Room 62 and an Olive Tree

Carcassonne – part 2

After our week in Lourdes it was time to say good-bye to the Pyrenees Mountains and Le Tour de France and head back to our beloved castle and room 62 at the Montmorency Hotel in Carcassonne…. YAY!

To say that I am absolutely in LOVE with this hotel is not really a understatement!  It totally ROCKS!  The rooms…. super cool.  The beds….. amazing. The pool kicks butt, and being so close to the castle, well really, can you ask for more? Oh yeah…. there is also an olive tree right outside the door!  Hello……. it really doesn’t get any better!

Since we were in the same room from a week ago it kinda felt like we were coming home.  Everyone there remembered us and the kids loved that they knew where they were going.  I was happy that after a week away from this fabulous hotel, I, once again had full water pressure, an amazing rain shower, and various body gels and shampoos.  This hotel is simply AWESOME!

We arrived after an uneventful 3.5 hour drive from Lourdes – where we left overcast cloudy skies for sunshine and warmer temperatures. We spent what was left of the afternoon in the pool before heading into the castle for dinner.

We decided to head into the centre “square” for dinner which was probably a mistake on our part just given the touristy nature of the restaurants we were eating at. All the restaurants seemed to have similar plastic coated menus and had a HUGE number of tables that were all full of tourists ( I know …. I’m a tourist as well…..). This is usually my sign to run and find another eating establishment, but the kids were pretty set on the place that “they” picked out…. Brodie says “lets eat at that restaurant” referring to the restaurant with the green awnings and umbrellas.  I ordered the goat cheese salad, in my head, hoping to replicate the one I had in Luz St. Sauveur (but with no luck).  The kids ended up being super happy with their meals, and in the end as long as their tummies are full and they are happy….. well, anyway, that’s what I tell myself!

It was a beautiful night so we walked around the castle till dusk, stopping in on our favourite store… Real chocolate.  We picked up a crazy stash of über tasty chocolate.  After our shopping extravaganza , we were ALL going to head out on the “Daddy/Brodie” nightly castle walk.  Well little Syd had other ideas. Her “less frequent” meltdown was fast approaching…. I have no idea what set her off, and it lasted about 10 minutes with her kicking, screaming and crying on the ground, before I finally said… “OK let’s go back to the hotel”. She was happy as a clam to be heading back to room 62, her comfy bed, and Bubble Guppies on the iPad.  Brodie and Mike finished their nightly castle walk without the two of us, but then stopped by to pick us up for a “night-cap” at the hotel bar.  Apple juice for the kiddies and fermented grape juice for the parents!

We woke up to cloudy skies and a weather report calling for rain…. noooooooo! I wanted hot Carcassonne sunshine and blue skies!  We decided given the weather that we would enter the castle and walk the ramparts around the walled city.  The line up was a bit crazy, with about 30 minutes in line waiting just to buy entrance tickets and I found myself thankful that it wasn’t 32 degrees and sunny!  We all throughly enjoyed touring around the old castle, and walking the defensive wall that surrounded the castle.  The views of the countryside and city were amazing. Although it still wasn’t super hot and sunny….  we ended our day in the pool.

Our last morning in Carcassonne was BEAUTIFUL! Blue skies, sunshine….. the perfect morning for a quick breakfast, a quick pack of the hotel room and car, and then a lazy morning spent splashing in the pool and basking in sunshine.  We slathered on the sunscreen and ended up splashing, jumping, diving, swimming, shark hunting, dragon hunting, princess rescuing….. in the pool for HOURS!  We were all quite sad to leave but with a three-hour drive to Barcelona ahead of us, and lunch to eat, it was time to call it a day around 1:00.  We said goodbye to the resident pups, and cats, jammed our selves into the “european full size” car, and we were off.

Good-bye Carcassonne, room 62 and my olive tree…… till next time!

PS. Just so you all know….

I  didn’t understand the crazy amounts of time a blog would take, and the frustration I would have with the Wi-Fi in our various accommodations on our trip, so this isn’t really a LIVE account of our trip.  We have been back in Vancouver BC now, just about 4 weeks, and I am still blogging about our trip from July……  maybe it’s now called a “Journal”.  Either way, I’m still having fun recounting our trip from notes I took on my iPhone and going through the photos I took…… I hope you are all still enjoying it!

PPS If you are reading this and you happen to live in Carcassonne….. we left an iPhone 3GS (iPod really….) at the “green” restaurant  (we think).  If you could help me track it down and ship it back to Canada I would be forever grateful…. as would a little 3 year old princess! If you track it down you can comment via the blog and we can get in touch!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Hello Carcassonne Castle

“Real Chocolat” store   Mmmmmmmm…….

So, so happy!

Sword fighting in the castle

The Family

Hangin’ in a castle

The nightly walk

yup…. it’s pretty deep!

The Castle and Ramparts

Siblings

Me and my kiddies

we’re off to see the wizard….. Oops…..wrong era!

Walking the Ramparts

The inner City and Castle

Oh my…. we are all of a sudden not happy!

The start of the nightly walk

Syd is not having ANY part of this walk

My little man

Good Morning Carcassonne!

Fun with giant X’s and O’s

Hello AWESOME rain shower!

Bye bye comfy bed

Bye Bye resident pups 1&2

Bye bye, Syd’s favorite kitty

THE POOL!

My Olive Tree

Good Thing He Brought The Visa

Lourdes

We arrived late in the day in Lourdes. We hit some city traffic, and then found our apartment hotel that was going to be our home for the next 7 days. We got all our luggage, (now, plus 1 bike), in the room before heading out for a quick scout around town, pick up some breakfast supplies (it was Saturday night and we now know what its like to be in a town, in France, on a Sunday…. everything is CLOSED!), and grab some dinner.  It turns out they REALLY like pizza in Lourdes.  Almost all the restaurants that were near us were Italian. Pizza and pasta….. the kiddies were in heaven!

Our apartment was situated perfectly in the city.  We were close to shops, restaurants, and much-needed laundry facilities! We were also super close to the highway entrance to the Pyrenees Mountains – this was great since it turned out to be our almost daily commute. As it turns out…. the tiny mountain towns in France are simply the BEST!

We woke up Friday morning to beautiful blue, cloudless skies.  We packed the bike and headed to the Pyrenees Mountains. We drove up the Col du Tourmalet – and at 5km to the summit we pulled over.  Putting on 2 pairs of socks, Mikes cycling shoes, and buckling up his helmet I set out on the rented bike.

Right away……on the bike, I knew I was headed for trouble…… I was not 100% sure on the clip out mechanism of Mikes bike shoes, I couldn’t get the bike to its lowest gear, all while starting out on a 8-10% grade…….well 20 meters into my 5km journey I toppled off the bike into a heap on the road.  Mike came running to my rescue, managed to get the bike in the lowest gear, then got me and my bruised ego, back cycling up the Col du Tourmalet all within a couple of minutes.

WOW, WOW, WOW……..

