Just a little post here to let you know that “Life and Laundry” is now up and running, so come give me a follow over there.
Daily dose of Europe is not over…. it is just hibernating till we plan out next adventure on European soil!
Just a little post here to let you know that “Life and Laundry” is now up and running, so come give me a follow over there.
Daily dose of Europe is not over…. it is just hibernating till we plan out next adventure on European soil!
365 days ago the Bain Clan was boarding a plane for a 7 week extended tour of Europe.
Today, while I sit in our Yaletown condo reminiscing about the time we spent away, I can honestly say that I LOVE our life living in Vancouver… 33 floors high in the sky, over looking the North Shore Mountains, English Bay and beyond. WOW! Seriously… what is NOT to LOVE! But a huge part of me is still in Europe. The amazing time we spent there as a family last summer is burned into my soul (Ha…. now how is that for dramatic…. I wonder where the Little MIss gets her drama from?!?) I honestly wish we were heading to the airpot with our bags packed ready for another 7 weeks on the roads of Europe. Guess the planning for Summer 2014 will have to do for now!
I started this blog with the intention of just keeping friends and family up to date on our daily adventures while we were in Europe. Its funny how when you do something for one reason…… it can transform itself into something so much more than you ever thought it would. Doing this simple little blog for our family and friends has done so much more for me than I ever thought it would.
The name for the blog…..Daily Dose of Europe, came to me during an afternoon run on the Vancouver seawall. I had been thinking about the trip and all the questions I had been getting from various family members and friends on how they were going to stay in touch with us while we were away. “How will we know where you are? What you are up to?” “Seven weeks is a long time… can you take pictures and send them to us?” Ect. ect. ect…… I had been thinking about doing a blog for a bit of time. When the name came to me that day, I literally got home from my run, and, all wet from the rain, and sweaty from my run, I went on the computer to see if the domain name was available. I was super thrilled that it was. So FUN!
It was at this point, after I secured the domain that I thought….. “well I guess I had better learn a bit about WordPress BEFORE we go away as they will be no time figuring it out while we are in Europe”. It was also about at the same time that I had decided to do weekly themed dinners with the family leading up to the trip. It was perfect. I could learn about WordPress AND have my kids eat new foods! FUN!
After a couple of entries into the whole blogging world, I went for lunch with Ms V. The blogger behind www.anythingandnothing.com, and someone I had known since high-school. We went for a quick lunch to catch up on life. During the conversation the whole blog thing came up and I was talking about how I didn’t really realize how much time it took to blog….. yada, yada, yada, (hey is that even a word?) and that I would probably just end up posting pictures daily from the trip while we were away. Her response was that since I named the blog “DAILY DOSE” of Europe…. well I had damn well better do a daily post…. Hahahaha ….. I was definitely questioning my domain name choice! 😉
I managed to keep with my goal of cooking weekly themed dinners for the family, and blogging about them so I could learn WordPress. The one thing I wasn’t really expecting to come out of this whole blogging thing, was that I was actually really enjoying the whole writing process. For some reason this was funny to me.
Now…… I was completely terrified the first time I hit the publish button on the blog. Seriously…. I think I paced back and forth, all while looking at the computer and that damn publish button…..you have no idea how crazy this was for me! I first thought that I wouldn’t let anyone that I knew, know that I was writing the blog. I quickly realized how silly that was. If you are writing a blog the WHOLE point is to have people (as many as possible) read your BLOG (share with your friends people!) 😉 As terrified as I was to have people who actually knew me, read my thoughts on random things….. I connected the publish button in WordPress to my Facebook and Twitter accounts and hit PUBLISH! The first time I hit that button I secretly cringed, and broke out in a sweat…. I am happy to say that, that crazy feeling has long subsided.
An awesome feature about WordPress is that they track the stats of your blog. It was something I wasn’t really that interested in until I saw that people were actually reading MY LITTLE BLOG! I love that I can see in what countries people have looked at my blog. I can also see what Google search terms have brought people to my blog. Let me tell you some of the search terms are so funny! I LOVE it… and makes me smile.
Since I started my blog on Feb 25, 2012 its been so great to see the site stats. Now….. I know that in the world of Blogging my stats don’t compare, but since I wasn’t really expecting that many… seeing it was pretty cool! I have had 2,629 views all time. 50 comments, and views from people all over this small world. I had 1744 views in Canada, and 233 views in USA. France had 72 views, and Spain had 42 views. The list is long on countries, but so cool that people in Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Israel, Peru, Iceland, and United Arab Emirates have some how found their way to my little blog.
The search engine terms that directed people to my blog also make me smile. Sometimes it seems so random! Here are a few, with the number of times it was searched. Ha… yes Chef Fabrice Rossman, you were googled 3 times and it brought “who ever it was” to my blog. Anyway the google stats make me smile.
|luz-saint-sauveur france in winter||5|
|barcelona gelato shop||4|
|mountain towns in france||4|
|carcassonne real chocolate||4|
|barcelona frank gehry||4|
|daily dose of europe||4|
|disneyland paris lollipop||4|
|carcassonne. 80’s love songs||3|
|barcelona building eyes||3|
|the little red tin||3|
|barcelona fish gehry||3|
|pierre hermes arc de triump||2|
|real chocolate carcassonne||2|
|chocolate olives carcassonne||2|
|tourmalet safety driving||2|
|mountain towns in europe||2|
|euro disney rides||2|
|cafe mickey disneyland paris||2|
|lourdes pyrenees mountains||2|
|is it safe to drive to lourdes from barcelona through the mountains||2|
|awesome red doors||2|
|rue poncelet market||2|
|indoor dolphin show||2|
|top mountain town vehicles||2|
|funiculaire regulations of fencing||2|
|chocolat veal carcassonne||2|
|we have been waiting for you the whole afternoon||2|
|mickey mouse in europe||2|
|toll roads heading south in france|
|german football fan||1|
|disney store charles de gaulle||1|
|barcelona dolphin show||1|
|daily doise iod for children||1|
|daily dose of europe bain||1|
|my family travel blog||1|
|barcelona zoo luggage||1|
|pictures of kale chips||1|
|disneyland paris lineups||1|
|disney popcorn dumbo||1|
|noodle panda paris||1|
|le tour de laundry||1|
|frank gehry daily life||1|
|we are the children – euro music from the 80’s||1|
|a daily dose of europe||1|
|who said i have been waiting for this my whole life||1|
|cave street carnival midi||1|
So I didn’t make it do doing a “Daily Dose of Europe”…. *sigh*. During our trip there were a lot of factors that contributed to this. One was that the days were busy and the nights we not what i imagined them to be. There just wasn’t a ton of time from when the kiddies were asleep to when they would be waking up. The internet was also not what I was accustomed to. It was AMAZING when we had our apartment in Paris and had unlimited WiFi for all our devices all the time, but once we left there… well it was just ALOT harder to connect!
