From France to Italy: Voyager Sans Frontières

Have we mentioned how weird it can feel for North Americans to travel in Europe? Driving between countries is nothing. No official border crossing, no line up, nobody there to stop you, no delay. No need to declare anything to anyone. That’s travel heaven! Flying in the European Union is just as easy. It’s like flying domestic anywhere! No customs! And with really cheap flights to a lot of European destinations, it’s no wonder why Europeans are so well travelled. They jump on a plane, like we’d jump on a bus or in our car, to get to places for the weekend. I envy them for that.

But our faithful ground-based blue Citron, oops, Citroën is the transportation mode of choice for our European journey. We left Chamonix and France behind on November 6th after two fun days spent exploring the small alpine village, wishing we could snowboard down some of the amazing looking peaks, but alas, tis is not the season…



After an interminable tunnel under Mont-Blanc (~11 km and more than 40 Euros later…), we popped over into a new country: Italy! We crossed several more tunnels on the Italian side. We seriously must have crossed over 40 km of tunnels in the Alps. A few hours drive and another toll road later, we were in Milan, or as they call it here, Milano, our first Italian destination. I had a brief taste of the city in 2017, during my big birthday treat: Mamboland Milano. Salsa fanatics reading this will understand. After 3 days of intense training and dancing, I had only had the briefest glimpse of the city and what it had to offer, so I just needed to visit it again and explore with the family this time.

We somewhat arbitrarily decided to stay in the Navigli district, in an Airbnb (probably no. ~12(?) since we’ve started our trip), a cool loft a few steps from a canal. It turned out to be quite a good choice. I had no idea that Milan even had canals. They were built to help bring materials into the city centre by boat. They say Leonardo Da Vinci himself likely helped improve the canal design when he was in Milan. It is no Venice (no gondolas) but we saw people rowing and kayaking on the canals in the dark with head lamps at night. The streets bordering the canals in the Navigli district are lined with many cool bars, restaurants and shops. Mid-afternoon, things are fairly quiet, but they pick up come 6 pm for “Apperitivo” time. Apperitivo is essentially Happy Hour where you buy a drink and you get food included. So for somewhere from 5 to 15 Euros depending on the place, you can get a drink and munchies at your table or a buffet to choose from which really could fill you up. But this is what Italians do BEFORE they have dinner which is usually quite a bit later.

We opted for just going for dinner with the girls on our first night in Milan. We headed on foot to a nearby restaurant named Taglio that had good reviews and we were bracing for finding a line-up or a place supposedly reserved but seemingly empty… We were almost concerned when we found the place completely empty at the time AND not reserved! Not only were we able to get in the first restaurant of our choice, but Maxine rapidly (like only kids can) spotted a shelving unit full of toys! What a pleasant surprise! It made the wait so much easier! We tried a few local specialties there and had a pretty good meal. We were off to a good start.

What to do in Milan with (or without) kids

We stayed in Milan 5 days in total. The weather was calling for rain on most days so we mostly looked for things to visit indoors. However, the weather was mostly dry with some sprinkles here and there so we certainly spent a lot of time outside too and walked and saw a lot on foot. I think we’ve averaged about 8 km of walking per day. Let’s face it, trying to accomplish this feat with our children in nature would have simply been unthinkable! So with a pretty easy public transportation system to navigate and cooperating children, we were able to see quite a bit. Here are a few of the highlights of our stay:

  1. Science and Technology Museum Leonardo da Vinci. This is a place I had wanted to visit on my previous trip to Milan but had not been able to. The place is massive and includes several buildings and floors. Plan to spend most of your day there if you want to see it all. We spent about 4 hours, and that’s speed walking through a lot of it, and did not even get to some of the sections. Lots of really interesting exhibits, mostly in Italian, but you get the gist of what most things are. There are quite a few interactive displays, games and videos to keep the kids engaged. There is a whole room full of paintings and inventions from Leonardo Da Vinci that were based on his drawings. Topics of the exhibits are broad and range from agrology to space exploration, with transportation as a big focus of an outdoor area and large buildings containing everything that moves including trains, planes, helicopters, boats, even a submarine! For 35 Euros for all of us, that was a worthwhile visit.
  1. Duomo. That’s the giant gothic church, symbol of Milan, in the heart of the city. Hard to miss. We did not visit the inside nor go on the roof but that is apparently something worthwhile doing for the view and to get a closer look at all those creepy little creatures adorning the church’s roof. I enjoyed seeing and admiring it every time we’d pop over in the area, especially at night with all the lights. Beware of the rose sellers. One “gave” roses to the girls but then of course wanted money… An opportunity to teach something about “gifts” offered to the girls…