It was crazy to think that I was actually “cycling” up one of the most über famous mountain climbs in France.  I was actually cycling where Lance Armstrong spent a good part of his career (I LOVE Lance Armstrong…. its OK …… Mike knows). A climb I had seen countless times on TV –  and the ride up the mountain was nothing short of spectacular.  It was so unbelievably amazing, there are almost no words to describe it!

Mike took the kiddies to look at the cows and sheep that graze freely on the mountain while I cycled up.  About 1.5KM to go, they passed me in the car, cheering and waving their arms.  I felt so lucky to have such a great cheering squad encouraging me up the mountain.  They pulled over and continued with cheering and picture-taking.  The last switch back up the mountain is crazy.  It kicks into a 12% grade…..  I wasnt sure I would be able to do it when I watched a van turn and take the climb, but when 2 cyclists passed me and jumped out of their saddles…. I didn’t miss a beat and followed suit.  The last 200 meters there were cyclist making their way down the mountain and they were cheering us all on…. it was like my own “little” Tour de France.  I wish I had enough training behind me to do the entire 23KM climb, but so happy that I got to summit the Col du Tourmalet.

After my EPIC 5Km ride we came down the “back” side of the mountain (which Mike informs me is actually the front side of the mountain), and had lunch in the cutest little ski town.  We were quite literally surrounded by the Pyrenees mountains, and I definitely see a ski holiday there at some point! It would be breath-taking all white and covered in snow.

We then packed the bike in the car, programmed the tomtom and made our way to Pau to pick up mikes race pack for L’etape du Tour.  The drive through the mountains was beautiful, the kiddies slept, and we managed to find exactly where we needed to be in Pau…… parking spot and all.  The bike expo was awesome.  So many bikes (some 6000 euro and above) bike gear, nutrition, Le Tour clothing….. you could definitely get carried away and spend a fortune!

We had dinner in Pau, and got back to Lourdes around 9:00pm. Mike got his bike, nutrition, and clothing together for the big race.  Alarms were set as it would be an early morning for us with a 5:30am wake up and drive to Pau to drop Mike off for his big race. Its always hard to getting ready for a race.  Trying to figure out the right clothing to wear, and making sure it is perfect for the day…. well its just stressful. We woke up to cool temperatures and low socked in cloud. As we were driving to drop off Mike, we were passing all sorts of cyclists heading to the race.  Mike turned to me, and with concern in his voice says “Why is everyone dressed like its winter?”  Well there wasn’t much Mike could do at this point with regards to clothing, so we just had to all cross our fingers that the cloud wasn’t that bad and that it would burn off as the morning progressed.  We wished Mike well, said our goodbyes and the kiddies and I made our way back to Lourdes, as Mike headed for the start line.  We were to pick Mike up in  Bagneres de Luchon later in the afternoon after 201km ride.

The kiddies and I went back to the apartment, cleaned up, had lunch and ventured out in Lourdes.  The town we needed to get to pick up Mike was about 90 minutes away from Lourdes so by mid afternoon the kiddies needed a nap, so we packed in the car, programmed the tomtom, and we were off.  The kiddies napped on cue, I stopped at the roadside rest area for coffee and a small nap before heading back on our way.  We arrived in Bagneres de Luchon, and was trying to find parking when the phone rang.  It was Mike.  His race was over and wanted to know if we could pick him up, instead of hopping on the race bus…. it would probably save us 3 hours.

Our new destination was Tresbons….. about 40 minutes away from where we were.  I reprogrammed the tomtom and we were off.  Now, for me it was a super strange feeling to be driving `blind` and not really knowing where we were.  I`m definitly more of a visual human being, so this is where a huge foldable map comes in handy!  I followed the directions from Darth, and after about 30 minutes I started to question whether we were on the right path.  We exited the highway, paid our toll and we were on an amazingly beautiful rural road in the middle of farmers fields.  I made a right turn as directed and was thinking this can’t be right…… I thought I would drive another 10 minutes and then call Mike if I didn’t find him.  Well lo and behold after passing through countless little communities, there was Mike and his bike at the side of the road waiting for us. Gotta love modern technology….. and our $80.00 tomtom iPhone app….. AMAZING!

Mike had a rough day in the mountains.  The day was the exact opposite to what my ride had been.  It was pouring rain and super cold.  The clouds were socked in on the mountains and the cold from the descent off the first climb was almost too much to recover from. The second climb was the Col du Tourmalet, where, once he was at the summit, jumped off his bike, bought a jacket and gloves (good thing he brought the Visa), both of which were WAY over priced.  Mike said that being as cold as he was, at that point price didn’t matter, and  he would have paid any amount of money, just to get something warm on his body. He found some cardboard and stuffed that in his shirt for extra wind protection for the second descent.

I was sad that Mike didn’t have great conditions for his race and that he couldn’t finish, but he was happy with how well he climbed and I know if the conditions had been better we would have watched him cross the finish line!

Seeing all the cyclists throughout our week in the Pyrenees mountains was super inspiring….. and with the beauty I saw on my ride I know we will be back….. riding up all the famous climbs! Its one trip I cant wait to plan!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Driving through the Pyrenees

On the Col du Tourmalet

In Luz St. Sauveur

5 km to the summit

Hanging out with the grazing cows on the mountainside

1.5 km to the summit

Top of the Tourmalet

Someday we will climb them all!

Syd fell in love with horses

Surrounded by the Pyrenees

in Pau

Mikes Race – 201 km

Profile of race day

Brodie was cheering for Cadel Evans – team BMC.  He thought this was pretty cool!

Race day for Mike – you should see the mountains…. not clouds!

Carcassonne. An Amazing Castle, One CRAZY Meltdown, and iPod Shuffle Love!

Caracassonne

We had 2 nights and 3 days in Carcassonne before our next stop.  We arrived later in the afternoon the first day and basically got settled in the room and went for a quick explore of the castle and then for dinner.  We ate at a great restaurant in the castle walls…… Le Saint Jean. We sat outside since

1.) there was room for the kiddies to run around if needed.

2.) there were paths for them to explore between courses.

3.) We were in a FREAKING CASTLE built in like……. 1067AD…. why wouldn’t we sit outside!

Our dinner was great and afterwards (and well into the night) we spent some time exploring different walkways, and the castle wall.

On Friday morning Mike had to go and pick up the road bike  he rented  for his bike race (l’etape du tour) that would be taking place in Pau the following week. He left first thing in the morning as he had a conference call with work and didnt want to disturb the kiddies or I before it was time to wake up. We woke up later than expected due to the AMAZING blackout curtains in the hotel.  The kiddies and I went for breakfast and were joined by the resident pups that lived at the hotel – a chocolate lab, and a hush puppy.

The kiddies and I decided we would head into the castle, check things out, and then head back and pick Mike up around 1:00 for lunch.  When we entered the castle there was a horse drawn carriage that would take you around the castle… both Brodie and Sydney decided that they REALLY wanted to take the tour even though it was all in French. Syd fell in LOVE with the horses, and Brodie wanted to see all around the castle. Sounded like a great plan….. Done.

