Erin Virginia

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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Allison Visits Paris

Allison arrived in Paris on September 11 and had four full days with us. There were some last-minute talks about Chris and Allison hopping a plane to Rome or elsewhere in Europe, but in the end, Allison stayed in Paris for the whole trip. We had so much fun with her. The first day we walked around Montmarte, up to Sacre Cuore then down through Pigalle and Moulin Rouge. Over the next days, Allison was able to see Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Versailles. We also had our babysitter come on Saturday evening so we could go out for a evening that started with an incredible dinner of various types of cheese.
 
First order of business is a big hug
 
At Sacre Cuore
 
 
View over Paris
 
Looking at Moulin Rouge after a much-needed coffee

We ate a wonderful vegetable ratatouille/stew our first night
 
Dinner of cheese

Home

Chris and I are HOME. We arrived Friday evening, dragged our bags indoors, bathed Fiona, put her to bed and then ate Thai takeout in front of our TV in the basement. The trip was an amazing blessing, but Chris and I are so happy to be sleeping in our bed and enjoying all of the comforts only America can provide. Saturday, we made trips to Costco and Super Target, and Chris made enchiladas for dinner (we didn't have a traditional oven at our apartment in Paris so meals were limited). Greta is also home with us now - I really missed her towards the end. Now that she's walking, Fiona stalks Greta throughout the house, pats her, hugs her and ecstatically feeds her food from her high chair. Except for the food part, Greta is a bit wary of all the baby enthusiasm. Our computer broke our last week in Paris during an already very busy time for us. So I am five blog posts behind which I'll probably make up here and there as I get time.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Bratislava

At the very end of our three part journey (see last two posts), Chris and I visited Bratislava, Slovakia. We booked a flight via Ryan Air from Bratislava and decided to stay two days before returning to Paris. We stayed in the old town in a spacious hotel suite with a kitchen, sitting area and separate bedroom (always a plus when you have to put a baby down to sleep at 7:30) and would have raved about it had it not been for the next door night club that literally rocked the walls until after 3:00 AM. Bratislava itself was beautiful, a Hapsburg/Hungarian city on the Danube with inexpensive lodging and wonderful food. We had to check out of our hotel room on Sunday at 11:00 AM and didn't need to be at the airport until 5:00pm so we wandered around the city and to the castle overlook, ate lunch, had coffee and lounged in the hotel garden while attempting to get Fiona down for her second nap (took an hour before she went down).
Alley to our hotel
 The mighty Danube
Bratislava seemed very kid-friendly. In the old-town area, a couple restaurants had play areas set up for kids, and one, pictured below, even had an open-air storage unit decked out with toys where kids could play while their parents relaxed.
Feeding Fiona at our early dinner Saturday
 Bath time

Pictures from Sunday
Here are a couple pictures in the garden area of our hotel. The view upward through the trees to the tower didn't inspire Fiona to sleep until an hour passed, but it was a beautiful place to spend the afternoon. 

Vienna

From Rome (see last post), Chris, Fiona and I flew via RyanAir to Bratislava and cabbed it to the train station where we caught an hour-long train to Vienna. Vienna was the most low-key part of the trip. One of my co-workers met me in Vienna, and the two days I spent at the hospital passed quickly and enjoyably in her and one of our contractor's company. During the day, Chris and Fiona toured the Kunsthaus Museum, ate too much sausage (Chris) and wiled away the day on the Danube.

Hanging out the train window
 A round of sausage (Chris) and brown bread (Fiona)

 St. Stephan's
Chris stumbled across an antiquity's shop and became semi-obsessed with its display of skulls. I think if he could have verified and been satisfied with one of the skull's origins, he might have made the case to purchase it.

 One of the hundred pictures Chris took of Fiona during our time in Vienna.
 Baby strawberries (?) that Fiona loved
 Along and on the Danube River
A wonderful meal in Vienna. Fiona was almost out of control. She is the most social baby I've ever met, always trying to get people's attention. I included a very short clip of how she was acting at the restaurant much of the night.

Italy

Chris and I just returned from nine days away from our Paris apartment. I needed to take a two part trip for work: two working days in Rome and two days in Vienna. Chris and I tacked a day on either end of the trip (a beach day outside Rome before and a night in Bratislava, Slovakia at the end). I'm going to blog about each part of the trip separately because this post will never end, otherwise. This post covers our four days in Italy.

After a 04:30 wake-up and dealing with all the headaches associated with Ryan Air (inconvenient and distant departure airport, printing boarding passes, online check-in 4 hours prior to boarding, ensuring compliance with stringent carry on and check-in requirements, etc.) we arrived at our hotel in Lido di Ostia. The room we were initially given was dumpy with peeling paint and a scummy shower - far from the pictures advertised on-line. After much protest, we eventually got a room in the renovated area of the hotel, which was very spacious, modern and had a balcony overlooking the water. Once the hotel room was sorted, we headed to the water, where Chris and Fiona (slathered in sunscreen) swam in the Mediterranean waves and I lazed under an umbrella. Fiona liked the water okay, but I don't think she closed her eyes when the waves crashed over her so they got a bit red. She loved the sand. I love the picture below of her with sand on her mouth, as though she's asking us, "Why didn't you tell me that sand tastes terrible?" We spent the afternoon and early evening on the beach and nearby vicinity. We had a great meal in the walled garden hotel restaurant, and then Chris and I sat on the balcony after Fiona went to sleep and wound up talking about President Obama's speech on Syria, which we had watched live earlier. We don't have cable TV in Paris or at our house in Minnesota so it was interesting to hear Obama's speech and reactions.
From Lido di Ostia, we took a train to Rome and spent the night walking around our hotel area near the Parthenon. Chris and Fiona did more exploring while I worked Monday and Tuesday, but they didn't hit the Colesseum again. When I returned in the evening, we had a couple great meals.
  Heading out for work Monday

Castel Sant'Angelo and other sites
 The jailbirds break free in Rome
 Enjoying a great meal and wine on our last night in Rome