Europe by day

A random smattering of some of my favorite memories from the trip:

Attire

My dad observed that all the European ladies wore nice woolen scarfs to keep out the cold. I was thrilled when he arrived back at the hotel with one he picked out for me. Mackenzie and I often shared it:

She was such a trooper in the cold and being constantly bundled and unbundled. We bought a backpack carrier for the trip, but didn’t bring it at the last minute because her legs were the wrong length. They “dangled” and she just didn’t look super comfortable. So we bought a sweet little umbrella stroller and brought that instead. Unfortunately, it left her pretty exposed to the elements and there were (lots) of stairs in Europe. We found that putting her in a Baby Bjorn (yes she still fits in it!) and zipping her into my jacket was best.

Here’s us drinking the world’s best and richest hot chocolate at Angelina’s. It was a Christmas gift from my brother and we savored every drop:

Poor Mackenzie ended up with a dark blue snow suit, and since she’s still a little short on hair πŸ˜‰ people complimented us all the time on what a beautiful boy we had.

I decided Europeans tend to be more blunt, which I mostly found to be refreshing. Once, Mackenzie was wearing a pink striped sweater and a woman on the metro exclaimed how precious our baby boy was. I said “Actually, she’s a girl. But thank you!” with a smile. The lady responded by saying, “Really?! Because… she looks like a boy!”

I burst out laughing. I couldn’t help it! It was almost as if she expected me to say, “No, wait. You’re right. My baby is a boy after all. My bad!”

Food

Everything is yummier in France and Italy. I swear, their produce is better, their pastries are better… our tastebuds were just in ecstasy the entire time.

My dad, being the health nut he is, found Scott’s devotion to European chocolates and baked goods novel. Here’s Scott showing off for the camera:

There’s nothing quite like walking into a grocery store in January to find a pepper the size of your head. Thought bubble: “That’s quite a pepper!”

The Louvre

Although we preferred the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, you’ve got to hand it to the Louvre for having an enormous collection of… enormous art.

That photo is a bit of a Where’s Waldo. I didn’t even realize we were in it the first time I saw it. πŸ™‚

I was a bit intimidated by the sheer size of the Louvre, and I’m my mother’s daughter so I feel compelled to scope out every room in a museum. Since my mom had gone on her own the day before, we left Mackenzie with her at the hotel to nap and Scott and I and my dad went to the Louvre. Our goal was just to enjoy some paintings, and that’s exactly what we accomplished. Did we see every painting? Nope. Did we see every room in the museum? Not by a long-shot. However, we did see much more of the museum than we planned on due to getting totally lost on our way to the exit.

It was so cold that day in Paris that there was ice floating in the fountains outside the museum.

The Drive

The morning after our stay in a chateaux, we had a long drive through beautiful windy roads near the base of the French Alps. My dad kept pulling over to take pictures of the sky. That’s how pretty it was.

The light would change, and he’d want more photos. (Can’t wait to see them! πŸ™‚ ) Those were fun breaks, but mostly I was thrilled when we finally got a glimpse of the Mediterranean. We were all stir crazy by then and just ran around on the beach.

Venice

Here’s my mom in the early morning light in Venice:

Now THAT was a morning. I had stayed out with my dad late the night before, while Scott turned in early with Mackenzie. So the next morning, I slept in with Mackenzie while Scott saw Venice on his own. We planned on all meeting at 10:30 to catch the hotel’s breakfast and work out luggage swapping. (Our flight back to London was that afternoon, but my parents were planning on driving to Slovenia.)

Unfortunately, I had gone to bed the night before with my contacts in. It was late and dark in the room and I didn’t want to wake Scott. When Scott woke ME as he was leaving in the early morning, I groggily asked him for my case and solution and popped my contacts out. When I woke up a few hours later, they were still chugging away on their 6-hour neutralization time.

Translation: I was blind as a bat.

My glasses were far away in a parking lot. In Venice, parking lots are VERY far away. Poor Mackenzie was stranded with a blind Mama in a beautiful city until 10:30. I had no clock and when I ran out of things to do with her in the hotel room, I walked her down to the front desk and casually (or so I hoped) leaned across the counter to squint at the clock on the wall… I still couldn’t read it. So I had to ask Rafael for the time. 9am. An hour and a half to kill with a wiggly one year old and I couldn’t see the shoes on my feet.

