Click here for the week of 05/01/16.

Sun, 04/24/16. Sleepy Arles.
Arles is a really, really sleepy little town. We planned to walk through it and go to some parks and stuff, and it only took us about 20 minutes to see just about everything in town. We saw the old Roman style theater and arena, and at night while Eva stayed home with Auri who was sick and a little feverish, the rest of us went out to a delicious dinner at a place called Le Criquet which was recommended in various websites, and it really lived up to its reputation. For dessert they had an awesome ile flotante which actually was not a hit with the kids, but the adults loved it. In many ways Arles is totally different from Paris, with a slow, lethargic feeling around the town and a totally different look and pace of life, but one little annoying similarity is the apparent disdain for kids eating and making any kind of noise in restaurants, trains and other places. Still, we're having a really good time, and everyone is getting along great and juggling the 3 different languages, English, French and Finnish, though mostly English thanks to the generosity and expert English of our Finnish friends. When speaking to everyone as a group we've been trying to use French but it seems to evolve into English often.

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Sat, 04/23/16. Aarles.
My computer crashed on Sat, 4/22, and was basically out of order for a couple days til I completely reformatted it, so I'm actually writing this on Mon. Sat we went to Arles with our friends the Aaltos, and checked into a beautiful house they'd reserved in Arles, with like 9 rooms on 4 levels, with 4 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, and just an incredible amount of decorations and furniture. We met the owners on their way out to go sailing, and they were really nice and had a bottle of wine with us. Unfortunately Auri was getting sick and Gemma seemed to be maybe getting a urinary infection, and my computer crashed at night, but otherwise the trip was starting off great. We went to a park near our place where there is a cool maze made out of bushes, and also a cave carved out of a big bush, which the kids loved.

Fri, 04/22/16. Seminar and rock climbing.
Today I gave my talk at CWI and Jean and the kids watched. Max seemed to have really listened and said his favorite parts were when I showed a graphic about earthquake damage and when I joked I was trying to be as boring as possible because I'd thought of the idea for this talk when I was listening to a boring talk a year ago. Gemma said her favorite part was when it ended so she could leave. Afterwards I stayed at the conference for a few hours while Jean took the kids to a rock climbing place where they had a great time and were tired out for the train ride back to Paris.

Thu, 04/21/16. Tandem bikes.

It's sometimes a little tricky to tell whether Dutch people are speaking English to us or Dutch, because the language is so close to English anyway. They say something sounding like "Gud moernen kan e hilp ye?" either way. Anyway this morning we went on a canal boat tour which was very cool, and in the afternoon rented tandem bikes and rode all around the big park in the middle of Amsterdam. It was a beautiful day again and we all had a great time. Jean went with Maxie who kept yelling to go faster and faster all the time, while I went with Gems who just calmly sat in the bike enjoying herself, and proclaiming she might start crying happy tears. When we tried out bikes, at one point we considered letting the kids ride bikes themselves, and Gemma practiced on the kid bike and went on 2 wheels for her first time ever, inside the store. At night we ate in Jean's friend Anneike's recommendation, Food Halle, which was again delicious, so we've really been eating well here.

Wed, 04/20/16. Hide and Gogh Seek.

This is proving to be a really fun trip to Amsterdam. The weather has been beautiful, we're all in perfect health, and the city is so nice and lively right now. Today we went to the Van Gogh museum, where they had these great treasure hunts for the kids and Max and Gemma loved doing them with us. Lots of museums have them and sometimes they're just distracting but these were just the perfect difficulty level. Max and Gemma had some hilarious answers. They told you to find a certain painting, and then asked what you thought the woman was thinking, or things like that, and on one called the Potato Eaters, Max said the woman was thinking "I want butter," whereas Gemma thought she was thinking, "We're poor, but we love our life, and maybe some day we'll be rich." They also had you imitate Vincent's signature from one painting, and Max wrote something like "Urmini!", with the exclamation point. After the museum, Jean checked out the MoCo museum of modern and contemporary art while the kids and I played hide and go seek in the park. Max at one point couldn't find either of us and got sad, so after that we had Max and Gemma either hide or seek together, so at least neither of them would be alone. We wandered home having trouble finding a place to eat, as the place recommended to us by our hotel was closed, but we stumbled on a great place with delicious burgers and ribs. So far I've got to say Dutch food has been outstanding. I thought maybe Paris had spoiled us but I guess not.

Tue, 04/19/16. Hamsterdam.
Today we took a train to Amsterdam, or Hamsterdam as the kids call it, and it's beautiful here. I had been here 22 years ago for 2 days, got mugged and didn't remember much else, but now I can see why people love it. The canals and parks and everything were just beautiful, and it was nice and sunny so we wandered through the huge park and everything was in bloom. Max and Gemma were climbing on trees and playing with the huge branches stacked up in the playground. It seems like a very easy and relaxing place to visit, as everyone speaks perfect English and the restaurants and stuff seem very kid friendly.

Mon, 04/18/16. Underwear.
Today while I relaxed with Max and Gems, Jean went out and did some errands including returning some shoes at Decathlon and I asked her to buy me some underwear there. She had a crazy time getting there because of a closed metro station, and ended up taking a taxi, and then when leaving the store, the detector beeped and the security guard came and gave her a hard time and accused her of stealing men's underwear! He didn't speak any English and Jean defended herself all in French and got it resolved, but apparently it took like 30 min and involved them referring to their security cameras. Tomorrow morning we are off to Amsterdam where I'm the keynote speaker at a conference on Friday, and before then we plan to go to parks and museums and see some canals, windmills, tulips, wooden shoes, Edam, chocolate, and beer.

Click here for the week of 05/01/16.

Click here for the week of 04/17/16.

Click here for the Paris journal from 2015.