Friday, May 24, 2013

Betwixt and Between

It's inevitable.  We've reached the point in the trip where I spend equal parts trying to soak everything, already beginning to feel nostalgic and finding myself thinking more about what awaits when we return home.

But before we get home, we have our biggest travel test:  about two days of travel en route to Seattle.  It should go something like this:

  • Leave Arles, hopefully with enough time to swing by the playground so the kids can expend some energy first.
  • Drop off the rental car and catch the TGV back to Paris.
  • Cab from Gare de Lyon to our hotel in Roissy, near Charles de Gaulle airport.
  • Catch an early morning flight to Reykjavik.
  • Kill some hours in Iceland.  I'm hoping we have time to hit the neighborhood pool and get a good last meal in.
  • Get back to the airport for a roughly 7PM flight.
  • Fly seven hours back to Seattle, which will mean we'll all want to sleep but will also be arriving in Seattle around 7PM our time.
  • Deal with jet lag on the other side....
I'm slightly less optimistic after our debacle getting off the train in Arles, but it will be what it will be.  On the plus side, I think we were able to change our seats on the flights so the kids can be in their carseats (which wasn't the case coming to Paris and I think contributed to the less than stellar flight).  More on how all this transpires to come....

In preparation, we decided to make an easy day of today, staying in town and letting the kids have a lot more free time. 

First stop after breakfast--my favorite boulangerie and patisserie in town, where they have excellent brioche, sandwiches, desserts and--my new favorite--fougasse with chevre, a roll stuffed with delicious cheese!

Next stop:  quality time in the fountain/obelisk square for dancing and running time

Giving the accordion player some euros for again making the scene so atmospheric and French!


Playground time!  Stella loves climbing up and down ladders in preparation for moving into the top bunk after we get home.  (After three weeks in beds, we think Otto is ready to move out of the crib).  Oh, and she's learned to get the merry-go-round running on her own.  Otto, for his part, climbs ladders up and down, goes through the rope-y obstacle course and also tries to hold is own on the merry-go-round.  One of the disquieting things about this leg of the trip is that I've found myself much more anxious about Otto's safety and haven't felt like the best mom to a boy.  I guess I just need to get better at letting go, trusting him while also figuring out when he's out of his depth.....

Final stop of the morning:  another Roman relic, the amphitheater, which is also actively used and under renovation after being unearthed an used as a quarry for awhile.

After our morning adventures, we headed home for lunch and some quiet time.  We decided on our last night in town to head out for dinner. 

Downside of not going for a drive?  No car nap.  Otto crashed out while riding on my shoulders.

Little did we know, after largely living as self-caterers, that being hungry at 5PM is a bad idea.  We headed to one restaurant we were really excited to try, as it sounded good and was supposed to be kid-friendly.  We walked there (Otto asleep on my shoulders) to find it didn't open until 7PM.  We were all hungry, so we decided to get Stella a snack and see if we could wait it out.  Some days this might have worked, but it was windy and cold, so that quickly became a less good proposition.  So we headed back to the square by the "Café at Night" restaurant since we'd had a good experience there last time.  This time?  Not so much.  We tried a neighboring restaurant which also didn't serve food until 7PM and then learned that the menu advertised on their pieboard (the whole reason we chose that place) was already sold out.  So we killed time and had a fairly miserable meal, with fussy kids, mediocre food, next to a table of young guys who we felt were regularly mocking our situation (though we couldn't be certain and may have been projecting....)

I figured since we'd captured shots of the kids in their cranky moments it was only fair to get Tyler being pretty grumpy during dinner....

But once we were all better-fed (and watered), all our moods improved as we "raced" back to the house and enjoyed the last bits of our evening in Arles.

Last walks on narrow, scenic streets

OK, this is here for really no good reason except that it was on the walk and I think Stella looks really cute....

Last walk down the alley to our apartment, which we probably make at least three times a days.

Last sun-kissed view of the Rhone from our terrace

Getting ready to say goodbye to our near-final temporary home on this journey!

I know we'll do more post-mortems post trip, but a few thoughts here.  Three weeks have been fantastic.  I think we've stretched to the end of poor Otto's rope and Stella's started saying she's ready to get back to home routine and school, and, truthfully, I think Tyler and I feel like it's been a good stretch.  One week would have felt like nothing.  And though I try to portray the wonderful and less so in these entries, when I think about how I'll respond to queries about this trip when I return, I can truthfully say it's been amazing.  Amazing to get to spend this much time together as a family.  Amazing to see a country that's been on my list for a long time.  Amazing to return to Paris with Tyler in a different phase of my life.   Amazing to get to experience Provence in a different way than I ever would have pre-kids.

And amazing to get to live our values.  Tyler and I took a class one time to help keep our marriage strong post-kids and one of the things we did was to create a family crest of things that were meaningful and important to us.  While it sounds a bit dorky here, it was interesting to think about what to include, which included travel, good food, camping/hiking outdoors, and quality time enjoying things we loved and cared about together.  This trip has managed to touch on nearly all of those.  And while it hasn't always been easy and fun, it has been an amazing experience.

I expect once we return home we'll reflect more on the experience and also some logistics for others who might want to undertake similar adventures, including how we felt about our packing!  A bientot!

Goodbye, Arles!  You were a good Provencal home base for us!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful adventure! Thanks again for sharing it with us.
Love, Aunt M and Uncle R