Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Break: The French Edition

There were so many reasons not to go. The two main ones were money and our two year old. However, if I have learned one thing in my 32 years it is this – when dear friends invite you to stay in a chateau in France, you go. You figure out the finances, you find child care (thank you grandparents!!!), and you book your flight. Not necessarily in that order.
Upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport (I am certain Dante was thinking of this airport when he was exploring the levels of hell, however, that is another post altogether), we got our rental car and headed to the day hotel we had booked to try and become human again before the two hour drive to our destination. A nap, a shower, and a burger later, we were off. Once outside the Paris city limits, I could feel the stress of daily life, trip planning, and airplane travel melt away. I started car dancing (a sport at which I excel) to French pop music, Bryan looked at me and said, “There she is! There’s my wife!” And it was true. I felt like me for the first time in awhile. Probably longer than I care to admit to you or myself.

I spent the week drinking wine, drinking champagne, sightseeing, exploring small towns, jumping on the trampoline, looking at the stars, talking with friends, staying up late, speaking (well, trying) French, hanging out with my husband, eating delicious food, laughing, and taking more pictures than I thought imaginable. In short, it was Grown Up Spring Break and it was divine.

While at the Chateau, so many fun memories were made and life lessons were learned…here are my top six (yes, I did try to keep it to five…). Patrick, take a note!

1)      I can still rally. I can stay up until 6:00 am, get a few hours sleep, and then go drool over amazing stained glass that was created before America was even a thought. This may be an ability I only possess in France, however, it is still in there.

2)      Good friendship is hard to find and should be celebrated. Honestly, people who will sleep next to you on the floor, huddle together in the dark and cold on a trampoline, or stay up until 9:00 am because it seemed like a good idea at the time deserve a freaking parade! This trip made me realize I need to make more time with my friends. Really, is anything better for the soul than a glass of wine and awesome conversation?

3)     It is so easy to become entrenched in everyday life that you can forget you really like to just hang out with your spouse. Getting away from reality lets you remember why you fell in love, how funny your husband really is, and that there is nobody else you would rather be entrenched with back home.

4)     The French do food on a whole other level than we do. I want to eat like a French woman not just because it is better for you, but because it is also more enjoyable. This is a goal I am still pursuing.

5)     When you get locked in a beautiful cemetery because you are too interested in the iron crosses and dates that went back to the French Revolution, don’t panic. There is a back entrance.

6)     In life, you have to take chances. Fun isn’t going to seek you out while you sit on your couch and worry about the things that could go wrong. I was so worried about leaving Teagan for ten days but everything was fine. Sure, I missed her but she had quality time with her grandparents and Bryan and I were responsibility free for ten days which made us better parents when we came home.
After a glorious six days in the countryside, we then spent three nights and two days in Paris (with a quick detour through Versailles because the fountains were on and I have wanted to go back since the first time I saw them. And yes, I want to go back again so if you are looking for a travel buddy, you know who to call!). Among many things, we ate crepes in the morning next to a fountain in the Tuileries Garden, went in Notre Dame and got palms on Palm Sunday, ate croque monsieurs, took a river cruise on the Seine near sunset, walked forever to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, followed tradition and put a lock on a bridge to signify our love, “geeked out” over the French Revolution, bought watercolors from a street artist, and on the last night we had dinner at a delightfully small restaurant with 9 of our travelling friends. To me, there is no better city than Paris. Paris invites you to spend 30 minutes with your feet up enjoying the sun next to a fountain. Paris wants you to eat yogurt out of a glass jar and wash it down with bottled water that is somehow softer. Paris expects you to walk miles and miles each day in order to explore some of the most beautiful art and architecture. In short, Paris knows how to live.

We have been back for two weeks and the vacation hangover was rough at first (especially combined with a two year old who was not so pleased with me for having been gone). To console myself I have looked at pictures, bought Nutella, and laughed about stories from the trip. But you know what I really want to do? Plan the next adventure!