The famous Duomo


  1. Just walk around! So many shops, gelato places and picturesque buildings and streets. Milan is a European fashion mecca so if you have time, money and room in your luggage (unlike us), plan on shopping!
  1. Castello Sforzesco. The castle is located in central Milan and houses a number of museums featuring various collections of artworks, furniture, armours and weapons and even musical instruments. For 5 Euros per adult (free for kids), we were able to visit a number of them. Not a bad way to spend a few hours on a rainy day. I would also imagine the gardens would be quite pretty in the summer.
  1. Natural History Museum. Put a bunch of stuffed animals, bugs, fossils and dinosaur replicas under the same roof and you generally have a winner with kids. Most of the info is in Italian only but with kids, who has time to read anything anyways? Again, 5 Euros per adult and free for kids. I like this free-for-kid thing they seem to have for a lot of attractions and museums in Europe.
  1. Apperitivo. Ok, I have to admit that we did this the cheap way and probably did not get the greatest experience possible. I took the family to a hostel called Ostello Bello on a cute street across from the place where I stayed in 2017. During my previous stay, I went for a drink there while waiting for my roommates. I had unintentionally stumbled upon Apperitivo. I had no idea what that was at the time, and, after paying for my 4 Euro glass of wine, was a bit skeptical and pleasantly surprised with the buffet that was “included”. What? Free food??! So I just took the family there for a quick one. A drink and plate of pasta and bread later and that was basically dinner. After walking around all day, that was perfect timing and amount for the kids!
  2. Salsa! Ok, that one is NOT a family activity that we all enjoy but I could not help mentioning it. If you did not know, I am a big salsa fan, not only the edible variety, and Milan is a hot bed of salsa superstars. If you are into salsa dancing at all, depending on your preferred style, you would be remiss to pass on an opportunity to take classes at the schools of world famous instructors such as Adolfo Indacochea (Latin Soul Dancers (LSD) Milano) or at Sosa Academy, Tropical Gem’s school. It was a bit of a drive to Rho but I took 2 back-to-back classes at LSD’s new studio and left extremely sweaty, inspired and content. That’s the kind of lessons that salseros fly all over the world to various salsa congresses to take. I just wish I could teleport myself there weekly… More on salsa around the world in a future blog.

The rest of our time, we managed to fill with crafts, school stuff, cooking some yummy Italian meals, eating, drinking wine and even getting a foot massage!

So this wraps up Milan. After our fill of cityscape, we were looking forward to experiencing the beautiful countryside so we hopped in the car and headed southeast towards southern Tuscany and the coast. Maybe we’d even find a horse or two for the girls to ride somewhere along the way and a bottle of wine…

M., Manager of Lodging, Food and Entertainment

From a humble grape comes a legacy.

Ramblings from the Alps

Allô mes amis, we are now almost into our third full month of travelling and it has been amazing so far! We have driven across Canada (a post that still needs to be written!), visited Iceland, did a quick stop by in Switzerland (which I will get to later!) and are now (still) in France. So, being in France I thought I would open up this post with the first things you need to do when in France … of course they are clichés, but they are so for a reason! Of course you need to eat cheese and bread, drink wine, ride your bike under the Eiffel Tower whilst wearing a white/blue striped shirt and a beret with a baguette in the front basket, and do generally what Parisians do – sit at one of the thousands of local cafés and enjoy the day; but not to be forgotten, as Paris has such a rich history in art and culture, is just wandering the confusing streets of Paris staring aimlessly at the almost infinite amount of statues and historic sites and soaking it in. Visiting the Louvre should also be on the list, if you can dedicate at least 3/4 of a day to wandering those hallowed halls, as even the most uncultured can’t possibly remain unmoved or uninspired by the remarkable selection of some of the most amazing art and artifacts in human history. Be warned however, that the place is huge, and somewhat confusing to navigate at first, so plan well!

