of our trip, as I explain in great deal in the podcast! It meant that when we landed in Bordeaux, we had only the clothes on our back and the things in our carry-ons. I wasn’t worried because I’ve had this happen before – and the bags were delivered 24 hours later. Sadly, I was VERY WRONG in this instance. I’ll write about that more in part 2 of this post.

Part 1 podcast report: I'm a guest on Join Us in France!

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