Monday, August 26, 2013

Oregon 2013

The kids and I visited Oregon for three weeks this summer, for the first time since we moved to Luxembourg 14 months before.  Pete could not join us because his department restricted all vacation during that time.

I'm still processing the implications of our trip, including the answers to the recurring questions people asked....What was it like being back? What did you miss the most about your life in Oregon?  Did you miss Luxembourg while you were there?  Which place do you like better?  Did you see everyone you wanted to see?  How do you feel about your decision to move?  What did the kids think about it all?

The answers to those questions are long, nuanced, and complicated.  But I'll just share two things I know to be true:

1. Being away from family and friends is, by far, the most difficult aspect and biggest sacrifice of being an expat or immigrant.

2. It also makes you treasure and appreciate the time you have together much more deeply.

Now, for some (lots of) photos, most of which I did not take (I was lazy), so a big thank you to my photographers.  I am hoping looking at this post will be way for the kids to look back and remember the time we spent with our loved ones, and to help keep them in our hearts until next time.

And I'll put this photo first, in case you notice a Daphne's hair changing lengths all the time, since the pictures are not chronological:


 The Hs side (mine)

Ts-side Cousins

enough to break your heart, for sure
More Ts side...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Nancy, France

Let's face it:  Pete and I are lazy cheapskates.  

This combination doesn't mix all that well with travel.  If left to our own devices, for fun, we relax at home and spend no money.  We splurge on Indian take-out if we're feeling feisty.  And besides, we made it to Europe in the first place; isn't that good enough?!?

But we're working on it.  Well, I'm working on it, and I'm dragging Pete along with me (since he's slightly lazier and cheaper when it comes to travel).  You see, when I was in Oregon with the kids for three weeks this summer, I realized a bunch of things I wished I'd done or taken more advantage of while I still lived there.  This inspired me to come up with a list of things I'm pretty sure I'll wish I'd done or taken more advantage of while living in Luxembourg.  As a bold, preemptive strike, I'm going to try to do them.

Travel was at the top of the list.

It's been on the list for awhile, truthfully, but we're still easing into it.  Pete took Monday off, and we decided to leave after church on Sunday to spend one night somewhere in France (yay for French-speaking practice!).  I picked Nancy ("Nah-see"), 1.5 hours south of Lux by train.  

Since we made the decision Saturday night, we didn't have a huge selection of hotels to chose from, but stayed at the Ibis Styles Hotel by the train station for 100€.  For the price it was great, and the staff was very helpful.  We later realized this was the first time we'd all stayed in a hotel room together as a family of four (the kids are 5 and 7 years old).   Up to this point we've mostly stayed with relatives.

No offense to our relatives, but see how lame we are?

Anyway, Nancy is a bit off the beaten path, so not over-run with other American tourists.  Of course, that will all change now that it's featured on the famous The Ts blog.  Ah, well.  

The kids brought their scooters, which helped us explore more of the city in a short time than we would have otherwise.  They're getting pretty good at navigating cobblestones, and their scooter speed and stamina is much better than for walking.

Here's some of what we did (and as always, I don't do a lot of historical explanations since they're already on the internet - I will link to a few):

This pretty town square is the most famous of Nancy sights.

Pete and James with statue of Stanislas himself.
Cathedral behind square
See the gilded gate in the background?  These are at the corners of the square
A closer look
Cool fountains at the gates
The buildings are lit up at night, and it's quite a breathtaking site
Every night of the summer there is an animated sound and light show projected onto the buildings at 10pm.  If you watched the one at the end of the Tour de France on l'Arc de Triomphe this year, it's similar.
best experienced in person.  I think that might be Stanislas again in the middle?
Other sites:
Pete at medieval gate to the city (La Porte de la Craffe) 
scootering to another cathedral
beautiful, couldn't go inside, though :(
Parc de la Pepinière next to Place Stan.
the park has a playground, little free zoo, mini-golf, fountain, etc.  Cute.
Otherwise known as Brassiere Excelsior, with Art Nouveau design that Nancy is known for.  See MUCH better photos here.
eating quiche Lorraine in Lorraine region of France, because you can't not do that.  Plus, it's buttery and delicious.
kids' menu
You can kind of see the cool ceilings
another restaurant, on Place Stan, we escaped into from a sudden downpour.  We ate quiche Lorraine again. Butter...
This, erm, masterpiece was directly above our heads.  You can actually see the restaurant owners and their kids painted into the God side of this, and we found the husband and wife working the restaurant as well.
And the kids were promised ice cream before we left (dame blanche = hot fudge sunday).  James is not sure he's getting his fair share.  Rightly so, I'm afraid
Musée des Beaux-Arts (on Place Stanislas)
Standard reaction of any 5-year old boy to a Picasso
modern art
(digressing a moment) Daum is a crystal studio based here - this is the store on the Place Stan.
there was an extensive Daum collection in the basement of the Musée des Beaux-Arts.  Case after case of beautiful pieces (and my 3 look like ghosts in between them!). You can watch a video of their glass-making process before you enter the display.  The kids had a great time locating several of the pieces they saw in the video in the collection.
And the train ride back...
Would have cost about the same as renting car + fuel + parking, but SO much more relaxing!
Thanks, Nancy.