We took an evening flight on Air France (which, by the way, happens to be my new favorite airline for international travel--I love on-demand movies!). I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and I Love You, Man. Other than that, I either slept or stuffed my face (they served us two full meals + snacks!).
We arrived in Paris first thing in the morning. I thought jet lag wouldn't be a problem (um, why exactly did I think that?). We stopped at a cafe for a bite to eat and a game of travel Scrabble. We walked around for a bit and I even bought a vintage-inspired yellow dress from the GAP for 17 euros (Matt was the one who wanted to go in...). By hotel-check-in-time, we were seriously ready for a nap.
Once we awoke, we hit the streets and scored some falafel for a picnic on la Seine. The teen and twenty-something culture is a sight to behold on la Seine. Picnic after picnic after picnic. The French and I seem to be kindred spirits on that front! Matt and I then hopped on a boat tour and watched the sun set behind hundreds of years of history.
The next day we hit a Parisian market and bakery to collect supplies for our picnic on the expansive lawn at Versailles. Bread, cheese, fruit--oh my! Afterward, we played some more Scrabble at a Canadian bar while watching the American lose Wimbledon. We worked off the fatty Canadian poutines (french fries swimming in cheese and gravy) by climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower (of course) at sunset (of course).
On Monday, we switched to another budget hotel (while dodging prostitutes) and then wandered over to le Louvre (only to the foodcourt, which overwhelmed me so much (I hate tourists!) that I requested we leave immediately and try to find a real restaurant).
That night, Matt's brother, John, took the train from Britain to visit us. We ate Tibetan food and walked along the Champs Elyssees.
The next day we goofed around on a local playground and watching The Hangover. Then we found an amazing fondue restaurant for dinner (which requires you to literally climb over the table to sit down and to drink your wine from baby bottles). We worked off that fatty meal by climbing to the top of Montmartre (well, I kind of cheated and hitched a ride with John). And, of course, we finished the day with crepes (which most definitely counteracted our hike up the hill).
During our last day in Paris, we spotted famous paintings in the Musee d'Orsay and then headed to the airport. We spent the night in Milan and then flew on to Santorini, Greece, the next morning.
After many frustrating attempts to procure a taxi from the Greek airport to the marina, we managed to meet up with our GAP tour group (think MTV's Real World on a 50-foot yacht with nine people total).
The cast of characters:
- Alice: a thirty-something pediatric neurologist from Canada (who turned out to be a Scrabble kindred spirit)
- Roswitha: a thirty-something psychiatrist from Germany with a stunning smile
- Ellen: a twenty-something MBA student at Northwestern with a bottomless pit of movie trivia
- Lise: a twenty-something first-grade teacher (and fellow Ashtonga yoga enthusiast) from Canada
- Kent: a twenty-something pilot from Canada with a passion for sailing
- Eric: a thirty-something entreprenuer from Oregon
- Ludwig: the thirty-something vegetarian captain with a passion for saving the animals and listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival
We pretty much followed the same pattern for our ten-day sailing excursion: wake up (we slept on the boat at a port each night), head into town for breakfast, sail for 3-6 hours, arrive at a new island, eat lunch while playing Scrabble and relaxing, going for a swim in the ocean, and meeting up with the whole group for a late dinner.
On one of the islands, Naxos, we rented a car and had a fun adventure (that included climbing a rickety ladder to stand on top of a remote church). We also went to an outdoor showing of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (oh, how I love outdoor movies!). One night we threw down the anchor in the middle of the sea, had a dinner party, and played games (and Matt and I skinny-dipped in the moonlight before bed). We saw dolphins, got a massage on the beach, played insane amounts of Scrabble, swam on a black beach, took showers off the back of the boat, and incessantly talked about how much we missed our dog.
We ended our trip by spending the day by a hotel pool in Santorini, spending a night in Athens, and flying home on Continental (which pales in comparison to Air France).
What an adventure! I ate lots of pain au chocolat (croissants filled with chocolate) and crepes (filled with nutella and bananas), read lots of books, held Matt's hand a lot, got lots of sun, and met new friends.
At the end of every book, trip, or movie, I try to ask myself: "How will your life be different now?"
Here's my answer after this annual adventure:
- I'm going to learn more about inquiry-based learning and Canadian education.
- I'm going to add British Columbia to my "Must See" list.
- I'm going to stop being a pure pescetarian/vegetarian and start eating a little meat (based on my conversations with the pediatric neurologist and the staunch vegetarian captain) but make sure the meat is produced organically, locally, and humanely.
- I'm going to recommit to doing at least 15 minutes of yoga five times a week.