Category Archives: travelblog

on the 30th of August

We picked up the rental car and filled it with luggage and knitting and an electric guitar and drove south! For, like, seven hours! And nobody died or even threw up, which is quite an achievement for the Carsick Family. All credit is due to the car, which was an Audi A4 Quattro that weighs more than twice as much as the Twingo (it really does, we checked). Dayum, it was like driving the Enterprise, folks. Built in talky navigation with two screens to tell you when to turn next, how many kms you still have to go, when you can expect to arrive, and they even tell you when you’re running out of gas and offer to direct you to the nearest gas station. You can connect your phone to the car via Bluetooth and play your own music and even field phone calls, we learned by doing. Cup holders! Air conditioning! A trunk you close by pushing a button! Also it was enormous and very difficult to steer. It was a miracle we didn’t scrape the hell out of it on all those narrow French streets. We called it the Great White.

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Panorama shot from the front stoop.

Anyway. We have these friends with whom we occasionally travel, another family with a son about Ignatz’s age and a daughter who is 8. We were all in this cottage right on the church square in this village called Saint Restitut. All of the buildings are made from this beige local stone, with shutters painted different pastel colors, a thing about which I rhapsodized occasionally, to be met with much masculine eye-rolling. But it was so pretty! The house was good too – I don’t know how they fit 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms in there, but we certainly had enough space, even without the patio, pool, and sitting area out back.

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Guess how much time we spent out here.

We ate all our meals out there (except when we were out touristing, of course). The first two or three days, le Mistral was very busy whipping the trees around and shaking tree-shrapnel into our breakfasts (we wondered if this was the origin of the famous Herbes de Provence). The wind was a good thing, though, because it kept the heat from feeling too… well, hot. Then the wind died and the days got a little bakey, but we were still happy to be there.

The town was hella picturesque and all, but didn’t even have a bakery. So we had to drive into Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux every morning, once one of the dads was awake, and hit the bakery and/or grocery store, so we usually sat down to “breakfast” around 12:30. So, hm, a lot less tourism happened than I really wanted, because getting an early start proved to be a challenge utterly impossible. Also, the place was really nice, so it was kind of hard to leave.

More tomorrow. I am determined to get back to blogging, folks.

Song du jour of the day: Reconciliation, by Noyau Dur. Why don’t I have more French music? I should remedy that…

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dingsbumsheim

Back when the Oompahs visited, we took a boat tour up the river to Neckarsteinach (a four-castle town!), and in passing the tour-guide voice on the PA pointed out a walled town on top of a nearby “mountain” (yeah, about that: I’m a former resident of the Far West, so for me, if it doesn’t have snow on it year-round, it’s not a real mountain. But people from Back East will persist in their little delusions and I’ve found it convenient to play along most of the time) that has never been conquered ever, he said.

About 6 weeks  ago, on a sunny Saturday, DrBob and I decided another mini road trip was in order, so we decided to check this place out. I can well believe it was never conquered, as we had a helluva time finding it. There might have been signs, but we couldn’t remember the name of the place, so they wouldn’t have helped. We kept seeing it on the other side of the river, but couldn’t figure out how to get across.

Eventually we came across a tee-tiny ferry which, HILARIOUS! Because for me, this is a ferry.  The thing we rode across the river was more like… a toy. Of course I was all a-squee, and spent a fair bit of time amusing myself with the notion of an invading army having to rely on this means of transport.ferry1

So thanks to tiny toy ferry, we did eventually find the town – Dilsberg is its terribly forgettable name – and we did our usual tourist thing: wander around, drink some coffee, leave.

Song du jour of the day: Mermaid, by Yuna.


Mallorca the second

… day, that is. The second day. Another unexpectedly long drive out to Cap de Formentor, because of me and the edge of the world. This is the northeasterlymost point on the island and the road is very long and curvy and you drive about three times the distance that a crow would fly, frequently getting stuck behind struggling cyclists. Mallorca is apparently veeeery popular with cyclists. Anyway.

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The lighthouse is blurry because it is inside a CLOUD.

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The clouds are BELOW us. Wow.

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That valley? Is full of CLOUD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a long drive, but really really worth it. All pine forests and lonely stretches of road, very soothing since we’d driven up the east coast through the Tourist Zoo towns to get there.

After Cap de Formentor we went to Pollença, which I really liked, though we didn’t stay long, just for lunch. Here’s a Plaça, don’t know if it was the Plaça Major or another one:

plazapollenca

Not really special, just… nice. Cool and leafy and pretty and pleasant. There’d been a Roman settlement nearby called Pollentia, said the guidebook, but we didn’t find it until we drove to Alcúdia, closer to the coast. Also nice, when we were there, but it’s clearly been shinied up for the tourists, which weren’t due till the following week (i.e., now). Which I guess is why the Roman ruins were closed and we couldn’t get in to see them. Oh well.

On the third day we went to Artà, where we climbed a bunch oralcudia2f stairs to a churchurchalcudiach and a swell view. Nice little artsy-type place, they have a much-hyped market to which the hotel organized bus tours. We arrived just as the market was closing, which was a good thing because there were no crowds and the stallholders were too busy shutting down to hustle us. Except for a guy who sold DrBob a leather bag, but that’s okay. He’s been using it every day since.

