Archive for the France Category

Normandy

Posted in France, Normandy, traveling with tags , on April 5, 2008 by erin

Here’s a little more about our trip across the pond: I was sad to leave Paris. That city is enchanting, it draws you in and makes you fall in love and never want to leave. But our time in Paris did quickly come to an end and we headed north via train to Cean in the Provence of Normandy. Once in Cean we had to pick up our rental car. And then began what I call our circus act. Seriously, our family could put any clown posse to test with our skills of piling 7 people and all our luggage in a minivan. You would think minivan should have plenty of room for all of us but that thinking would be wrong. I quickly learned anything in Europe is about half the size of the American equivalent and that goes for minivans (and strollers, we brought our SUV stroller). We were packed in like sardines and had luggage surrounding us and even on top of most plus the stroller sticking out the window (the driver and Petunia were the only ones not to be covered in a mountain of luggage). Oh, and try installing a car seat when the instructions are in French. That only took an hour! Everyone was quite happy to know our B&B was only 20km away but with round abouts and not knowing where the heck we were going at times that 20km felt like hours and two of the 7 get rather car sick, one of those is me. I actually threw up on a bus ride in Italy last year (those crazy Italian drivers and curvy roads didn’t mix well with my stomach and the fact I was 6 months pregnant and ate pizza before boarding probably didn’t help either). Eventually we made it to our destination and dropped off our luggage, whew!

Personally, I was not looking forward to this part of the trip. I am not a history buff and even worse for me is war history but you know what I actually enjoyed our time there. Not only were the battle fields and beaches very interesting I learned something. The landscape in northern France is just what you would see in a movie. Beautiful and green with quaint French cottages made from stone and lacy white curtains hanging in the windows. It was quiet and peaceful especially after being in the noisy city of Paris where you could hear cars and sirens at all hours of the night. We stayed in this amazing B&B owned and operated by a very gracious French woman. We found out her husband had recently died and she discovered running the B&B by herself was too daunting a task so she had sold her property and was heading south in the next few months.

We spent some time at The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. This is a WWII cemetery and memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, that honors American Soldiers who died in Europe during WWII. The cemetery is located on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach (one of the landing beaches of the Normandy Invasion) and the English Channel. It covers 172 acres, and contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in WWII. The graves face westward, towards the United States all marked by white crosses.

We also toured Omaha Beach and found bunkers the Nazi’s used for protection from Americans who were storming the beach and an area where there are huge craters left by bombs. It was a pretty amazing site to see.

Our last night in Normandy was celebrated with a home cooked French meal from our B&B host and it was heaven. My explanation won’t do the meal justice. Of course there were copious amounts of wine flowing the entire evening and it was so relaxing with a fire and beautiful French music. We started with a tart of sorts with a French cheese local to Normandy and apples baked inside. It was wrapped in a very flaky crust and placed atop of greens (also from Normandy). The second course was chicken breast smothered in a creamy sauce and basmati rice which was followed by two very interesting types of cheese and bread (I was so full at this point I really couldn’t fit much more in, but somehow I found room). Dessert was short cake topped with a berry sauce and served with a side of creamy, custard-y rice pudding. I am not a foodie so my description lacks luster but let me assure after a week of pizza and sandwiches this meal was a highlight!

The next morning we boarded a ferry to Portsmouth, England.

 

Home is the Sweetest Place there is

Posted in England, Europe, France, Scotland, traveling with tags on April 3, 2008 by erin

There is no place like home, oh how Dorothy had that one right. Hello to my blog and blogging friends, I have returned and am so incredibly happy to be here. What a journey home, one that lasted 25 hours and left our bodies completely confused. I think the trip home worked in our favor with Petunia though, she was so confused and sleep deprived that when we arrived in our town last night she slept until 7:30am only waking for about an hour. I hoping returning to her schedule won’t be too much of a challenge if we can remember what the schedule was.

We arrived home sans bags and stroller. What a mess! Here’s a recap of our 25 hour journey home. We woke at 2am in Edinburgh, Scotland to catch a 6am flight to Paris. Sitting on the runway in Edinburgh for 30 minutes for whatever reason and making it to Paris with an hour to catch the flight to New York, NY. Sounds like lots of time right, well if you know anything about the Paris airport you know that 10 hours won’t be enough time to make it to your connecting flight. After landing they tell us we can’t retrieve our stroller unless we go back through security and since we had less than an hour to make the next flight we didn’t want to take the chance. LAME. The ironic thing is we somehow ended up going through security anyway. SIGH.

After landing and NOT getting our stoller we are shuttled to the terminal via bus, which in my opinion is totally lame in a huge city airport. And no trains shuttling you to different terminals either, nope it’s a s-l-o-w bus ride AROUND THE ENTIRE AIRPORT stopping what felt like a million times before we arrive at our terminal. We race to the gate only to find our gate has been changed, okay, so we race back THE DIRECTION WE JUST CAME to the proper gate and arrive sweaty with minutes to spare, whew! At least we made it. But our bags and stroller didn’t. CRAP. That means no stroller awaits us in NYC. I bet P was sick of us holding her.

We arrive in NYC on time and even got to see the city skyline which is the highlight of my day. I’ve never been to NYC but am DYING to go. We have a 3 hour layover before boarding the flight home. Ah, home I can almost feel my nice bed and hot shower right now. The rest of the trip was uneventful and that’s just want we needed, plus we didn’t have to wait for bags at the end just jumped in the car and came home.

I will write about our time overseas once my brain becomes less frazzled, our fridge is stocked with all our favorite healthy American food, P has had a bath and laundry is done ect. There’s something to be said about normalcy. Sometimes it gets so boring to do a varation of the same thing day in and day out. Well, two weeks away from home will cure anyone of disliking normalcy. I can’t wait to do laundry, go grocery shopping, clean my house and take care of Petunia on our schedule we worked so hard to achieve. Right now normalcy sounds nice.

Petunia did so great the entire time but now I see why parents don’t travel with kids; vacation-what-that was a vacation? I need a massage and a week of sleep, how about a week at a yoga retreat that sounds like heaven. She mastered crawling while we were away so now my life is completely changed and baby gates are the first purchase we will make. She also got tooth #3 (which I KNEW would happen and#4 must be coming in too if the slobbering and runny nose are any indication) but teething doesn’t seem to bother her too much and Motrin is my friend. Now I just hope we get our bags and crushed stroller. Good news on that too, we get a new stroller! Some advice for those thinking of traveling take a cheap stroller because it might get crunched and it will certainly get filthy, lesson learned.

A sad piece of news, while away I found out my 93 year old grandmother was put in the hospital and her children (including my mom) flew to Toronto to be with her. I haven’t spoken to anyone personally just via email but that is task #1 today. We might be in for another flight.