After the ride, and saying goodbye to the horses, we ventured into the castle to see what goodies we could find.  Syd fell in love with a princess shirt and brodie a knight shirt. We got the appropriate sizes and were making our way out the store when our day completely fell apart….. Brodie started completely loosing his mind over not having a plastic bag to carry his shirt.  I finally got him out of the store crying hysterically, and I decided we would make our way back to the hotel.  I thought the tantrum would pass quickly since it was so out of character for the little man, but I was wrong! The 4 minute walk back to the hotel took us about 20 minutes with Brodie taking tantrum to another level, all while little Syd pretending that she NEVER acts like that, and telling Brodie he should be good….. OMG…… really…… was this happening!

We finally got back to the hotel and Brodie was sent to the kids room.  I sat outside in the sun trying to figure out what the heck happened, all while Syd walked around acting like she would NEVER do that!  UUUUGGGHHHH!  Mike made his entrance a short time later….. to me sitting outside, in the sun, with steam pouring out of my ears, Brodie sulking in his room, and Syd (acting a perfect angel) watching the iPad on the big bed.  Mike finally got Brodie to calm down, and apologize for his behavior.

Round 2:

We made our way BACK to the castle for lunch, and a walk around the castle wall.  We had a great lunch (although I am tiring of looking for pizza and pasta for the kiddies), and a fabulous walk along the castle wall.  The weather was nice so we eventually made our way back to our hotel and the awesome pool. The kids were super happy to be finally swimming and splashing around.  They could spend the entire day in the water if we let them!

We woke the next morning to our travel day to Lourdes….. and what an amazing day it was! There was not a cloud in the sky, and I found it hard to believe that I would ever pull myself away from our hotel and amazing pool!

We had breakfast, and packed up the room.  Mike – the master packer that he is, needed to find room in our “European full size” car that was already packed tight, for the road bike that he rented.  Unbelievable……. but…. the master packer made it work!  I was sooooooo surprised that it all fit given that we were so tight to begin with.  The kiddies had to sit side by side for drive to Lourdes…. it was SUPER tight…. but we all fit!  We spent the morning in the Carcassonne sunshine at the pool, and then around 1:30 we decided to call it a day, and make our way to our next destination.  I wasn`t too bummed about leaving knowing that we had just booked another 2 nights for the return trip en route to Barcelona…… YES…. we would be back at this amazing hotel, in this amazing city, in a week!

The drive to Lourdes was pretty uneventful. We plugged in my ancient iPod Photo (from about 10 years ago), with its 10,000 + songs on it and away we went. The kids watched their shows and then slept part of the way.  It was beautiful to see the landscape change once again. We left dry and arid, almost desert landscape, for green, lush land with rolling hills.  It did surprise me that while I knew we were heading to the Pyrenees Mountains, all I saw was rolling hills…. even when we entered Lourdes (which is only about 30 minutes from the mountains).

Where were the Pyrenees Mountains…… I count wait to find them!

PS. I LOVE my iPod….. on random while driving it came upon one of my all time FAVORITE songs….. Dance Hall Days by Wang Chung.  Now there is an oldie but a goodie. Thank goodness for the random shuffle on the iPod!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

 

Nighttime castle walk

Carriage ride

The kiddies and I

Castle wall walk

Hello Princess

My awesome prince!

Hello Spiderman!

Brodie and Daddys nightly castle adventure

Resident pup #1

Resident pup #2

Our hotel looking from the pool

Hello amazing pool in the Carcassonne sunshine!

Outdoor warm rain shower

Cramped drive to Lourdes

Gotta pay to drive in France!

Traffic jam in Lourdes

Gotta Love the 80s music’e (and my 10 year old iPod!)

Disneyland Paris… Yes we were CRAZY

July 7th saw Mike start his holidays and pick up the new rental car – European full-sized. We packed up the apartment, handed over the keys (nooooooo), packed the car full to the brim, and programmed the tomtom for DISNEYLAND! Yes we were going to Disneyland Paris for 2 nights/3 days and the kiddies were going to lose their minds – or maybe we were the ones loosing our minds!

We made our way to the hotel, checked in, unpacked the car, and within 15 minutes, without even leaving the hotel Syd had a new best friend (Tinkerbell aka Tink) to carry around….. you know what….. it was going to be a long 3 days of saying NO…….. constantly!

The weather was mixed. We drove through the Paris rain, but the clouds parted and the sun came beaming through just as we entered Disney Village for lunch.  Our lunch spot was one I never thought I would EVER take my kids too….. The Rainforest Cafe!

Now, the trip really hasn’t been the culinary journey I hoped it would be for the kiddies – although they had never been to Rainforest Cafe before……. and absolutely LOVED it.  I mean really how could they not.  With animated elephants, gorillas and butterflies, all topped off with an indoor thunderstorm – seriously if you are 5 and 3, and they serve a monster portion of french fries…… this is THE BEST RESTAURANT…….. EVER!

After lunch we made our way to the park entrance, where Brodie and Sydney went on a hunt to see who could find Tinkerbell (our new best friend) first. It was a tie – as usual. The park was jammed full of people, with lineups in every direction, for absolutely everything.

With many ooohhhhss, and awwweess, we made our way to Sleeping Beauties Castle.   The kiddies were super excited to be inside the castle, although Sydney was concerned that she couldn’t find Mickey or Minnie – “because that’s where they live”.  After our inspection of the castle was complete, we made our way into the rest of the park.  With line ups of 90 minutes or more, for almost all the rides, we decided to do the Alice in Wonderland maze since the lineup was moving fast.  The kiddies loved the jumping water, the playing card guards and the spinning eyes on the hill.  Once we finished up the maze adventure, we decided to go to the room and get ourselves organized for the night and the parade that would be taking place that evening.

Passing by Sleeping Beauties castle we noticed that we missed checking out the dragons home. We ventured in for a look, and I was surprised by Brodies reaction….. he was genuinely scared of the dragon!  I find this a bit funny since the boy has been watching Starwars for the past couple of years and NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING……. about ANYTHING……… seems to scare him. Well this dragon did…… he didn’t know if it was real or not!

Disneyland Paris is celebrating it`s 20th anniversary…… AND so was our hotel room. The room was clean but definitely in need of some modern updates.  A TV (from this millennium) with a HDMI hookup would have been nice, as well as Wi-Fi for my computer and iPhone (……seriously – no WiFi??).

We made our way to the Mickey Cafe to have dinner (another restaurant on the amazing culinary tour for us).  It really was awesome for the kiddies since all the characters walk around and visit your table while you eat dinner. They will sign your autograph book ( that is IF you remember to bring it), and sit for pictures. Syd was pretty shy around the characters and wouldn`t even touch or look at them, but Brodie was “all in” on this one!

