Parenting Blog

Away No More!

We are back from holiday and I am back giving you more of what you may or may not want here on OWTK. Hooray for the internet, for stupidity (I’ll explain), for still-warm baguettes priced under 1 EURO, and for the socialism that makes that last one possible!

My hiatus from most things internet lasted about a month and pretty much did the trick, although it’s unclear now what that trick was to be in the first place. I needed to disconnect, yes, as I stated in my fond farewell message on March 27th, and I accomplished this – sorta – while still having some of the social networking juice running through my veins to perpetrate that uniquely 21st century, oh-so-alive feeling.  I’m not going to deconstruct things much further than that.  I feel good mentally, refreshed, and that is good enough right now to move forward.

While I was gone I missed the latest webisode of Mommy Wars (ho hum) and seemingly not much else. Shit, even Newt is still around. And then just as I was getting back into the groove of things last week, one of my all-time favorite musicians passed away. That sucked. Selfishly, I immediately felt a sense of joy that I got to shake his hand, watch him play, and hear him sing one last time late last year. That particular Midnight Ramble in Woodstock in Helm’s barn/studio was one of the finest musical evenings of my life. I’ll miss you, Levon.


One of the reasons I chose this month to get away was because, well, we were getting away.  To a place where data usage is awfully costly.  So it was pragmatic as well as purposeful.

During our Lampoonish European Vacation, we traveled through Catalonia and France, and also drove the length of itty bitty Andorra, all over the course of 10 days.  During the 2nd half of the journey I couldn’t help but utter the Bill Harley album title “Mistakes Were Made” to myself repeatedly. We drove hundreds upon hundreds of kilometers, and spent a small fortune on diesel gasoline and outrageously pricey toll roads in France, after a reshuffling of our plans at 11th hour with the sole purpose of getting ourselves to Paris. This in and of itself wasn’t a mistake, not exactly.  I mean, we spent a weekend in Paris.  How freaking bad could that be? But everything was rushed once we crossed the France/Spain border. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

Look kids there’s a castle, quick check out that cool bridge, did everyone see those wild bulls and horses?  No?  Bummer, ’cause we gotta go-go-go!

We learned so little about so much as we wound up experiencing too little of it and far too much of getting to it.  Our greatest lesson came out of a textbook we’ve been writing ourselves for nearly a decade. The Mrs. and I proved our stupidity once again this year as we crammed WAY too much stuff into so few hours of awake time.

“But we might never get back here”
“Airfare isn’t getting cheaper, so let’s just do this, this and this too”
and the dumbest line of them all, from yours truly: “let’s go back to the same exact spots we traveled with the Bear when she was 2 1/2-years-old, to let Mouse experience it too! How cool would that be?”. That last one was the equivalent of my senior thesis on this trip.  The answer to my rhetorical question? Not that cool it turns out.  No matter how much I tried to convince the Bear and Mouse just how super neat-o it was that we were treading on the same Medieval cobblestone roads and dirt trails as we did nearly 6 years ago, the girls weren’t nearly as fascinated as I was, or I should say, as I believed I would be once there.  One exception was the massive playground in Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, but that was just a rad time for them regardless of if the Bear was there as a toddler or not.  If I had a do-over, I’d opt for brand new experience over retreads.  Mistakes were made.

Still, it was mostly a grand time and, well, we did it.  Even profound dumbness can’t take that away from us.  We will, after all, always have Paris.  Remember kids, that was the city with the river; the one we dashed along, across, and over that chilly day?  Yeah, that one, with the big famous tower we didn’t get to the top of thanks to Easter weekend crowds and also because of our grave misfortune of them having only one, count ’em ONE, lift open the whole damn time we were there.  No, I’m not bitter about that at all.  Nope.

Wanna see some pics?  Look, undeniable fun captured forever!

And how about a video of the greatest crepe I’ve ever eaten being made at La Boqueria in Barcelona?  This was a top 3 culinary highlight of a trip that began with the Bear throwing up 10 hours before our plane leaving Philly, and then suffering through as that bizarro virus attack her gums.  Oh did I not mention that she was ill?  My 8-year-old was stuck eating relatively bland crepes and other soft food for the whole of our time in Barcelona.   Let’s just say that she got real friendly with the insides of baguettes.  Let the record state that she was a super trooper during this vacation, amazing really considering how shitty she felt for much of the adventure.  One other foodie bright spot in Barcelona was Romero Restaurante in the L’Eixample district, right around the corner from our rental apartment actually.  That place was affordable & fantastic, I highly recommend it and their 12 (or 14 I cannot recall) EURO pre-fixe lunch.  They even let the two kids share a single three course offering saving us some dough in the process. And the kids ate everything, even cuttlefish and zucchini soup.  No lie.

Months and years from now we four will look back on the 2400+ photos (I’m not kidding) and 35+ videos taken during the 10 days abroad in Spring 2012 and we’ll laugh at how silly it all was, and how goofy we were trying to speak Catalan and French.  And we will no doubt remember fondly the time we spent together in and out of the awesome Citroen Picasso van viewing [albeit quickly] some of the most lovely sites in the Western world.  We could go back and do a whole castle tour of France, including the amazing storybook one in Foix (that we missed touring the inside of by 4 stinkin’ minutes!), and I’d be ecstatic.  And the Bear and the Mrs. have a new shared memory all their own, that off the 5km-long Tobo Tronc forest toboggan ride high up in the snow capped mountains at Naturlandia in Sant Julia de Loria, Andorra (where I flashed my archer skills for the 1st time ever – man that was fun…and check out that view!)

Oh, and I will never in a million trillion years forget the two, count ’em TWO, FC Barcelona home football matches I saw at the glorious Camp Nou (a 2-0 win over Bilbao in league play and the 3-1 Champions League quarterfinal 2nd leg victory versus AC Milan).  A heavenly, surreal experience them both.

See, not all bad, even though mistakes were made.

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