After 18 months, 21 countries, 3 hospital visits and countless adventures, we are home safe and sound! We eased our way back to real life by making a pit stop on our way home to visit friends and family in Quebec and Ontario before returning to Red Deer. Now here we are, happy to be back in our home and our community. The wall of boxes with all our worldly possessions stuffed into the storage room have now been opened and almost everything is in it's rightful place. But it's a process. In the meantime we will try to soak up the summer and visit and reconnect with our friends and family from here.
What follows is the last blog of our trip. Thanks for being a part of this adventure.....
I sit in our small apartment that we have rented for the month of June in Saint Jean de Luz and try to wrap my brain around the idea that our 18 month adventure will come to an end in just 2 days. What a surreal feeling. In no time at all this will all seem like a dream. But a great dream, an awesome dream, some might say a dream of a lifetime. Indeed it has been. The boys are excited to get back to their beloved Lego and friends, John can’t wait to have a proper functioning kitchen again, and me….hmmm, I may be the most gypsy one of all and can probably keep living out of my backpack. Of course I do miss our friends and family from home.
Before I launch into a “wrap up” post, I should say a few words about our 3 months in France….
The romantic notions we have of France…the joie de vive attitude, the food, the wine, the history, the beauty is all true. Around every corner of this expansive country is another story, a magnificent chateaux, a rugged coastline, a fête of some sort, and a buttery croissant. And from our encounters with people here, the French are NOT snooty. It’s hard not to fall in love with not only iconic Paris, but the whole country.
Our motivation for ending our trip here and spending such an extended amount of time (3months) was partly for the kids to be exposed to French. As we had pulled them out of French Immersion school, we thought spending a few months in France may be a good way to get their brains used to the language again. We had grand ideas of potentially enrolling them in language courses but in the end, they proved to be too expensive and restrictive. We had things to do and places to see! Instead we tried to keep up with some online French tutoring which we had been doing for the past few months.
Our time in France was essentially broken down into 3 phases, one for each month. We arrived in April, and being spring, it was still relatively cool in most places so we thought the South would be the warmest spot. So, we based ourselves out of Montpellier for a couple of weeks. From there we did a quick jaunt to Barcelona, Spain to see our good friends, the Biltons, from home who were spending a year living there. We wound our way through Andorra and the majestic Pyrenees Mountains, Carcassonne with its medieval castle which inspired a popular board game, the Dordogne areas with its spectacular prehistoric caves and castles, and eventually making our way to Nevers, a city in the centre of France. This brings us to May.
From here we started our one month cycle tour of the Loire Valley. We rode 750 km following the Loire River all the way to the Atlantic coast. This will certainly be one of the top highlights of our trip. For the juicy details and photos, check out Finn’s blog on this adventure.
June was our last month in France, and the last month of our entire trip. Once again, chance encounters led us here to stunning Saint Jean de Luz. We had met a nice French family when we were in Myanmar and struck up a conversation with them. They mentioned they were from the Basque country from a small city called Saint Jean de Luz. We had never heard of it but it didn’t take much to peak our interest…pretty mountains, beautiful beaches, good surf, interesting culture… sounded pretty idyllic to us. Seeing as we had no set plans for our time in France, we decided to come hang out here to finish our trip. We are not disappointed and have thoroughly loved this part of France. The first couple of weeks, my whole family came to visit. This made for 16 of us! The boys loved hanging with their cousins again and we met our new niece Elise for the first time. We did a lot of touring and day trips along the coast and into Spain. We wrap up with some quiet time to ourselves as well as connecting with our friends Candy/Adrien and Emmanuel/Juliette from here. Et c’est tout!
Now back to the teary sentimental farewell…..
I kid, but if there are tears they would only be tears of joy and gratitude. How fortunate we are to have had this opportunity, this tiny window of time where we could experience this big beautiful world together as a family. And how lucky I am to have a stellar husband and three wonderful boys who were up for such a grand adventure. I am forever in their debt for filling me with the most awesome memories, for making me laugh, and for showing me their big, big, hearts. To our friends, old and new, far and near, and our families…thank you for your support and the wonderful times we have shared.
So now I guess it’s back to shovelling snow, early morning band practices, cruising in my minivan…..oh, and that thing called work. Bring it!