We made our way into the park for the nightly light/water show. It was quite a wait, but it was pretty awesome.  The kids loved the lit up floats with all the characters, and the water and projection show on Sleeping Beauties Castle was spectacular.  The only problem was the duration!  We waited till almost dark for the floats and then we waited another 30 minutes after the parade for the projection show.  I didn’t time the whole production, but, when you have little ones with you, it really started to feel LONG!  We couldn’t have left even if we wanted to, because we were packed tight like sardines, with a ton of other people and their little kids.  The show was totally amazing, and the rain held off ….. quite literally till the show ended. We walked back to the hotel in the pouring rain and arrived at 12:15 AM. It was a long day!

We slept late, and had breakfast at the hotel – more characters showed up for photo opportunities, so not all was lost by sleeping late.  Mike and I decided to divide and conquer with the kiddies heading into the park since their interests were different.  Mike and Brodie would head over to Space Mountain/Buzz Lightyear/Star tours, and Syd and I would head over to the Dumbo the Elephant ride/Castle/Tea cups. We would meet up just outside the Peter Pan ride for lunch and go from there.

Syd and I got to the Flying Elephant ride to about an hour wait in line. A few of the thoughts running through my mind were “seriously”, “wish I had packed something for Syd to eat”, “wish I had packed some water”, ” I wonder how long the ride actually is?”. Well I decided to time the ride…. 1 min 20 sec……. exactly! This was NOT a good return on our investment in line! Well after about 20 minutes Syd saw the popcorn stand below the ride. This was enough for her to make the conscious decision to leave the lineup for popcorn, knowing we would NOT be coming back and lining up for the Dumbo Ride.

The 9.00 euro popcorn was also a DUD. Not only did I pay 9.00 euro for popcorn (seriously…… its popcorn Disney, not Mickey shaped popcorn sprinkled with gold dust), but all the popcorn in Disneyland Paris is “sweet popcorn”. BARF. Well Syd took one bite and also decided it wasn’t for her. Now what to do with popcorn I just spent about $13.00 Canadian dollars on?!?  I took it back to the same stand. The woman there spoke really great english till she realized I wanted my money back…. she even at one point totally ignored me. It really wasn’t that long time before I got my 9.00 euro back (I think she realized I wasn’t going to leave till I got my cash back)  and she got her sweet popcorn back!

We hooked up with Mike and Brodie after their adventure – Mike waited in what seemed like the “slowest lineup ever” for food (if McDonalds can do it in a blink of an eye…… Disney …. so can you!). At this point I decided I needed a coffee and the kiddies needed a nap. We headed back to Disney Village, grabbed a coffee while both kiddies napped in the stroller.  We called it an early night after another FANTASTIC meal at the Rainforest Cafe!

Our last day in Disneyland, and we slept late again.  On our way to breakfast we had pictures with Pluto, and then Mickey and Minnie both showed up.  Syd decided she now was in love with Minnie and just couldn’t get enough of her.  Sydney herself, must have had 5 separate photos of her and the mice. In the last photo she was being kissed by both Mickey and Minnie and she was sooooooo happy!

We spent most of the day in the Space Mountain/Star Tours area. We had some FAST PASS tickets for rides  which meant we really didn’t have time to leave the area. We had lunch and then all hopped on the Buzz Lightyear ride for some “ray gun” fun!

We decided to call it a day in the Disney Park since Mike had a conference call and Syd needed a big nap in the stroller. I headed to Walt Disney Studios for the rest of the afternoon with the kiddies – one sleeping and one awake!  Brodie and I didn’t really go on any rides but hung out looking at all the Pixar displays and rides.  Brodie and I went for a “coffee“ and watched Le Tour de France on the big screen all while the little Miss slept.

By the time we hooked back up with Mike, he had our little “European full sized“ car packed and ready for the short drive to Orleans, where we would spend the night before we headed out on our monster drive to Carcassonne!

I dont really think we had a true “DISNEY“ experience in Paris. I told Mike that we needed to head to California at some point with the kiddies. He reply……“ the kiddes had fun, know no different and that one Disney Experience is enough“ . Mr. Logical!

Look out Disney Aneheim….. we will be coming your way with the kiddies….. someday!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Hello Disney!

NO NO NO…. for the bazillionth time you CAN NOT have cotton candy!

…. but you can have a lollipop the size of your head!  😉

“`thanks for buying me my lollipop after I cried in the store Daddy“ because I DESERVE this for throwing a 45 minute tantrum in the middle of Disney…. the calories that you burn throwing yourself on the ground and screaming NEED to be replaced with PINK SWIRLY sugar!

Can you guess which balloon Syd was interested in

Hello Minnie…. I LOVE you

Can you guess who let Minnie fly free…..

Pluto……the hair messing, tickling dog!

Finally…..

One for Brodie

One for Sydney

Hello MIKE!

Peacocks, Rainbows and Our Next Ride

Paris Days 11-12

After the craziness that was Les Halles disaster I decided we would keep the day simple.  We would shop at our local street market (thanks for finding it Mike) on Rue Poncelet, for our dinner fixings, have lunch at the apartment with the kiddies, and then head to the little park that was 20 minute walk for an afternoon play.

We hit the Rue Poncelet market early and my eyes were bigger than my stomach – the food was so fresh, looked amazing and the atmosphere of walking around was honestly just the best. The kids enjoyed themselves looking at all the food. Brodie wanted the strawberries, and the cherry tomatoes. Now I’m not sure what it is about Europe and tomatoes, but they taste soooooo much better on European soil!  We made our way back to the apartment with everything we needed for dinner (and then some), and made lunch.

The weather was mixed, so after lunch we packed up the stroller (rain cover and all), and made our way to pick up a treat of Pierre Hermes Chocolate Macaroons, and make our way to the kids park. The macaroons didn’t make it as far as the park!

There always seems to be some type of apartment or road construction with every turn you take in Paris. I decided to take a detour to the park which had Brodie quite concerned that we wouldn’t find our way.  I love walking the side streets in Paris…. all the buildings are so AMAZING, with crazy beautiful detail, with gorgeous huge windows with shutters – I love it!

We finally turned the corner to the park where Brodie made fast friends with a boy about his age, with Syd tagging along in stride for stride.  When we first thought of doing this big trip, I pictured myself sitting at the park enjoying my time with the kiddies, meeting new people, and trying to have a conversation with the little french I know. Well, sadly, this was not the case. Each park bench had one woman sitting on it watching the kids play. No adults wanted to talk with each other. This is so different from what I am used to in Vancouver, where I pretty much chit chat with the moms/dads that are at the park  with their kids. I love watching kids hang together and play……. even with a language barrier, they find a way, and its awesome to see.

The kiddies had an amazing couple of hours of tag, spiderman climbing, and tons of sliding, with their new ‘friends’. The rain clouds rolled in, so the kids hopped in the stroller, the rain cover was engaged, and we made the trek back to our apartment.

Friday was our last ‘full day’ in Paris……. (nooooooooo!) So another trip to Jardine d’Acclimatation for the day was planned, and then we were going to go and meet Mike at the SAP office, and head out for dinner.

