New Year Adventures

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My Three Sons

In the spirit of the New Year, my men and I went on an adventure to see new places. It was a big one and won’t be repeated anytime soon, but what an adventure!

In anticipation of one son soon to be out in the working world, and another entering college, we decided to take a Big Trip, to Europe.

We saw some incredible sights, tasted some delicious (and not so delicious!) foods, but it was at times also frightening and infuriating. Because that’s life, right?

The frightening part – yep, rollover accident in our rental car after leaving Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris!

I won’t bore you with the terrifying and mind-numbing details, but we were all fine, other than a gash on my youngest’s head that needed stitches. Anyone who tells you that the people in France are rude are just wrong! A more gracious, concerned group of folks you could never hope to meet! People were stopping traffic, dialing emergency services, and offering help everywhere. Some of them even spoke English – ha!

With the fright of that came short tempers, a bit of PTSD, and some hurt feelings. Nothing like an emergency on CHRISTMAS DAY to bring out some crankiness.

God was good, though. My smart husband had had the forethought to buy travel insurance before we left, so those expenses are covered. And it could’ve been so much worse…

We went on a train trip detour to Dijon, France where we were able to get another rental car and off we went – with a new driver at the wheel! (#winkemoji)

Fois gras in Dijon – with apologies to my foodie fans, it was disgusting!

Because our motto for this trip seemed to be “go big or go home,” we visited France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, all in twelve days. Whew!

Waterfalls were everywhere in the Black Forest of Germany!
My youngest’s “princess bed” in Luxembourg – this will be a good test of whether he reads my writing – he would die, so don’t tell him!
Brussels, Belgium

Haarlem in the Netherlands was almost my favorite. We were able to visit the Ten Boom Museum, home of Corrie, who hid Jews in a brick room behind her bedroom for much of the Dutch occupation and was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp for it. She has been my hero since I was old enough to read her book, “The Hiding Place.” Unfortunately, the only pictures allowed are at the actual hiding place.

This hole is cut into Corrie’s bedroom wall to show the hiding place. The entrance was a sliding panel under the shelves to the left.

My husband is a nerd and got a kick out of the pot shops in Amsterdam. Everywhere! I personally don’t enjoy the smell of wet skunk… He even snapped a picture for his law firm’s Instagram page.

No, he didn’t buy any! He doesn’t even drink beer! (This is his “no shave vacation” look – handsome as ever!)

Paris was definitely my favorite, though. When you get a chance to go, get a vacation rental like an Airbnb in the heart of a neighborhood. That is where the charm of Paris shines through. Parisian shopkeepers set out their wares each morning, calling “buongiorno” to all who catch their eye. Customers linger for hours at the cafes, eating a light meal and sipping wine. Each shop sells something different – bread, cheese, chocolate, tea. I think I liked this more than the “tourist” sites. Paris has never been on my list of must- see places, but I was enthralled!

Eiffel Tower at night – swoon!
They must have a finely developed honor code – the shop products were just outside unattended.
The Metro strike made things difficult to get around – aren’t the signs charming, though?
Christmas everywhere!
I didn’t get a chance to go in due to time constraints, but I saw this famous little bookshop! ❤️

As my boys get older, I realize they are less about “stuff” for Christmas. This was our way to store a memory for the future.

Yes, I miss the days of early morning awakenings and watching their little eyes dance with delight as they see what Santa brought them. But there is compensation to having “big kids.”

Obviously, we can’t do something so extravagant every year. Yet I hope we are always able to have plans that linger long after the Star Wars Legos and the new bikes.

There are many ways to save up for travel. We join mileage clubs through airlines and do without – no cable or dish, frugal wardrobes, and other savings. Plus we make it our intention to save – I’ve had “no spend” months where I only get the necessities so we can keep some money back.

Everyone manages to save time and money for those things that matter the most, don’t we? I wonder, what are your favorite ways to spend time with your “big” kids?

Author : Day to Day Graces

Lover of the daily - my life as told in pictures and words. So much around us is missed because we are too blind to see grace in the everyday. “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things!” Psalms 119

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