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Too Much Fun

Geneve Jet D’EauMom has come to visit for a while and so we took a week-long trip down through France and Italy to show her some of the local sights. Over eight days, we visited seven different cities: Bern, Geneva, Lyon, Grenoble, Turino, Milano, and Lugano.

This was, perhaps, overly ambitious as it meant moving from one hotel to another each day (not an easy feat with two kids in the mix), but we managed it without anybody getting left behind. The biggest downside of such a touch-and-go trip is that you don’t get to explore very much. Having kids with you means that you can visit one place in the morning and one place in the afternoon and that’s about it. And, of course, driving to the next place will use up one of those slots. Sometimes we went exploring a bit in the evening but in general we were all pretty exhausted by the end of day.

dsc_7423.JPGI’m amazed by my kids! Christophe is such a little trooper. He would walk for hours with us and never get tired. He’d get bored, yes, but never once did he complain about being tired and unable to go on. We kept him entertained by dsc_7468.JPGletting him climb stone barriers or drive his toy cars along a bench now and then. If you want to have an enjoyable trip with your kids, do your best to make sure they enjoy themselves, too. On our last full day he climbed some 500m vertical worth of stairs with enthusiasm, saying things like, “Oh look, more stairs!” and then gleefully moving on ahead of us.

Flower ClockCamille was her usual angel self, too. Even with her schedule shot to hell, she was happy and playful and flirted with every man she saw. (I’m definitely going to have to acquire a shotgun when she gets older.) A couple times she was over-tired and screamed for a while before finally falling asleep but for the most part she was as well behaved as Christophe.

dsc_7477.JPGLyon was probably the most interesting place we stayed as the hotel (“Hotel Carleton”) we stayed in was situated right in the middle of the old town. Of the photography I did over the course of the trip, I think the nicest shots were there. The best of them need somedsc_7496.JPG post processing and so aren’t attached to this article (or I wouldn’t get it published for another few months) but come back some time and look at my Gallery. At the moment I write this, I’m about 8 months behind in my processing (just finishing up my Zurich photos from my visit back in January).

dsc_7735.JPGDriving in Italy was an adventure all in its own. Many of the streets have no lane dividers which I suppose isn’t a problem for the Italians as even when present they don’t use them for anything more than a general advisory. The general policy seems to be “go where you want but make sure you don’t hit anyone. Let the others worry about not hitting you.” Over the course of a few hours in Turino, I had numerous people pass be on the left (in the oncoming traffic lane) only to suddenly cut in front of me and the forward lane on the right to go through a red “no right turn” light and, yes, turn right without even stopping. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they would also pass you on the right to cut in front, go through a red light, and turn left, again without stopping.

dsc_7650.JPGParking in Italy is wherever you can find space and if you want to put your “I can park here” lights on (sometimes referred as “hazard lights”) then you can even park in the traffic lane while blocking several cars in to their spots. It’s preferred to have at least two wheels on the sidewalk but not strictly required.

Don’t get me wrong… I like Italians! They have a passion for life that I find refreshing. I just wish they wouldn’t apply it so heavily to their driving. It was good to get back to Switzerland.

dsc_7768.JPGThe TomTom navigator unit we have is worth its weight in gold for trips like this. Had my wife or my mother been trying to follow a map while we attempted to find our way to some tourist location, there is a good chance not all of us would have returned. It’s almost certain that someone would have strangled someone else or jumped out a window at oncoming traffic in frustration.

Not that you should blindly trust the instructions the little box gives you… If the GPS signals are weak because it’s overcast or you’re between tall buildings, it often gets to thinking you’re somewhere other than your actual position. It then gives correct directions from that other location but it doesn’t help to be told “turn around when possible” while traveling in heavy traffic down a one-way street or “turn right” when you’re 5 meters past the intersection.

dsc_7531.JPGThe streets in Europe are not the nice grid pattern of most places in North America, either, and than can make it difficult to interpret the instructions. “Keep left” is not sufficient when a road splits in three directions. Many times I would stay to whatever side it said only to be trapped in a turn-only lane and have to deviate off the planned course. This is where the TomTom is the most useful, though, as it will happily plot you a new route from the place you are and the direction you are heading, never throwing out comments like, “You idiot, I said left!”

dsc_7784.JPGIt was a very busy trip what with covering so much ground over that amount of time but it wouldn’t have been that much less even staying in one place since so much of the effort went to dealing with the kids. Even as well behaved as they were, they take a huge amount of attention and time. It was great to have “Grandmother” around to take up some of the load, reading stories to Christophe at night and watching them both while France and I went out for a couple dinners by ourselves.It was a lot of fun, but not what you call a “relaxing vacation”. We plan to do as little as possible tomorrow before the normal routine takes over on Monday.

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1 comment to Too Much Fun

  • Irv Simpson

    Hey Brian,
    Few comments about your trip. . .

    Although sometimes you see less with kids, you do get to see more of one place (if you can keep the kids occupied or keep them entertained – ‘hey, let’s follow that cat behind into the dark doorway ;-))

    Funny how my kids now get tired if we have to walk three blocks . . . maybe they associate the boring part with the walking destination – keep Cristophe’s mind off of that for a while.

    Irv

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