It was however, important to me to “finish” this blog. I really wanted the kids to one day read back on all the fun and craziness that we had.
When we returned to Canada in August 2012, I did a post about “Le Tour de France (a month or so after it was over) and my good friend asked me when I would “FINISH” the blog. My response was “before the kiddies start school in September”. When he asked again in November I said it would be “before the end of the year (2012)”. He quit asking…. however I could hear the question over and over again every time I did an update. For me it is fitting that my last blog entry here is on the day we started our adventure, 365 days ago. YES… I ended up half planning this, but only because it was a fitting end!
With the Bain Clan heading back to Europe in Summer 2014, there will be random postings here but probably not many till some time in 2014 as we build up to another grande adventure.
I have decided that I really like this whole writing process and plan to continue it on my newest blog Life and Laundry. I’m not 100% sure where that blog will go but you can bet it will focusing on my awesome family, Vancouver, and all the “daily” craziness we encounter!
I hope to get that site up and running in the next couple of days….. Check for me there
Writing… damn…. it’s just so much fun!
Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose
PS Hope to see you all in the stats on the new blog! 🙂
It’s Small World…. Love it!
Stats…. So fun!
This happens ALOT from our window on the 33rd floor…. *SIGH*
Hello Vancouver….. Seawall around Stanley = AWESOME!
View…… 33rd floor!
3rd beach picnic… *LOVE*
Yes… even this is AWESOME 33 floors up. Gotta love Vancouver and the rain! *LOVE*
Orléans was the perfect stop before Paris. We kinda felt like we were coming home….. it was a nice familiar feeling driving up to the hotel. This was to be a night of organizing our luggage after 7 weeks on the road. We needed to look through EVERYTHING (especially the kids luggage) and quietly remove some of the toys that the kiddies had accumulated over the duration of the trip. We honestly did not want to bring some of the stuff back with us (really….. who needs a huge foamy hand from Le Tour de France) 😉 Mike also needed to figure out away to “attach” the drivers side bumper of the car…. back ONTO the car. It was something that happened while the car was “parked” for the week in Barcelona. We honestly didn’t know what happened and we certianly weren’t going to be the people paying for something we didnt do (for all we know this could have been something form the previous driver… the problem just wasn’t from us!). This brings me back to the point I have made earlier in the blog…. the point that Mike can rig just about anything to make it work…kinda like MacGyver. He managed to attach it, and it was all good!
After we woke up and played in the huge back yard over looking the Loire River, we packed up the car for what would be THE LAST TIME. We programmed the Tom Tom for the Charles de Gaulle Hilton Airport hotel and with Darth directing us through roundabouts and exits, we were off!
The plan for the day was to drive around Paris early enough to miss Friday rush hour traffic, get to the hotel at the airport, drop our belongings in the room, all with enough time for Mike and Brodie to drive to our old neighbourhood in Paris, and drop off the car. Syd and I would make our way to our favourite metro stop and hook up with the boys there. We would then continue on our afternoon of exploring, have dinner, all before heading back to the airport of our last sleep in Paris.
Looks like our Tom Tom had other plans for us this day!
On our drive we seemed to be closing in on Paris instead of going around it. The Tom Tom said we were 15 km from our destination when all of a sudden, in the distance we could see the Eiffle Tower. I thought how curious this was because I was pretty sure the airport was MUCH further from the Eiffel tower than that. I mentioned it to Mike, but he said that no, the Tom Tom was programmed to the correct address…. uuummmmm……this feels familiar but……ok! We kept getting closer and closer to that iconic tower when we finally pulled over, litteraly across the Seine from it, all while the Tom Tom was saying we were 3 KM from our destination. It honestly felt like we were back to our first day driving in Paris and making our way to La Defense and the crazy nightmare that that was. We we knew our plans for the day were quickly going down the tubes!
We were in the EXACT place we didnt want to be during RUSH hour….. Right smack in the middle of Paris! Uuuugghhhh! It took us quite a bit of time to make our way onto a main road towards the airport. We were quickly running out of time….. to the point where we didn’t think we would get the car back to the rental company in time before they closed for the night. After what seemed like an eternity in Paris rush hour traffic, we were almost at the airport and our hotel, we were so close we could see the damn hotel, but we just couldnt find the exit to get us there. Oh my…. here we go again! After a couple attempts and going around in circles at the airport we finally found the route ot take us to our hotel.
Time was definitely of the essence as we unpacked the car like mad. We checked into the room, and in a blink of an eye, Mike and Brodie jumped right back into the car to get it back to the rental agency in our old neighbourhood of 17th arrondissement and the Arc de Triomphe. Sydney and I were to meet the boys at our old stop on the M1 – Charles de Gaulle Étoile
I thought Syd and I had a ton of time to get there since the boys would be fighting traffic on the roads, but much to my surprise (and 2 trains later), we hooked up with Mike and Brodie at the EXACT same time. AWESOME! It was pretty cool that, this part of the day turned out to be seemless. Now it was time to get on with our “last day in Paris!”
The first stop was to a pharmacy. We needed to get Syd a French version of “Gravol”. I DIDN’T take all the advice I was given on this 7 weeks earlier, and was not going to make that same mistake. I needed to have this on hand incase Syd needed help during the flight. I was NOT going to go through the same HELL that we did on the plane 7 weeks earlier…. it was just too crazy and stressful for EVERYONE involved. We then hit up a couple of stores on the Champs-Élysées before making our way back to our old neighbourhood and the “purple” restaurant for dinner. Sydney, it turns out, was just happy to be eating pizza and sitting in a purple chair. Mike and I were so thrilled to be back in the ‘hood, eating some yummy food, with a happy little Sydney, all while Brodie , Mike and I were catching the London Olympics on the big screen TV’s. Life was GOOD… eating pizza, in a purple restaurant, in the middle of Paris!
