Paris-Amsterdam

Paris-Amsterdam

I realize now that I did not even mention our visit to the Musee d’orsay, this is the museum that houses great works of art from Monet, Van Gough and Gaugan, this is the problem with Paris, it is so amazing, so filled with incredible things, that you can omit huge details, and the day still seems full. I also did not not mention Sophie sitting with a dog in the fancy restaurant, the kids newly developed skills of gypsy avoidance, the tiny little hotel room that we shared in Paris and the incredible visit to the Luxembourg gardens. Due to the fact that it is 12:00 at night and I am completely exhausted and need to get some sleep as we prepare for our big day tomorrow you are jut going to have to trust me when I say, Paris is the most incredible city. It was mind blowing, I loved it!

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Two hour line up to climb the stairs of Notre Dame Cathedral

We woke up today at 10:00, we needed the rest! After breakfast we checked out of our hotel, left our luggage in the basement and walked 5 minutes to Notre Dame Cathedral. This building is so beautiful that you can not help but feel moved by it. We waited in line for almost two hours to climb to the top and visit with the many gargoyles and get a chance to see the bell tower.

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Making Gargoyle faces at the top of Notre Dame

The last time I was in Paris, I could not afford any of the entrance fees to museums and attractions. I did not see the inside of the Louvre or the Musee d’orsay, I did not get to go up the Eiffel tower or climb the ancient stairs to Notre Dames bell tower, this time I did! I feel so lucky to have had this time in Paris. Seeing the children pull faces at the Gargoyles as we looked over Paris was so special. This was my favorite day so far.

After our visit at Notre Dame, we headed to a shop to pick up supplies, Salami, cheese, wine and bread all enjoyed picnic style, this is the way we have eaten almost every lunch in Paris and it was a fitting end to an amazing four days. We picked up our luggage at the hotel and headed to the Metro for our trip to the Gard du Nord station.

I will say it again, the Metro is hell, it is hot, full of people and scary, we had to let two trains go by before we felt it was open and safe enough to get on. I can not tell you how relieved I was to get to the station and say goodbye to the Paris Subway system for good!

Our train to Holland left Paris at 5:45. France was an experience like no other, it has rocked my world, I loved being in this country. Thank you France, for an incredibly memorable experience.

I will sign off now, I am off to “Efteling” tomorrow, this is a theme park in in southern Holland all based on scary fairy tales…so I need to get some sleep if you are curious here is the web site. Efteling

Tomorrow I will bring us up to date on my travels through Holland mainly the lakes, Hilversum and Amsterdam.

Paris kids 2010

Climbing the Eiffel Tower and roaming the streets of Paris…. with kids.

Climbing the Eiffel Tower and roaming the streets of Paris…. with kids.

July 15 Paris

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Up again at 7:30 AM uggggh, Paris is exhausting! We had a succulent breakfast and then hit the road for the Eiffel Tower, today was the day that Joshua would achieve his life goal of climbing the tower. We got to the tower at 8:45 AM and the line to climb the stairs was only 20 minutes…excellent! This is a critical travel tip, if you want to go up the Eiffel tower make it your first stop of the day, and make it early. Otherwise expect wait times of 2 hours or more.

 

 

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Tired 7 year old being carried by his brother through the streets of Paris

The climb was not bad, Joshua, Sophie and Connor were amazing and climbed the stairs without complaint. Connor even carried up our backpack. After the tower climb, we walked the Champs Elysee, had a picnic in the park, wandered the streets of St-Germain-des-Prés,  visited Place de la Concord, and worked our way back to our hotel on the left bank by 6:00. We spent an hour or so getting ready for a nice “last dinner in Paris” evening and actually ate at a decent hour (8:00). We were in bed for a 10:00, happy but tired.

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Never go to Paris on Bastille day.

Never go to Paris on Bastille day.

Edit note: This is a series of originally private memoirs from my family trip to Europe. Click here for the start of this series. 28 Days in Europe with the kids

July 14th Bastille Day in Paris

img_4140Up at 7:30 for Breakfast and then off to the Louvre. We got there at 8:30, half an hour before it opened, and there was already a line! We did not know that because it was Bastille day, the Louvre had free admission, score! We made a beeline for the Mona Lisa, because we were there early there were only about 100 people in front of the famous painting so we were able to get a great look. The Louvre is so filled with great works of art that we couldn’t possibly see them all in one day and after a while its hard to keep your perspective, we bought a book that describes the most famous pieces so that we could understand what we were looking at. Picture shows us at “Wedding at Cana.” This is the painting right across the hall from the Mona Lisa

Now here is some very good advice to all you travelers out there; Never go to Paris on Bastille Day.

1) All major attractions, except the Louvre are closed.

2) There are police, soliders and French patriots EVERYWHERE

3) It rains buckets (okay this could have happened any day but it just so happened that is was on Bastille day this year that more rain fell in four hours than for the past 6 weeks)

As we walked out of the Louvre it was pouring rain, we bought two umbrellas and tried to walk through the streets to get to the Champs Elysee but this was pointless as all streets were closed for Bastille Day…grrrrr, it was so frustrating we were getting soaking wet, there were gypsies trying to rob us, puddles and rivers everywhere, what was happening to my dream Paris holiday?

20100714_3114We spotted a Bistro across the road and ran for it, I think we got inside just as the lightning and thunder happened. Joshua asked me if it was “midnight” the sky was pitch black it was unbelievable, it was actually only 1:00 PM. The bistro was, however our safe haven. We promptly ordered a litre of the house wine and settled in for the afternoon. 110 Euros later, the kids were well fed on all sorts of French delicacies, I was much more mellow, all of a sudden Paris was good again. It was still lightly raining at 3:00 and we set off.

img_4191By 3:30 the rain had stopped and we found our selves in the middle of a french army “meet and greet” Connor, Sophie and Josh got to put on French Army gear, ride on a tank, sit on a helicopter and practice finding land mines. Is it actually okay to go to Paris on Bastille day?  I still say no, but the kids did like it, at one point I think I said to Chris,” I did not come to Paris to try on a Army uniform,” haha, its all good.

