for the week of 05/08/16.
Sun, 05/01/16. Painting orange juice.
This morning Max and Gemma started painting bright and early, and resumed painting right after breakfast, and at one point I told Max not to dip his paintbrush in orange juice as he seemed just about to do it, and he pointed out it wasn't orange juice but his water he had been using to clean his paintbrush, and it just happened to look just like orange juice so there was a lot of laughing about it. In the afternoon the kids went rollerblading around our apartment and playing tennis with their tetherball contraption. I checked the mail and found two great things, a letter from Disnleyland Paris containing Jean's passport returned to us, and a letter from Elijah saying "Dear Max I miss U so much!! and tell Gemma that I miss her too!! from Elijah." Max and Gemma got a little scared today by Scooby Doo in the morning and later by some dinosaur show they watched on the computer, but I calmed them down a little by telling them they only have 35 days of school left here in Paris. They were both very happy about it and are counting down the days til we get back.
Sat, 04/30/16. Leaving Arles.
Today we went back to Paris. It was kind of shocking arriving in Paris after a week in Arles, which was such a small town. All in all it was a really fun week. The trip was very monumental for our friends the Aaltos from Finland. We introduced them to peanuts in the shell on the train back, and hot dogs and peanut butter in Arles, which their kids had never tasted before. It was a real cultural exchange. The only time they'd seen peanuts eaten that way before was in Dumbo.
Fri, 04/29/16. Gladiator.
Today we went to lunch at this cool outdoor terrace type place in Arles and then walked to the old Roman Colisseum which was having a Gladiator show so we saw it. It was quite mesmerizing and very cool, with two guys doing several bouts each of which lasted like a minute or less. The kids were captivated, though when we talked about our favorite experiences of the week, none of them chose the gladiator fight. Gemma said her favorite part of the week was when Auri felt better. Iris's favorite part was our house, Auri's was watching tv, Max's was the superfast bus driver last night was was racing around turns and scaring Jean and me, Kale's was the second day of his walkabout when he went to Nimes, Eva's was the beach and her hike on the beach, mine was a tie between Aix-en-Provence and Gordes, and Jean's was Saint Remy where Van Gogh was hospitalized and seeing all the nature that still seemed to match a lot of his famous paintings. At night we ate fish and salad out on the terrace on the roof of our house, with great views all around Arles, and the kids did "shows" which consisted of them playing the piano, crawling under the bed, and doing a puppet show with a car and two brushes, and played cache cache in the house while the grownups drank sweet Provencian wine and ate the most bitter Provencian chocolate. Tomorrow we go back to Paris.
Thu, 04/28/16. Avignon.
Today we went to Avignon by train, after eating a quick lunch at what used to be Van Gogh's yellow house he stayed in. In Avignon we went to a kids park where the kids spent most of the time alternating in and out of the bathroom, and then saw the gorgeous and huge Pope's cathedral and castle, and then went on the famous Pont d'Avignon which was very cool. We'd bought train tickets home but the train workers went on strike so we had to switch to a bus to another bus home and only made it home at 930pm, which is kinda late for the kids, but it was a fun day. On the way back Max was speaking full sentences in French to Jean. When she responded in French, Max said "Well, I didn't understand that because your accent is so bad." In the house where we're staying there are these dumbbells Max and Gemma have been playing with, and they call the dumbbells "weightlifters".
Wed, 04/27/16. Tour de Provence.
