Erin Virginia

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Amsterdam 2013

Since I needed to visit a hospital in Rotterdam last week, Chris and I booked a car to drive from Paris to Amsterdam where I booked a hotel through my work near the central train station. Chris and I previously vsisited Amsterdam three years ago as documented here, but it's different story with a baby. I took a train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam Wednesday and Thursday for work while Chris and Fiona did some siteseeing in Amsterdam. At least that was the plan. We arrived without difficulty Tuesday afternoon (after parking outside the city due to horrendous parking costs and taking the tram to our hotel) and stopped at a grocery store where we accidentally purchased buttermilk for Fiona instead of whole mile; luckily, the hotel bar set us straight. I set off on Wednesday morning for Rotterdam for work via a high speed train with a Starbucks coffee firmly in-hand. Meanwhile, Chris had a time of it with Fiona who refused to nap at all until he rented a bicycle and toured her around the city. She finally passed out in her bike seat after trying some herring. During the trip, Chris and I made sure to track down a stack of stroopwaffels to eat for dessert each night in our hotel room. Thursday evening, Chris and I hired a reputable babysitter through our hotel (who happened to be a redhead) so we could go out to dinner together. Luckily, Fiona passed out immediatly after we left, and Chris and I had a great time out to dinner together without taking turns picking up the toys Fiona would have undoubtedly throw on the ground and without trying to distract her from grabbing at the water glasses or shiny steak knives glistening on the table. We had the absolute worst time returning the car on Friday evening to Gare du Nord station in Paris, due to horrific traffic in the city and no directions at all where to drop off the car. All's well that ends well, as the saying goes, but it was a horribly tense experience.

Long wait to enter the parking ramp outside Amsterdam so Fiona practiced her driving.

Chris and Fiona try cycling and herring together in Amsterdam.

This is what it looks like to try to have a nice dinner with!

 Please can I stay up until 10:00pm? I'll only whine for two hours.

Out and about just Chris and Erin - it's been a long time.

Walking around Amsterdam in the evening.

On the drive back from Amsterdam, we stopped for an hour-and-a-half in Brugge, Belgium to stetch our legs and grab a bite to eat. The town was packed but very beautiful with its old city center. The waffle we purchased off the street didn't live up to its predecessor in Brussels during our trip three years ago, but the handful of chocolates did.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fiona Turns One

We celebrated Fiona's actual birthday yesterday (July 21) by taking her to the Eiffel Tower. Paris is hot and sunny these days, and since we are in high tourism season, people jam the subways heading to the top attractions. As we emerged from the sticky underground and walked a few blocks to the Eiffel Tower, our decision to forgo the ascension to the top was reaffirmed by the incredibly long line of people waiting for the elevators. My guess is that wait times were measured in hours, not minutes.

We brought Fiona to the grass and found a spot not littered by bottle caps or broken glass and snapped a few shots. I hope she will look at these pictures some day and feel a kinship to these sites and countries, even though she won't actually remember her experiencess of waving to people from her stroller, tasting sweet, French cheese or banging her palms on the subway glass each ride.

Later in the day, we bought her a French pastry and ice cream and sang her happy birthday. Chris and I are incredibly grateful for our little girl. She has blessed our lives and filled it with so much love and joy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Paris: The Next Big Adventure

I've been delaying much of my work travel over the past year-and-a-half as I became too pregnant to fly and then didn't want to leave Fiona. I mustered through two trips without her and needed to find a solution for additional much-needed travel. After much discussion with Chris and my employer, I was able to arrange to work from Paris this summer and use the city as my base of travel so I can do several quick trips throughout Europe. The trip was touch-and-go until Chris received approval from his work to take a leave. So here I am writing from our Paris apartment where we will spend the next ten weeks!

We booked a two bedroom apartment with a nursery/guest room for Fiona, complete with crib, toys and baby dishes. The apartment is located in Montmartre, an artistic community north of the Seine. We are on the sixth floor of a building that lacks an elevator and is extremely eccentric from an American perspective. The owner is an artist, and the apartment has unique touches, such as a master bedroom accessible by a bookcase ladder and what we believe to be a genuine human skull on said bookcase. Also in the apartments are molds of Mau, Princess Diana, Prince Charles and Elvis under glass, animal hides on the floor and some rather colorful wall art. The bathroom has a narrow tub with a non-working wall mount so showers are essentially out. However, all the idiosyncrancies make the apartment that much more memorable, and when we throw open all of the windows in the apartment, a cooling breeze drifts through from the balconey, and we can hear the bustle of traffic and Parisians below us at the Thai, Italian and French restaurants on our street.

Living Room - the ladder up the bookcase is how the master bedroom is accessed.
Skulls on the bookcase

Upstairs Bedroom 

Main Floor Bedroom (Fiona's room)

Mr. Mau and the British royalty


Fun times on the balcony 

View out the window from Fiona's room. I love all of the chimneys.
 A few pictures at Notre Dame
 Five minute walk to Sacre Coeur

Monday, July 08, 2013

Fiona's First Birthday

Since we will be out-of-town on Fiona's first birthday, Chris and I scheduled a mini-party a couple weeks early on the 4th of July. Chris' sister's family, my parents and two sets of her great-aunts and uncles were able to attend. Fiona was a little cranky due to coming down with a fever, which we discovered the next day, but overall she seemed to enjoy the attention and waved and "chatted" with everyone. She received several adorable outfits, toys and a couple books.

Fiona's cake (non-smash cake)
 Lilly, Evan and Isaac had great reactions to Fiona's smash cake destruction. However, after a couple minutes, they had very pointed questions regarding when they would get their own cake to eat.