We called it an early evening as we knew we had an EXTRA long day ahead of us the following morning. Taking the train to the airport, and watching the Eiffel Tower disappear on the horizon, was just so “bitter sweet”. It was so incredibly “sweet” to have spent the past 7 weeks with the family in Europe, but so “bitter” that 7 weeks ended up going so damn FAST! Wow…. hard to believe we were heading back to Canada in the morning!
We woke up packed and ready to go and made our way to the hotel lounge for breakfast. It was cool to be looking out at the airport runways (and a Concord airplane), as we ate our last breakfast in France.
We caught the hotel shuttle to our terminal, got a luggage cart and packed it full. The airport was so CRAZY busy I almost couldn’t believe it! Walking through to get to the Air Canada check-in was almost close to impossible. The lineups to check in were beyond anything I had ever seen, and thinking to myself I thought we would never be on time for our flight. When we arrived at the Air Canada check-in it was CRAZY! One thing that I can say is that membership “has its privileges”! With the amount that Mike travels through out the year, and the “status” he gains at Air Canada for all that travel…… well we were put through the Super Elite check-in line. Thank you Air Canada….. Thank you! The amount of time it would have taken to get through the other lineup…. it was mind boggling. We made our way to the Air Canada lounge, where the kiddies made themselves quite at home before we needed to go and board our flight for Canada!
It was a full flight back to Canada. The little Miss made it perfectly through the leg from Paris to Toronto with a “GREAT” sleep mid way through the flight, waking up refreshed for the layover in Toronto. I was able to get caught up on a couple of movies during that flight, as well as a bit of a catnap.
Getting through customs was quick and easy. We had a few hours before the flight to Vancouver so we stopped for lunch and I was just so happy to be hooked in to Canadian WiFi with no connection issues!
The flight from YYZ >YVR was painfully long. Not because the kids were tired or cranky (Syd slept again… through the landing into Vancouver, with a seatbelt on and everything!), but because I really now, just wanted to get HOME!
Arriving at YVR, Brodie got THE BEST SURPRISE when his best bud was there to greet him after 7 weeks away! It was so awesome to see these 2 little buddies so excited to see one another… it was AMAZING!
Air Canada lost our car seats (but thank you so much for giving us brand new ones to use!) so it took an extra 45 minutes to get out of the airport and into a cab. Once we were on our way back home, and driving down Granville Street towards Yaletown, I found myself excited to get back to our Vancouver life. I was excited to see our Condo. Excited to look out over the water towards the North Shore mountains. Excited to get back to all that Vancouver had to offer.
We had an AMAZING 7 week family adventure.
There were “amazing times”, and “bad times”. There were “fun times, and “crazy times”. There were, “take your breath away moments”, and there were “I think we should end the trip now and fly back home” moments.
I am so thankful that we got to spend all the amazing, fun, crazy, take your breath away, moments together… as a family. Traveling and exeperiencing Europe for 7 weeks.
We seriously cant wait to do it all again.
Look out Europe….. the Bain Clan will be back….. Summer 2014. Hold on to your hats, because it’s gonna be another EPIC ADVENTURE!
Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose.
Orléans…. and the “F” twig
More wind farm awesomeness EnRoute to Paris.
Hello LAST TOOL BOOTH
Hey….. Its the Eiffel Tower…. I dont think we are heading to the airport!
This is probably not a good sign….
I adore you…. but we REALLY shouldn’t see you right now!
Boo… Tom Tom has brought us where we REALLY dont want to be right now!
We are finally sorted and where we should be!
Navigating the Paris Metro
Hello Purple Pizza Restaurant!
On to train #2 back to the airport.
Back to the airport
The lIttle Miss
View from the room
Our Luggage for 7 weeks…..
I think we did pretty well… car seats and all!
Charles de Gaulle Airport… sooooo crowded!
Thank you Air Canada…Thank you!
Anything for Brodie… his Favourite! 😉
Canada… here we come
7 weeks goes …… FAST!
Here we go!
Mr Man and the iPad
We are completely addicted to our technology!
You know what?…… Its just not the same…… Missing my french coffee already and we haven’t even hit 33,000 ft!
Canadian Soil…. here we come!
More Airport LOVE!
Our first Canadian sunset in 7 weeks! We LOVE you Vancouver!
We woke up in LA Rochelle to a travel day. We were making our way to our SECOND to last sleep before heading back to Canada. That sleep would be back in the quaint little hotel we stayed at in Orléans (at Brodies request). Although it was a bit of a stretch from La Rochelle to Orléans (about 4.5hrs on the A10), it actually was the perfect spot before heading back into Paris for our last night before our flight back to Canada.
We made our way down for the fabulous breakfast, packed up the room, packed up our little (full sized) car, and checked out of our quaint little hotel. Since we had some time befoer we “needed to drive on”, we decided to check out the surrounding area. We talked to the hotel concierge about places to see and the recommendation was Ile de Re´.
When Mike booked La Rochelle he said it “was a place where people from France go to vacation”. Now while I thought La Rochelle was a pretty little town….. I wasn’t 100% sold on the fact that “THIS is where the French go to vacation”…… That is, until we were directed to Ile de Re´. Now….. at this point in the vacation… knowing it was coming to an end quickly, and living out of a suitcase for almost 7 weeks, with not many laundry facilities close at hand….. I will admit (shamefully so) that I was looking forward to unpacking my bags on Canadian soil, and settling in for the duration of the summer in our Yaletown condo.
Bring on Ile de Re´ and a BIG change of Heart.
Ile de Re´….. a beautiful 30 km island connected to mainland France by a 3 km bridge with beautiful sandy beaches. It sounded devine. We said our goodbyes to La Rochelle and made our way to Ile de Re´ and all it had to offer.
As we were driving over the bridge I thought to myself… that “YES….. THIS is where the French go to Vacation!” It was maybe about 30 minutes from La Rochelle. There was a hefty toll to get across the bridge but it was only a one way toll (thank goodness). The beauty and quaintness of Ile de Re´ caught me right away. The island is filled with cabin and bike trails…. really if you were staying here that would be the best mode of transportation you could be on. We made our way to one of the many beaches on the Bay of Biscay, with nothing but water between us and North America.
