Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rest and Relaxation Worth Mentioning

A quick note about the Foreign Service. A great benefit about being in the Foreign Service is that each tour the officer and his/her family are given an R & R (Rest and Relaxation) trip to take away from post and gear up for the time remaining on their tour. Generally people take this trip to the US to visit family or friends. However, the guidelines stipulate that you can take the trip anywhere in the world as long as you pay any expenses that exceed the allotted travel budget. We decided to use our R & R money to go to France and managed to book tickets within budget constraints. And, because of our oh so generous friends were also able to avoid lodging expenses. A big thank you to them and to all you tax payers for a glorious vacation.

Each one of the following deserves a lengthy tribute, but, the new blogging me is going to forego that impulse and merely provide a list, in no particular order, of all of the things we loved about our trip to France.

1. Our wonderful friends who were so gracious and kind for letting us stay with them
2. Crepes, crepes, crepes - especially with nutella
3. Chocolate (bread, crepes, bars, desserts, eclairs etc.) - Caleb can now say chocolate because we ate so much, so often
4. The gardens (Luxembourg, Parc Monceau, Tuileries, Place de Voges and a host of random parks and gardens scattered throughout the city where we ate, chased pigeons and rested from lots and lots of walking)
5. The Latin Quarter - loved the Gyros and scenery and the people watching
6. Lady of the Unicorn Tapestries
7. Milk and eggs that taste like milk and eggs are supposed to taste (Kenny had cereal twice a day for 2 weeks)
8. Pom Potes (applesauce that comes in a pouch so it is totally portable and mess proof - we filled our suitcases with these for the return trip)
9. Apples - so delicious, so prolific
10. The view from the top of the Eiffel Tour, even on a hazy day it was spectacular
11. DisneyLand Paris - apparently this is the top tourist attraction in all of France - Caleb loved It's a Small World
12. Saint Chappelle
13. Mont Saint-Michel - remote but spectacular
14. The American Cemetery in Normandy - the new visitor's center just opened this year is really well done and the cemetery itself, though sobering, was well worth the visit
15. Playing with Ruby (this is probably #1 on Caleb's list - they had so much fun together, clearly he needs more friends)
16. The Loire Valley - we visited 4 Chateaus, each incredible in its own way, and drove through some of the most beautiful country we have ever seen - the Villandry gardens in particular were breathtaking
17. Chartres Cathedral - stunning!
18. The Rodin Museum - 'nuff said
19. The giant ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde in celebration of the Rugby World Cup - we made the mistake of going here early on in our trip and for the rest of the time Caleb pointed it out to us - but at 8 Euro a pop we decided one time around the wheel would have to suffice
20. The Carousel at the Eiffel Tower - leaving it was cause for much wailing and gnashing of teeth
21. The weather - sunshine, crisp fall air, and changing leaves (we have missed the changing of the seasons)
22. Indian Food - not available in Peru
23. Raspberries - another nearly impossible commodity to come by in Peru
24. Napolean's Tomb
25. Baguette sandwiches
26. The Musee D'Orsay
27. The Picasso Museum - even though most of the permanent collection was not on display
28. Sacre Coeur - one of my favorite places in France because the view and basilica are amazing, we walked through the very red light district and passed the Moulin Rouge on our way back noting that the dinner show at the Moulin Rouge can be yours for a mere 165 Euro a person - the mind reels at what transpires for such a princely sum
29. The Marais - so much to see and buy, so little time
30. Laduree Macaroons - our favorites were blackcurrent, lemon and raspberry
31. La Madeleine
32. The Pantheon - lots of famous folks are buried there and above is Foucault's Pendulum
33. Dozens of churches we stumbled upon while rambling through the city
34. Versailles - again 'nuff said
35. Les Invalides and the Musee de L'Armee
36. Fireplaces
37. Crossing the Seine for a different and beautiful view from any point in the City
38. Notre Dame
39. Shakespeare and Company
40. Breakfast in America - a typical American diner where we stuffed ourselves on bacon, home fries, blueberry pancakes and chili cheese fries
41. Clean public restrooms
42. Potable water
43. Musee de l'Orangerie - one of the finest collections of art we have ever seen under one roof
44. Staying within walking distance of a mind-blowing bakery and a toy store it was cruel to take Caleb to - Santa has lots of ideas for Christmas this year
45. Architecture, tapestries, scroll work, columns
46. Did I mention the crepes? Just soooooo good, they deserve a second mention
47. planes, trains and automobiles - Caleb has now discovered just how fun different modes of transportation can be
48. An unbelievably well-behaved, drug-free Caleb through 2 24 hour plus days of flying
49. Bagels - again, not available in Peru
50. Two whole weeks together as a family and memories to last a lifetime


Jessica said...

OH MY GOSH. That honestly sounds like the best trip ever. Really.

Nortorious said...

How long were you there? Where did you stay? How much baby gear did you bring? Were you jealous of the French baby gear? Do you speak French?
How can I imitate your trip?

Linsey said...

It was the best trip ever, at least so far. We were there for 2 weeks and stayed with some beyond wonderful friends (really the only way we could have done what we did since lodging is prohibitively expensive). We brought our stroller which we used every day all day and our baby backpack which we didn't use once (though could have if we had known in advance which museums were/were not stroller friendly, something not included in the guide books). As it happens, the stroller of choice in France is the Maclaren, which we happen to own and picked out before going to France was even on the radar. Ours is a slightly more deluxe version that is carseat compatible, but I did feel very, if coincidentally, cool. I studied French for years in HS and College, but after a year of nothing but Spanish I was speaking some weird sort of hybrid Franglish most of the time. However, I managed to understand far more than I expected and, really, everyone speaks English, or at least enough to help floundering Americans who should, but can't speak a second language. To imitate, you must have friends in France and you must have an uber-cool husband who lives to make you happy. I think you have the latter and you can start a correspondence with the former by checking out our friends' blog referenced as "THEY LIVE IN PARIS". Bon Chance!

Heather said...

It sounds like a good time was had by all....but where are the pictures so that we can all live vicariously through your blog!

Paige said...

So happy you guys had such a fabulous time! And amazing you didn't have to waste such a paid-for vacation by visiting family. I do want to see the pics so I can be even more jealous. How are you feeling? You barely mentioned the pregnancy thing, does that mean it's easy?

D-dawg said...

Great list. I have been there one time but it was much too short. I need to go for 2 weeks like you guys.


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