Cala Ratjada seems to be the port/beach part of Artà. This is another place that I think we liked because it wasn’t tourist season yet – very nice waterfront promenade that is probably a lot less nice when it’s awash in sunburns and flip-flops. But on that day, it was peaceful and charming and I took pictures of boats.

And on the last day we had an 8pm flight, so we decided to take the long way back to Palma and stop in Cala Figuera, which is where DrBob really fell in love. Many adorable houses and boats and possible some kind of built-into-the-cliff stuff on the other side of the bay which we should’ve checked out, but we wanted to leave ourselves sufficient time in Palma. But I have a hunch we’ll be back. He’s still talking about it.

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figuera

 

 

 

 

 

Aaand then we drove to Palma and did the City Thing. You know how cities are, especially the old ones, it’s hard to back up enough to get a good shot of anything, so it’s probably better just to buy the postcards. The professional photogs can at least get the tourists to clear off for a minute.

So yeah. It was mostly a lovely relaxing trip, except for the bit where we left the kids at home to fend for themselves and despite their many assurances, they both overslept on Monday so one of them was late to school and the other didn’t go at all that day, so after that I had to get up at 7 every morning to call them and make sure they got out of bed. Even that wasn’t all bad: it allowed me to see this.

sunrise

Song du jour of the day: Forget What I Said, by Noora Noor. Never heard of it before, but YouTube recommended it.


best-laid plans and bad lighting

I was going to go to Stitch n Bitch today, I had my knitting with me and everything! But, um… well, DrBob offered to drive me down because he had an errand to run, and when we got to the garage we found he’d left Fünferl’s door open overnight, uh-oh.

You don’t know Fünferl? Oh, no, I must’ve posted that on Facebook instead of here! Okay everybody, say hi to Fünferl, she joined us sometime in late summer:

the newest member of the family

the newest member of the family

So anyway, Fünferl’s battery was mostly dead: she had lights, but wouldn’t start, so we had to push her out of the garage and point her downslope (good thing we live on a mountain!) to get her started, and then of course you have to drive awhile to recharge the battery, so uh-oh, accidental emergency ROAD TRIP! WOOHOO! Erm, I mean, um, oh noes! (heh heh)

It was rainy enough, and late enough in the day that France was not such a great idea, so we went to Hirschhorn and visited the castle instead. And walked through the super-cutesy town center and had coffee, as you do. I’m sorry I missed knitting, a bit, but it was good to hang out with DrBob for a bit. And take pictures with my camera phone, even though it wasn’t a good day for photography.

Song du jour of the day: River, by Emeli Sandé


What I Did on My Summer Vacation

… is I went to Vienna with DrBob and Secondborn! Firstborn is 18 and we have given him the right to decide whether to go on vacation with us. He declined, this time, and we didn’t push because we really needed someone to water the tomatoes and feed the cat.

Anyway.

We drove, so we were able to stop at Melk Abbey on the way, trés Baroque and recommended by Rick Steves as well as my husband, so you know it’s fancy and historically significant! Also stripy, which is more important, if you ask me. Then we went on to Vienna and our AirBnB apartment. Very nice, would recommend. Continue reading


two grand(-ish) days out

Yesterday Fiona called me up and said hey wanna ride bikes and I said okay so we went out and it was beautiful and sunny and fabulous but not hugely eventful but still a really good day here are some pictures!

Then today I went to Amsterdam to pick up my passport and Mr. Husband came along to sort out some bank stuff and then we were going to go to the Rijksmuseum, yay! It’s been under renovation for ten years, and they’re very excited about the reopening – there was even a flashmob event in Breda, it was really cool! Here’s the video. And of course we want to see it before we leave and whoop! We’re running out of time.

Weird random irregularities at the consulate made me really jittery, but they gave me a passport in the end, so that’s okay, whew.

Some tulips in a park. I like the colors.

Some tulips in a park. I like the colors.

Meanwhile, Mr Husband was supposed to go to the bank, because Phone Guy said you have to go in person to figure out how to sell the house and then Mr Husband couldn’t find a branch of our bank in Amsterdam because his phone internet wasn’t working so he had to wait for me and then we went tromping all over the city, only to find one right near where we were before we started all the walking, and we told Teller Guy our story and he was all WTF, so he called Phone Guy and Phone Guy was all, oh, no, that’s all sorted, you didn’t have to come in at all. Argh.

And then we got sandwiches, and they were pretty good! When you go to the Rijksmuseum, you should definitely get lunch at this stand:

Don't let the giant ice cream cone be your landmark, though. Everybody has those.

Don’t let the giant ice cream cone be your landmark, though. Everybody has those.

So that was good, but then it was 4:30 and guess what time the ticket desks at the Rijksmuseum close? Sigh. Well, when you do go, if you approach the museum from the Museumplein side, you might see these nifty things:

What is that, tinfoil?

What are those made of, is that tinfoil?

Yes. It appears to be tinfoil.

Yes. It appears to be tinfoil.

So yeah, bummed about the museum, a bit. But at least I have a passport!

Song du jour of the day: Family Affair, by Mary J. Blige.

P.S. the museum gift shop was ace.


this year’s vacation

The Sniglet came up for Easter vacation and we went to Tenerife! Which is one of the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa but actually belonging to Spain, and I don’t know why I never thought of going there before, because it was pretty much perfect. Loved the food, loved the weather, loved the crashy ocean and black-sand beaches, the desolate Martian landscape of the volcano, the after-dinner paseo and the Semana Santa processions through the town. It was amazing.
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