With the waves rolling in, the quaintness of the small town and island life, it really reminded me of Tofino, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. The waves were huge and constant, and with that magical sound as they crashed upon the sandy beaches. The 4 of us were in HEAVEN! It was ashame that we hadnt known about this the day before as there probably would have been no melt down…. just a picnic lunch and a lot of sand digging!
It was at this point I said to Mike, forgetting totally about my earlier desire to get back to Vancouver and clean clothes….. that we should call the airline, change our flights, and add another week to the vacation. I was more that willing to stay in France another week or so…..Ile de Re´ is just that MAGICAL!
We spent a fair amount of time on the beautiful sandy beach, but we had to say good bye to the ocean and make our way for lunch, so we wouldn’t be driving to Orléans in the dark! We made our way to the other side of the island where there were more restaurants and shops, than sandy beaches. It was later in the day so our first restaurant of choice was closed until dinner service. We then found a cute little pizza “pirate” place in La Flotte that was open. After a quick bite it was time to hit the road and get on our way to Orléans. After all the playing in the sand and surf both kiddies (and Mike) were looking like a nap would do them some good!
Back over the 3 Km bridge, we made some good time driving the toll roads towards Orléans! There were number of “Pit Stops” all which included automated coffee machines, but we were happy to arrive back at our little hotel “just off the highway” in Orléans in time for dinner.
The kids were super happy to see the hotel and the grand backyard over looking the Loire River, where races would be run around and around the Merman fountain….. I was pretty happy that there was unlimited wifi, and that this would be THE final organizing of the kids, and my suitcases before our flight home!
It was time to curl up and sleep before our last travel day and our “do over” night in our old ‘hood on the streets of Paris and I couldn’t wait!
Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose.
3KM Bridge to Il de Re
Sandy beaches to the left
Sandy beaches to the right
Heading to the Bay of Biscay
Wow…. so AMAZING.
Lets dig a hole……
Beauty and the beach
The Little Miss
I *heart* Paris too!
You go girl!
ahhhhhhh…. the waves crashing in!
Me and my Kiddies!
Two favourite boys!
Paddle on in my friend!
another carousel…. it was closed when we saw it! 😉
…. of course
Bye bye, Il de Re… thanks for your hospitality!
do people actually still use these?
Hahaha… LOVE this!
iPad in hand
Other iPad in hand!
Ile de Re´
We woke up La Rochelle, to mixed weather. It was partly cloudy with a cool breeze, which would be prefect weather to spend the day walking around La Rochelle. We made our way down for the breakfast buffet. One thing I love about staying in European hotels is that breakfast is usually included with the price of your room and it is usually delicious. What a great way to start the day. Fresh baked bread, yummy jams, deli meats, amazing cheeses, and who could possibly leave out the pain au chocolat. 😉
We packed the day packs with everything we would need for touring around the city and headed out. La Rochelle is a small town, with pretty little shops and tons of restaurants. We spent a bit of time shopping, and a whole lot of time meandering around neat little courtyards and side streets. We eventually made our way out of old town and walked around the marina.
The plan for the day was to do a walk about, grab lunch, and then tour the towers that were the entrance way to the marina. We found a cute little restaurant on the marina and sat down to a shaded table next to a retired couple from USA. We chatted to them about their trip and ours. It was funny that while we were travelling in a clockwise direction they were doing almost the exact opposite to us. At the end of our lunch we said our good-byes, but not before they told us how well-behaved our children were. Mike and I thought this was so sweet, and on the whole our kids are well behaved, but we sure chuckled once we left the restaurant knowing all the crazy meltdowns and episodes that had transpired before that day!
It was getting on in the afternoon, the clouds had parted, and it was becoming hot and muggy. I knew we might be pushing it with the little Miss by heading to the towers for a look around, since this is what we were here for… off we went!
We arrived at the museum to a small line up to pay for admission. This is generally not a problem, but since we were lined up in a “gift shop” to pay for admission, I knew that something was going to go down….. and it was probably going to be Sydney! True to form, and the time of the day, that little gift shop caused us the biggest headache. Sydney’s little world now revolved around some random trinket that she JUST HAD TO HAVE! Uuugghhhh…. here we go people.
We managed to get the tour started with hopes that she would forget about said random trinket that she just HAD to have, but alas we were wrong! It was a tantrum to end all tantrums. It actually ended my tour of the tower when I just had to get her out of the tower so she wasnt disrupting EVERYBODY’S tour. I had the sweetest english couple come up to me and told me that their 18-year-old daughter was “just the same” 16 years ago…. and told me not to worry about what people thought… and that the little Miss was just fine! They helped brighten a dark moment that day with out a doubt.
Mike and Brodie continued the tour while I took the little lady outside so she could calm down. In order to get her outside I had to pass through the very gift shop that was ultimately the cause of this very meltdown…. uuggghhh!
Now, I totally get the whole marketing to tourists, and getting people to part with their money for things that they “think” they need…. but seriously to have to walk through it twice! Thank you tourism La Rochelle… thank you!
Sydney finally tuckered herself out with the tantrum, and fell asleep as I carried her. Mike, Brodie, and I ended up watching a boat festival while the little Miss slept. She was in better spirits when she woke, and seemed to perk up a bit more at the thought of getting a bowl of yummy ice cream at a cool, little ice cream shop. I was just super thrilled to sit down and have a yummy cup of coffee. EnRoute back to the hotel we decided to stop at the carousel for “just one ride”. Seriously… had we not learned ANYTHING from the days episode?!? We did get the “3 ticket” special, and she rode twice.
We ended our day at the hotels outdoor pool since it was so smoldering hot outside. After about 5 minutes at the pool the wind picked up, the clouds rolled in and we were hit with a surprise rain storm that sent us running for our room.
It was a crazy way to end a great (but partially) crazy day!
Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose
Starting out the day just like how they ended off the night before…. side by side! *love*
Looking from our room into the courtyard… love French hotels they have so much character!
Out and About in La Rochelle
Pretty La Rochelle
Mike and the little man
Me and the monkeys in the heat of the day.
Pretty marina and shops
The little Miss sat on EVERY ONE of those posts.
