Brussels was really just our half way point between Hamburg and our "real" destination, La Rochelle, France.
...Brussels ...you know, the friendly city within the magical country of Belgium... Right Hilde? :)
FYI- Our travel times
Hamburg to Brussels: 6 hours
Brussels to La Rochelle: 7 hours
La Rochelle to Paris: 4 hours
Paris to Hamburg: 9 hours!
However... When you travel with kids you are supposed to multiply the number of hours actually driven by the number of children you are traveling with... This is what the travel time "feels" like. Kinda like a Wind Chill Factor. It's something I invented... it's the "Whiny Children Factor"
This entire trip had an actual drive time of 26 hours!! Calculate this using Whiny Children Factor and it felt like 104 hours. That's why I looked like this.
Anyways.. La Rochelle may seem like an odd destination for us, especially considering how silly-far away from Hamburg it is, but as I have mentioned, we went to see Paul's friend's parents.
I was surprised... This part of our trip was by far one of the nicest vacations we have ever been on. I think it was even the first time Paul went four days straight without working! Look for the upcoming picture of Paul on the TOP of the Eiffel Tower on a conference call for work. :(
Our time in France reminded me of when we went to Poland with our real Polish friends... :) We were in France with REAL French people! :)
I don't even know where to start, but I probably won't even really try because it's nothing you can really put words on... The people we stayed with lived took such good care of us. When we arrived, they were in essence strangers, with the exception of a common link through their son, but they welcomed my ENTIRE family into their home. They cooked us authentic French meals, gave us tours of the area, took us to a small "real" restaurant, baked French Bread with my daughters, kept the fireplaces going for us, took me to a grocery store for a lesson on cheese and wine... Our new friends are awesome!
When we moved here in Europe, friends and family told us, "Oh, what a great experience for your family." It was a common phrase we heard over, and over, and over ...and from everyone.
This was a great experience for our family. No way to explain it, other than... I tried to put it into words, but kept deleting... it's impossible. We felt French and we took some of that home with us.
We also took home quite a bit of cheese, bread, and wine. :)
I can't believe how much food and wine we were offered ALL DAY LONG. In France, eating and drinking is an all day event! ...all the way until the giant plate of cheese comes out after dinner. :) I feel so FAT. :) Paul assures me I am not though. I've never eaten so much cheese before in all my life!
It's my blog so I can put all the pictures up I want. Here is Pèrè, France. Pèrè is the tiny town where we actually stayed.
These tiny "stone towns" are one of my favorites of Europe so far ...right up there with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. :) We drove through tons of these little tiny towns, each one looked similar, everything was old and made from rocks. I thought it was so cool!
There was one place where two big stone towers fell over. People took the rocks and built houses with them ...and Whalla! A new town! :) Some houses are nicer than others on the inside. The house we stayed in was very modern inside... LOTS of work had been done. :)
These get their own pictures.
See the nose and teeth? AHHHHHHHH!!!! It's a BUNNY RABBIT!
This is just the entire animal. I ate one. Just to be polite. I almost lost it. I sucked it off the shell with the plan of swallowing it whole. But then it got stuck on my tongue... just sitting there. I had four adults staring at me. I remember thinking... "Can I spit it out? Would that be really bad? What would they think?"
My kids were watching so I decided spitting it out was not an option. I don't care if it was in the ocean that morning... It tasted like salty slime and it was just sitting on my tongue for what seemed like FOREVER! I swallowed it and nicely declined the next one. I didn't make my kids try one. I hope they appreciate that.
I did not eat this. It is moldy cheese and I took a piece of bread and didn't even mention the cheese. I think everyone knew I had already been traumatized by the mussel.