August 5th, 2008

life is good


It's hard to get writing again when so much time has gone by and all of it crammed with things you want to remember. I've thought about posting several times in the last few days but wasn't able to motivate myself that last little necessary bit. There was always something to do, or someplace to go, but today the clouds are hanging low and heavy white over the Alps and the wind is rising; we might see another spectacular thunderstorm before the day is over, they seem to be a specialty down here.

3 days in Paris wasn't long enough, though I suspect that being in the city would have been a much different experience if Anders and I hadn't had the kids with us. We arrived on a Saturday in the late afternoon, and after getting the car parked and all our baggage hoofed several blocks over to the apartment we were staying in and all the way up to the rooftops, we went back out and found a little market to buy our dinner from.

We stayed in a little 1-bedroom apartment, perfectly ordered and best of all, free of charge, thanks to an ex-colleague of mine. After dinner, we ventured out and down to the Metro and over to see the Eiffel Tower at night. It was lit up in snazzy Euro-blue with a big ring of EU-Stars around the bottom half. Every hour the whole tower buzzes madly with white flickering lights as if it is being attacked by manic fireflies. The kids were thrilled. As was the huge crowd milling around the base. We got there just after 10 p.m. and decided we'd go on up, so we got in line and waited, crawling slowly toward the South Tower entrance. At 11 p.m., we were nearly to the entrance when the fireflies attacked again and the entire crowd of people oohed and aahed and began clapping like they were at a concert. Unfortunately, they closed the 3rd level (the very top) at 11, but we still made it up to the 2nd level for a lovely white-lit view of Paris and were able to point out all the major sights to the kids.

Sunday was an all-day Euro Disney experience, which was a lot of fun, though we walked our feet off, and I totally screwed up the tickets, not realizing that the Walt Disney Studios Park closed at 7 p.m., so we missed it completely. :( Argh. The first ride we went on in the morning when we arrived was Space Mountain, and I warned the kids that it was the best, and that everything else would be an anticlimax. Turns out I was right, though Big Thunder Mountain was excellent. We couldn't go on the other big rollercoaster (Indiana Jones) because the kids weren't tall/old enough but we did just about everything else. Phantom Manor was just as I remembered Haunted Mansion being, but the kids declared it hokey. Then I forced them to go on the It's A Small World ride and traumatized them for life. Muahaha! Personally, I thought the best part of Euro Disney was the people-watching opportunities. People wear the most incredible bizarre outfits.

On Monday we walked our feet off again. The apartment is in the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank, so we took the Metro all the way to the Arc d'Triomphe and then walked down the Champs Elysées to the Place de la Concord, then through the Jardins de la Tuileries where we ate lunch and looked at the Louvre from the outside (lines too long to tempt us to go in). It was 30-some degrees (90+) and we were pretty beat by then, but we soldiered on, walking in the shade of the trees down the Left Bank where the little green stalls were propped open full of books (alas! in French) and paintings and Eiffel Tower souvenirs, all the way to Notre Dame.

The Cathedral was blessedly cool after that long haul in the sunshine and the dust of the park. We walked around inside for a bit, and then I sat down to rest while Anders and the kids went to climb the South Tower and see the gargoyles. They came back quite quickly however, having discovered that, despite the heat, the line was all the way around the cathedral and NOT MOVING, so we gave up on that idea, and walked the rest of the way home.

I would like a trip to Paris where I can just go to museums. There are so many of them in the city and it would be so fun to just completely saturate myself in them some day.

Tuesday morning we left for a full day of roadtripping through France and Germany to get down to my brother's place outside of Füssen, where we have been for a week. So far, we have had 2 grill nights, played Scattergories, gone to a pottery/art market, an antique (read: Early German Attic junk) market, a ferry ride on Lake Constance (Bodensee) and a trip to Innsbruck to the Swarovski Crystal World. We've also gone boating on the Forggensee and swimming twice in a cold mountain lake near town. We've eaten schnitzel and bratwurst and weisswurst and knödel and leberkäse and Anders has sampled the Maria Hilfer Bier at the brewery just over the pastures in the tiny town of Spieden and pronounced it good. Anders and Martin have climbed up to the ruins of Eisenberg castle (while we were at the art market) and we're going into Füssen today to do a bit of shopping and mail postcards. Hopefully the weather will cooperate tomorrow so we can go ride the Rodelbahn.

I love vacation!
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    the kids singing the theme to Star Wars, don't ask me why
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