Well, we have already mentioned the Parisian experience, but of course the last blog left out a few things. One thing that we have experienced a few times now in Europe, is being excluded from restaurants because of our kids. I thought that it was a bit strange the first time, as we approached a completely empty restaurant, save for 1-2 tables, but then the “maitre’d” saw us and our kids, and suddenly the restaurant was full. Ok, I guess that could be reservations that haven’t shown up yet – so we moved on. The next place was a bit less subtle. It was around 8:00 pm on a Wednesday or Thursday, so I understand that it is prime time, but when we got to the next place, the owner was pleasant and started chatting to us about a table, then she saw the kids come in right behind me, and all of sudden the restaurant was full (although it was almost empty). Nothing she could do. Oh, but if we wanted to sit all four of us at a tiny table outside on the 50 cm wide sidewalk next to the extremely narrow, yet active street, on two chairs, away from the rest of the customers (or lack there of) then maybe they could accommodate us. Yeah, nice try… no thanks. By this point the kids were pretty hungry, so sushi to go was the easiest solution to this issue. Yep, strange, but sushi is our kids go-to fast food! Definitely could be worse, so no complaints there – just not necessarily the most economical everywhere! This also happened to us in Switzerland for lunch… albeit in a busier restaurant, but the look from the owner was the same – sees the kids… oh, we are busy, too busy for you.

Anyway, we are over that… so back to our adventures in France! We have (with the exception for Marianne) been trying to be more open to speaking french; Marianne is holding out! She refuses to speak french… kidding, of course! Even Maëlle has been doing her best to make an effort to speak a bit more in french. It isn’t every time, but she is making more efforts than ever before. She is doing well… she has ‘Est-que je peux’ (Can I?) down pat …  and is expanding her dialogue everyday!

Ok, so we have learned the keys to speaking french in France (from a barely mono-lingual neanderthal as myself) are:

  1. On your first attempt at saying something hard, just say it low and mumbly….
  2. After that doesn’t work, on your second attempt to get someone to understand what you said, say it quickly with a more nasally sound and make sure you end your sentence with a rising inflection… so that you are almost asking them something.
  3. Now, while they look at you deciding if you have mental issues, the third attempt to get someone to understand your strange accent should be said higher pitched than the previous attempts and with more attitude. Make it seem like they have the issue with understanding, not that you have no idea what you are saying.
  4. When all of that fails, and it will, point at something random and run away quickly or… ask someone who speaks french to say it exactly how you said it and watch the other person miraculously understand what you wanted.

Actually, I have found that my very moderate french skills have helped tremendously in France. I haven’t had too many instances where I was completely lost. There are a few individuals that I have met that speak faster than others – but the majority speak clearly enough for me to understand what they are saying and or why I need to move le car out of the &%$@#$% way. But yes it has been okay… so thank you grade school french, because of you I can find out the time, determine if something is too expensive or not, and ask for the toilette! But really, my time in Quebec and with the extended family has helped the most!

So, what else have we been up to here? We have been in France for about three weeks now and have gone from Paris, to the wine producing regions of Bourgogne, to the foothills of the Alps in Chartreuse, in the eastern part of France, to the Alps near Switzerland.

All has been different, but not drastically so from Canada, in that I mean, all of the areas, with the obvious exception of the old towns and cities, are things that we have in Canada. Mountains, check! Farms, check! Highways with crazy drivers, check! Vineyards, check! But the scale of the vineyards and the amount of history from before 1800 here is incredible. I’m not sure anything in Paris was built since the 1800s – and some of the towns we have driven through were likely hundreds of years older than that! I don’t think I would want to live in a 500 or 800 year old building in Canada – winters might be a bit, well, chilly!

Two of the most interesting stops on our journey from Paris to where we are now, were the Château du Clos de Vougeot and the wine caves in the town of Beaune. Pronouced like Boney. Actually, I have no idea how it supposed to be pronounced, but that works. The Château du Clos de Vougeot was a fascinating look back into the history of wine making in France.

