Our final three weeks in three amazing cities
07.25.2010 - 08.15.2010
It's hard to believe that our trip has come to an end and it's time to give an update on our final three weeks. We have had such a wonderful adventure together and I am quite sad to see it end. I have certainly gained what I wanted from our time and feel that we are much closer as a family and have wonderful shared memories to charish. However, what I didn't realize was that I would be so comfortable living out of a suitcase and spending time in such varied lands. I am already looking forward to our next holiday and seeing how this trip will have changed who we are in the future.
Now, about our final three weeks...
July 25th - 29th
We arrived at the Fletcher's in Richmond Upon Thames and were treated to a fun-filled Moroccan tour reunion with the McSorley's (minus Rose) and Shaw's (minus Alex). We all enjoyed sharing stories about the past few months and remembering the good times we had together back in April. The highlight was singing a song about our tour that Adrian wrote and played on his guitar. What a fantastic group of people and hopefully we can all get together in California in 2012!
The next day we all (sans the Shaws) headed on the the train to downtown London to ride on the London Eye and see all of the major sights. We had a picnic in St. James Green and then said farewell to the McSorley's. Back in Richmond the girls took off with Eleanor and Kathryn for a walk home via the park while Jim and Carol gave me a wonderful tour of the town and the views.
Our visit to Richmond included a day at the local pool, lots of shopping, tea and cake along the Thames, an afternoon at Kew Gardens, more tea at the Maids of Honor tea room, a 15th birthday pizza celebration for Kathryn, trying Pimms for the first time, and of course lots of nice conversations with the Fletcher's.
On our final day in England I took Gracie, Lucy and Eleanor into Central London to see the Tower of London and do some shopping at Harrod's. Eleanor was a super tour guide and the four of us packed a lot into the afternoon. It
certainly won't be our last trip to England and we are thankful that we now have good friends to visit on return trips.
July 30th - August 7th
The three of us enjoyed Morocco a lot during our visit in April and after chatting with our tour guide, Radouane, we decided to head back down for a one week tour with him. The weather was quite a change from jolly ol' England and the dry heat was evident the moment we stepped off of the plane. We arrived hungry and were happy to eat the cupcakes that Eleanor kindly packed for our journey.
To escape the 100+ degree heat of the city we headed up to a small town with a lake in the High Atlas mountains called Ourigane. We stayed for two nights at a gite and spent the days hiking and swimming in the lake. We even tried cactus fruit for the first time and it was delicious.
We then returned to Marrakesh for a couple of days and enjoyed a day at the Oasiria water park and an evening in the main square and marketplace called Djemaa El-Fna. We all got henna tattoos and paid about 5% of the price we paid last time we were there (thanks Radouane!). The square is listed as a World Heritage site and it is definitely something not to be missed. There are dancers, storytellers, snake charmers, and a wide assortment of food stalls and games to be played. Standing in the middle you almost get sensory overload.
After two days in the sweltering heat we opted to head back out to the mountains and went to stay at Radouane's house in Ouzoud. He grew up in the small town and his house overlooks an olive grove and river and looks out onto the hills surrounding the town. The town contains the highest waterfalls in Northern Africa and it was busy with lots of Moroccan tourists escaping the heat just like us. We ate lots of tagines, drank lots of fresh squeezed orange juice, the girls went on a donkey ride, we swam in the river, got more henna tattoos, and of course enjoyed the views of the waterfalls and eating/drinking in their rainbow mists. We also enjoyed meeting Radouane's family and seeing another part of this beautiful country. We all look forward to returning again some day and exploring the country further.
August 8th - 15th
We took an overnight plane from Casablanca to Paris via Frankfurt and arrived in the morning. After a taxi ride to our beautiful apartment overlooking the D'Orsay Museum, our good friends, the Pelayos, met up with us for a week of fun. Annie and the kids, Ally and Austin, arrived that morning from Seattle so we were all a bit jet lagged. After lunch at a French brasserie, Annie and I took the kids on a long walk along the Seine and then a boat tour on the river. We all promptly fell asleep and missed most of the tour but the nap was nice! A funny "Parisian" moment that day was watching a homeless man drinking champagne on a park bench. Even those down and out know how to appreciate the finer things in this city.
The following day we took a tour of Notre Dame and Annie read the story to the kids in a cafe while we were eating crepes and sipping coffees. In the evening we stopped in a restaurant and had the kids sit at a table behind us (it was almost like they weren't there - hahaha) while we looked out onto the sidewalk and watched all of the activity.
The next morning we walked to a nearby boulangerie for pastries and then toured the famous underground sewers of Paris. I don't think the kids will truly appreciate what they saw until they see Les Miserables. Then it was off to Jardin de Tuleries for an afternoon of carnival rides, trampolining and floating boats in the fountain. That evening we got a babysitter to come in and Annie and I went to tour Sacre Coure and have a nice, leisurely dinner in the Bastille district. What a treat to spend hours in a cafe sipping wine with your good friend!
A Louvre treasure hunt tour for the kids was on the agenda for the next day and we hit Tuleries again afterwards for some kiddie fun. Gracie's friend Quinn told us to eat at her favorite restaurant, Le Relais de l'Entrecote, so we had a wonderful dinner there of steak and frites (all they serve) and headed around the corner to Les Duex Magots for a glass of wine. We have a painting above our fireplace of the famous cafe so I wanted to sit in front of it and soak up the atmosphere.
Ally and Austin's dad, Steven, arrived that night and the next day we toured the D'Orsay Museum and then rode bikes under the Eiffel Tower and along the Seine. In the evening we took the elevator up, up, up to the top of the tower for some fantastic views.
On Thursday Annie and the kids headed back to Hong Kong and the girls and I went to the L'Ongarie to view Monet's Water Lillies and then spent the afternoon shopping for souveniers (the girls wanted to spend their money) and walking all around our neighborhood. For dinner we walked along the Seine with Steven and found a nice sushi restaurant.
Today was the final day of our trip and we decided to get out of the city and took a bike trip out to Giverny to see Monet's house and gardens. We took a train to Vernon, got our bikes, shopped in the farmer's market for picnic supplies and then lunched on the river. Afterwards we rode about 4km to Giverny and had a lovely time at Monet's place. It was a really perfect way to end our trip.
Tomorrow morning we head for the airport and home. It really feels so strange to think that I will be sleeping in my own bed tomorrow night. Wow! What an experience this has been and I am so thankful that we were able to do it. I couldn't have asked for better travel buddies and I know this isn't the last of the Arevalo 3 adventures. Stay tuned...