Saturday, October 5, 2013

Proud Holder of a French Visa

   Toulon gets a bad wrap for being rather industrial, not having much to offer the tourist and being, well, a bit grungy. Going with this in mind, I was weary of even stepping foot out of the car, but instead, we found a vibrant, clean, cultured city that I am eager to return to with my whole gang.
   It was the last of my meetings to finalize our visas. After all the work involved in the first process, I was skeptical of a full completion. We had time to grab a quick bite before my first obligation, and much to our surprise, a "take-out" sushi place was right in front of us.  It was inexpensive, as far as sushi goes, and a welcome taste while sitting on the huge Place de la Liberte. The sushi place had tables set up outside where you take your "take-out". The area was buzzing with others having lunch at the various cafes,  kids playing, couples strolling all around an enormous fountain in front of the Grand Hotel, which is now a theater.
    We felt the need to not be late for my meeting so off we went to find the rather obscure address. I found people incredibly friendly, offering us directions when we could not find the office. Here, I had a  physical exam and chest x-ray to ensure that I am not spreading Tuberculosis. I proved myself healthy and free of infectious disease, then we were sent several blocks further for the visa. Among the others waiting in line, was a fun guy from New York, looking to get a visa to allow him to travel back and forth from the States as he had purchased a fixer upper near the coast. He left the office in the clear- we were next. Are you on the edge of your seat?      I have nothing exciting to report, the meeting was without incident and we are now legal to be in Europe for the year. "Let's celebrate!", Oldest Child cheered. (She accompanied me, as she is homeschooling and I had no choice but to drag her along.) I was glad to have her company, though, as we had a really good day exploring.
   We wandered rather aimlessly off of the main boulevard, down lovely, narrow streets lined on both sides with enormous, flowering, hanging baskets. Stores were full of charm. Then, we would be funneled into a courtyard with cafes, chess games, accordion players and large shade trees. Continuing down another street with more charm, we were emptied on the port. There we found an old bookstore with a small English section, plenty of ticky-tacky shops and average looking restaurants, but the port was pretty with boats of all sizes and shapes. We were feeling like time was working against us so we backtracked, stopping to indulge in some wonderful chocolates at one of the boutiques.
   Oldest Child and I talked about what a pleasant day and nice city we had found in Toulon. We vowed to return before long.
A welcome flavor change
Place de la Liberte 
gorgeous hanging baskets lined these old streets
The Port- Tradition in the foreground, massive Cruise ship in the distance...
I am legal

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