Yahoo!! We are finally experiencing the reasons for taking on this big adventure –live simply and travel more. It did take six months to get settled enough to live simply. I am amazed every day that I can actually cook with only four pots and five kitchen tools but that is for another post.
We are beginning to travel and where we go is usually decided by Andrew’s schedule. The first weekend of March we had great plans to visit Basel Switzerland but alas FedEx changed the trip and at the last minute he was sent to Paris. So off to Paris, Owen and I went. The best part of traveling here is we can get to most European countries in less than six hours. Passports in hand, we hit the road. The five hours trip went smoothly except when the signs changed to French. My brain just can’t seem to keep more than two languages current at a time. I had totally forgotten the little bit of French that I knew. This was evident went I went into the wrong lane at a toll booth. Fortunately so did the person behind me. Next, the stop at the gas station was a challenging as well. After pumping the gas and a bit of walking around looking stupid, I realized that the bakery was the place to pay. In most of Europe, there is not a pay at the pump option. It makes the lines longer because you are not allowed to move your car until you have paid.
Arriving in Paris, I picked up Andrew at his airport hotel and we headed into the city. Thankfully, I did not have to drive in the center of Paris. Andrew knows the city fairly well and with me navigating, we made it to the hotel in Montparnasse without incident. After checking in to the hotel, Andrew took a much needed nap. Owen and I went out to explore. Right around the corner was the Montparnasse Train Station. Owen saw the carousel immediately. This was the beginning of riding every carousel that we saw. The next morning was off to Luxembourg Gardens. Even in the late winter it is absolutely amazing – tree lined boulevards, beautiful benches, fountains and green areas plus the world famous playground. The oldest attraction in Luxembourg Garden is the vintage carousel with its ring game. Some say it dates back to 1900 and others say it could be even two decades older than that. The children ride wooden animals: weather-beaten horses, a reindeer, a giraffe, and an elephant. As the carousel whirls, children seated on the outer row of animals use sticks to spear metal rings that an attendant dispenses from a rack. There is a wonderful book Paris to the Moon about a family that moves to Paris with their small son. At age four he can’t get a single ring but by 6 he gets them all. We have been talking to Owen about the carousel for months. We finally arrived and Owen couldn’t wait. I was so nervous. What if he couldn’t do it? But Owen did great and grabbed the ring on the first try. Throughout the ride he accumulated almost 20 rings. It was a wonderful way to experience, the origins of the phrase, “grabbing the brass ring”.
The next afternoon was off to the Eifel Tower, a world icon and absolutely amazing. Of course, there were more carousels and Owen rode them all. One was even a double decker with lots of lights. A couple of rides later and large popcorn, we headed back for a dinner of pizza. Yes, Pizza!! It seems to be the universal food in Europe and the best place for kids.
Sunday brought the beginning of the drive back to Koln with a stopover on the Mosel River. The Mosel Valley is the most beautiful part of the wine country in Germany. The Rhine may be better known but the Mosel is the most picturesque. We stated a quaint family owned hotel. The restaurant was just like staying in your own living room. There is nothing like playing Chutes and Ladders with a glass of good wine. Monday was back home and back to the everyday routine.
Next off to Spain for the Easter Holidays – more to come.