Finally at the end…..
…. to reach THE bIggest ice cream cone….. EVER!
La Rochelle Tower
biggest anchor EVER!
Inside the tower
Firing arrows or practicing his “Usain Bolt” moves
That is one steep staircase
Oh France… how I love you so!
View from the top of the tower
View from the top of the tower
View from the top of the tower
much. needed. sleep!
more superhero sightings
Spidey is watching you!
Fun retro dessert shop
Loving the retro ice cream pics with the springy legs!
Hey… it’s a carousel!
The little Miss….
Now just one more ride!
It was time to say good-bye to San Sebastian, our beautiful sandy beach and warm water. We were in our last week of our extended holiday, and making our way towards Paris for our flight out later that week. Our second to last stop before Paris was a small coastal town … La Rochelle.
After packing up our room and fitting everything into the car, we spent the morning at the Barceló Coast (ice-cold) pool, swimming, and soaking up the sunshine before having lunch and making our way north towards La Rochelle.
Funny thing about San Sebastian is that it is literally 20 minutes from the border into France. Had we not had to pay a toll, I just may have totally missed even entering France….. it was that quick!
Our drive took us north on the A63 through one of the most famous wine regions in THE ENTIRE WORLD …. BORDEAUX. I seriously had to laugh. Here we were…… 4 of us in a car driving past some of THE most fabulous vineyards and wine in the world, without even the slightest desire to stop! HA…… Mike and I were on a mission (and with 2 kids 5 and under… I guess it was reason enough NOT to stop) get to La Rochelle….. QUICKLY! Sigh…… the vineyards and wine of Bordeaux will have to wait for another trip!
It was about a 5 hour drive to La Rochelle from San Sebastian, and driving on the toll roads…. well……. it’s never a cheap day on the toll roads of Europe! We arrived late afternoon and were directed precisely to our hotel by Darth Vader and our trusty Tom Tom app on MIkes phone. The hotel was super cute and was everything you would expect in Europe….. an old non-descript stone building, that once you entered, blew you away with all its loveliness! There was nowhere to park on the tiny road that lead us to our fabulous hotel so we were parked half on the sidewalk. Had we been on our first week of the trip we would have totally stressed over the situation of “where to park”…. but after 6 weeks we were starting to feel like locals and pulled “kinda off the road and half on to the sidewalk”…. It just seemed like the normal thing to do.
What a fabulous room we had. Mike had been booking a lot of our accommodations off of Trip Advisor, and this one, like all the rest, (the exception being Lourdes) did not disappoint. We looked into the courtyard and had a tiny view of the old town. After the long drive we decided to get cleaned up and head out to investigate the town and find a yummy place for dinner.
La Rochelle is a pretty little town. Tons of restaurants and shops in the old town with beautiful cobblestone roads and walkways. Leaving the “gates” of old town, there was a great little night market, with tons of artisans showing their goods. We did a little walk about while looking for a place to eat with the kiddies. There were so many amazing options. Walking along the street surrounded by all these amazing restaurants it was hard knowing after we looked at the menus that there was really nothing that the kiddies would eat…. Uuuugghhhh….. so frustrating knowing that we were missing out on some AMAZING food. We had almost lost hope on where to eat when Brodie spotted a sushi restaurant.
If you know the Bain Family…. you know that we are addicted to sushi… kids included! Seriously… we go for Sushi every Friday (or Saturday) since the kiddies were born. Sushi was not really something we had come across during our adventure, so with Brodie begging to go there for dinner, we went and got ourselves a table.
The restaurant (I think it was called Koi) was a funny one. From the moment we arrived not one person looked happy or smiled. Mike and I assumed it was because we had 2 kids with us, but as time passed on it was clear that the waitresses just were not happy people…… they were treating every table the same…. no smiles and just plain crabby! I don’t really remember the sushi and if it was good or not, but I do remember being quite happy that the kids weren’t eating pizza or pasta! Since this trip I have noted that the kiddies will do well eating in Italy or Japan!
After our sushi experience we decided to do a walk about and look at the towns military towers that were so pretty all lit up. Afterwards we headed over to investigate the night market that was happening just outside of old town. As we were walking through the tree covered night market we heard a crazy squeaking sound. It turns out that the trees covering the market were filled with bats just “hanging out”, and Brodie thought this was über cool. After our bat experience we decided to hit an ice cream shop for a “before bedtime treat” and made our way back to the hotel for a good nights sleep.
It had been a long day of driving and the kiddies were holding up rather well given that the day started in Spain!
So much to do….. so much to see!
Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose
Loved this hotel!
Why must little Miss always sleep perpendicular to me….. that girl does laps in her sleep!
hanging poolside… topless of course!
This pool was ICE COLD!
Hello France (and toll booth)… we are coming!
HAY… in Bordeaux
Sunflowers…. in Bordeaux
More Sunflowers…. in Bordeaux
Shocking… another toll booth!
Our Hotel…. SO AWESOME!
Would totally stay here again… so great!
NOT Super happy… its been a long day!
La Rochelle…. Old Town
Koi…. Interesting little Sushi Restaurant!
Wanted to take home Kois’ Bar statue… she was so cool!
Restaurant row at dusk… Old Town
La Rochelle Tower
Clowning around just outside “Old Town”
After a long day…. chilling together! *Love*
San Sebastian – Day 2
Well the predicted weather for our beach day was spot on! Bright blue sun filled skies, and not a cloud to be found. We packed up our beach bag with everything we would need for a full day of sun, sand, and surf. We walked down to the beach with the usual stop at the little park near the hotel before continuing on our way to the beach. The brief pit stop at the park and surrounded by trees we seemed to be unaware of just how hot and muggy it was becoming. By the time we arrived at the beach it was smouldering hot.
It took us a bit of time to finally decide on a spot to park our stuff for the day. The first spot was at the end of the beach, opposite to “Old Town”, where all the cabana and tents were. It was VERY crowded at this end of the beach and with the tide coming in…. well the water wasn’t quite as clean as it was the day before on our walk. We made our way further down the beach, to a tiny cove, but again with the tide coming in we knew our little beach was short-lived. We finally came to a spot where we had a bit of shade from the blistering sunshine, near the cement wall of the boardwalk. Given the heat sensitivity of both Brodie and Mike, it was the perfect location where we could frolic in the waves, play in the sand, and then hop into the shade for a break from all the beautiful sunshine.