The fall colours descending rapidly around the chateau
Chateau du Clos de Vougeot

The traditions and history surrounding this estate and its wine are etched in France’s history and wine lore. We did the prerequisite visit, and even tried to snag a geocache there (to no avail!), leaning about the history of wine, the role of this estate in wine production for the wars, and its current role. All intricately detailed through the full estate museum. Too bad no wine samples were on hand! But fear not, we were able to right that wrong at the next stop. The next day, in the town of Beaune, we toured the wine caves under the town, and as part of that luxurious tour of the dank caves, were unlimited wine! I mean samples of wine! We were handed a small metallic saucer and told the caves would be found by following the informational path! So off we trudged, through the barrels and buildings until we met the narrow entrance to the wine caves. Apparently this place stores wine – aging it until it is perfect! We saw thousands of bottles! The oldest they are allowed to sell is a 1936 Pinot Noir, for a reasonable €450 (Euros), although they have older. It was quite interesting, and liquidacious! We tried at least 10 different wines (although I may have had thirds on some of them, and pulled a couple of open ones off the shelf and re-opened them… SHHHHH!!!). It was definitely an interesting visit, but of course, the girls were less impressed about wandering in dark, underground tunnels full of spiders and dust… that is until they met a woman with a dog, and then they were happy as clams. So, wine drinking done, we headed for the Alps!

And that brings us to now. Right now we are in a small town in northeast France, not too far from Switzerland, called Saint Jean d’Aulps. No idea how to pronounce that last bit correctly. Oh-pas? Oh-l-ps? Owl-ps? Oh-pehs? Oprah? No idea. It is near Morzine, which is easier to say. It is a small, hamlet in the Alps that becomes a hot bed of skiing activity in the winter. If you like to strap long planks of waxed wood to your feet and hurl yourself down a mountain at ludicrous speeds, then apparently this is a good place to be.

Normally, back in Canada, I would expect a place like this to be prohibitively expensive to enjoy, and maybe the accommodations and food in the winter is inflated to meet the demand, but the cost of the actual skiing appears to be incredibly inexpensive in comparison. I saw full winter passes going for around €300 (Euros) with daily rates starting around €20-25 / day. Crazy talk! Sure, there are fewer runs than Whistler’s 200-ish runs, but guess what, almost everywhere else in the world has fewer runs than that! Plus, can you actually ski 200 runs in a day? Unlikely, I mean I can only hit so many trees a day before I am done! So the 50 or so runs these hills appear to have are more than enough for many people. Plus, I have heard the snow here is pretty good! It’s too bad we won’t still be here during the ski season! Ok, if you are now asking why we are in a ski town in the off season, we have a good reason. After we left the Airbnb in St-Pierre d’Entremont, in the Chartreuse area, a chalet owned and run by Marianne’s old neighbour (a story I will leave for our head of small human creation to expand upon), we left for Morzine to pet sit! Yes, we are house/pet sitting! Yes, that is a thing, and no, we didn’t know these people before! We arranged it through a great online site that allows people to go on vacation and have someone come to their home, stay for free, and look after their pets. Win-win. Free place to stay, someone to look after the house, and no dead pets! (Maybe I should talk to their marketing department, see if they have an opening, I feel I could help them out with gems like that!)

We are pet sitting a grand old lady, a beautiful golden retriever that is getting up there in years. She is around 11 years old, but still has some energy when the kids are around. We are also looking after a 1 year old black cat. It’s a cat, but is actually friendly. Maxine keeps trying to pick her up and carry her around like a baby – and so far, no scratches! I know, wow! The owners are away for 2 weeks, so we get to chill out here, relax, take in the local scene and look after some furry creatures. The girls really want to get a pet after travelling, so this is a great way to determine if they have any ability to look after one! or two! So far, so good! Maëlle has been great at taking the dog for walks so the dog can do her business! We are proud with how she has taken responsibility for looking after the dog.

The girls taking the dog for a walk in the woods!

