Saturday, September 12, 2009

J`taime being on vacation

Bonjour from Paris!  This does not happen every day that I have a chance to make a blog entry from Paris, so I am taking advantage of being at our lovely friend Stella's house and having access to the internet.  

(I just read that prior sentence and please excuse my English.  My brain is still actively setting up sentences in German, so the order of my clauses might be catastrophic).  

So.  More than one week and 768 photos into our European adventure, I am wondering what to share with you from our trip thus far, and really?  The only thing that seems worth our time is to share with you a few favorite photos from today.  Welcome to life as we know it, in Paris, France on this gorgeous early autumn day. 

Today at Jardin du Luxembourg, it seemed like nearly the entire city of Paris was present, enjoying the bright sun and the lounge chairs circled around the ponds.  The children had the pond full of remote controlled boats that zipped across the water, bending low in the strong wind.  Here are two boys intercepting their boat on the side of the pond, where they turned it around with their sticks and pushed her off towards the opposite shore.

Stella, me and Marcos.  Stella is from Switzerland, and we have been penpals since the sixth grade (which for the record was back before the internet, when people used pens and paper to communicate internationally).  We had never actually met in person until Marcos and I arrived at her doorstep two nights ago, but it was one of those great meetings where you feel like you can cut to the meat of the friendship because the milk has already been covered.  I hope that she also felt a quick connection to us!  She has been such an angel in having us in her cute Parisian apartment and sharing her space and time.  We try to be good guests, but inevitably staying here is one of those times when we leave thinking, "Wow.  What could we ever really do to repay her for her kindness?".

At the suggestion of Marcos' sister Belle and a friend of hers, we hunted down the renowned Cafe Angelina.  It is famous for its desserts and uber intense hot chocolate.  Marcos and I ordered one of each to fully experience the joy, and our eating had slowed down to snail's pace near the end because our blood was running thick with a chocolate that could knock your pants off.  Wow.

Here is one of the waiters, telling me to hurry and take the picture so that he could ferry the goods off to another table of expectant patrons.  

Marcos takes on the hot chocolate.  Pleased?  Quite!

Stella and I on our way back home.  She was such a good sport to endure our photo taking and the spontaneous outbursts of, "Wow.  Can you believe we're in Paris?"

In general, Marcos and I have spent hours and hours every day of this trip walking around and exploring big cities. Here we are kissing at dusk on a bridge over the Seine.  Below is Notre Dame at sunset.  The sky was particularly beautiful this evening...  

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

At peace with the world

Today flaunted the most incredible weather I've seen in a long time. The wind cooled down, and doing errands was made perfect by that great combination of warm-in-the-sun and cool-in-the-shade. Finally this corner of the South is cooling for autumn, and we are heading out.

Tomorrow we take off for Europe. A few months ago it felt ages away, and with all of our stuff strewn across the bed it still feels like at least days away. Maybe once those clothes roll themselves up and land in our backpacks it will feel like we're leaving tomorrow.

We had to order things in the mail for our trip, and thankfully, everything has arrived. Eurail passes, new underwear, an ultra SD card so that our digital photos will be saved on an ultra fast device. Check, check, check. If we don't forget anything it will be a miracle, but I think we should have the basics covered. And to paraphrase Rick Steve the Europe traveling guru, "either it's available for purchase over there, or ask yourself how 495 million Europeans manage to live without it".

And so we leave with most loose ends tied up. Marcos notified his job over a month ago that he was taking off for three weeks, I finished a busy month of activity with the Primary kiddos at church, and I'm taking a break from my part-time work. The only thing in disrepair is our car She-ra who died last week, and we have been blessed a hundred times in the meantime by the Andersons who loaned us their suburban for the week, and by Ben and Donna and Will and Jamie who are helping us to get to the airport in Charlotte tomorrow. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And so, we go. The rough plan is to start out in Munich, head west to visit my exchange family in Elsass before heading to Paris for a few days, take an overnighter to Florence and visit Cinque Terra and Tuscan hill towns, and then head up to Switzerland to visit friends and ride trains through what could very possibly be Heaven on Earth. The plan is to post updates along the way with photos, but we'll see how realistic that is. It would be nice if we could spread out the goodness, but I'm not sure what our internet connection will be like.

Lots of hugs and kisses from us! Have a great few weeks and hopefully we'll write soon!

Metta and Marcos

P.S. Just to follow up from my last post about my dilemma finding good gifts to take to Europe from America... I really appreciate your ideas for those of you who made suggestions. Also, I wanted to share with you a response from my German friend when I finally just asked him what I should bring: Beef jerky and Jelly beans!