Saturday, October 11, 2008

New bisontins and a visit to the pool

Today we went to a free "Welcome to Besançon" event in centre ville, which was a great way to get more info on local attractions, and we got to meet the mayor because we are from 'so far away'. Then we headed home for lunch, to switch the laundry, and then we went out to the pool. The pool is at least a 45 minute bus ride from here, but it was well worth it--it's an amazing olympic-sized pool with two additional pools for kids, a tube slide, and a hot tub.

Yesterday I called the pool to confirm it was open and to see what paperwork we might need--but had to get help on the phone from one of my coworkers, Regis, since they couldn't understand my accent. Yet, despite our preparations, we blundered as usual. I had to call the pool again because I couldn't figure out what bus to take--and again they couldn't understand a word I said except to confirm that I had definitely called the 'piscine La Fayette'... until another person got on the phone. She figured out I wanted a bus and told me I could take a 2 or a 5 out to its terminus. We got there, and it was still about 1/4 of a mile from the pool, and we had no idea which way to go. Luckily the bus driver pointed us in the right way, and after cutting through some parking lots we found the pool. It was easy enough to figure out how to pay for tickets (and thanks to the Welcome event mentioned above, we had one free admission), and to buy the required bonnets (or swim caps), but then we needed to go downstairs and all the signs indicated we should take off our shoes. We did this, but then weren't sure what to do next. There were a couple of stalls nearby for changing into swimsuits but as soon as we came out of there and walked through this foot washing station, we found a lot more changing stalls and lots of lockers. Then there were signs that indicated we needed to soap, and shower. This whole setup was so geared to hygiene that motion detectors washed us (as well as almost soaking our towels) once again as we headed out to the pool. I've never seen such a high tech pool, but it was an amazing place for the kids. The various kid pools are graded so that children of any age can crawl, wade, or swim at a depth they feel comfortable with, and set up in such a way as to encourage the children to move into the next depth when they feel comfortable doing so. I can't wait to sign the kids up for swim lessons at this place--if the instruction matches the facilities, it seems like a really safe and gentle place to get the hang of being in the water. Zander and Callie were swimming on their backs as well as on their bellies--they are so ready for lessons!

On the way home we stopped by the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for baking cookies--baking powder and baking soda or cream of tartar and vanilla extract. Rebecca had previously looked up online to find out they are called cuisine poudre or bicarbonate and cusine seudre and crème de tartre and extrait vanille-- but in a truly blunderful way, nothing was called what our dictionaries said it should be and we could only find bicarbonate and something like arome de vanille so we had to give up and go home. On the way Rebecca suggested we ask Olivier if he knew where to buy it, or if he happened to have any--he told us that normally people use levure chimique here instead, and he did have that... so now Rebecca's finishing up the cookies, but because of the french butter, her lack of cooking essentials like measuring cups, a wooden spoon, and a tempermental oven--they're not quite the same. Still delicous, though :)

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