Tuesday, May 20, 2008

le rentre - to miss and not to miss

So thrilled to be moving back to the US, I can't even tell you!!! Especially with two more on the way, it will be good to be in a land where people in general like children. I've compiled a list of things I will miss and things I won't. Here are a few:

What I will miss:
-outdoor cafes
-walking to my favorite organic store - 2 minute walk
-walking to my favorite Japanese restaurant - 2 minute walk
-having access to 4 different grocery stores within a 10 minute walking distance
- so many different types of glorious cheese, fois gras, escargot
- taking your time to eat (in restaurants)
-access to great travel opportunites
-not having to have a car
- walking EVERYWHERE!!!! (bank, pharmacy, grocery store, post office, restaurants, etc)
-the ease of the public transport - bus, metro, RER, tram, SNCF trains
-my work (teaching my string groups)
-playing in my orchestra - Ut5eme
-having tea/lunch at the Musee d'Orsay - one of my FAVORITE things to do!
-being around people all the time
-city life
-the parks
-bike riding in the bois de boulogne
-the politeness of people
-having priority on public transport and in grocery stores being pregnant and with an infant
-being able to cut in line at museums b/c I'm pregnant or with a small child
-the museums
-MESSAGE (support group for moms living in the Paris area who speak English)
-meeting people of all nationalities
-making (non-french) friends fast
-my guardien (he carried a box of groceries home for me! such a sweet man)
-my favorite libanese restaurant
-such easy access to fresh fruits and veggies (they have stands/markets here for fruit/veggies like they have fast food/convienence stores in the US)
-buying things (grocery) in small quantities
-the low cost medical care

What I will not miss:
-not being able to sit outside at the outdoor cafes b/c of all the cigarette smoke
-smelling everyone's cigarette smoke walking down the street
-such little options in the sushi department - they all offer the same thing and not much to select from.
-having to go to 2-3 different grocery stores b/c they are so small and carry different things
- having to make a special bus trip to get cheddar cheese
-can never get a quick (under an hour minimum) meal - very important when you have kids
- price of eating out!
-sitting at a restaurant with mon petit fee and them not giving him a freaking fork/place mat!
-lack of customer service!!!!! - there is no such thing here as "the customer is always right"
-dealing with the French bureaucracy
-having to renew my carte de sejour every year - going to the prefacture and them telling I am missing x, y, and z when they didn't tell me to begin with...
-the weather
-grumpy people
-living in a small apartment
-dog pee and poop on sidewalk!
-"ce n'est pas possible"
-not feeling like I belong
-knowing I don't belong
-people telling me what I should and shouldn't do
-always having to buy things (grocery) in small quantities
-having to wait until 7:00pm to eat out for dinner (most places don't open/serve before then)
-ordering wine and water in a restaurant and getting only one glass. Is it really that difficult to bring out another without having to always ask for one?


Monday, May 5, 2008

twelve day tour

Since we are leaving this neck of the woods for who knows how long, we decided to make our one last hurrah in Croatia and Venice. Never been to Croatia so this was one I was really looking forward to. The people were so amazing, though I think I say that everywhere we go when we leave France! They do love children and there were some great play areas for mon petit fee.

Our Croatia leg started after we picked up the rental car from Venice. I didn't do so well on the drive being pregnant (with twin boys)! I am so sorry to the car behind me. The sickness came so fast, all I could do was to roll down my window as there was no place to stop. Finally when we did reach a safe place to pull over so I could finish, it ended up being in front of someone's home. I AM SO SORRY! But it was either there where the rain would cleanse or in the car. That was the start of our journey!

Croatia is not a part of the European Union, so they have their own currency - the Kuna. The euro is much stronger so we were able to enjoy more on a smaller budget. We didn't go to Bosnia though I would have really liked to considering it was only 45 minutes away from where we were, though plan to go one day. Traveling while pregnant and with a toddler forces you to choose between sanity or seeing sights. Maybe if this had been our first trip, or if we would have come directly from the US, we would have felt differently.

Whenever we go someplace one of our favorite things to do is to sample the local cuisine. Of course because of its location, seafood is on the menu. One photo is a sampler platter of octupus and potatoes, sardines, anchovis, and something else I can't remember. The other is a local dish with octapus, potatoes, olives, etc. Sooooooo fresh!!!!

This photo to the right was taken during our drive along the coast from Split to Duborvnik. So many breathtaking views I didn't want to put the camera down!

We'd been to Venice six years earlier during the summer, but for some reason I don't remember it being so crowded as it was in April. All the tourists really bothered me. It seemed like a Disney spectacle, though I understand why. This city is utterly beautiful (take out the tourists). Probably one of the most beautiful I have ever been to. I had forgotten this as we have traveled so many places and seen some incredible sights.

During the time that we were there, at around 6pm the water started coming up over the edge of San Marco Square and up through the drain pipes. Of course it is a well known fact that this happens, but to actually see it is quite disheartening. To think that maybe one day all would be lost...

Supplies are brought in by boat, of course, since the roads are water ways!

One of my favorite dishes, spaghetti with mussles and clams. And of course the infamous Italian cappuccinos - sooooo scrumptions! Sorry but even flavored American coffee is no match.
And below is the Ponte Vecchio. One of the most famous bridges in Venice. It used to be the big fish market, but these days they sell all sorts of souvineers from the Murano glass to the famed Venician carnival masks.