This is a long post with some reflections, some travel notes, some random thoughts and an announcement.
We’ve just passed the three week mark of our holiday; we’re one quarter of the way done. It’s nice traveling for such a long period. It is a very carefree time. I have no thoughts or worries about my house nor a long to-do list of obligations. And with the internet, it is easy to stay in touch with my kids and friends. At present we sort of just live in the moment. It’s a nice feeling.
There is a downside though. Because we are constantly on the move there is some pressure to not “waste” time and to see all we can see while we are in a new place. So sometimes our pace is more hectic than we both care for. Sanford and I both like to write travel notes, process our pictures, keep up with family and friends, and just have some personal downtime and we don’t often allow enough time for that. So we are having a great time but also are a bit worn out.
The other downside, more for me than Sanford, is the challenge of eating healthy while travelling. I’m missing the food I normally eat at home. It is challenging to eat well on this trip because we often are staying with people and don’t have a lot of control over what people are serving. It probably would have been easier food-wise for me to stay in Hostels where we would have had access to cooking facilities and complete control over all food choices. I am however managing the best I can.
Some Travel Notes
After staying in two small towns, it was time to go back to the city. Our first stop was Dijon located in the Burgundy region in eastern France. This is wine producing country and Dijon is known for its wine, food, and of course, mustard. It is a relatively small city with a population of around 150,000, and it is totally charming.
Our host at the airbnb had a pet rabbit, Floppy. Floppy is very affectionate and really
likes people. She followed us around and would often nudge me to pet her. She was allowed to roam around free throughout the kitchen and living room, but not in the bedrooms or bathroom areas. Floppy has a litter box, but doesn’t always use it, so there are tell tale droppings on the couch, on the lower shelf of the coffee table, on the floor, etc….. yuck!! I’m not sure if there is an issue with her training or if that is just the way rabbits are. The owner keeps on top of the droppings but it still is not all that pleasant.
While in Dijon, we did what we always do…..walk. The first night we walked around a small lake close to our bnb. I did 14,861 steps, not bad for a day spent mostly traveling in the car. The next day we tackled the downtown area. We headed to the tourist office and got a map for a self-guided walk around town. The path was marked by owl signs and hence called the “Owl Trail”. We saw the local churches, buildings with interesting
architecture, and even rubbed a stone owl that tradition says if you make a wish and rub the owl with your left hand, it will come true.
That evening we went out for a fancy dinner. Mostly we eat at home, so it was time to treat ourselves and sample the local fare. We ate at a restaurant, Gril’Laure, recommended to us by our bnb host as having good local food. I ate a guinea-fowl dish with vegetables and baked potato and Sanford had steak with béarnaise sauce and scalloped potato. It was good. I did 18,950 steps this day between the site-seeing and going out for dinner.
Not wanting to let any grass grow under our feet, the next day we headed to our last stop in France, Strasbourg. This city is the capital of the Alsace region in northeastern France. It’s the seat of the European Parliament and sits near the German border, with culture and architecture blending German and French influences. This city is about double the size of Dijon with a population of around 270,000.
Strasbourg is known for their covered bridges and their towering middle-age-era church,
Cathedral Notre Dame, with its intricate and impressive detail in the façade. With an opportunity to climb 332 steps up to the top platform of the church, we couldn’t resist. We got more great views over the city, but not quite on the scale of Paris. I did 12933 steps this day.
Some Random Thoughts
- Before I left Canada, I was wondering if we would see a lot of Syrian refugees. We only noticed Syrian refuges in Paris, and not many. Unfortunately they were evident because they were begging on the streets…sad.
- In Paris, due to terrorist attacks, there is a lot of security. All the tourist sites had security guards that checked my purse and Sanford’s backpack before we could enter the premises. We did not have these security checks in any of the other cities we visited in France. We also saw patrols of armed soldiers walking the streets in all cities. Not a lot of soldiers, but their presence was visible.
- A lot of people smoke in France. I never notice people smoking at home, but in France, many people smoke as they walk along the streets.
- Scooters are the “must-have” for kids. You see kids everywhere on them.
- Talking about kids, the other thing I noticed, is that in every place we had been to
(with the exception of the tiny villages) there have been a number of merry-go-rounds.
- Light standards are only located on the same side as traffic is stopping, there are none across the street. That is a problem if you are the first car stopped at the light because you can’t see the light above you. To address this, there is a light located lower down on the pole (below the diamond sign in the picture below) visible to the driver in the first car.
- Of course, I can’t leave France without making some other observations about the toilets! In some washrooms, all over France, I came across toilets without seats. I’m not sure if you are meant to sit on the porcelain or squat over top.
- Still in the toilet department, I saw a different toilet bowl design. In our last bnb, the bowl was not just one smooth bowl going down but had an upper bowl where the urine (and poo) would collect, then when flushed, the water flows over the upper bowl, carrying the waste into the lower bowl and away. In addition, this toilet in the bnb did not have a handle to flush. You had to turn on a tap for the toilet (located on the counter above). You keep the water on until all the waste washes away and then close the tap.
My daughter has adopted a puppy!! My new grand puppy is called Olive and is exceptionally cute, but then I suppose I am biased. I saw her on Skype last weekend and hope to see her again this Sunday. I can hardly wait to see her in person. Apparently Emily is feeling the pressure of “parenthood” with the puppy and feels she needs to rush home right after work now. She used to always say to me “Why are you worrying about Skittles (our former dog) so much, she’s just a dog!” Ahhhh, the circle of life….