Sunday, October 23, 2011

September activities.

We've already had three visitors in September.  First, Jakub's uncle and aunt came for a short stop, then Jakub's friends Domino and Marta who came for their honeymoon for a week, and finally my mother-in-law and her mom came for a week as well.

My carrot cake attempt in France.
On September 10th, Tommy celebrated his 8th birthday. We made some b-day invitations as usual (about 25) and Tommy handed them out to his schoolmates.  I expected to hear back from about three to five people, but to our surprise, as the day of the party approached, we had more RSVP's.  I think we had around 20 kids at the party at the end (including siblings) and a few parents stayed behind too.  It was a great way to meet everyone and luckily the weather cooperated so we could do our picnic party outdoors - I cannot imagine how we would fit everyone at our place.  Jakub organized some games for the kids so they were running wild all over the park, and we had a good chat with the parents.  Overall I was very satisfied and everyone else seemed to be quite content as well.  We now have contacts for the parents and can finally set up playdates for Tommy.

Marta and Domino hung out with us for two days and then headed to the Cote d'Azur.  While they were at our place, we went to the Veneon where Jakub and Domino did some kayaking and on the way back we visited Vizille once again.

Domino and Marta on honeymoon.


On Wednesdays, Tommy doesn't have school, so we've signed him up to the kayak club.  Since Jakub's mom was here, she could watch Anna one morning and so Tommy and I went on a local via ferrata that is directly in Grenoble and leads up the bastille.  Tommy had a very intense day because we biked there and back, did the ferrata, and finally he went dragon boating with the kayak club.

Tommy loving the Via Ferrata

Almost at the top.

Grenoble from the top of the Bastille.

"We conquered the bastille" pose.

After both grandmas have arrived, we went to Cap Esterel, Cote d'Azur for a four day stay.  This was now towards the end of September so it was low season, and it was not nearly as overcrowded as in August.  Logically, the ocean was no longer as nice and warm and neither were the pools, so I limited swim time for the kids so they wouldn't get too cold.  We stayed in a very nice hotel where we had a kitchen, so we did our own cooking but that was OK.  Cap Esterel is close to Saint Raphael (not too far from St. Tropez).  There aren't too many beaches, as there are some rocky outcrops by the ocean, but it's quite beautiful because the rocks are a pretty shade of red.  Overall a good trip, but now that I've been to the Cote d'Azur twice, I must say I've seen better beaches.  The whole overpopulation and the fact that the beaches are right next to the road and railway (not to mention the smog above Nice), make it a bit unappealing.

Cap Esterel

Roman ruins of Arles.

On the drive back home (about 4.5 hours), we stopped in Arles, a very beautiful city full of Roman and Romanesque monuments (UNESCO world heritage sites) and where Vincent van Gogh lived for one year and where he produced 300 paintings.  We went to see the roman theatre, amphitheater where the bull fights take place, the cathedral (Church of St. Trophime) and l'espace de Vincent van Gogh.  It was hard not to snap photos of the picturesque streets and I'm not surprised that Van Gogh was inspired to paint so much while he stayed here.  We didn't have a ton of time to explore, but I really want to go back here and also travel to the Camargue Rhone river delta region wetlands which is home to more than 400 bird species, and where one can see the Camargue white horses and Camargue black bulls in the park.  Perhaps next year!

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