A funny little thing about me is that I don’t love sand. Well……honestly it is mostly Vancouver sand I’m not the biggest fan of. I LOVE everything about Vancouver EXCEPT for the sand on our beaches. I love the sand on the North Shore of Oahu, all the sand we encountered in Australia, and now I can add the sand of San Sebastian to the list. Wow. The sand on La Concha was quite simply divine. I can almost still feel the silky grains of golden sand right now.
We stayed at the beach ALL DAY LONG, playing in the waves, and digging in the sand. There really was no better way to spend a sun filled day on the Basque coastline.
Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose
Shaded area on the beautiful sand of La Concha Beach
Not really into the sand quite yet.
Digging a big hole…absolutely nothing better!
Seeing if will survive the incoming tide.
Little Syd….. unsure on waves and making a run for it.
Quickly being washed away.
Finally happy to be in the water
Finding some shade from the sunshine
Mid day snacks on the beach
and even more digging
From what we saw arriving in San Sebastian late the day before….. we were anxious to get exploring and see what this pretty little town was all about, and what she had to offer!
We woke up on “Basque” time, to overcast skies from the storm that had passed through the night. We had breakfast in the little cafe on the main floor of our hotel, all while catching up on email with the hotels Wi-Fi. The kids still refused to eat any type of bread (filled with chocolate or not), and this was making life a tiny bit more stressful than it needed to be (they would eventually eat…. right?!?) We decided that since the weather was set to improve over the next day, today would be our “walk around town day”. We would save the beach for the next day and sunnier skies!
We packed up the double stroller and made our way toward the beach and “Old Town”. We hit up the awesome little kids park that was enRoute to our destination. It was a pretty little park surrounded by HUGE trees. The kiddies had a blast here and I am sure could have spent a majority of the day just running between the climbing, the sliding, and the swinging!
We eventually made our way to the beach area, and our walk along the main boardwalk. It was overcast and cool when we left the hotel, but it quickly turn to overcast, hot, and muggy! Mike forgot his hat, but thank goodness we had a hat for the little man who is so affected by the heat and sun (remember the heat rash from Barcelona….)! Syd had on sweatpants, with sunglasses packed, but alas not much else for the unpredicted hot day!
Pushing a double stoller in Europe with two toddlers is a NECESSITY. If you have 2 kids under the age of 5 do not even hesitate in making this purchase… It saved our trip a number of times! I am so glad that one of Mike co workers suggested it or else the whole trip may have been VERY different! It did however make for an interesting “McGuyver” type of rigging once we decided to head to beach level…. If its one thing Mike can do…. well, he can configure almost ANYTHING to work for us… This included being able to carry a double stroller on the beach! This man, well he is quite simply….. AWESOME!
We made our way to beach level, to walk in the beautiful (and despite the cloud cover), very warm sand! The beaches were relativly quiet given the cloudy conditions, but we were pretty excited to be there, and enjoying the sand and warm water.
We made our way back up to the boardwalk and slowly making our way to “Old Town”. Our walk had us passing a number of “human statues”. One in particular that Brodie liked was the “headless man”. As we continued on our walk, we tried as hard as we could to avoid the spinning, music playing, 112 year old carousel. There was absolutely no way we could physically avoid the carousel….. it was smack right in the middle of our path. Over the duration of our trip Sydney seemed to had built up a sixth sense on these mechanical wonders, and knew there would be one in EVERY town. The moment she saw it, you knew she was sizing up which of the animals she would ride first, and this one was no exception. We finally made our way to the entrance to the old town, and it was time to do a bit of shopping, and find a yummy place for lunch.
The Old Town was filled with trinket shops, some cute little clothing shops, and cafes. There were a ton of bars serving Pintxos (tapas), which all looked so amazing, but being with the 2 kiddies we opted to find a restaurant that they would find appealing. Once lunch was over, it became clear that fatigue was setting in on Syd and that she just needed a nap. Funny thing is about Sydney is that when she is most tired well she just doesnt sleep…. it was going to be a LONG afternoon!
We walked towards the marina, and fishing docks in the hopes that Syd would nap but that was not going to happen. We watched a bunch of kids jumping from the docks into the water, slpashing around and having fun. We decided to take a catermaran tour of the harbour and get a differnt perspective on the city. The sun was now out in full force and it was hot. The boat tour gave a nice reprive from the heat as it was quite windy and choppy once we left the protected harbour. It was a nice perspective seeing the beach and hotels from the water.
After the boat tour we decided to make our way slowly back towards the beach for a quick play in the sand before dinner. The route to the beach had us passing the carousel, and another fabulous kids park. It is amazing to me that this “carnival” atomosphere was everywhere in Europe. There were clowns making animal balloons, carousels, cotton candy, laughing kids, crying kids, kids with face paint…… everywhere! Not just on this particular day in San Sebastian, but it was EVERYWHERE we visited in Europe. As much as I make fun of the number of carousels we encountered on our trip…. it actually was pretty cool to see just how much everyday is a celebration in Europe (summertime anyway).
The kids park was once again AWESOME! So much to do…. and all differnt “activities” than any other park we had been in. The kids spent a ton of time rope climbing their way up a “bridge”, over, and over, and over again. They probably would have stayed there all day but the music from the carousel finally hypnotized the kiddies and finally drew them over.
Pretty sure we bought 3 rides for each kid since that was usually a “reduced price”. Syd only wanted to ride the 112 year old dolphin. When it was time to go once again she had a hard time with the concept of “we have used all our tickets, so there are no more rides”. We finally got her away from the carousel after much persuasion, but, you know. I totally get it…. she is 3 and this is her “whole world” for that moment in time.
After the “carnival”, we decided to walk along the beach before finding a place for dinner. Since we decided at the beginning of the day it WASN’T going to be a beach day… we didn’t have any beach clothes with us and that was a mistake on our part for sure. It was later in the day, the tide was out and the beach goers were clearing out. It didn’t take long before we were running beach races, Syd was digging holes, and then taking off her pants because she sat in wet sand. It was here where we spent the remainder of our day…… without our beach gear!
