Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Europe

En Route to Paris

Posted on May 19, 2011 in Europe |

En Route to Paris

8 a.m. Off to Paris! We are on the Chunnel!

11 p.m.: Whoah, what a day. It’s hard to describe Paris in a day like this. Navigating the Metro, walking the Paris streets in Les Halles, getting our apartment, finding our way through town — all before 2 p.m.

The afternoon was spent at the park, wandering through a beautiful cathedral, Sainte Eustache, walking the streets near Monmarte, stopping for Orangina and playing tag. We laughed and sang and played the day away. We found our apartment again after walking past the Louvre, laughing at a performer at the Muse D’Orsay and taking a walk by the Seine.

Tonight we ate baguette and walked over to the Eiffel Tower before heading up to the second floor then walking our way down by the twinkly lights. The tower was complete lit with gold lighting and as we stood there, was illuminated with twinkling lights at 10 p.m. sharp — I can’t ever get over the mixture of strong and delicate that is the Eiffel Tower.

Our apartment is beautiful and peaceful. It overlooks a busy crossroads and even now, at midnight, music is playing and people are filling the bars drinking and smoking.

We put a padlock on the bridge over the Seine today with “S2+2” on it, and another one that said “Carter and Ava te aman Paris!” We kept the keys — a beautiful gesture. A beautiful day.

Although I couldn’t wait to eat in Paris again, the food I’ve had so far has just been mas o menos. Today I ate french fries (my nicoise was inedible), lemon sorbet and baguette and wine. Nothing was memorable.

Tomorrow I’m going to find the great palate of Paris.

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Sleepy and Happy

Posted on May 18, 2011 in Europe |

Sleepy and Happy

I can’t believe we slept 14 hours but we needed it for sure.

We got up at 1 p.m. and went to Wagamama near the Royal British Museum. It wasn’t as magical as I’d remembered but it was fun to be there again after thinking and talking about it so much.

We got “lost” on purpose, wandering streets and areas of London for hours. It was so much fun.

We saw Buckingham Palace and then took a taxi to Hamley’s toy shop where we stayed for hours.

After leaving there we headed up and down beautiful rainy Carmary area and stopped at a small corner pub. The kids played and we watched the world go by. It was magical.

We ended the night in an amazing Michelin 1 star rated southern Indian fish restaurant we stumbed on. The food and the night was such magic. Did I say magic?

Just before dinner we ate cupcakes from a beautiful bakery and met a guy wearing a Green Bay Packers sweater — total Londoner who knew US sports so well.

People couldn’t be nicer.

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Amazing Day

Posted on May 17, 2011 in Europe |

Amazing Day

What an extraordinary day! We arrived in London, found a hotel and got ourselves all around on the Tube. The kids were so amazing. We ate fish and chips in a pub, rode the London Eye, took an old fashioned London taxi and wandered through SoHo all in a day.

Teh best part of the day was laughing our heads off at the pub. We are giddy and happy.

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In-Flight!

Posted on May 16, 2011 in Europe |

We are on the airplane!

Kids are fascinated with the TVs on their sick back, wearing their travel Snuggies and touching everything in sight. These are two excited 7-year-olds.

I’m still not yet in vacation mode. I need to find a hotel in London in the next few hours in-flight since Joan’s husband John was hospitalized — as of now, taxi-ing down the runway, we have nowhere to stay when we land in London.

I feel a lot of responsibility for everyone right now. The kids and Sherry and mom. I’m going to let it go, I’m praying for a smooth flight, sleeping children and a warm bed to stay in when we get to London.

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Fine Tuning

Posted on Apr 6, 2011 in Europe |

Picking Favorites

Pouring Over the Maps

Wall Itinerary Goes Down Hallway

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We’re Leaving… on a Jet Plane (and train, and bus and boat)

Posted on Mar 30, 2011 in Europe, Featured |

We’re Leaving… on a Jet Plane (and train, and bus and boat)

Two years in the making, dozens of conversations, one giant wall map, four plane tickets bought and zero plans.

We leave with our backpacks and children in just over six weeks for a six-week stint in Europe. We have no business doing this. None. La Gringa’s got a new job she loves, I’ve got full-time work on the horizon and the kids are missing a lot of school for this little nutso plan that started as a year abroad concept that somehow, between life and work became a trip of a lifetime instead of an escape from life. Somehow a year abroad seems a lot more manageable to me than six weeks on-the-move.

The plan is to be plan-free. I’ve done enough homework and traveled enough to know the gist of what we want to do and where we want to go. This isn’t a sightseeing-type vacation. Instead, we will plan on heading from the UK through a few countries in western Europe and a quick stop in Slovakia before La Gringa leaves. I’ll hunker down in Spain or Italy for a couple weeks with the kids until heading to Ireland with Aunty T. to see her home town. By then, I’ll need a good night in an Irish pub, no doubt.

I haven’t been afraid of this adventure at any point until now. I’m worried a bit about the stability in the Middle East, despite the fact I was in some pretty hairy jams when I traveled in the mid-east in 2000. I’m a bit concerned about money — gas prices, cash flow and inter-country travel is starting to make me nervous. And the kids told me that they are worried about where we’ll be sleeping. I want them to feel free, not afraid.

This week I’ll work on some modifications to the trip — a few hotel reservations, some goal dates to hit and maybe some pre-purchases of train and air travel within Europe so that I can get the best deals possible.

The purpose of our trip is to feel life without any restraints. As we approach departure, I’m noticing that the concerns are creeping into all of our minds. It’ll be my job this week to try and alleviate some of those concerns.

I’m not planning on going into the Louvre, but maybe playing tag on the lawn outside of it. I’m planning on showing the kids the Coliseum in Rome, but know they will care more about throwing Lire in the Trevi Fountain. And that’s okay. In fact, that’s perfect. We’ll go to Monza race track near Milan because Thing 1 read a book that describes the grand prix racing there. It’s also in the great book The Art of Racing in the Rain.

Long before I had children, I had the notion that I’d raise my children as people of the world, not just of a small community, a city, a state or one single nation. I wanted my children to be multi-lingual, have an open mind about people in the world around them. I wanted children that would have empathy for the needs and beauty of places beyond themselves. It is my hope that we, as a family, will grow from our journey together.

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