We have been planning this trip for a long time... a few years actually. We were supposed to go in the Fall of 2010 but due to Delta changing their frequent flier program, we were just short the miles to get us all there. So we had to wait until this Fall; but the wait was well worth it in the end.
First, we flew from Salt Lake to Minneapolis, then went onto Paris, France. Here are the kids waiting ever so patiently at the airport in Minneapolis. Finley was great and played paper dolls with Berlin. Then they both colored in their coloring books.
Berlin listening out to the Tangled Soundtrack on the plane. This child would NOT sleep on the plane, which means I did not sleep on the plane either. I was exhausted by the time we landed in Paris.
I loved where we stayed in France. It was 45 minutes outside of Paris in a little country town called Labbeville. It was darling countryside - quaint and full of old stone homes, cows, and TONS of hydrangeas. I love hydrangeas. Here is a picture of the apartment we rented (see more here).
The family that owns it lives right next to it in a fabulous french house. They had two kids, a girl (6) and a boy (7). They also had the most amazing tree house. Needless to say, we didn't see the kids for a bit as they all played together in that tree-house. It's amazing how kids don't care whether you speak their language. "Play" is a universal language and that's all they cared about.
Second, I don't love Paris. I have been to Paris before, back in 1999. However, I had been with a french speaking friend who knew his way around the city. So we hit all the tourist spots, monuments, etc and a couple days and that was that. It was fabulous. This time around however, I didn't love Paris. We took the train in that night (despite being beyond exhausted) and after walking around forever searching for the Eiffel Tower, listening to whining kids, seeing way too many homeless men, smelling way too much urine, and sidestepping trash and feces on the sidewalk, we bagged it and took the train back to the apartment. On the train the kids made up with a song aptly titled, "Paris Stinks." Oh how true it was. And add to it the fact that Berlin got carsick and threw up all over herself, my arm, and the carseat while driving to our apartment, and well, you get the picture. It wasn't a very joyous stop. We have no desire to go back, which is sad because I remember having liked it back in 1999.
The kids on the train from Paris to our apartment. What's missing? The creepy hand of the stinky, drunk, homeless man that was sleeping on the bench just behind the kids. I love Finley's face - what a pimp!
The next morning we headed out and drove to Bruges, Belgium. Ryan has wanted to visit this city ever since he saw the movie, In Bruges, at the Sundance Film Festival a while back. We stayed in a 3-story home right in the old city of Bruges. The location was perfect and despite the musty smell, it was a great place to stay. Here is a link to where we stayed.
It was a long drive from Paris, so we just explored the city our first evening there. We found a great park, let the kids run, play, and be free. The old city is amazing, gorgeous, romantic, and a new favorite of ours. We definitely recommend it to anyone and hopefully, some day, we'll get back there.
The kids doing a silly pose. I had to just grin and bear it, because they were already sick of me and the camera. So many pics from this trip are of them being goofy.
One of the old city gate towers to Bruges.
Berlin really wanted to see Rapunzel's Tower on this trip. However, being that we saw & stayed overnight in that castle on our last trip to Germany (Fall 2006) we decided not to go again. So we told her this was Rapunzel's Tower and she was pretty excited.
The kids said that this was mother Gothel's tombstone. It was just to the side of the tower above. Don't you love Finley's Cub Scout fingers. Nice. That's what happens when you take your kids to Cub Scouts when the other leaders can't go. It became his go-to pose for a while. You will see it again in future pics.
Finley re-enacting the human chess game from the Harry Potter movie. Berlin just doing a dance pose.
One of the many reasons that this is such a gorgeous old city.
The next day we took the kids to the Chocolate Museum. This was fun and we got some yummy samples of Belgium chocolate which is REALLY REALLY good.
We walked the streets, browsed some cute shops, and then hit up the French Fry Museum. This turned out to be one of the highlights for the kids on the trip. They had this interactive play area where the kids owned a fry shack and they could make fries and all sorts of things. They loved it and would have stayed there all day if we had let them. They also had the best french fries and pickle sauce....YUM!
Seriously, we loved this city. We were sad to leave. If any of you get over there, be sure to check out Tom's Diner. Amazing food.... the Best. Duck. Ever!
The next morning we got up and headed to our next stop: Essen, Germany. Stay tuned for that post. Hopefully I will get it posted soon.