Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Slowing Down....Sort of

After the excitement (and associated meltdowns) of our trip from Paris to Arles, we spent one day mostly hanging out at this square and our apartment:

The obelisk square.  the kids loved the expanse to run around in and the accordion player.  It was interesting to really spend time there and see the tour groups pour in and out at regular intervals.

But it wasn't long before we were ready to take advantage of our wheels and see more of Provence.  First stop, Pernes les Fountaines, a town with 40 fountains that my business partner had visited last year.  We thought we'd enjoy a bit of road tripping and the fountains would be like a scavenger hunt for the kids.

Our first fountain sited!  I think Stella was still waking up....

On the fountain trail! 

Checking off the ones we saw.  Otto mostly wanted to play in the water and spot cats, but Stella was having fun finding fountains and the arrows showing our path through town.

We had thought about making another stop while out and about but decided to head home and hit the nearby castle on another day.  But once we got home, we decided to walk to one of Arles' bigger sites, an ancient Roman coliseum.  It was interesting--old, big, but retrofitted so that it's a functioning arena for bull fights and the like.

Parts were old and scenic....

Others had lots of scaffolding for the more modern-day bleachers that have been installed.  And apparently when they decide to resurrect the site to an arena, they had to raze a number of houses and several churches that had been built inside the protective walls.

Looking down at the arena from the one accessible tower of three that are still standing.  Otto liked to make me anxious by wanting to run, jump and be a bit reckless in places with narrow, hard, stone steps.  As I overheard Stella repeating to Tyler, it's covered with sand to "absorb the blood and stuff"

Not sure if this will work or not, but a neat panoramic shot Tyler took.

 Afterwards, we decided to tempt fate and go out to dinner.  In Seattle, we generally feel like our kids are well-behaved and pretty appropriate in restaurants.  After being in Paris, we couldn't decide if they were good for America, they were just strung out in Paris or what, but we ended up not eating out much after too much shushing and frustration on all sides.  But this evening was lovely, with good food, out in a square, enjoying a Southern France evening.

Stella drawing a half block from the café (painted yellow on the left) that is famous for being painted at night by Van Gogh.

And Otto?  Well, he really liked his spaghetti Bolognese

And today was Wednesday.  I've been anxiously awaiting today since we arrived because it's one of two market days in Arles and one thing I *love* when travelling is markets.  First we stopped by a playground we had spied for the kids, which was conveniently located near the market street, then decided to walk through.  Which quickly was no fun.  Hot.  Windy.  Dusty.  Tacky, cheap trinkets, clothes, housewares and the like for blocks and blocks.  While trying to steer Otto and Stella away from the cheap, tacky kid eye-candy conveniently placed right at kid eye-level.  After a bit of a trudge and not having fun and getting hungry, I told Tyler we should just turn back.  We had decided to head to the Tarascon castle in the afternoon, and it seemed better to just get on the road.  It had also been a day with an early start for me and Otto, and a day where just getting out the door had seemed like quite the accomplishment.   Fortunately, we decided to first drive by the far end of the market (it is a big market, and only about half as big as the Saturday market).  Finally!  The market I was looking for!


Provencal olives!


The bounty!  Poorly captured because we were all too hungry.  But we ended up with:  a rotisserie chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, a zucchini, carrots (Stella's choice), a leek, green beans, a head of lettuce, fresh eggs, two kinds of cheese, strawberries, ham (French jambon is amazing), pate, green and black olives, fresh sausages, nougat with raspberries, and a ridiculously large quarter of a round of bread.  It should keep us through a few dinners, lunches, breakfasts and snacks!

After lunch and a ridiculous diaper situation that I will spare all you readers from, we finally drove to nearby Tarascon to see the chateau castle.  From the outside, it looks more like a fortress, and Tyler enjoyed telling Stella all about the defensive options (arrows through the tiny, slit windows!).

Heading into the castle, initially with a crashed out Otto-bot

The garden and pond at which Stella declared, "I could stay here all day!"

Looking across the Rhone to the castle across the way in Beaucaire

Tarascon from the top parapets.  I have a slight anxiousness about heights, so it was cool to be up there, but I was a little relieved to head back down.

Going down one of the curvy stair towers.  I got a bit worn out by Otto, who spent most the time insisting on running around and generally being more reckless than I was totally comfortable with.  And, and did I mention he wouldn't have anything to do with Tyler?

Then probably my low point of the trip.  I finally insisted that Tyler go with Otto and got ready to lift Stella onto my shoulders.  But as I bent to lift her up, she jumped up, bashing my jaw with her (hard) skull, so hard I bit my tongue pretty impressively.  I actually started to cry because it hurt so bad, and she started laughing (which I think is her nervous reaction to that kind of situation).  That and I think my nerves from having Otto hang on and run like a little daredevil had gotten the better of me.  Fortunately, I think Otto realized he needed to give me a break and we got to the car and headed home.  Which led to lots more tears (I need two arms for cooking), but also a delicious, mostly-market-based dinner:  chicken, salad, cheese, bread, and olives.

Two more days in Provence, then we start what is effectively two days of travel to get back home....I can hardly believe it.  Stella continues to be a hardy traveler, but I think poor Otto will benefit to getting home to more routine.  We keep having to remind ourselves he's quite a little person to be having such a big adventure....

And a rare moment together while the kids were playing at the playground.  While I know I'll miss seeing Stella and Otto so much when we get back to daily life, I may actually have a bit more time with Tyler since our time now is mostly now either split between the kids or managing logistics of life on the road.  But I still couldn't wish for a better partner in travel and life....


Anonymous said...

You and Tyler look wonderful in that last photo. If I hadn't been reading the blog, I would guess you were on your honeymoon or Around The World Trip.

ambika said...

That last pic just makes my heart melt. So glad to know the two of you and can't wait to hear (more) about your trip on your return.