At this point the sun came out and we ventured over to the Eiffel tower, it was packed with tourists and the lines were at the two hour wait point. We decided to go back to our left bank hotel, shower and have dinner.

 

Enroute, we stopped off at the gardens outside of the Louvre where we went on the largest Ferris wheel in France, ate some cotton candy and goofed around a little. By the time we made it back to our hotel it was 9:30 PM, we got showered, dressed up and went out for a great dinner. At 11:00 all the fireworks went off but we were too busy eating and drinking to really care, at 12:00 we again fell into bed, completely wiped out.

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Four Days in Paris

Four Days in Paris

img_4506We arrived in Holland last night at 8:25 PM. We left Paris by train and flew through Northern France, Belgium and Holland. The train system is wonderful and so relaxing compared to driving. I will write about the rental car nightmare in Marseilles shortly.

I am totally and forever changed by the France experience, it is the most beautiful country. Paris was such an incredibly visceral experience, dirty gypsies, millions of people, cars, bikes, boats, trains, subways, dogs in restaurants, beggars, beautiful buildings, excellent food, smokers everywhere, tiny hotel rooms, my head is spinning.

I think I am going to take a day to chill in Holland and then bring my blogging up to date.

Talk soon, love V

Edit note October 12th 2017…. I am not sure why I called this post four days in Paris. I think I wanted to let family and friends know we had made it safely to Holland. I already mentioned that I did this trip with out a cell phone , writing my posts on borrowed computers as I traveled. I still can’t believe that, talk about old school! The next few posts detail the four days in Paris. I’ll start posting them tomorrow.

South of France, I love you.

South of France, I love you.

Behind again, and this is while we are in the “down time” of the vacation. I have wifi at the Villa and the use of Colleens MAC… Whew…I probably won’t write much at all after Friday since we are on the road. So I am going to give it all I have while I am able to.

Right now we are in a Villa in Vezenobres, France.  This is an ancient town about 40 minutes from Nimes. It is 30 degrees every day, sunny and gorgeous. There are lavender fields all around us that provide the air with an amazing perfumed sent, there are sunflower fields and olive groves and wine fields and other incredible sights, I can not even begin to tell you how beautiful this part of the world is. As you walk out our front door there is a fig tree groaning with fruit and rosemary bushes that explode with smell when you brush past them, and the French! They are amazing. I am never made to feel stupid as I stumble though the language, they are gracious and lovely and so welcoming to my family.

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There are negatives, I am gorging myself on fruit and wine, cheese and pastries. So much for keeping trim! Today we stopped at a fruit stand enroute to Nimes and bought Apricots that were the most succulent things ever! The woman who sold them to me ripped one apart for me to sample, it had blemishes on it, not the perfect looking fruit we have in Canada and I was hesitant to try it but when I did, wow. Sweet! Juicy! Amazing! Literally exploding with flavor, wow!

Okay so what are we doing? Yesterday was a big adventure day. Kirsten and Pekka had visited this region two years ago and gone Canoeing on the local river, convinced us that it would be fun. Who knew?…Canoeing in France! It was a 8KM trip down the Ardeche River, this is a tributary of the Rhone. We went through several rapids, at one point Chris, Joshua and I were dumped out. I got some nasty scrapes and bruises because I was trying to keep Joshua safe. He was traumatized because I think he has finally realized that I do not control the world! 20100705_2580We really enjoyed swimming, floating past caves, cliffs and other amazing sites. Afterwards, we were met by a tour guide to drive us back up river, this was an equally wild ride through some very rough terrain. it was a super cool afternoon. We enjoyed it so much that we may go again on Thursday. That evening we all went out to dinner at a local restaurant. It was a great day.20100705_2598

July 6 2010

Today we went into Nimes to see the Roman Colosseum. We only got there at 1:00 because we have been waking up late. “Pink” was performing there tonight so the Colosseum was closing at 3:00. I tried to get us tickets but the show was sold out. Damn….I could think of nothing cooler than seeing Pink perform in a 2000 year old Roman Amphetheatre in the South of France. The kids loved hearing about the spectacles that took place here, including the wild animals fighting each other and of course, the gladiators.

We had packed a picnic so that afterward we could go to Pont du Gard, a 2000 year old Roman built bridge over the local river. The kids swam in the river after they had a late lunch of cheese, bread and salami. We drank wine and enjoyed the sunshine. Sophie lost one of her flip flops in the rapids and Chris had to carry her home. We came home and swam in the pool before settling in to watch the soccer, Falco and Colleen are thrilled that the Dutch won the game. Tomorrow is a Villa day, we are having a BBQ and relaxing all day. Vive la France!

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28 Days in Europe with the kids

28 Days in Europe with the kids

Seven years ago I traveled through Europe with my then 13, 10 and 7 year old kids. It was an amazing adventure through Spain, France, The Netherlands and Finland. We traveled using local transport, stayed off the beaten path and had a simply incredible month. I blogged about it when I could, using my European friends laptops, I didn’t have an iphone at the time (how did I survive?) Anyway, the posts have sat on a private blog,  and I have decided that starting tomorrow,  I will post an article from that trip each day, kind of like a trip down memory lane for me and a reminder how important it is to record our travel journeys. My next big trip is coming up soon and I hope this series of posts will give me the energy to write a series during my trip to South Africa. I hope you all enjoy…

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