The weather didn’t look as great as the previous trip, so we decided to pack our jackets and go ‘stroller-less’ for the day, since we didn’t want a repeat of a rush hour train ride with a stroller. We hopped on the metro, but once again, we got turned around at street level.  I don’t think the trains are the hard part of the Metro….. its figuring out where you`re going to pop up once you hit street level and knowing your way from there. That definitely seems to be the hard part.

We did find our way with Brodie asking “Mom do you know where you’re going?”  “maybe we should go this way”, “maybe its over there”.  We took the little train into the park, and immediately hopped on the Enchanted River Ride. Syd was not so impressed, since I think she was a bit scared of the mist, but she got over it once the ride was over and she was looking in all the distortion mirrors. Now, the best ride of all was the horse racing ride. We only got to go on it once since the rain started to fall when we were in line for our second ride, but it was a super cool ride – the kids loved it, and Syd loved that she was chasing Brodie.

The rain in Paris is different than in Vancouver. Since there are no mountains for the clouds to get stuck on and socked in, it generally passes pretty quickly. So when it started to rain, the three of us parked under a tree to let it pass and stay dry. After about 5 minutes the sun was peaking out between the clouds and we were on the hunt for peacocks, rainbows, and our next ride. Brodie wanted to hit the trampolines, so away we went to that part of the park. An interesting thing I am noticing about Paris (and maybe France), is that there are TRAMPOLINES in almost every park we have been in, with kids bouncing away.  There was a lineup, so Brodie decided his last ride would be the horse race ride, if it was back up and running since the rain, or the river ride. With the black clouds building, we ended up back on the river ride, which in turn made us miss the little train out of the park and back to the metro. Now we were running late getting to Mikes office, and the start to our last evening in Paris.

Getting off the Metro at our regular stop, the rain started. Big, huge, massive rain drops that started slowly. We made our way to a tree which had about 6 people under it to stay dry and wait out the rain, before continuing on our way.  After about a minute the rain really started to come down. Rain like I haven’t seen in ALONG time! The skies opened and it was dumping buckets of rain. We waited another couple of minutes but by this time Syd was shivering, and we were all starting to get really wet. There was RIVERS of water flowing down the street, and it was raining even harder. I could barely hear Brodie talking over the sound the rain was making. We decided to make a run for it to the apartment. We were gonna get soaked but it was better than shivering under a tree that was no longer keeping us dry. The kiddies seemed scared at first till we started running and laughing through the rain, racing from building to building. We were soaked and people were looking at us like we were crazy….. it was awesome!  We got to the apartment, every inch of us drenched, the kids hopped in a warm shower and we awaited Mike to come home.

Our last night in Paris was not what it should have been. Syd should of had a nap (mistake #1) and we ended up at a restaurant out of our neighborhood (mistake #2).

Syd had a meltdown of EPIC proportions, so we ended up back at the apartment after a rushed meal that wasn’t great. Uuuuggghhhh! I felt bad for Brodie since it was his last night in Paris too, so I sent Mike and Brodie out, while I hung with the crabby little Miss. Brodie ended up taking Mike on his own little tour of the Arc de Triomphe. That was sweet.

It wasn’t really how our last night in Paris was suppose to be, but it looks like we may have a ‘do over’ since we have to return the rental car to our old ‘hood.  This time Syd is gonna have an EPIC nap before we go!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Our market on  Rue Poncelet

Our new Favorite!

M1 Metro line – La Defense

Little train to the park

Enchanted River

the covered mist

funny mirrors

One of the many peacocks walking around the park

 

Awesome horse race ride

 

Giddy up!

Crazy Paris rain storm

Hiding under a tree near our metro stop

The Family in the window

Our fabulous apartment

Our front step

 

….. and we were in PARIS!

Paris Days 8-10

With week one and the majority of sights to be seen – seen, week 2 in Paris was about just living day to day in our “regular life“ routine.  There was no real plan of things we had to do or see.

On the Monday we decided to head to the oldest Zoo in Paris at the Jardine des Plantes.  Both Brodie and Sydney have been infatuated with Zoos’ ever since Heidelberg and I thought it would be a great outing for the 3 of us. We made our way to the stop on the metro, but got a bit turned around once we surfaced, however we finally made our way. It was pretty hot and humid that day so Syd fell asleep in the stroller, while Brodie and I toured around looking at all the animals, and since the zoo had Orangutans, Brodie was especially happy!  We made our way to the reptile area of the zoo, Syd woke up and was excited to see the turtles and the crocodiles. When it was time to continue on our way, we made our way to the metro for only 2 stops since the person I asked for walking directions gave me a real funny look and said it was much too far to walk to  Île Saint-Louis and Berthillon Ice cream.

Sooooo …… Berthillon ice cream was closed by the time we got there, however….. all the shops on the Island sell their ice cream, so the kiddies were none the wiser, all while eating their cones of delicious Berthillon ice cream! Syd had her usual daily meltdown over nothing, in the most unusual place, and this one was on the Ponte Marie as we were leaving the island bound for the metro…. sigh!

Tuesday we decided to hop the Metro to Jardin d`Acclamition.  It is a kids amusement park that has been open since October 1860……. craziness, right…. anyway the kids and I had a blast! There are all these different play areas. some with just crazy swings, some with just an entire rope fort, and rope bridges (Brodie got his first rope burn when another little boy “bounced” him off the rope bridge).  Our favourite part of the park was the Enchanted River ride – it is a man made river and big wooden boats, that take you along the cutest little route, with stone crocadiles and alligators. Syd was scared of the “covered mist”, but it sure felt great in the heat! There was also the most awesome horse racing ride with carousel sized horses that went bouncing along a railing. So. Much. Fun. Seriously!

There was also a small train that went through the park and dropped off close to the metro station. The kids and I loved this. We spent longer in the park than I thought we would, so we hit rush hour on the M1 line back to our stop at the Charles de Galle -Etoille. It was crazy busy, we even waited for 2 trains just to see if it was going to get any “less busy”.  On the third train I decided we just needed to squish our way in…… 2 kids, myself and a folded up double Maclaren stroller.  I had 2 guys that were so awesome helping hold the stroller while I held on to Syd, Brodie, and the pole so I didn’t go flying.! It was super stressful but we made it to our stop.

The weather was mixed on the Wednesday, the kids were tired so I thought it would be good to walk to the Disney store on the Champs de Elysees, and then it would be onwards to Les Halles park which I read was THE MOST AMAZING PARK for kids. The store had the greatest Spiderman display, and it was on Brodies must go and see list, since he saw it from Les Cars Rouge the week before.  We got to the store and it was Spiderman from top to bottom – Brodie was in heaven! “Can I get this….. no…… how about this…… no, no maybe this”. Brodie settled on a set of Spiderman PJ’s and has worn them just about everyday since!

Both kids were tired so I decided I would walk to Les Halles park and let them snooze in the stroller. I knew it would be a long walk and was prepared for it since they both needed sleep.  It really WAS a long walk…… at one point I thought I must have missed the Rue de Louvre. I finally found my way to Les Halles, after an hour and a half, of pushing a double stroller, with 2 kids asleep, and mostly on cobblestones, in the 25+ degree weather – just to find out the park was under a major renovation, and had been since 2010. I now had 2 well rested kiddies that wanted to run and play, and no park to do it in!

