Sunday, March 27, 2011

First Free Travel

We only had three short class days at the facility before everyone went their separate ways for their first free travel (travel where they left in groups to see as much of Europe as they could in a week). The students left us itineraries showing what trains they were taking and destinations and what hotels/hostels they were staying in. Now I had to be just like the rest of the parents. Becky was taking off with 5 of her friends to London and Scotland. We were headed to the south of France and Barcelona, Spain. It is scary and wonderful at the same time. Knowing she will have to figure things out on her own but so exciting as it will make her who she is supposed to be as she learns and grows. So off she went with a new excitement and independence in her eyes and I knew she would come back different and a little more grown. Was it really so long ago that I stood in her shoes?

We left for Avignon, France with the McLaughlins on Thursday morning. We had separate hotels as we had shifted our plans to here when we couldn't get a train to Nice. We stayed in the Hotel Alizea which quickly became known as the A'Sleazia Hotel. Not the best place I've ever stayed but we stayed anyway. Friday was spent with the Mclaughlin's at Pont de Gare which is the largest Roman aqueducts still standing today. It was one of those lovely days for hiking, strolling, picnicking, and photography which is exactly what we did. We had stopped at a grocery before we left and got bread, cheese, fruit, and goodies and ate our lunch at the foot of the gigantic structure. French elderly hikers passed our picnic with friendly shouts of "Bon appetit" and smiles. There was also a fabulous children's interactive museum that the boys enjoyed. We returned and had a lovely dinner at a really nice restaurant. We said our goodbyes as we would go our own ways in the morning. We left our hotel the next morning with high hopes for our next one.

We rode the train to Carcasonne, France. Then took a taxi to the hotel and started smiling as we drove up. We opened the door into the spacious lobby to hear a hearty welcome from a bright and smiling desk clerk. She spoke English well and made us feel so welcome. We walked up to our room to find a spacious apartment! Kitchen, dining area, living room with fold out double bed, bathroom ( actually one toilet room and one bath and sink room) plus a nice bedroom. It was squeaky clean, had working free Internet, friendly staff, a spacious sunlit patio with tables and chairs for lounging around. Ideallic! It was only 2 euros more a night than our last hotel. Hard to believe! Only drawback was it was no where near stores or restaurants and we were starved. We walked around forever and then Cliff sent us back to the hotel and walked to the old city way up the hill and brought back some sandwiches. Later that evening we went into the old city (by taxi) and ate a fabulous dinner at one of the restaurants. I had a real creme brûlée and french onion soup and steak and some flaky potato thing. JM had pasta with salmon and shrimp and Cliff had cassolei.

We slept wonderfully and after a nice breakfast at the hotel, set off to explore the old medieval city. We walked across draw bridges and stood on the walls and shopped the touristy shops. When it got rainy, we bought a whole quiche for lunch and dinner and some sweets and walked back to the hotel. We spent the afternoon napping, reading, knitting, card playing and just relaxing. We had our own church service as the nearest church was almost two hours away, one way. It was very special. We ate our dinner, finishing off the quiche and spent the evening outside on the patio playing cards and knitting. The rain returned and we retreated inside. Tomorrow we leave for Barcelona, Spain! We have heard from several of the kids who have had fun and eventful trips including one engagement! Becky's group is staying with our sweet friends, John and Arlene Galloway in Scotland and says she feels at home. Cant wait to see everyone in a couple of days!

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