Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Our Vacation - France and Switzerland

Friday morning we got up early and got on the train.  We had to get our passport checked and we got stamped for France.  We took the train to lille and dropped ½ our luggage at the Hotel there, which was a good idea.  We went from 4 suitcases and 4 backpacks to two suitcases and two backpacks.  I wish we could have gotten down less, but that isn’t too bad for 10 days.  Besides with going to the Alps we had to have some warmer clothes, the rest of the places we had to stay will be warmer.

We had a couple hours to wait in Lille before we could take a train to Paris.  There was a fun flower statue the kids played on and we had a snack (stuff we brought).  Then we finally got on the train to Paris.  After arriving in France, I had to have a nap since I hadn’t been sleeping well.  There had been a problem with some of the train tickets I had tried to buy and I was worried we wouldn’t be able to get anywhere, so I hadn’t been able to sleep.  I took a nap and the kids watched French TV.  It was pretty funny how long they watched something they couldn’t understand.  They did say one of the cartoons was the Pink Panther which was in English.  After my nap, we took a walk around the area of the hotel.  Then we got back and waited for my parents.  While I slept they had gone to the aiport train station to try and figure out the ticket problem.  They did.  After they got back we decided it was dinner time.  We walked into the nearby town of Rossie.  They kids found a park and played.  It was a very cute town, and we found a crepier (or however you spell that)!  We had gallettes for dinner.  I had one with goat cheese and almonds.  Yumm.  The kids had ham, eggs and cheese.  It made me miss Heidi, the last time I had delicious gallettes was with her. We had chocolate crepes for dinner.  We to walked back to the hotel and went to bed. 

On Saturday morning we got up and ate breakfast at the hotel.  We had delicious bagettes, finally coffee and meat and cheese.  We were a little behind the eight ball when we finally got to the airport to meet Rachel.  At the time we finally got there Rachel had the metra tickets and we were ready to go.  Then we remembered we needed to buy one more train ticket.  So after waiting for that, we were on our way.  We took the metra down to our hotel.  Of course the subway stop that we were supposed to get off at was closed, so, it was a little trickey to find.  Thanks to the GPS we did make it there, and we only went down one street that we wish we hadn’t.  Fortunately, my boys were mostly oblivious.  We dropped our bags at the hotel.  The desk clerk gave us a hard time about the number of people and that we would have to share a bed which we already knew.  We thought maybe we had made a mistake of where to stay.  My parents took the small room and we took the bigger one, they were nice.  I shared a bed with Libby, Rachel got one to herself, the boys shared one and my parents had a double.  We finally dropped our bags and set out.

We took the metra down to Notre Dame.  It was so crowded already.  The kids liked to take pictures inside.  I think they were impressed, but they thought it was dark.  We tried to explain the special style of architecture, and how it really was light compared to its countertypes.  So after finding flying buttresses along the outside it was time for lunch.  Jacob had gotten made inside and disappeared for a while, which was very stressful for me.  There were so many people and you could just shuffle along.  When we found him again, he got quite an earful which apparently ruined his appetite (and mine).  We had peanut butter and jelly (again).  We were amazed and how we might never eat or even want to eat peanut butter and jelly in the US but when you were really hungry, it tastes really good.  (PBJ is pretty portable for your take along lunches). 

After Notre Dame we walked down the Seine River to the Louvre.  It was a warm day.  The line was so long, and the kids were so grouchy and the line was in the hot sun so we decided to skip going inside.  We sat in the Italian Gardens for quite a while enjoying the warm sun by the adults taking a nap.  When were were recharged we went back to the metra to the Eiffel tower.  We walked around there for a while and took  lots of pictures.  We then took the metra to the Arc de Trimuph.  After that we walked up the Champ de Elysses.  We finally found a restaurant and we had gallettes for dinner.  We went back to the hotel and went to bed a little early (9pm).

Easter morning we had to get up early to catch a train to Lusane Switzerland.  In Lusanne we had a 4 hour layover.  We walked to a bakery, got bagettes, butter, sandwiches.  Elizabeth got a crossiant, her favorite.  We walked downhill and found a beautiful park.  We ate lunch and then the kids played and played.  There was a large hill in the park with trails. After playing at the park for a long time, we walked up the trails and got to the top of the peak, which had a great overlook of the town and the lake.  There was an ampitheater and the kids put on plays while the adults just sat in the sun and enjoyed the view.  We walked back down the hill and the kids played more.  There was a giant sand area with mining type equipment, there was a large water area where you could control wher the water went.  There was a huge treehouse.  It was a nice park, and it was such a nice day.  We finally got on the next train which took us into the alps to Randa.  The town of Randa is a quite town, with just one main street.  Our hotel was so nice.  It was owned by an Italian couple who were so welcoming and picked us up from the train station.  We found a playground next to the hotel, and the kids played, and then we decided to go for a walk and explore the town.  The hotel owners let us borrow their scooters and we went down the one hill and up the other.  We found a church (Catholic) and a cemetery.  It was a little different from ours, with large wooden crosses at each site.  There were lots of pictures and flowers etc.  After our (long) walk, we got back to the hotel in time for dinner.  The hotel had an Italian restaurant.  There was a piano player and we could all sing along.  It was great.  They tried to make dad sing new york, new york.  It was such a delicious dinner with such a warm fun atmosphere you almost didn’t mind how much it cost.  We went to bed tired again.

Monday we were pretty lazy.  When we finally got up we ate a large breakfast at the hotel.  It was typical with yogurt, bread, cheese sausage and SUCH good coffee – I will miss the coffee.  We then had the hotel owner drive us to the next town where we took a train to Zermatt.  Zermatt is a car free town.  It is the town at the base of the matterhorm.  We walked to the lifts and were so happy to find a family trying to sell their all day lift tickets for ½ price.  We saved a lot of money, they had 4 adult and 2 kid tickets.  We only had to buy one kid at full price then.  We took the lift up the mountain to a stop which had a great view of the matterhorn.  It wasn’t even that cold yet, even though there was snow and lot of skiers.  We took lots of pictures and took the lifts around to several different places.  We walked around for a while and then went back down the mountain.  We stopped to a place for fondue.  We had bread and veggies and lots of melted cheese.  We went souvenir shopping.  Paul and Jacob were going to buy these little rocks from the mountain, but they were 25 swiss francs.  Sheesh.  We finally found the playground.  It had a mini matterhorn you could climb.  The kids played while I walked back and bought the souvenirs.  It rained a little, but not too bad.  We finally took the train back to Tasch and then we decided to walk the rest of the way to Randa.  It was a long walk, we finally reached the little park in Randa, the sun was going down, so it was getting a little chili, but we decided to have a picnic.  We ate our bread and cheese and meat and went to our rooms.  I decided to do some laundry in the tub, which probably wasn’t the best choice, since it wasn’t completely dry, but, it is all packed now, so I guess it was ok in the end with the help of some hairdryers.

Tuesday morning we got on a train to Chur and then Vienna.  Our first train was from Randa on a regional train, where the conducter helped us get us on the Glacier Express.  It was nice because it has periodic narriative of history and sights along the way.  There was a tunnel that took over 15 minutes to go through.  The view on the train was pretty amazing too.  Another good thing about the Glacier Express is that we do not have to stop like the regional trains or change trains.  The kids were mostly plugged into gameboys etc and I think they missed most of the beautiful mountain views.  I think the alps are pretty amazing.  I want to bring Matt here to see them.  Everything is clean and crisp and beautiful. 

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