A technophilic couple with an adaptable and bilingual 11 year old and French-born 6 year old leave the USA again, this time permanently, to return to France in pursuit of good food and a different approach to life. The adventure continues.
We've been getting our Holiday on in the US! Lots of good food and fun and visiting with family and friends. Christmas dinner was a standing rib roast and among other yummy side dishes some phenomenal stuffing.
We made it out of Paris on Friday December 17 before the snow chaos hit, we were very lucky. We did have a 3 1/2 hour mechanical delay, oh well. Carrie picked us up at Dulles and we spent the night at her house and had a great visit. The next morning we went to see the model trains at Colvin Run Mill where Mitchell and David were setting up. Then it was on around to Kensington and of course, lunch at Continental Pizza! There is sewer construction on Grannie's street and a little bit of snow. Lots of excitement.
On Sunday Z and GG drove up from Wilmington, NC and we had a nice visit. On Monday night we all met Shana for dinner.
We had snow in Paris last week, 5 inches, and the city came to a halt (except for the metro). Alex has been enjoying the Winter Carnival in our town, riding the train, driving the cars, and the trampoline. He also made challah at Sunday Funday which was pretty good.
It's been very cold here and we've had snow flurries, but nothing compared to England and Germany. Our town is getting ready for Noël with lights and a winter carnival. We made latkes for Hanukkah and tried to make a potato nik.
I took a walking tour of the 12th arrondissement which includes the Bastille. In our town they have been hanging the holiday lights for 3 weeks now, precisely engineering the process. And check out those truck that lift off the ground!
Alex had his two week school vacances for Toussaint, but went to the Centre de Loisirs for play and arts and crafts. We've been enjoying walks in town and lots of cheese and sandwiches per usual. One day we walked down the Champs Elysees, then went to the Marais for pletzyls and on to the Place des Vosges.
We've been enjoying the month of October. The weather is just starting to get chilly, but there's still some sun and not too much rain. JD had a meeting in Berlin, and Alex is enjoying school and the park and another haircut.
Last weekend we had more back-to-school meetings at Alex's school which was nice. We learned about what he will do in his class, etc. Then we stopped for lunch at a very good Lebanese restaurant in our town. The weather has been very nice this September in Paris so we've enjoyed the playground after school. Our town was also setting up for a weekend Antiques/Food/Garden party. Then it was Yom Kippur, time for some more fish, and the weekend. pictures.
Alex is doing great in his new school and making friends and enjoying the gourmet lunches and using some French words. We are enjoying the 15 minute walk to his school as opposed to the 30 minute bus ride.
This past weekend we explored the 5th arrondissement and Latin Quarter some more - near the Pantheon, and the ruins of a Roman amphitheater. The we went to the Jardin des Plantes and the zoo to see if we could see the snow leopard cubs but unfortunately they were not out. We enjoyed many other animals and reptiles in the menagerie. Of course there was some eating and walking around too.
September 2nd was Alex's first day back to school - at his new French school in our town. He was a bit sad but held it together as we met his new teacher, Nathalie, and looked around the classroom. When I picked him up afterschool he was sad, but then started telling me about his day and what he ate for lunch - stick bones (drumsticks), lemon water (orange juice), smiley faces (apple slices in the shape of smiles), and tomatoes. For snack, he had chocolate milk (he didn't want it so he left it) and bread and jam. Then he said he played with some of the boys, and counted in French, the teacher read them stories, and they played outside on a "turtle". It's a really nice school and the teacher seems very nice, so we have no doubt Alex will adjust after a few days. There are 29 children in his class, 15 boys and 14 girls, one teacher and one assistant. And on the first day of school they had a nice woman there hugging and sitting with all the sad children.
Last week we met up with one of Alex's friends from school last year, Lucas, and enjoyed a long day in the park. On Saturday we took the train to Fontainbleau, where we had a great lunch and then toured the chateau and gardens.
Last week Alex got a haircut, we played in the parks and enjoyed the nice weather, and last Saturday took a nice long walk in the 17th. It was hot, 88°F, so we spent the afternoon at a cafe. Then we bought cheese, bread, wine and a roti chicken for dinner from our market. It was a good weekend!
On Friday the weather was still cloudy so we drove down the mountain on the proper road (a bit wider but not by much) and drove around Interlaken and the valleys. We found a great playground in Interlaken, and then a Hooters for lunch. The wings were just okay. We relaxed at the hotel and had an excellent meal at the restaurant.
On Saturday it was on to our last stop, Zurich. We didn't know that Saturday August 14th was the Zurich Street Parade, the largest technoparade in Europe. We enjoyed the people watching for sure. Then it was back to Paris on Sunday.
The Sound of Music Tour has entered Switzerland. We left Innsbruck and spent about 48 hours in Lucerne, or Luzern if you are more of the deutsch persuasion. While Switzerland has its own beautiful elements, the prices are not one of them. The country is, to put it bluntly, stupid expensive. Nevertheless we continue to have good meals (of course), including one of the better Greek meals I've ever eaten.
