Month: September 2010

It’s not what you’ve seen…it’s who you’re with

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Years ago my friend Lynette met her future husband. It is a small world that his family is from a small village (Maurielles) in France which is also where Samir’s aunt lives. We slept here last night with plans to head out to Barcelona this morning. After such a lovely evening and a very comfortable bed, I realized that it’s not as important to visit many corners of Barcelona as it is to spend time with family. The kids are happy as clams watching films, swimming in their pool and playing with the thousands of toys Samir’s family has bought them. In addition, we are so fortunate to have been able to have Lynette over for dinner last night. She is spending the week at her husband’s families’ house. What an odd mix of cultures we had at the table…Chinese soup, french cheese and wine, spanish beer and a swiss tart. At the table sat a french, phillippine, vietnamese, american and a moroccan. True melting pot. This is the last day we’ll spend in France. Tomorrow we’re off to Barcelona to prepare for our Friday morning flight. Here are some photos of the house and the beautiful day. We’re off to the sea for a meal and then a little shopping.

what took you so long?

In 1997 my husband came to the us with little or no intention of staying.  He simply wanted to visit his newly married brother and see this land of so-called opportunity.  For him, it turned out to be just that.  13 years later and he is visiting cousins he had never ,et; aunts and uncles who have new spouses and children.  He is finally back in a country that speaks his native language only to discover that while he was acquiring english, some french was slipping away.  I am amazed we waited so long to visit.  Life gets in the way though…house repairs, bills, kids, activities and work take over.  Spending money to travel overseas seems frivolous. visiting family here has shifted from an after thought to a priority.  We will visit soon in shallah.  Here are some photos of family and A’s photo shoot.

samir, luc, etienne, luc, Aziz

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nofiwifi

excuse the sporadic posts, but all the sudden i can not grab any wifi connectio, on a french keyboard right now which is confusing the wsqza out of me.  We are having a lovely time:  Kendra and the parents headed back to their areas and we have been spending a lovely time with Samirs family.  I have now ,et an 6 second cousins…all adorable and in love with my little girl.  More photos when i can fix the connection problems. We  having a blast,

Tales of Avis in a foreign land

After the castle we made it back to the house. Samir and I started cooking kebabs for the family dinner. At about 6:00 I started to wonder when the rest of my family would return from their adventures. I finally txted my dad who told me that his car had broken down on in Perpignan and he was having problems reaching AVIS. I immediately got into the car and started to drive to meet him. I called and apparently, he had been told by a gas station person that the fuel he was using was Diesel when in fact, it wasn’t. I was running low on gas myself, but felt a sense of urgency to get them. I arrived where their car was and posted a stupid note in preschool French that basically said, “this car is broken. We’ll return tomorrow.” We couldn’t tell if the car would be towed. We talked with a guy in the parking lot who helped us at least call AVIS in Barcelona. Eventually we got online and learned that there is an AVIS at the airport that stays open till 10:00. So, we decided to go there, after I fueled. It seemed that we drove forever and when we finally did find a station to fuel, I drove in the wrong direction, had to turn around, people we staring at me like I was crazy. Finally we got in the right way, but the macing wouldn’t take my credit card. By this time there are like 20 cars in line. I finally asked the lady behind us to help us out. We tried every credit card we had to no avail. I asked the lady if I could pay her the cash if she would use her card. She agreed. Gased and ready to go we make it to the airport and there was no one at the AVIS rental place, but there was a phone number. I called and explained to the woman that the car was broken down and we didn’t know what to do. She told us to come into the central AVIS station the next day. We want home, ate and slept fitfully that night. The next day we went into Perpignan center again and got a new car. She tried to give daddy a much bigger car, but memories of the narrow streets had us begging for something small. What an adventure.

Castles, barrels and sidewalks

ATT is robbing me of minutes and money.  It takes a lot of MB to blog.  I now know that the next time we travel here (and there WILL be a next time) we’ll stay at at a place that has internet.  So, I last left you with the tales of Carcassone.  The next day we went to a place that has a hoodoos, similar to the ones found in Brice Canyon.  It was a nice hike and the sky was incredibly blue.  On the way there we got stuck in the middle of of this tiny village.  When I say stuck, I literally mean, the cars wouldn’t go any further and we couldn’t open the doors because the street was so narrow.  It was impossible to turn around however, we did try. My dad ended up scratching the door of the car in the attempt.  Even now, I am plagued with thoughts of how trapped I felt.  We then travelled to a small village to see what we thought was a cave.  When we arrived at the entrance of the “cave” it was closed for lunch.  I still find it interesting that many shops and attractions close from 12:30 to 2:30 or so.   We went for a long lunch instead which was lovely.  After lunch we realized that we were not at the entrance of a cave, but the largest oak vat in the world.  B ummer, we didn’t stay for that.  At that point our group spit into two.  Parents and Kendra went off on an adventure and I we went to Castlenou.

Help, I’m sleeping and I can’t get up!!