All was not lost for me this day…. upon finding Les Halles was closed I found a cafe for an afternoon coffee with the kiddies that was right across the street from the only store I wanted to shop in in Paris……… E. Dehillerin.  A cook shop that 12 years earlier I bought my first and only copper pot.  It is the oldest cook shop in Paris, and it was on my list to add more copper pots to my collection.  We made our way to the store, and I knew the pots I wanted to buy, so that part was pretty easy…… getting our purchases paid for, (wow…… a whole lot of paperwork) and “wrapped” on the “wooden table”, well that was a whole other process.  Now I probably would have loved this whole process if I didn’t have 2 kids that just slept and needed to run!  It was a painful 25 minutes, trying to keep the kids interested (and under control) while we finished the purchase of the pots!

We left the store with the intent of getting on the metro, and going to a little park that was near our apartment. The Les Halles metro station is CRAZY (once you finally make your way through the underground mall). We were going to hop on our regular M1 line but with the experience of  rush hour the day before, fresh in my mind, I decided we would take the RER line. The RER line is only  2 stops to our Charles de Gaulle – Etoile stop, and is less crowded. All was going well…… the train arrived, tons of room, and was super fast being it was only 2 stops. We were making some good time – well that is until we needed to exit! We were doing fine…. following all the Sortie signs, when all the signs just stopped, and there were more pay stations that we needed tickets for. The other problems was having to get the stroller through, all while keeping the kids together and in control.  All that precious time we made up on the train, we lost trying to get out of the station and back to street level.

After all that I was finally at the end…. it was almost 5, the little park that the kids now wanted to go to was another 20 minute walk, and I just didn’t have it in me after trying to get out of the station. The kids were disappointed, but didn’t put up much of a fight, and home we went.

This was probably my only real “off day” in Paris, but looking back on the day, Brodie got to see his Spiderman display and he picked up some pretty awesome PJ’s that he loves.  I bought two new copper pots that I love and cant wait to cook in……. and we were in PARIS! Life is good!

 

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

I would never tire of seeing this every morning!

At La Menagerie at Jardine des Plantes

The kiddies FAVORITE at the zoo!

Second stop for the day.

Someone is enjoying their Berthillon Ice cream!

 

Jardin d`Acclamition

 

Awesome “hammock swing”

 

rides rides …… everywhere we go!

 

Rope Fort for ages 6+….. she must be advanced   😉

 

Spiderman has joined us on our adventure (before the rope burn)

 

Oh yeah….. advanced for sure!  😉

 

the kids parks totally rock in Paris!

 

Look…… its SPIDERMAN!

 

Hello FAVORITE store in Paris!

After the gong show in the underground!

 

 

Wow – I Actually Just Typed That

Paris days 4-7

So after over a month of hyping up the Egypitian artifacts at the Musse de Louve, I had to dissapoint my little man.  We woke up on Thusday SUPER excited to see all that the egyptian artifacts, but by the time we arrived at the museum the line was HUGE! I honestly didnt think it was worth a 2+hour wait for both kids, in 25 degree C (plus humidity),  just for what could actually be a big only 5 minutes of fun for the little man! I talked with Brodie, and he didnt seem to mind too much, so off to the fountain to float boats we went. I had heard that this was SO MUCH FUN for kids….. well maybe for all of 5 minutes. I totally understood when he said he wanted to return his “pushing the boat stick“. Upon returning the stick the guy said we could come back, free of charge, since we didnt use our full time. This was a really nice gesture on his part…….but the whole ‘boat in the fountain thing’… well……. it was REALLY  boring.  We ended up back at the amusement park with the Wheel of Paris off the Rue de Rivoli and had a great day, naps in the double stroller were involved, and we caught the metro (M1 La Defense) home.

On Friday morning I woke up to receive some sad news about my Oma…… but also to the event that the little lady was turning 3 in Paris. Seriously…… who is lucky enough to turn 3 in Paris! Mike says  ‘all the kids that live here’ (sometimes…… seriously…… he is just too damn logical). Syd REALLY wanted McDonalds for her birthday, so I thought a trip on the Metro to La Defense was in order.  The McDonalds in France is CRAZY.  Not only is it super busy but it is SUPER AWESOME…… Wow….. I cant actually believe I just typed those words. Chef friends…… go easy on me for this one…. remember I have two kids under the age of 6 with me!

Yes…. it was CRAZY busy, but, they had automated machines that you could ‘pre-order and pay for’ (which we did) and then hit a totally differnt line up to pick up your food. Now this is not where the awesomeness ends (still cant believe I am saying this), but they have a ‘salad bar’ which you can order from and build your own salad.  The McCafe, which I am sure equals most places on a quick coffee also offered pain au chocolate, macaroons, and other pastry sweets – seriously….. they looked great!  I ordered a McWrap that was lettuce tomatoes and goat cheese. When I opened the package I was seroiusly happy with what I saw….. the tortilla wasnt this pasty white crap they serve in Canada. There was some real substance, with the nice green leaf lettuce and tomato slices…… hahahahaha…… I  still cant believe I’m writing this about McDonalds – seriously ……. shoot me now!  The little lady turned 3 and was most happy with her birthday lunch……hahahahaha……as was I!

Syd has been so excited by the Eiffel Tower ever since I received a tiny photo magnet  in my stocking from Santa at Christmas. She would randomly talk about the tower and climbing it, going to the center, and to the top. Well we took her to the tower on Friday night to continue celebrating her 3rd birthday.  It was a beautiful warm night in Paris…. and it was a perfect night to climb the tower! We couldnt actually go all the way to the top since one of the elevators was broken and you needed to make a reservation months and months in advance just to get a ticket, so we walked up to the first and second levels, and admired all the views.  We ended up on one of the side streets near the tower for a  birthday celebration dinner and Syd was on cue with her nightly meltdown over absolutely nothing….. sigh!

On Saturday we made our way to Versailles by Metro and RER train.  Me, now being the new“expert“ on navigating the metro and trains, picked our route.  Just when you think you have something down, and you totally understand how it works, you realize that you really are just a visitor to the city and you dont quite know all the ins and outs of the metro system! Well my mistake cost us about 40 EXTRA travel minutes (damn)…. and when they speciffically paint yellow feet  on the pavement saying `shorter trains this way`….. follow those yellow feet… your train is most likely gonna be a `shorter train` and then you wont get caught in the doors are you are lifting the stroller on board (ouch)!

Versailles was so, so busy, but was  breath taking to see in person… unbelieveable actually! I managed to get caught up in another line that I DIDN’T need to be in….. sigh, but thank goodness it was only about 35 min, but unfourtunatlly more time was lost! We finally found our way to the gardens and walked around the whole afternoon admiring the fountains, statues, taking in all the beauty.  We caught a late afternoon snack in the sunshine, before blindly jumping on a train we hoped we were bound for Paris! Our guess paid off and we made it back to our little home in the big city!