While we have tucked our weary bones away in this little village for the past couple of weeks we have had the chance to explore a bit and take advantage of the last great weather of the fall. It has been glorious here, up until the last few days (rain!), with the amazing colours of the changing leaves, and the mountain peaks encircling us like pillars in a magnificent open air theatre. We have reveled in hiking and biking in the sun, been contented to bask on the back deck reading and having a glass of tasty beverage, and even have bounced like kangaroos on crack on the trampoline (mainly the girls… mainly…), because, why not?! Also, while the sun was out we explored the area and went to a couple of interesting local markets, historic sites, and seasonal events where we blended and mingled as if we weren’t from here.

The first weekend we ended up at a wine/beer/food event, eating local, drinking local, and enjoying something that should probably be more prevalent in our life than it is. Connecting with friends and neighbours over food and drink harkening back to times when it was more important to make acquaintances and to share, than to get likes or views on your opinions or photos from anonymous strangers online. And just this past weekend we stumbled upon a little market with goods from monasteries from all over France. Handmade, hand crafted, hand brewed, all made by monks who apparently have a lot of time on their hands! But they do make good stuff! We learnt a bit about the local abbey and that monks make a lot of good things! No idle hands there!

So here we are, out in the wilds of the Alps, keeping some very friendly animals fed, learning a bit about our surroundings, including how to drive in the Alps on some crazy twisty roads, and taking in the relaxation that we have been sorely lacking over the past years.

But, we are getting itchy to keep moving, as has been our M.O. for the last 3 months or so. Oh, and while something have changed, somethings have remained the same. The youngest of our brood decided, yesterday, that shoving something up her nose would be fun! Yay! You know the little baby bel cheese? The wax covered ones? Yes, she told us that she rolled up the wax and put in her nose. Why? I HAVE NO IDEA! Anyway, it was stuck so far up we couldn’t see it and of course it was causing her discomfort. She whined and whined and we tried to get her to blow it out, sneeze it out after sniffing pepper, and even pick it out – but nope! It was stuck fast! We gave up, hoping she would just get it out naturally. But after a while, no chance – so Marianne went in. She grabbed the tweezers and gently dug through the mini gold mine to find the red ball of treasure! Success, she seized it with her expert grasp and pulled forth, with a triumphant sigh of relief, the offender stuck deep in the nostril… and guess what? It wasn’t actually the little wax wrapper, it was the WHOLE PLASTIC WRAPPER on the outside of the wax. Like, what, are you kidding me? How the?? Anyway, our smallest, and well, strange little one was free of her plastic plug, free to breathe again! Oh, the joys of children sometimes! I’m not sure this will be the last time we have to do this.

When the next week comes we will be off! Off to different pastures and different mountains, exploring Europe from our little 4-wheeled oil burner. We shall update more later!

M (Undersecretary to the head of lodging, germ removal, and child bearing)

Paris: the Mandatory and the Different

We knew little about what we were going to do in France when we left Iceland on October 8th. All we knew was that some guy we’d never met said he would let us stay in his apartment right in the heart of Paris for three nights… and not just that, for free! Sounds dubious? Yeah, maybe. But let’s back track and let me explain. Long before we left Canada, I (Marianne) started looking into house and pet sitting abroad. With young kids and on a longer trip, we simply can’t realistically move every other night and, you know, staying in Airbnbs or hotels every night in Europe really adds up. I’m not sure how I came across the TrustedHousesitters website but it intrigued me. I also learned that there are several of these websites out there whose sole purpose is to hook up people in need of care for their home or pets while away and people willing to travel and care for them. Our girls are slightly obsessed with animals in case this was not apparent in previous posts, so I thought, perfect! I set-up a couple of accounts and started looking for the right sit(s) for us.