We wandered into the hotel’s breakfast room, but all I could make out was a tower of sparkly glasses stacked on the table. I just KNEW that I would fumble for juice and send the whole thing crashing to the ground. The buffet was out as well, because I was drawing strange looks from those already eating as I hovered over and squinted to see what was in each dish. I was leaning in and arching my back at the same time, trying to keep Mackenzie’s grabby hands away from whatever was nestled in those alluring baskets. We retreated back to the hotel room. Venturing out twice more, we even braved the outdoors. I bundled us up and walked carefully down the alley to the nearby canal. I couldn’t appreciate the view, though, and was afraid of not finding my way back to the hotel. So back to the room we went.

At 10:30 sharp, I was rescued by the arrival of family. Scott guided me through breakfast, my dad ran back to the car for my glasses (bless him), and my mom listened sympathetically to my woes of being blind on our only morning in such a beautiful city.

And then.

We discovered my mom’s purse had been stolen. (Ok, not her purse. Her fanny pack. Because my mom is too practical for purses. Don’t worry, we tease her mercilessly for having a fanny pack.) Her credit cards, a substantial bit of cash, and her passport were all in it. She had set it next to her in the breakfast room earlier that morning and thought she gathered it up with her jacket, but never saw it again. 😦

If you thought that rocked our world, you’d be right. Rafael helped me call the embassy and credit card companies, while Scott comforted my mom and my dad walked Mackenzie around the lobby. Finally we realized Scott and I needed to leave immediately to catch our plane. So we booked it to the car, and promptly drove to the wrong airport. That’s about when my dad threw caution to the wind and started running red lights and shamelessly speeding. We caught our flight, but only just barely. We still had 4 flights, a bus ride, a 7 hour layover, and 5 more airports before we arrived home… but was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I go again at the drop of a hat? No question.

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About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
This entry was posted in Trips. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Europe by day

  1. Liz says:

    What a thorough post! So glad you’re putting this all down in words and as expected, Baldy’s photos are fantastic! πŸ™‚

    -Liz

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  2. Lonica says:

    What a great trip. And, it’s even better that you have such good pictures to remember it all by. Glad you had a good time.

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  3. Kristin says:

    What a wonderful vacation! My mom could commiserate with you about people not knowing the sex of your baby. Everyone thought I was a boy until I was a little over two. Bows, pink, frilly dresses: it didn’t matter. But now, no one thinks I’m a boy. It’ll get better.

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  4. hummuslover says:

    Wow, I’m so jealous right now! It’s been so long since I’ve been on a European vacation and I hope you ate many pain au chocolat. I also just wanted to let you know that the museum is called the Musee d’Orsay, and you are so right about it being a thousand times better than the Louvre. Glad you had a great trip!

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  5. beanland says:

    @hummuslover: Oops, right you are. That was one of the things I was supposed to go check on before I clicked “publish”. πŸ™‚

    My two favorite indulgences in Paris were definitely pain au chocolat and fresh crepes. Mmmm. It’s a good thing I don’t live there, actually…

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  6. Andrea says:

    I really liked reading about your trip. Amazing pictures, like always. Mackenzie was such a trooper, I’m impressed. I barely made it through 8 hours of travelling with Jonas. Oh, and I hope you didn’t have to change her diaper on the plane. That’s always the worst!

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  7. Jenny Smolnik says:

    Your pictures are always wonderful. What a fun trip! Thanks too for the Christmas card, which we still have displayed.
    By the way, what kind of camerea was used on these photos?

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  8. beanland says:

    @Jenny: The camera was a Canon 5D Mark II. It’s the same camera that took the awesome video here:
    http://cmac.smugmug.com/gallery/6677452_e9rL5

    Of course, I think the main reason that the photos (and video) turned out so well is because the camera was in my dad’s hands. πŸ™‚

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  9. Maya says:

    just thought i’d let you know that someone (justin heintz?) made sure to put in a plug for smugmug on the FB page for “hug a mormon day.” πŸ™‚

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  10. annapackard says:

    Looks like you had a WONDERFUL time! I am crazy curious how Mackenzie handled the time change? I want to hear how that went cuz chad and I LOVE traveling and hope it’s still “doable” with a little one!

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