16 January 2007

The Much-Delayed Vacation Report

And a Return to More Regular Posting...

I've been trying to explain to Esther how difficult it is to come back to work and school after three weeks of vacation. Alas, I am not sure that she gets it. Her response always includes something to the effect of, "Yes, I understand that you find it difficult, but try not to forget that some of us had no vacation and have been working the entire time you've been hopping around Europe." Some days I wonder if we will ever communicate successfully...

In all seriousness (well, maybe not all of it, but a lot of it) the vacations were really great for me. It started out with the week in Scotland (see preceding post). I came back to town for not quite a full day, just long enough to unpack and repack, and then Esther and I set off for her family's house in Normandy. (Click here for a Google Map of the town, Villerville.) We were there for 4 days all together, including Christmas. It was just the two of us so it was pleasantly tranquil the entire time. We didn't do anything particularly exciting (that was, more or less, the idea of going there) so there isn't too much I can report here.

After we returned from Normandy, however, Pete arrived. Having read this post, you all know how excited I was for his arrival. Well, it pretty much lived up to expectations and, in fact, exceeding them in many cases. The only low point was that I fell sick for a couple of days and had to spend some time getting my strength back. Other than that, it was really a great 10 days. The first 5 days were spent running around Paris. I took Pete to all of the usual suspects and feel that we covered a lot of ground in a matter of a few days. I imagine can Pete can attest to this too. I didn't take any pictures during this, I left that up to Pete. He has his pictures up on his Facebook site and I'll talk to him to see if I can get a link to that so that people without a Facebook account to view them.

I think some of my favorite moments from this period were watching Pete eat a lot of pastries and laughing at French things with him. He really was the biggest guy around. Also, having lived with Esther for a while now, I was beginning to feel like a real pig in regard to the quantities of food I eat. Thankfully, Pete came and showed me that I really had nothing to worry about. Seriously though, French pastries are really good and readily available. Ask Pete.

We stayed in Paris until January 1st when we got on our Air France flight to Munich. I was just getting my strength back during this period so the traveling was a bit difficult but we got settled pretty easily in the city. I had found a promising hotel online (thanks kayak.com, best travel site ever!) and we found it to be quite nice upon arrival.

It didn't take me long to realize that German cuisine isn't exactly conducive to vegetarians, or people who want to avoid meat at even one meal per day. Thankfully the first night we found a great traditional restaurant that is more directed to the tourist crowd (though not to the degree of the famed Hofbrauhaus) and had a few vegetarian options, though with a considerably German twist. I had spaetzle (really thick, short noodles) baked with sauerkraut and really salty cheese all of which was washed down with a pint of Lowenbrau helles bier. It was good, really good, and the first real meal I had since regaining my health. Nothing like a trial by fire to see if the system is back in full working order. Good news, it was! We spent the next day seeing the sights of Munich with a highlight being the Deutches Museum, a museum of science and technology. I'd recommend it to anyone who finds them self in the area.

We then rented a car and drove up to Nuremberg and F├╝rth (the hometown of Oma, my grandmother). The following day we drove south to Schloss Neuschwanstein, the castle that served as the inspiration for the Disney castle, and made a short pass through the German and Austrian Alps. I feel that the pictures from this part of the trip speak for themselves so I'll let them do the talking.

On the last day in Germany we took the train just outside of Munich to the city of Dachau and its concentration camp. The gravity of this subject demands a separate post outside of this travelogue. Look for it here shortly.

We had a late flight back to Paris, got Pete ready to depart, and then took him to the airport the next morning. All in all it was a bit of whirlwind, but a really pleasant whirlwind, not the type that brings wicked witches and flying monkeys. It was great to see Pete, as a representative of the family, during the holidays. I was surprised at how homesick I found myself during this time of year. Further proof that I'm not the tough guy that I think I am...

All in all though, it was a great three weeks and coming back to normal was a bit of a shock. I'm starting to understand how working for the same three weeks could have been "worse," as Esther puts it, but I'm still not fully convinced...

Oh yes, and,

Happy New Year!

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