The weekend was going to be Mikes only weekend off in Paris with the kiddies so we headed to Trocadero Fountains (euro 2012 fansite – so no fountains for us) for the view of the Eiffel tower. The aquarium is right in the same park so we decided to go as Brodie was super excited to see the sharks swimming around. After the aquarium, Syd finally got her ride on the Carousel of Paris. It is the double decker carousel near the base of the Fountains-Fansite and an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower.  The carousel was so beautiful and every detail was amazing.

We ended our day riding the Batobus floating along the Seine. It is a hop on hop off boat tour along the Seine that stops near 8 major city attractions. We hopped off at the Notre Dame Cathedral for a late afternoon snack, before hopping back on, and finishing our ride past some of the most amazing and iconic architecture and monuments in the world.

It was just another day in Paris…… sigh. I LOVE PARIS!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Outside the Musee de Louve

Happy BIrthday Little Lady

Our favorite metro line….. the M1

The Grand Arch – La Defense

At the Golden Arch for lunch – La Defense

Automated Order lines

Look who is turning 3

The Metor ride `home`

 

 

The Birthday princess walking down `her` tower

Birthday girl with her `macaroon `birthday cake!

 

Train to Versailles

our shorter train

 

 

 

 

 

A nice spot for an afternoon snack

Syd is LOVING her Pomme Frittes

The end of a busy weekend

 

 

Turn Left at the Noodle Panda

Days 1-3 in Paris

On June 24th we left La Defense, drove through the rain, and found our little side street off the Av. Mac-Mahon, in the 17th adr. in Paris.  It is about 3 blocks from the Arc de Triomphe, and the entrance to the Metro.  Our official address in Paris is 04, rue de l’Arc de Triomphe. It is the cutest little apartment on an awesome little street with great shopping and little cafes all around us.  We are so close to everything we need…… and almost everything we need is at the Monoprix.  The Monoprix is a small version of a Superstore, and you can find groceries, wine, clothing, and everything else in between. It has taken me a little bit to get used to shopping everyday for groceries.  Our fridge is so small that we make a trip to the Monoprix almost every morning….. it has become part of our daily ‘Parisien’ routine.

Waking up in our new ‘home’ was amazing. It was my first full day in Paris, with just the kiddies as Mike was off to work.  I decided to keep it low key so I could ease myself into Paris.  First thing – we HAD to hit the Monoprix. Since everything is closed on Sunday (thanks Valeria for the heads up on the crazy shopping hours – though I still wasn’t prepared), we had nothing….. no food, no clothes soap, and NO WINE! Once we got back to our home, and I made the kiddies lunch, we headed out to walk the Av. des Champs Elysees in  search of the ‘Wheel of Paris” .  Both kiddies fell asleep in the stroller and I stopped at a Cafe for some much needed caffeine.  We ended up at an amusement park off the Rue de Rivoli, beside the Jardin des Tuileries.  It was here that I heard someone call out my name.  It’s weird to hear your name called out when you least expect it…… and to say I least expected it in Paris is an understatement!  The person calling out was one of my old chefs from Vancouver…… Mr. Claudio P. It was fitting that it was Claudio, because I ALWAYS seem to run into him in the most unexpected places and times….. Paris so far takes the cake on unexpected places!  The kiddies and I had a great day riding rides and the Wheel of Paris topped the day off!

To say that Brodie has been an amazing trooper during our sight seeing adventure would be an understatement. On our second day in the neighbourhood we decided to go and see the Arc de Triomphe. We walked all around the bottom, watched the cars drive by, and admired the burial site of the unknown soldier.  Syd was especially interested by the fire that was burning there, and didn’t want to leave the site.  We then bought our tickets to the top and when we went to walk up the 284 stairs to the top, we were offered to take the elevator. Brodie said “no thank you, I want to walk up”….. and with that we were off. Syd got the best end of the deal as I carried her until the last 10 steps, when she said she wanted to walk.  Both kids loved the views….. Syd was most interested in the Eiffel tower view, and Brodie was super interested in the La Defence view, and I was just so happy to be in that exact moment, soaking it all up with my kiddies…..mini Syd meltdown on the top of the Arc and all!

On our third day we decided to buy a 2 day pass on the sight seeing buses ‘Les Cars Rouge’.  The first day was great. We got off at the Palais de Chaillot and the Jardins du Trocadero, to admire the Eiffel Tower and have a quick snack on the lawn under a tree.  We then hopped back on our ‘le cars rouge’ and got off at the stop for the Notre Dame Cathedral.  It was hot, humid and the kiddies were tired.  The lineup to get into the cathedral moved very quickly. We lit a candle for my Oma, walked around and admired the stained glass windows. Syd needed a bathroom break, I needed a coffee and Brodie proclaimed he was hungry, so we left the cathedral, and found a great little pizza place for lunch.  Once we were recharged it was time to hit the cathedral, climb some stairs, and go visit the gargoyles atop the Notre Dame.  I walked around the side and couldnt see a line up for the top. There was a sign that you needed a ticket past that point but couldnt find out where that was.  I asked the guy letting people up the stairs of the proceedure and he informed me it was about an hour wait to get a ticket then about another 45 minutes after that. I said “Oh….. OK”  and while carrying Syd, I looked at Brodie and was going to tell him that we were gonna have to come back another day, when the guy asked if it was just the 3 of us. I said yes and he opened the rope and told us to have a good climb!  It was the nicest thing EVER….. I could have hugged him! He saved us 2 hours in line, and I didn’t have to disappoint Brodie.

The top of the Notre Dame gives some great views of Paris.  Both kiddies loved the gargoyles. Syds favourite was the elephant, when you looked down the centre along the  back side of the Cathedral.  At the very top, it was Brodies turn for a mini meltdown.  All those stairs finally took its toll on the little man, and I wasn’t sure we would ever make our way down.  I am happy to say we eventually did and it didn’t take as long as I thought it would.  After a full day we finally made our way back to the Arc de Triomphe and Av. Mac-Mahon.

On our first day walking down Av. Mac-Mahon from the Metro, I got a bit confused on where we were to turn to get to our street. When we came upon the Noodle Panda I remembered that that was were we were to turn, and proclaimed “oh yeah….. we turn left at the Noodle Panda”. This has now become our catch phrase every day as we head ‘home’ from the Metro. Both kiddes, usually laughing say “there’s the Noodle Panda – turn left”.

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Love our ‘Home’ for 2 weeks.

our awesome red door – love the door handle!

Hallway leading to the street

 

Wheel of Paris

View from the Wheel of Paris

 

view from the Wheel of Paris

Batman car at the amusement park

In the neighborhood at l’Arc de Triomphe

The Princess and her tower (dental floss and all)

I have felt like this on more than one occasion so far in Paris

La Defense and the Grande Arch in the distance

Hopped ‘off’ Les Cars Rouge. Photo compliments of Brodie!

