It began with a return to La Roche-sur-Yon, my first home in France since 2014. Eight months had passed since my last visit, and after living in a wildly different region of France for awhile, I actually felt a dull version of reverse culture shock upon returning. The Vendée is certainly a traditional region, and also wealthier than the north. I could feel people staring at me on the train from Nantes to La Roche - not because they knew I wasn't French, but because they knew I didn't normally take that train and wasn't local.
Despite that revelation, I visited my old haunts in town, saw several friends, had coffee with former students and colleagues, and attended my old community band's end-of-year concert. (For the first time, I can show you what our concerts looked and sounded like: here is a bit of a piece I had played with them as well, excerpts from The Godfather.)
|Dad and me in Paris|
|Tarte flambée from|
Troquet des Kneckes
|Madeleines du Voyage|
We loved the uniqueness of the individual teapots that the tea is served in, and the madeleines were to die for (especially the chocolate).
He also created a well-known fountain in Lyon as well as a statue in Clermont-Ferrand, among many other pieces. The museum holds several floors of sketches and miniatures of his works.
Colmar is known for its Petite Venise, or little Venice, an area of canals with a Venetian flavor. We took a short boat tour up and down a bit of canal, given in both English and French.
|City hall beffroi|
|La carbonade flamande|
Wednesday night, it was time to pack up and city hop once more. We took a quick Thalys train north through Belgium and up to Amsterdam. It was my third time visiting the city, but the first time sans jetlag. We enjoyed bright blue skies and the first green leaves of spring dotting the canals, not quite covering up the iconic architecture. There were plenty of people there for the long holiday weekend, but it wasn't nearly as stifling as in July or August.
|View from Westerkerk|
Just outside the Rijksmuseum sits a modern attraction, I amsterdam. We got there early hoping to beat the crowds, but were lucky to snag these photos after being thwarted by a kid who just couldn't get down from the top of the 'm', a giant tour group taking over suddenly and with a vengeance, and a small spat with their maybe Australian tour guide. Someday, we'll return to capture 'terdam' in all its glory.
|Our Lord in the Attic|
Finally, a riverboat cruise through the canals is a lovely and relaxing way to take in the architecture without the stress of walking through the streets trying not to get hit by bikes and cars. We took one at sunset on our last evening.
Dutch Word of the Day
slagroom - whipped cream
...just in case you need to order some fancy ice cream.