We are finally home after a very long journey by plane, train and automobile! We are totally jet lagged and were up at 4 am this morning.
So the trip was WONDERFUL! The best way to describe it is that it was an adventure. Here we are on the train from Paris to Brussels after a long overnight flight.
We had a day to ourselves in Brussels where we visited Le Musee des Beaux Arts, a beautiful Gothic Cathedral and the gardens outside the Royal Palace. Here the kids are enjoying the parc.
The wedding in Belgium was incredibly special and something like I will never experience again. It was held in the Brussels Town Hall at La Grande Place, one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen in all of Europe.
The ceremony was half in French and half in English. Afterwards we took a bus to a lovely hotel for a luncheon for 300. It was very elegant and quite relaxing. A bit afraid they would not be serving anything the kids would like, we grabbed them a quick waffle on the way to the bus.
Here is B toasting with daddy...
The reception out at the Chateau was magical with cocktails in the gardens (oh but first we were introduced to the babysitters with whom we could leave our delightful children) and then dinner and dancing inside a three-tiered room with stone walls and a farmhouse feel.
As it turned out, we were unaware that the bride's family is Jewish which became clear when the first dance was the Hora and lasted well over an HOUR! The poor bride was jelly by the end but it was a load of fun. During the reception the Bride's father made a toast in 4 languages, French, English, Italian and Spanish. He talked a lot about the history of the Jews in Europe and the movement from country to country his family and ancestors have had to make during their lives. He ended by thanking the American's in the crowd for the role of the US during WWII and in particular Matt's uncle (Matt is SJ's friend and the groom) who died in Belgium fighting the Germans. The whole thing was incredible.
The next morning was painful however. Up at 6 am to catch a taxi to the airport to fly to Provence. We made it though and had a great week in the South of France. We had a cute little apartment and drove around all week taking in the sights. There are tons of Roman ruins there from the time the Papacy was located in Avignon. We did markets and hilltowns and of course ate lots of baguette. Our favorite places were St. Remy, Gordes, Chateauneuf du Pape, & Avignon. We had a few not-so-favorite places which we found to be incredibly touristy and if any of you decide to hit the south of france (Chrissty!) I'll give you a good guide of where to go and where not to go! We did a bunch of touring around the wine areas as well and learned a bunch of stuff about French wines we did not know. A big disappointment for us was the food. Because it was August - the vacation month- many good restaurants were closed leaving the towns teaming with cafes that were a rip off and served pretty bad food. So it took us a few days to figure out when to eat at the apartment and when to eat out. We finally figured it out but I will say that we had only 1 great meal in our 6 days in France and that was in Avignon. I did a lot of cooking which was fine because we could lounge around the apartment eating cheese and pate and drinking wine.
The kids had a ball. They ate new foods - shannon finally broke down on the "no-red-meat" rule and they ate (and LOVED) steak. The really cool thing about France was that in most towns there is a carousel that starts up around 3 pm. They have chairs around the ride for the parents to lounge as the kids get their kicks. They do this thing where the ride operator dangles a bunch of yarn over the kids as they ride (albeit a bit dangerous) and whoever grabs the yarn of the clip gets a free ride. Took my kids no time to figure that one out.
So pictures. Well as it turns out, I took 327 pictures. I will put more up on the More Pickles site.