We're presently in Beatenberg (bee-AT-en-berg), which is just west of Interlaken (literally between the lakes). Following a Google Maps failure (i.e., wrong location of the hotel and consequently the wrong directions), we followed a VERY rural road to finally get to our hotel. In places there was less than one full lane's width. These places were typically found next to precipitous and likely fatal hundred-foot drops off a cliff. They were also usually on the right side of the car, which resulted in some questioning of my driving tactics from the passenger seat. NEVERTHELESS, we lived.
The adventure continues as Sunday we made our way from Bad Gastein to Innsbruck via... Italy. No, this was not a map failure. We decided to take a drive through the Alps and we had two choices: either through the Großglockner road or down across the north of Italy. If you take a look at the map you'll see how out of the way this was, but we're on vacation. Efficiency wasn't part of the equation. So we took an auto-train and had a delicious lunch in Brunico, then made it to Innsbruck just in time to watch United make Chelsea look positively ordinary as Scholesy cut them to ribbons and the Little Pea scored off his nose. (Note to United fans: googling "Irish Bar " is usually a good start to finding pubs off the beaten path in Europe.)
Innsbruck is a great little town, if a bit crowded with tourists and hikers of all ages and nationalities. Today, Monday, we've spent up in the mountains having taken the hairiest funicular/cable car ride I'll probably ever take. But the views were breathtaking.
We're off for a drink and a snack. More pictures soon!
What's the difference between a, say, California spa and an Austrian spa? In Austrian spas they allow kids and dogs and dinner entails big hunks of meat and dumplings and giant mugs of beer. Alles gut here in at the Hoteldorf Gruner Baum in Bad Gastein as The Sound of Music Tour continues. We're really enjoying relaxing our way through the Alps. Today we wandered around town, took naps and I had a massage from Birgitte. Tonight's dinner is a Farmer's Buffet. Stay tuned for the meat sweat-inducing pictures!
We moved on to Salzburg yesterday, home of everyone's favorite musical. In a word, it was madness. Tourists EVERYWHERE with more people than I've seen even under the Eiffel Tower. But of course we had some good food. Onward to Bad Gastein today.
Day one of the Sound of Music Tour... Vienna is a beautiful city with stunning architecture, charming neighborhoods and great food and drink. After a brief wander around last night, today we visited the Schönbrunn and the zoo. Lunch was a massive affair with boiled beef and veg for me and a spaetzle and cheese heart attack on a plate for Gab.
Barb, Bob and Bert were in Paris on vacation for the week, so we met up with them at their hotel in the 6th, which had a cool rooftop deck where we enjoyed lunch one day before they went to Strasbourg. Alex and I also went to check out the new playground in the Tuileries which is great. On Saturday JD's cousin David was passing through Paris after his trip to Aix-en-Provence, so we met up with him and walked around and had a great Mexican meal at a restaurant we found in the 16th.
Alex and I flew back a week ago and have been enjoying being back in Paris - especially the lovely summer weather with low humidity. Our first task was to bake a cake for JD's birthday on July 19th. Lincoln likes his new bed and sleeping spot in the closet. Alex was glad to get back to his scooter, the park, and watching the trash trucks. We've also purchased a new espresso machine.
pictures Andrea's pictures We spent the last few days in the US visiting and eating some goodies we can't get in France: wings and crab dip! We spent all day Friday at Mace and Suzanne's, visiting with Eddy and Angie and Aunt Beaty. You can't tell from the pictures it was 90 degrees and humid. Good thing their neighboor Jimmy let us use his pool.
Oh, and that 3.6 earthquake? It awoke us out of bed at 5:05 a.m......it's certainly been an exciting visit this time.
On Saturday I packed and we headed to Carrie's for a quick visit before the plane left at 10 p.m. for Paris.
pictures. Our trip to the US is almost up. Alex likes to jump on the futon, talk to his Dad in Paris on Skype, and help Grannie. On Friday we met Aunt Andrea for lunch in Glover Park and had shrimp tacos and a quesadilla at Surfside. On Saturday we dragged Alex to IKEA where he enjoyed trying out the furniture and the lingonberry soda. On Monday we met Aunt Shana in DC for dinner at a Greek place in Dupont Circle called Mourayo. We took the Metro and there was a fire and the escalators and elevators were out at Dupont Circle so there was a little excitement with firefighters and local news crews. Then yesterday we went out to Edgewater to visit Suzanne and Eddy since Aunt Beaty was in town from Charlotte. We are going back on Friday for a longer visit.
pictures. So, it's been over 100°F now for several days in the DC area so that leaves little to do but play in the kiddie pool or stay inside in the air conditioning. Alex wasn't even interested in his soccer class it was so hot. Today we took a quick field trip to the National Capital Trolley Museum for a ride and tour. Alex loved it. Then there was more sprinkler and naps and fruit snacks.