Hopped ‘on’ Les Cars Rouge for a quick drive by.

Remember to turn left at the Noodle Panda

It was my Intent. Never fully trust a Tomtom, and its all about La Defense!

It was my intent to do a post a day.

When I originally thought of the name for the blog I really did picture myself giving a “daily dose” to family, friends, and anyone else that was interested, on all that the Bain Clan was up to in Europe.  I had visions of myself tucking the kiddies in bed, pouring a nice glass of wine, and chilling out on the computer recapping our daily adventure……. that obviously is not happening! So….. so much for the daily dose!

With that said, and after 5 days in Paris, the recap of our drive from Heidelberg to our hotel at La Defense in Paris will begin!

As we got in the car at Heidelberg to drive to Paris, Mike plugged our destination into the tomtom app on his iPhone, and with Darth Vaders voice directing us we were off to start our adventure in the City of Light. I did think it was strange that the drive back to Paris was going to take us almost 2 hours longer than it did to get to Heidelberg, so Mike reprogrammed the tomtom, told it we wanted to take toll roads and we were once again on our way.  After about an hour and not having taken a ticket to pay a toll I wasnt convinced that we were on the quickest road.  My suspision was confirmed while listening to the tomtoms’ directions we turned away from the only sign for Paris that I saw and we were headed to Luxembourg. After a quick stop in Luxembourg, and a couple more hours on the road, we eventually found a toll road, and, disobeying Darths warning we FINALLY took a toll ticket.

In Vancouver I registered online to run a 10km running race on June 24th, so as we were driving through Paris we decided to pick up my race pack….. located on the round about at the Bastille.  Darth directed us there perfectly so my faith was restored in the awesome navigation app on Mikes iPhone. We managed to find “parking” on the round about, I found my ID and had Mike forge my doctors certificate saying I was fit to run the race, and with fingers crossed that all would run smoothly, I was off to get my race package.  It all went well, (although I think they suspected the Doctors certificate was bogus), and I was back in the car with race package in hand in about 15 minutes. We were now off to the hotel at La Defense, in rush hour, in the middle of Paris. Over 6 hours in the car, with a couple of key stops and the kiddies were holding up quite well.  The traffic was crazy…… it was Saturday night, and everyone was out and about on the Avenue des Champs Elysees.

Driving under l’Arc de Triomphe, we actually made it to La Defense in good time and with out any navigation problems – that is until we were “actually in” La Defense!  To say that we drove in a circle for 90 minutes would not be an understatement, it may have even been longer. With Darth telling us to ‘turn left’ when either the road was blocked, or where there was no road, we just kept ending up on this crazy circle, that would either take us back to Paris, or one of the out lying areas.  There are no signs to any hotels….. ANYWHERE!  We finally saw a Pullman hotel, pulled in, and asked directions.  They told Mike that the hotel was ‘right up those stairs’, and gave us directions once again…. ‘its simple, just go back out to the circle, exit right and it cant be missed!’.

……. we still couldn’t find it, and after all those hours in the car, little Syd had, finally had it as well!  Tempers were short, and I could no longer see the humour in the craziness we were in. I was ready to throw Darth and the Tomtom out the window.  I had had enough of “you have reached your destiantion…. the Emperor awaits”.  We FINALLY found the Pullman hotel agian and decided to park the car and walk up the stairs to find our hotel.  It was a bit of a hike to get to the Hilton (it wasn’t just up those stairs), but once there, Mike had the bellman walk back to the car with him and had the bellman drive our car to the hotel. And just so you know how hard it is to find your way in La Defense….. the bellman got lost driving ‘our car’, to ‘his hotel’ as well!

I had my race on Sunday morning, 10am. I’m pretty sure Le Equipe 10km is the Paris version of the Vancouver Sun Run.  I got directions to the start line from the hotel. I was to take the RER A train to the Gare de Lyon stop which I was told was a shot walk to the Bastille.  On the train I saw another person with a race number and I am so glad I did!  Once I got off the train it was a maze of exits, that would take you to all different points on street level. I followed my “guide” in “stealth mode”. It was a good thing he was wearing a red race shirt or I would have lost him a number of times!

It was great race weather, overcast with a breeze.  The rain started about 5km in, but I didn’t care as I was running on the streets of PARIS!  I think I finished in 1:03, which is no PB, but since I was stopping to take photos with my iPhone I’m pretty happy with the result!  Nothing beats running on the streets of Paris!

La Defense….. a beautiful, and Uber modern area of Paris.  The kids and I are heading there today….. by the METRO!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Paris here we come!

Race package pickup

The Bastille – race start

Entrance to the train/metro station at La Defense

On the RER A Line

The guy in red….. my unknowing “guide” to the race start. Thanks guy in red!

Not a bad place to start a race!

Start line street

Along the race route….. some random building……love it!

The result of so many racers!

Beauty at a street market

Our neighborhood for the 2 weeks in Paris

Hallway out of the building

4 rue l’Arc de Triomphe 75017 Paris

Love living in Paris!

Germany – What’s Not to LOVE!

So I LOVE Germany!

I had never been there before this trip, and to say I fell in love with that country would not be an understatement.

Such beautiful countryside…. well what you could see anyway as you whizzed by at 150KM (or more) on the Auotbahns.  I was a bit nervous to drive in Germany, but our little Peugeot which had great “get up and go” was more than capable of holding her own with ALL the fancy beautiful cars in Germany.  NO ONE drives a beat up car in Germany….. I honestly mean NO ONE!  Everywhere you look its Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Bentley, Ferrari….. the list goes on!

I quickly got over my driving nerves, as everyone seems to know “their” speed limit and drives in the aproppriate lanes.  “My” speed limit was max 140km/hr…. Mikes was higher, so yes he got us there “faster”. It is crazy that you can be in you car driving at 160km/hr and be passed like you are standing still.  Some of those cars must have been doing close to 200km/hr.

The people in Germany were so nice. Everywhere we went we were greeted with smiles.  If they were holding doors for the kiddies and I (and the huge double stroller), helping to show us how to use an automated machine to pay for something, or helping to read a menu, the people we encountered on our day to day activities were always amazing.

The food was delish although we didnt eat German food everynight!  Brodie was pretty happy with his “hotdogs”, and both kiddies are pretty happy that they can get french fries. We had our last dinner in Heidelberg at a FANTASTIC Italian restaurant.

The Euro 2012 is on while we are vacationing here in Europe, and Germany is playing FANTASTIC!  Brodie and I have them pegged to win it all……

GO GERMANY GO!

Heidelberg….. a beautiful little town, that made a huge impression on me.

Germany – what’s not to love!

Enjoy you Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Looking across the Neckar River on our walk to “old town”

The family in one of Europe’s longest, outdoor, pedestrian shopping areas is in Heidelberg

My addiction…..  Mmmmmm….. so good!

Germany’s newest football fan #1

Germany’s newest football fan #2

Mikes speed…. crazy!

Brodies FAVOURITE German word!