Archive for July, 2009

Food, Fun, France, and Frankenstein.

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Since Cati and I were making the trip to Europe for our vacation in Spain, we decided to start with a weekend in Paris.  The world’s greatest babysitter– my dear mom– joined us, so that pretty much killed any possibility of romance (I kid—her being there allowed us to go out for dinner– just the two of us– while she watched a hopefully-sleeping Nina). 

The adventure for me began at the airport.  I met Cati in Paris since I was already in Europe for work.  I flew into Charles De Gaulle on Friday night.  I was tired, it was late, I was lugging a huge suitcase, and I just wanted to see my special gals.  As I was making my way to the taxi queue, I was solicited by a guy who asked me if I needed a cab.  I confirmed that I did– to the Latin Quarter downtown.
 
He replied in broken English, “Ok, I take you,” and we proceeded to his cab. 
We walked about three meters and he said, “Taxi is moto, ok?”
I stopped mid-stride and said, “No, look at this suitcase.”
He smiled, said, “Is no problem, no problem,” and pulled me along.

We arrived at a very nice Honda Goldwing at the front of the taxi line.  He supplied me with a helmet that fit, strapped all my gear to his bike, and off we went.  He drove fast, zipping in between stationary cars and we arrived at my hotel in just under 30 minutes.  Cati made the same trip three times in a regular cab and it took her over an hour each time. 

The ride was fast, comfortable, pleasant, and affordable (only 5 € more expensive than regular cabs).  Darting between cars, over Le Seine, through the bustling streets was a memorable little trip.  My helmet and the driver’s were both equipped with microphones and headsets so we could communicate with one another.  What a rush.  I took several video clips and a few still photos.  See the video below for a montage of my ride.  Thanks to Lennon and Mc-what’s-his-face for the music. 

All that video drained my already depleted camera battery.  I forgot my charger in the US and was stuck without a camera until I found a camera shop that charged my battery for 4 € the following afternoon.  We did a lot of walking, and saw some wonderful things, but I didn’t have my camera :(.   

Here I am walking back from the camera shop to the hotel with a fully operational camera—Nina sleeps.

Nina sleeps in Paris

She did wake up though and had coffee and croissants.  Well, she didn’t have coffee– you get the idea.    

Croissants and coffee

The hotel at which we stayed is pictured below.  It’s located in the “Quartier Latin”.  The rooms were characteristically small, as was the elevator, but the location was ideal for site seeing and dining out. 

The hotel at which we stayed

Cati went and got her hair ‘did’ at a quaint and hip salon while I hit a local pub to kill some time (and a few beers).  The salon Cati went to is called Elie Eliakim Coiffeur.  The gentleman who did her hair was quite skilled (especially with those curls) and was a delight.  He even boasted that he is frequently flown to his affluent clients around the world because he is so valued by them.  Cati’s French is pretty good, so commincating wasn’t a problem.  He offered to come do her hair in the US if she paid for the ticket– HA!  He was serious– our poor asses are still laughing. 

I had a few beers

The four of us went to dinner at a place that had incredibly fresh and flavorful seafood later that night. 

The meal arrives

During dinner, Nina chillaxes

After dinner

We made quick work of the delicious mountain of fresh seafood while Nina played and explored beside our table. 

We made a useful observation that you, my dear readers, can exploit to your advantage: the infamously-rude Parisians are COMPLETE suckers for babies.  We met nothing but super-sweet café patrons, retail employees, and waiters.  That’s right, I said waiters– waiters who interacted with her like a playful uncle.  Who knew?  So if you ever want to be treated very well and complimented by strangers while traveling to Paris, bring a baby along with you.

Cati and my mom proceeded to Mallorca while I returned to work elsewhere in Europe.  I joined them the following week for fun, food, sand, sun, and the good life.

Check out how the following photos for highlights:

The view from the house

Streets of Alcudia, Mallorca, Spain

Happy to be vacationing

Ingredients of the arroz

The rabbit and chicken pictured above went into a delicious rice prepared by Cati’s grandmother.

Arroz

What a meal

A huge paella for 12

Cati tries to eat while Alex annoys

Cati and I dork it up for the camera. 

Also, I got crabs in Mallorca… 

Crab Hunters

A proper crab

Hermit Crab

…and this little bichito* on the beach:

Nina and the view

Also, on the flight back home, I snapped a picture of the southern coast on Greenland.  You can see the floating ice fragments scattered along the rocky coast; pretty cool, eh?  I even snapped a photo of the in-flight map to prove that’s Greenland for all you skeptics. 

2009-07-2026

2009-07-2027

We’re all back home now (with Nacho tucked into the couch-groove and pressed against me as I type).  Sure, we do a lot of travelling, but for us, the greatest place in the world is anywhere we are all together and able to relax a little.   

PS- Nina is walking.  Sure, she has the grace of Frankenstein, but keep in mind, she’s not a year old yet.  She is using walking as much as crawling to get around– there’s no turning back now. 

As you can see, and hear, from the video, she is not lacking encouragement.

*cute little bug