One of our goals in France besides visiting Paris is to stay long enough somewhere that the girls have a chance to make friends and get more comfortable speaking French (and where they do not have a choice!!!). With very little other requirements, it left us pretty open to explore sits in a variety of locations. One of the first ad I came across seemed too perfect! A place right in Paris with 2 cats for 4 nights starting on the day we landed in Paris! The ad, being in a very desirable location, had already had a bunch of applicants so with our lack of previous sits/reviews, I doubted we’d get it but I applied anyway. To our surprise, we were offered the sit after a chat on Skype with the owner and his fiancee! The only thing was that the cats would be at the fiancee’s apartment in St-Cloud, just outside the Paris centre and it would be for 3 nights only. Still sounded good to us so we accepted. Couple days later, the owner contacts us to tell us one of the cats is sick and would need to be given a pill daily during our sit and that, to let the cat have his own space to recover, his new roomate cat would be sent to a catery. Giving pills to a cat sounds like “good family fun” as the owner (Andrew) said. We figured we were 4 so we should be able to handle one cat.  No problem! The day before our departure: more news… The trip of the owners to Italy was cancelled last minute due to a health issue. But “not to worry” he said. “you can have my apartment in the centre of Paris and you don’t even have to cat sit anymore”! Say what??? Wow! That almost did sound suspiciously too good to be true but we had a good feeling about this and, with less than 24 hours before landing in Paris, well, that was our only plan! So off we went to meet Andrew at his apartment and we were amazed to find someone at the door waiting for us with keys in hand and beds ready for us in a wonderful renovated “appartement parisien” a few steps from Oberkampf metro station! Unbelievable hospitality! We had a great time in his place as it made for a perfect location from which to explore Paris.


The mandatory attractions

Of course we did the usual things people do in Paris:

  1. The Louvre: We went to the Louvre Museum and walked around the gigantic place for nearly 6 hours with the girls and heard nearly no complaints!!! I KNOW!!! That shocked even them! Saw all the big attractions and the less famous ones. We spent quite a while in the Egyptian section. I think Maxine’s favourite was the section that had the 16th – 18th century castle furniture that Maelle and I had to zoom past to find a bathroom. Maxine loved it so much she wanted to live there!
  1. Tour Eiffel: So the day we arrived, we thought we’d check to see if we could get tickets to go up the tower a couple of days later. Nope! Friendly tip: if you plan on going up the tower, book weeks ahead! There was no way we could get advance tickets… so we thought we’d check to see if we could get a ticket at the tower for that day or even just to walk up to the first level. Yikes! Ticket booths for the elevators were closed and a line about 400 m long stretched underneath the tower full of people with tickets! Even the line to get tickets to climb the nearly 400 steps to the first level was fairly long and, even though Maxine was willing to do it, we decided to continue contemplating it from below. We were warned that lots of pick-pockets work around the city and that if someone approached you to sign a petition, to closely watch your wallet. We did see several people with such “petitions” around the tower. We also saw what happens to the guys selling little Eiffel towers off blankets when the “gendarmes” (French police) on bikes come by. They disappear!
  2. Arc de Triomphe: we did a quick Metro stop by the Arc to go ooh and aah!
  3. Sainte-Chapelle: we decided on a guide’s recommendation to check it out. It is an example of Gothic church which were apparently built to let in a lot of light and the chapelle apparently has one of the largest Rose windows in the world (after Notre-Dame the Paris which we only looked at from the outside). The line to get in late afternoon was not very long, and from the outside, the church does not look that special. When we first got in I was disappointed… Ok, cool arches but where is the light and the glass stained windows? Oh wait, there is another level… Then we went up the tiny, twisting stairs and… Woah!!! There were giant windows lining the walls of the entire room and all of them had intricate stain glass in perfect condition of all colours possible letting the light in. Worth seeing.
  4. Eat crepes: Lots of places make crepes and they are fairly inexpensive. We stopped at a random convenience store that made them and they were yummy! We were not as lucky with our dining out experiences but perhaps Mike will elaborate on that some other time. A combination of poor timing of our meals, no reservations and too much choice resulted in cranky people and some disappointing meals.279

The different stuff

I had been to Paris by myself a couple times before, so I had seen some of the sights. With more time, we tried a few different and perhaps unusual things:

  1. Sandeman’s tours: Ever heard of Sandeman’s? We had not. We’re not usually big on tours. An Australian tourist we met in Iceland mentioned that Sandeman’s offers free tours in a lot of cities in Europe. The guides essentially volunteer and design their own tour and you just tip them what you want at the end if you’re happy with the tour. Sounded like a fun thing to do to learn a bit more while still being a low enough commitment that we could bail out early if the girls did not make it through the 2.5 hours. Well, our guide was very interesting and the girls managed to stay entertained through the whole thing! So definitely something I’d recommend.
  2. Staying just outside Paris: After our 3 days at Andrew’s, we thanked our amazing host and said farewell but were also looking forward to our Airbnb. We’d booked a little place in a house right on the Marne River. Why stay there you’d ask? Well, the reviews were great and the owners had kids and a yard that the kids could play in. Our daughters were craving having kid-friendly stuff (after 3 days of no-touching anything at Andrew’s place – as it was too nice!) and other kids around by that point so it seemed like a good idea and it was. The area was super cute and quaint but yet, just 12 minutes to a train station and only about 30 minutes from key attractions. It was nice to take a slower pace and see a different side of Paris. The east side to be exact!677
  3. Scooter around Parc du bois de Vincennes: Our Airbnb hosts were kind enough to let us use their “trotinettes”. So we took them out on an outing and headed towards the parc du bois de Vincennes. We thought “cool, there are gardens, a castle and even a zoo”! Sounded perfect! until we hit bumpy/gravelly sidewalks and trails… Not as fun on scooters. And not as fast. So Mike said “Let’s ride on this street” that has limited traffic and was only one-way. Hmmm, weird, there were lots of white vans parked on the side with people inside, oh actually it was just women inside…. ooohhhh! Mike clued in what was going on by about van #2 and I must say we picked up the pace on the scooters considerably! Seems like the proverbial street walkers had stepped it up a notch. Despite our accelerated pace we didn’t get to see the Chateau de Vincennes, nor the nearby zoo (too far) but we had a great time scootering around for a couple of hours. Even Maxine rode for a while by herself but ended up riding with Mike for most of it.
  4. Go salsa dancing! Ok, this one is not a family friendly activity but, for those who know me, it had to be done! So I did a bit of research and asked around and decided on two events: Agua and Latinbox Party. The details will be left for another post on salsa around the world. Stay tuned salsa fanatics!

So that pretty much sums up Paris. We left it on Sunday headed to the parc naturel regional de Chartreuse to visit a friend but not without a pit stop on yet another famous wine road. More on that in our next blog!



Small but many waterfalls.

Iceland to France!

Hi Everyone

We have made it to France. We landed in Paris on Monday and have been exploring the city for the past few days – so much to see and do here. We will have a longer update shortly about the last bit in Iceland and the first few days here in France.

I must say that Iceland did its best to keep us there. Wind storms, ice, early morning flights – everything seemed easier in Iceland when you didn’t have to go anywhere! The morning of our flight we had to get up at 3:30 am and get to the airport for our 7:30 am flight. We were staying in Reykjavik which was about 45 minutes away from the airport, so not too far, but far enough. Also, to make matters more difficult, when we woke up, the temperature had dropped to – 3 C or so, from the 8 C the day before. So everything was frozen and icy! Of course, being in Iceland it should be no problem to go and scrap off the car. But, guess what, yep, no scraper. Seriously? The place is called ICELAND, not warm tropical land; not Greenland (which wouldn’t forget to have a scraper – probably), not anywhere else, but nope… no scraper. So I used the trusty Canadian backup – yep, the credit card. Actually, it was my Aeroplan card. Why do I have that with me? No idea… Maybe for some reason I will fly Air Canada in the next year… nah, no idea really. So, car scraped, and heater going, all set. So I skate back to the apartment we rented to get the bags, slide back to the truck…. go past… then go back and load the bags. So much fun! Anyway, I can say that we are lucky the truck came with studded winter tyres, otherwise it would have been a bit of a slow slippery ride to the airport.

As it is obvious, we made it! Here in France. So far it has been mostly good. Saw a few cool sites, got a Geocache in France, and had a few good meals. Eating out in France is easy-ish, which I will explain later, and people here are definitely trendier than elsewhere I have seen. I mean it is 25 C in the day here and they are all wearing fall/winter clothes – including puffy jackets!? What? I am in shorts and finding it warm… they are in pants and jackets. Crazy.

Ok, we are getting our Europe plans worked out, and post-Europe planned, which will be updated here soon. As promised a longer post coming soon.


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