I cant really remember what Syd wore to dinner since her pants were soaked, but all I can recall is that we ended up at the same beach restaurant from the night before. We got a table over looking “our beach”, caught more of the Olympics on the bars TV, all while planning the next days beach adventure.
It was a fun day exploring a new town with the family and all the crazy 3 year old emotions that go along with it!
Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose!
La Concha Beach
Crystal clear water
Starting to get HOT. Makeshift hat using Brodies shirt!
Double stroller strapped to his back with backpack straps and not much else. Mike can “rig” anything to make it work. I also love this photo since Mike is covered almost head to toe and the 5 guys walking towards him are the exact opposite and are in as little as possible. Ha! 😉
Heading towards Le Carousel
Brodie thought this was AWESOME!
aaannnddddd…. I’m done! See you later Mom!
2:41pm…..Time for lunch
Pintxos…..looked so good…. next time for sure!
Jamon Iberico ………Awesomeness!
Our catamaran tour
The little Miss in NOT impressed…..
…. and wants to be left alone!
La Concha Beach from the catamaran
Basque Country and I am in love with it!
Oh so pretty San Sebastian
It is thirsty work investigating a new European town.
Round and round we go!
… and yet again
112 years old…. and oh so awesome!
just a bit of help required for the 3 year old
in line once again
Always the jokester
More beach races
Bain Family (minus Mommy)…. someone had to take the picture!
Kiddies… hangin’ in San Sebastian
My little lady
We woke up on our final morning in Barcelona to beautiful blue skies and sunshine. We were packing up our “European full size” rental car and driving across the northern part of Spain. Barcelona > San Sebastian.
Once again, remarkably, we were able to fit everything into our little “full sized” rental car. We were definitly becoming pros at packing the car up tight by now. Once we were packed up we took the kids across the street to the mall and the rides/trampolines that were there for one last go around. Syd was fully advised on the rules of the rides, and that there would be a couple of rides but when Daddy said it was time to go…. well it was time to go! With plenty of agreements, and yes yes I understand, we headed to the rides. All was going really well until it was stated that it was “time to go”. Seemed like the little Miss forgot all about her knowladge of “it was time to go” and threw one of the biggest tantrums of the trip. We eventually got her in the car and were making our way out of Barcelona and onwards to our next stop on our adventure ……. San Sebastian.
The landscape from Barcelona and the Balearic Sea > San Sebastian and the Bay of Biscay was ever changing. Leaving the hot and muggy city of Barcelona, into the scorching hot, and arid plains along the E-90, and then into the cool and dewey mountainous region just past Pamplona into San Sebastian…. we hit almost every summer weather condition on our drive. I’m not sure what my expectations were on what the landscape would look like before we drove across Spain, but what we saw that day was so varied and so very beautiful.
It was hot when we left Barcelona at 11am that Saturday morning. The temperature was mid 20’s and was I’m sure going to climb to the high 20’s even low 30’s given the hot muggy week we had just had. As we started our drive away from the water, and with not a cloud in sight, our little in-car thermometer contined to rise giving us a detailed occourance of the temperature happening outside our little car. As the vegetation got sparser…. the temperature got HOTTER. We hit a temperature of 43 degrees as we passed through the plains of Spain.
The one thing you notice as you drive through Spain (and the other 2 countries we drove through… Germany and France), is that Europe is on the pulse of utilizing and colllecting “green” energy. Driving through the arid, sunny and windy plains of Spain, there were acres upon acres of solar panels, and wind turbines every where you looked. It honestly was an incredible sight to see. I am by no means an expert on the topic of the collection of “green energy”, however, it seemed like in Europe they just get it. They do what needs to be done, utilizing all the awesomeness that mother nature provides. Canada needs to get on board…… It truly was an inspiring sight to see!
We stopped for lunch at a roadside rest stop. It was crazy busy given that we never really saw tons of other cars as we were driving. I first thought it was funny that there was covered parking for our car, but given that it was 43 degrees outside, and blistering sunshine… It was a real blessing that we found a spot under it and in the shade.
I LOVE the rest stops in Europe! It is another thing that the Europeans take seriously. There is full on restaurant facilities with decent enough food to get you through. Nice bathrooms, trinket shopping, fuel, and coffee machines that can make you ANYTHING you want for under 2 Euro (except for the large coffee that you want to hold and savour for 40 minutes… I think its a North American thing!) 😉 Seriously, they have everything you could possibly want for your drive, and it is AWESOME!
After about a 45 minute stop we were back in the car with the AC cranked and were continuing on our jouney towards San Sebastian. We continued our drive passing a ton more solar and wind farms but the landscape was changing and the hills were becoming more lush and the temperature was dropping. We were starting to pass through farm land.
We had another unexpected “milestone” as we drove from one side of Spain to the other… we passed through the Greenwich Meridian. The Greenwich Meridian is the line that seperates East from West…. a line from the North Pole to the South Pole. It may have just been a couple of signs telling us what we were approaching as we were zipping along the highway, but it was pretty cool event as we passed under the cement arc over the roadway.
The closer we got to the mountains and San Sebastian the cooler it became. We left Barcelona and 25+ degrees, to a high of 43 degrees somewhere on the plains of Spain, and now our handy car thermometre was reading 17 degrees AND we had to turn the winsheild wipers on since it had started to rain. We were in beautiful lush mountains, and low cloud. Funny that it felt like we were back in Vancouver after only driving for 6+ hours.
We made our way through the beautiful city of San Sebastian and found our amazing hotel Barceló Costa Vasca. The hotel wasn’t as handy to the beach as we would have liked, but the rooms were AMAZING, the pool was awesome, and there was a fantastic kids park that we had to walk past to get to the beach… so all in all, it worked out perfectly!
After a full day of driving we went for a walk through pretty San Sebastian towards the beach. We picked up some groceries, for the morning, and then found a cute little outdoor spot for a dinner. Since it was first day of the Olympics we had the bonus that we could also catch a few of the Olympic swimming events on the big flat screen TV that was behind the bar. We had some yummy food, over looking La Concha, which was by far, one of the prettiest beaches we had encountered so far.
What a day driving from one side of Spain to the other. So varied and so beautiful. We were excited to start our last week of our European vacation in this pretty little town in Basque Country.
Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose
One last spin on the rides across form the Hilton
The favourite truck
So fun…… but you know that leaving is NOT going to end well for the little Miss.
On the road outside of Barcelona
Gas was expensive (euro/lt.)
So hot outside
Unexpected excitement! 😉
There it is….. Greenwich Meridian
Yay for covered parking
Walkway over the highway
Collecting solar energy… So hot and sunny!
Nearing San Sebastian
Our hotel….. 2 rooms were needed…… again
Its hard being 3
Siblings in San Sebastian
and Olympic sized beer
The little Miss
Prettiness at dusk
Show for the kids…. music and wine for us!
Barcelona – Part 4
I realized early on, when we began this adventure, that really, only one MAJOR outing per day could be planned before the kiddies lost their minds and were a complete mess (making my life a BAZILLION times harder than it needed to be). The outing for this particular day in Barcelona was was going to be something close to my heart. We were going to visit THE MOST FAMOUS MARKET IN BARCELONA……. LA BOQUERIA!
The outing on this day was 100% for me. I was half hoping that the kiddies would be super excited by going to the market……. but I knew that they were most likely too young to enjoy this little treasure of Barcelona.
We spent a good portion of the morning at the hotel prepping for our adventure, before we hopped on the train, to take us into the heart of Barcelona and La Boqueria Market. We navigated our way on the metro and walked a good portion of La Rambla before coming upon the market.
It is a large covered market, that has all the spanish delicacies that one dreams of! We walked in (make way people……double stroller coming through), to some of the most amazing smells. We passed by a Tapas restaurat and the food smells were OUT OF THIS WORLD! Seriously…… what I would have given to have sat down and ordered a glass of wine and some fab food…..
As the kids and I meandered around the market we notice many local specialties and tons of frresh vegetables and seafood. At this point I realized I was caught between Heaven and Hell. Pure Heaven with all these amazing ingredients around me ….. and Pure Hell since I was living in a hotel with no where to cook all these ingredients. We ended up leaving the market with some AMAZING fresh squeezed juices…… but that was it.
It was hot day in Barcelona, and the kids seemed like they had had enough so we decided to make our way back to the hotel on the metro and call it a day pool side with Brodies’ new friend and some yummy eats.
Barcelona Part 5
Friday was our last full day in Barcelona and we woke up with a mission. It was the day of the Opening Ceremonies for London 2012 and we were making our way to the Olympic Diving Pool from when Barcelona hosted the summer Olympics in 1992. It is the most iconic of venues from the ’92 Olympics. It showcased Barcelona as everyone had ever imagined it to be….. The backdrop for the divers was (and is) SPECTACULAR to say the least!
We arrived via, the metro and then to a funicular up the mountainside to the dive pool. I did find it strange that it took us a while to find the “Olympic Pool”. I had assumed there would be signs pointing us in the proper direction, but there were none. We did eventually get on the right track and made our way to the admission counter and to the pool deck.
I will admit that I was a bit thrown off that this Olympic landmark was not better signed. Coming off the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and seeing first hand the care that Vancouver has put into preserving its Olympic Legacy, I was shocked by what we encountered. It was almost like Barcelona could have cared less about this once iconic venue….. it made me sad 😦
Since it was the Opening Ceremony day for London 2012 I had hopes that something spectacular might be going on here….. and with 4000 seat bleachers…….I thought there maybe big screen TV’s with ticket admission to watch…. I dont know…. something….seriously SOMETHING! I was wrong…. there was nothing “Olympic” going on here…. BOO!
During our visit,to the pool we took in the most STUNNING view of Barcelona with no crowds. We got to cool off in the heat of the day in a pretty awesome pool with about 12 other people, as well we got to watch the Barcelona Diving Team practicing. The kiddies and I thought that was pretty cool. The pool is in much need of some serious repairs as you will see by the pictures. It is sad that such a beautiful pool is not being used to its full potential and is falling into disrepair.
The kiddies and I had a super fun last day in Barcelona, making our way around town like we were locals!
During the week leading up to the Olympics, Mike and I had been looking into places to watch the Opening Ceremonies. We finally decided that our hotel room was most likely the best place to see it. We couldnt find any “hype” around the event so we made our own.
We had dinner across from the hotel in an “Itallian” restaurant that was attached to the mall ( *disclaimer*…. I have already stated this was not a culinary journey for the Bain clan). We then proceeded to the “mini” amusement park. You know…. the one that seemed to follow us everywhere in Europe. Brodie was full on on the trampolines from his experience in Luz St. Saveur and when it comes to any type of carousel…… well Syd seriously could go in circles FOREVER, so she was in HEAVEN!
We made our way back to the hotel, and with wine and chocolate milk ordered to the room, we had the best time cheering the London 2012 Canadian Team on as they entered the London Stadium with Simon Whitfield carrying the Canadian FLAG! It was such an awesome evening, even if we couldn’t understand what the local commentators were saying!
It was an fabulous way to end our last day in Barcelona……
Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose.
Our Hotel. The Hilton Diagonal Mar. we were 7 windows up on the right hand corner. We looked right into Mikes work at SAP!
An entire stall dedicated to Baccalau (Salt Cod)…. sorry it’s not my favourite!
Our purchase for the day! So super YUM!
AWESOME and beautiful!
An entire stall just for Foie Gras….
Hahahaha…. to late now….. but needed this for sure!
Our entrance to the metro
Pool…. Here we COME!
Spiderman follows us EVERYWHERE!
FUNICULAR up the mountain
Kiddos in Barcelona!
Olympic Dive Pool
Down we go to the pool deck!
Barcelona team practicing
Brodie LOVED THIS… said I NEEDED to take the birds photo!
He was right.
Hallway to change rooms… no signs, so it turns out we all changed in the “boys” change room. Oops!
Random fix-it-up places all through out the dive pool venue 😦
Loving the stair walk up!
Up Up Up
“Olympic” signage…. so sad!
More fun at the hotel pool before dinner!
8:30PM and its EMPTY! Will be full in about an HOUR! Late night dinner for everyone in Barcelona!
Round and round we go!
Chupa Chuyps Truck
Chupa Chuyps Truck was the favourite
Opening Ceremonies – London 2012
Hello Canada… Hello Simon Whitfield
The opening ceremonies were AMAZING!