We can’t seem to get enough sleep.  I am not entirely certain that it is just jet lag at this point.  We all keep sleeping.  Samir and I slept until 12:30.  That is certainly a first for the two of us together.  I can’t tell you how.  The beds are wonderful and the windows are open with a cool Mediterranean breeze.  Delightful.  Once up, we spent the day at the pool swimming, laughing any playing around.  At one point grandpa was swimming with a green noodle around his body and he kept pretending that it was a snake.  He was saying “snake snake”  I laughed so hard until I realized he was pointing to an actual baby snake in the pool.

snake snake

  (I didn’t step on him)  We got him out.  At 4 we left for Samir’s aunt’s house.  His family is amazing.  So kind and welcoming.  We met 3 aunts, 2 of their husbands, and some cousins.  Karima made the most amazing couscous with chicken beef and vegetables that I have ever had.  That was followed with local grapes and other fruits.  It was a wonderful meal. It was exciting to see Samir with his family laughing and telling old stories. 

We bid farewell to them, returned home to prepare for the next day.

 Carcassonne

We were supposed to wake up and leave by 9.  That was impossible.  The drive there was a little longer than we planned.  We got turned around a bit, but saw some wind surfers and other things along the shore.  Carcassonne was beautiful.  The castle and cathedral were amazing and the village reminded me of Mount Saint Michelle which I visited my last trip to France in the 80s.  Jonah bought a wooden sword which he quickly decided was not the best purchase.  He moped for the rest of the day in the village.  Aida opted for a little shell necklace.  The lunch we had I have nicknamed poo poo a la bouche.  Nough said.

We grilled out that evening and celebrated grandpa’s birthday.  Two of the aunts joined us to celebrate and spent the night laughing and telling stories.  Fabulous!!!

Photos coming soon. Problems with uploads.

Barcelona – Day 1

We woke up late and missed the hotel breakfast.  Loaded up the cars, but I could only think of trying to drive a stick shift up that darn parking ramp.  I am telling you, this thing freaked me out.  We had a breakfast of café du lait and some meat pastries (don’t knock it till you tried it)  We then did the thing I absolutely HATE to do….we took a tour bus.  I was a bit reluctant at first, but then, since K was only going to be in Barcelona a day, it seemed like a good way for her to get an idea of the whole city.  Plus it seemed like a  good idea to help my family figure out the must see places for the 2 days we’ll spend there at the end of the trip.  The bus tour was long.  It was good to see everything, but it was a bit long for the kids and the adults.  We had a lovely Italian meal and headed back to the hotel.  I met the fear of the ramp head on.  We actually made it out of the city with only one turn down a one was street.  It felt like a resounding success.  We drove straight from Barcelona to the house just outside of Canet-en-
Rousillion.  The farm-house is amazing.  It has a rustic feel without roughing anything at all.  The kids immediately got on suits and jumped in the pool.  My sister and I headed on a journey for wine, beer and food only to get nothing.  Everything was closed.  We ended up at a vintner pizza restaurant and had mediocre meal, well, my dish was actually disgusting.  When we got home from the restaurant, this  little guy was waiting for me in the bathroom.  He is so CUTE.  I had to take another photo of him…and accidentally step on him and killed him.  

The cute little lizard I killed. (preying mantis memories again)

 

Nice.  The kids got to see the dead baby lizard in the bathroom.

The journey

 I need to document this now of it will never happen.  So, the flights ended up being something that we really didn’t need to freak out about that much.  Easy peasy from ORD to DTW.  DTW to Amsterdam was over 7 hours.  Each of us had out own television screen with on demand viewing and games.  The kids watched what they wanted.  We watched what we wanted.  There was a screaming child three rows in front of us that was shrilling and ear piercing for the entire trip.  The headphones had to be turned completely up.  We made it through the Amsterdam airport with little to no issues, but as we waited for the plane the kids started to melt a bit.  Not get out of control, but they were literally melting with sleepiness.  Finally we landed in Barcelona.  Went through customs (there really weren’t any) and made our way to a cafe in the airport to wait for my parents whose plane was not working!  We finally got to the rental car company.  I really thought about the insurance issue long and hard.  I do get coverage when I reserve and pay on the VISA so I decided to forgo the 50 Euro a day insurance fee and just wing it.  Mind you, I haven’t driven a stick shift in a LONG time and I have never driven in another country.   I have never driven on such narrow paths, I ran more red lights that I am SURE were photo enforced.  I stalled the car a couple of times and when we finally made it to the hotel the parking garage was the size of a sidewalk at an angle of about 30 degrees.  I freaked out.  But, we made it.  Aida in the meantime couldn’t keep her eyes open.  She slept in the hotel lobby, in on the chairs at the swimming pool and for a while longer until we finally got our rooms.  Once we go the rooms, Samir and I were excited to get the kids in their suits and have some beers on the deck of the pool.  We had a few beers and let the kids swim.  Finally we had to go take a mini nap at about 3:30.  We passed out completely.  When we woke up I had no idea what time or day it was.  The phone battery was dead so I couldn’t tell what time it was.  I was convinced we had slept through the night.  Samir went to the front desk explaining that we had checked in the day before and didn’t know here my parents were.  We were really in a state.  Finally the phone battery woke up and I had gotten a couple of txt messages from my dad who was down the hall sleeping.  We had only slept a couple of hours.  Once my sister arrived, we showered and headed out into Barcelona for a wonderful meal of paella and roasted chicken.  Again, we had a couple of San Miguel beers, headed home and slept for 12 hours….straight.