"So ask the travelled inhabitant of any nation, 'In what country on earth would you rather live?' — 'Certainly in my own, where are all my friends, my relations, and the earliest & sweetest affections and recollections of my life. Which would be my second choice? France.'"
This trip. Wow. It is quite hard to know where to begin. Caleb and I, like probably very many and very average dating couples, had always talked about wanting to visit Europe together, specifically Italy and France.
After six years of keeping that desire near the top of the list, we had halfway decided to take a two or three week trip whenever we went across the pond. Enough time to see the heart and coast of Italy, the home of the great "rebirth of literature, music, philosophy, other arts, and science." The Alps, the prestigious Milan, always-a-good-idea Paris, roving vineyards, valleys, and hills in Tuscany, Cannes (after falling in love with it thanks to Mr. Bean), the small town used as inspiration for Belle's hometown in Beauty & The Beast, Provence, the stacked colorful buildings on the Mediterranean Sea, Versailles. Central and South France to Northern and Central Italy, please.
As it goes, we were never finding just the right price, the right hunk of time, the right schedule. "Before we have kids!" (ha.), "Before Rowdy turns two so he's still free..." (ha.) "Before we have another baby!" (ha!) After a couple milestones went by, and enticed by the best deal I've seen on Groupon Getaways in years of hunting, the time had come. We would have to "split" our "perfect" (pffft, don't get me wrong... what we did was divine) plan into two smaller trips, but we had to stop talking about it and just go. So, we did five actual days in Italy with one actual day in the French Alps, plus three travel days bookending the whole experience. The "bottom half" of our original plan, for 1/3 of the price that I'd seen otherwise! I can't say enough about how spectacular each and every day was.
Sometimes people (me included) utilize the skill of photography and presentation to make an event or moment look better than it really was. In this case, photographs and words fall shamefully short. I can't describe how blue the air was, how close the snow-capped cliffs hugged in every direction, how thrilling the chilled air was to inhale, how charming building after building after building, how quiet and still the town sat. (This was us for 85% of the week).
So! France, you were an elegant tease and we will be back for more! After leaving Orlando at 5 am, taking the train downtown to Madison Square Garden for lunch, and trekking back to the airport, we flew eight hours from New York to Milan, landing at 8:00 am Italian Time, which was 2:00 am our time, a time we could easily be going to bed! Phew. Everyone's advice was to push through it. So we did. But jet lag hit harder than we expected... it was tough to pull that "all-nighter" physically. Thankfully our day's plans fueled us with Trenta sized cups of adrenaline and shots of majesty to keep us awake! We got into our rental car and drove almost three hours into Chamonix and glorious Mount Blanc, where we wandered about and ate lunch, then left in late afternoon for Annecy, arriving about an hour later.
We checked into our hotel and loaded the kids up to meet our friend Sylvie for the evening. She is in school in Geneva and we were both bridesmaids in our mutual best friends weddings last year. In-between timeline changes and jewelry sharing, we talked a number of times about seeing her in Europe this coming year. It was wonderful to have made it happen! And SO great to have a familiar face, long dinner conversation, and delightful friend to spend the evening with. We fell in love with France that night, Annecy in particular. It was our favorite place in the whole trip. The mountains, the lake, the winding alleys, the bridges covered in moss and ivy, the flowers flowers flowers, the lack of marketing for tourists, the colors and detail on the buildings, the food and wine and CROISSANTS, the cleanliness, the pale blue glacial water flowing through town. Ugh, I still wonder if it was a real place or if I was walking through a dream.
Alright, without further ado, the pictures:
So tired / "so funny" / but so happy! Summer slept the whole flight to Milan! Good thing because the rest of us didn't ;)
Our first meal! We kept saying "I don't know if this is good or if we're just really tired and hungry... BUT THIS IS SO GOOD." The bread and cheese, especially... a refrain we repeated many a time.
Hey pretty Sylv! You're a good one. Thank you for the effort, the "chill" with our crazy kids, all we talked about, and affirming our wonder. If Sylvie says Annecy is "a special place," it must be true. She's seen far more than we have!
Caleb's favorite setting/spot in the entire trip! Oh, I wish I could get a picture to really capture all the details of it!
Every turn and street was more darling and romantic than the next.
I'm proud of these babies! It was a long day and they were little troopers. Not without breakdowns, but they didn't quit. And they really had so much fun, like they could sense the specialness or excitement!
Not bad for 20 hours of travel and 36 without sleep! ha! #keepbackingup
Oooooh! Melts my heart. He was so happy!
Up next: Beginning our Italian leg of the adventure, starting in Turin and Venaria!