Alex and I have been hanging out in Kensington with Grannie and Papa, taking naps, eating out, going to the mall. We've just returned from a 4 day trip to Wilmington to see Toots & Poppie. We were lucky enough to get to go to the beach for 2 days to visit Diane and Murray and their children and grandchildren. Alex had a great time playing in the sand and ocean with Nathan.
Alex and I are in the US for a quick summer visit. Alex is enjoying his usual routine at Grannie's - playing in the kiddie pool, eating popsicles and waffles, getting a haircut, and basically ruling the house. I had a quick jaunt to Boston with the Kurtz women (Margaret, Rose, Barb and Carrie) to visit Kathleen, and let's just say we had a great time and ate our way around Boston. Fun fun fun. And of course we did a Duck Tour!
Alex was invited to another birthday party yesterday at the Jardin d'Acclimatation. There was a magician and lots of fun. We have to teach Alex that only the birthday person gets to blow out the candles!
Friday at school they took Alex's class swimming for the day. All the children had a great time - note, they are required to wear bathing caps in France, and no "loose shorts" for the boys. And perhaps only in France will you find the teacher in a bikini! Just my suspicion. Alex is wearing a red cap.
On Saturday Alex was invited to Jean's 4th birthday party. Matt Black sang and everyone had a great time - it was 82 degrees and a nice hot summer day! We also celebrated Jean's sister Yasmina's 3rd birthday. She was kind enough to share her real birthday with Jean for his party. Lennen swimming All Day Nursery. Jean's birthday party.
We had a quick weekend jaunt to Dublin. A nice time, lots of good food and beer and late night dancing - we stayed in a hotel above a nightclub that we discovered was the hot spot for Stag and Hen Weekends for folks popping over from England on Easyjet. There was some good people watching. We also managed to find some decent Mexican food and a great wine and cheese bar. Alex liked the hotel, jumping on the bed, watching cartoons in Gaelic, and the fact that the bars played a lot of ABBA.
The weather finally turned from freezing cold to blazing hot (82°F) over the weekend. It has since cooled down a bit. We had a nice 3-day weekend (Monday was Pentecost) where we enjoyed walking around our town and trying out a local butcher for veal sausage with basil (not pictured) and lamb kabobs (brochettes). Alex has also been practicing putting his ears under the water in the bathtub. Champ de Mars and go karts. Weekend hot sunny margaritas and burgers. Weds in park after school.
It was a big week this week. We moved to a new apartment in Levallois. Everything went well with the move and took very little time since all we have is clothing and books and some electronics.
Alex loves his new bedroom and the bathtub! Lincoln is still busy exploring the new space, and we are all looking forward to living in the heart of Levallois, right across the street from the market and in the pedestrian and retail area of the town. Another bonus of the new apartment is that we are on the 1st floor (second in the US) and underneath us is a store, so Alex can run and make as much noise as he wants. And there are 2 boys in the building who are 5 years old that we need to meet. Cleaning old and new apartment. Moving Day. School and playground. New apartment. Weds afternoon Valentina's.
We did a lot during Toots & Poppie's last 3 days in Paris. On Weds we went to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, then they walked around Les Halles and the Marais again. They also ate at the best falafel place in Paris, L'As du Fallafel. On Thurs we went to Versailles and toured the Chateau and Petit Trianon.
On Friday we walked all around the 7th arrondissement, including the Rue Cler street market. Then we headed over to the 6th where we went to Bon Marche and the Jardin du Luxembourg. Then it was one last stop up to Montmarte and Sacre Coeur. Unfortunately it was mobbed with people so we hastily went back down the hill to the Moulin Rouge and then back to the apartment.
We took a 4 day road trip with Toots & Poppie to Normandy. We stopped in Rouen for lunch the first day. Then we toured the D-Day Beaches, including Arromanches-Les-Bains and Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery. Then we drove through Bayeaux and saw the Bayeux tapestry. Then we stayed in Honfleur for 2 nights, and drove to the coastal towns of Étretat and Yport and Fécamp. On the way back to Paris we stopped in Giverny.
Pictures. Friday May 7th was the "Spring Fling" at Alex's school. My friend Gail was in charge of organizing the event for 200 adults and children, and I helped her, as did other Mom's from Alex's class, including Paula and Elena. We had a raffle, champagne and snacks catered by Air France, and music and entertainment for the children, and adults.
Toots and Poppie are in town to visit! Unfortunately the weather has been really cold, but hopefully it will turn warm again. This week in school Alex was reading "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" (Boucle d'Or et Les Trois Ours), and celebrated Alex's birthday in his class.
We got Alex a scooter(trottinette) for his birthday which he loves and has been practicing using. Other than that, some more of the last days of Spring Break, the weather was hot and sunny so we went to the park and also the amusement park the Jardin d'Acclimatation.
Alex has been enjoying his two week Spring Break (April 17 - May 2). We've been to the playground a lot, and met friends in the Champ de Mars for picnics. Alex even got to ride the "horses" in the Champ de Mars - we think some are really donkeys.