This morning one of Jean's goals for this year was fulfilled when she went to the butcher shop to get some salami and the butcher complimented her on her French. After this great success, we hurried to make it just in time for this tour of Provence. The website said it was all sold out but we put in an email request last night just in case anyone cancelled and sure enough they did. In fact, everyone else cancelled so we got a private tour. It went to a lavendar factory where they showed us how lavender is farmed and processed, then to the place where Van Gogh was hospitalized and drew 300 of his paintings in one year, then to Roussillon where we tried the exquisite lavender ice cream and saw the beautiful ocher city, and last to a place called Gordes which was probably our favorite, a medieval castle town where everything was stone and the kids could run and play freely on the cobblestone steps and corridors. There was a little window in one of the castle walls and Max and Gemma kept putting their head through it and I'd run down and take photos, and each of them got their head stuck in it and we had to push and pull them back out. They loved it though. However, the whole tour was mostly very adult, and with a good deal of shopping involved, so the kids were a little bit bored. On the way back, Gemma said she was hungry and wanted to have lunch. I said "Lunch? It's 7 o clock. We're about to go home and have dinner." And Gemma said, really loudly so even the tour guide heard, "Wait, do you mean we've been on this boring thing all day?" Today was Kale's birthday so at night we sang happy birthday and had some cake, and Auri seems to be feeling a lot better which is great.
Tue, 04/26/16. Aix = Your Provence.
Today Auri was still sick, so while Eva stayed with Auri and Iiris, and Kale was coming home from his walkabout, so Jean, Max, Gemma and I hopped on a bus to Aix-en-Provence and walked around the beautiful town there. It was really relaxing going by bus, rather than driving and worrying about directions and parking. The buses here were surprisingly prompt. On the bright side, they were right on time, but on the other hand they only gave us about 10 seconds to get on or off. Aix seemed like halfway between Arles and Paris. It was kind of a big city compared to sleepy little Arles, and had lots of really big sights and lots of families and tourists milling about. It was also chalk full of restaurants and shops which Jean could not resist shopping in. Still, it was small enough we could see most of it in one afternoon. We were really hungry when we arrived and stopped in one of the first places we saw, a sushi place, and it turned out to be really good and had some very unique items like the nutella and strawberry sushi and nutella and banana sushi shown above. I talked to the owner a bit and he told me he invented those desserts. They were delicious. We also ran around the cobblestone streets and saw lots of old churches and castle ruins and bell towers. Max and Gemma got several angry looks from French onlookers as they ran and made noise in the streets. How dare they. I guess it's not just Parisians who like children to be seen but not heard and preferably not even seen. Anyway, we had a really good time. Meanwhile, Kale came back from his walkabout which ended up taking him via a wrond turn to Nimes, and then via bus back to Arles. He went a total of about 45 km today and yesterday, so he's really exhausted. Auri seems to be still sick so we're not sure what the plan is for tomorrow.
Mon, 04/25/16. Walkabouts and hospitals.
Today Kale went on a long walk for 5 hours from Arles to Saint Gilles, where he is gonna stay the night and then walk 4 more hours to the next town before taking a train or bus back to Arles tomorrow early afternoon. He's done a few of these walkabouts before on previous vacations and loves them as a way to see nature and clear his head. We were all kind of fascinated with this including Max and Gemma, so I took them and we went with Kale for the first hour or so, mostly walking along this foresty road where the sidewalk got thinner and thinner til it was nonexistent and we had to walk in the leaves and sticks by the side of the road, which the kids loved. Then we sat there and ate some crackers, watching Kale get smaller and smaller til he disappeared around a curve finally. In the early morning I went to a pharmacy to try to get antiobiotics for Gemma, but they said she had to see a doctor first, so we made the earliest appointment we could for 5pm with a doctor in town, but he didn't prescribe them either and said we needed to take a urine test at the laboratoire, so we went there but she couldn't pee on demand so we went home and she filled it at home. She's actually being a real trooper about it. She was really mad though that she had to go to the doctor while the others got to watch The Lion King on tv. Meanwhile Auri still has a fever but maybe is doing a little bit better today than yesterday and hopefully will be on the way to recovery soon. I had to reboot my computer completely to get it working again and fortunately it worked though some files were lost. Jean was teaching Gemma and Auri tonguetwisters, and told them about "She sells seashells down by the seashore". Gemma tried to recite it and said "He sells tshirts by the beach."