Sunday, August 28, 2011

Entering a new decade

My 30th birthday was our last day in Berlin. We celebrated with birthday pancakes at a cafe nearby that had ``Canadian pancakes`` on the menu (a fabulous discovery) and then set off on our week-long road trip that would eventually lead us back to Fontainebleau.

Day one (still my birthday) was a 7-hour journey to Kempten. Just outside of Munich, this is where P`s extended family lives! We were lucky enough to see all three of his cousins while we were there and indulge in Oma`s delicious cooking! Throughout the weekend we took little road trips around the countryside to check out the lakes and the famous castle Neuschwanstein, celebrated cousin E`s birthday, and heard all sorts of fabulous stories about life when Oma was growing up!

From Kempten we drove all the way to Siena, in Tuscany and were shocked by the heat and the breathtaking countryside! We stayed in a villa outside of town and had amazing views of rolling hills and striking gladiator trees! We wandered through the city of Siena, making sure to taste-test the gelato and cappucino, and then through the tiny towns of San Gimignano, Montereggiano and Voltara! We also had to stop in Pisa to see the infamous tower, with its poor structural design ;)

Our next stop was Cinque Terre, probably one of the most striking places I have ever visited! 5 beautiful towns perched on cliffs above the ocean, each with it`s own beauty and character, and connected by hiking trails, trains, and tiny winding death-defying roads. Unfortunately, because we reached Cinque Terre by car, we had to drive on the scary roads and I am not exagerating when I say they are terrifying! They are less than one lane wide in places and have completely blind corners and insane switchbacks and the outside driver (US as we arrived) gets to look down at a sheer cliff drop-off, sometimes with NO BARRIER! I`m not going to lie, I cried. But the views from the cliffs were unlike anything I had seen before and it really was an amazing experience, once the trauma wore off. We spent the next day and a half hiking and training between the towns in the 40 degree heat.

I don`t know if all of you are aware of this, but every time we arrive in a new town or city anywhere (not just this trip, but always), P needs to get a good vantage point and always has us climb to a lookout point or walks up a million stairs to get to the top of some random tower to get a view of the city. Cinque Terre is 5 beautiful towns on cliffs. So up we went. 5 giant cliffs. Up and down and up and down... you get the picture. But being 6 months pregnant in 40 degree heat was intense! By late afternoon, I was almost always walking like a 95 year-old woman with arthritic hips and I couldnt even recognize my own feet!! I was a walking marshmallow man! Luckily, almost every town had a marina to dive into and so we celebrated each gorgeous viewpoint with a glorious swim in the mediterranean! After a swim in the cold salty water my legs would magically shrink down to normal and I was relieved to know that this would be temporary! (Thats me in the picture.. if you look very closely.. im the starfish in the bottom right)

From there we drove through the south of France, stopping in Monaco for a glimpse at the casinos in Monte Carlo, and of course, a hike up the the (ahem) lookout in the old town, and in Cannes for dinner and a walk on the beach. We ended up in beautiful Avignon in Provence for a glimpse of the beautiful countryside and of course, the famous bridge. We celebrated our return to France with a delicious breakfast of (what else!) croissants and tartine and cappucinos, and then continued our drive north to Fontainebleau.

We arrived last night and have spent the last little while getting organized here. I am happy to say that we have a beautiful and BIG apartment here now, still in Avon, but slightly closer to the school, and a sleek new automatic Megane! woot woot!! P begins class again tomorrow and I need to hit the books as well as I am now a good 2 weeks behind on my own thesis deadlines.

As for the world-travelling fetus, baby E is growing furiously and so am I. Six months pregant now (to the day!), I am looking large and feel like I am bursting out of my own skin. Luckily, I have German herbal oils to keep stretch-marks in check! Aside from the incredible water-retention in the heat of Italy, I am still feeling good and healthy and we are counting down the last 3 months until baby E is here!

No comments:

Post a Comment