Jan 18, 2013

Biking in Brittany, the Exclusive Photos!

I'm continuing to sort through our photos from last year, and realized that I never mentioned our cycling trip in October. Face Palm! Given my penchant for meticulous blogging, how did that happen? 

For the kid's October vacation, I found this biking company that will outfit your whole family with bikes for a week, and provide an adorable cottage to stay in, in the Brittany region of France. I figured with all the biking we do now, we could pass off as "sporty" enough for a cycling holiday. And what's more, I watched a few minutes of the Tour de France once, and used to own some spandex. So you could say I'm pretty hardcore. 

So off we went. 

 Here's the lowdown:

  • We quickly learned that biking short distances in the flat world of Amsterdam (motto: "we're not just being dramatic, molehills are our mountains)" is a little different than biking for hours through rolling hills. Just a tad. Also, that people's definitions of "gentle incline" varies widely. Thank goodness we were doping the whole time. Am I right, Lance? 
  • After the 2nd day, I offered to pay the kids 10 cents per kilometer that they didn't complain or whine. Amazingly, I instantly had the most cheerful, willing children, who couldn't wait to get on their bikes and ride all day. It was a vacation miracle, that only cost me 15 euros.
  • We didn't see the sun the entire week, until the last morning as we were packing up and leaving. It was a cold, dreary week and I began to despair that there was nothing to live for but biking through the French countryside while feasting on fresh croissants. I'm telling you, Seasonal Affect Disorder can really mess with you. 
  • Brittany is a beautiful area of France, with ancient megaliths scattered about between tiny, weathered villages seemingly built entirely out of stones and slabs of butter. 
  • We hardly saw any other people, as it was not high-tourist season and most of the locals were either traveling themselves or holed up inside with the shutters closed. There was an eerie, deserted feeling everywhere. Very different from bustling Amsterdam where most everyone leaves their curtains open in a brazenly Calvinistic "we have nothing to hide, not even the fact that we're watching TLC" attitude. 
  • Eating was somewhat problematic as most of the bakeries, stores, and restaurants kept sporadic hours. One day we showed up at a creperie at 3:30  in the afternoon and indicated that we were interested in having some crepes. The owner looked around all shocked and said, "I can't be expected to just sit around here all day waiting to feed people." Why, of course, why should you be expected to do that? You know, being a restaurant and all. 
  • We had no TV, and no Internet access for the entire week. But we did have a fireplace, each other, and a whole lot of love. Just kidding, we played a lot of Stratego and barely avoided WW3. You all have no idea how close you came to being blown up.
  • This is the second time I've left France with only mediocre crepe experiences. I tell you, France, if you ruin crepes for me, I just might never forgive you. 
  • Oh, but the baguettes and the croissants and the butter and the cheese and the-- wait, what was I saying about the crepes again? I forget, but, oh, the pastries, and the jams, and...
  • On our way home, we stopped at Mt. St. Michel, and then Utah Beach. Hot tip for Mt. St. Michel: pay for the audio tour, and then tell your kids that they each get their own cell phone. They will listen intently to details about architectural history for an hour, the whole time thinking they're having a private, fairly one-sided phone conversation. Hot tip for Utah Beach: Just flat out pay them to go to WW2 museums with you. Hot tip for France: look for the baguette vending machines. And if you see one, try to find the phone number of the distributor; I need want one for my house. 

And here are the photos, which you'll only see here. Unless you want to swipe them and put them on your family calendar for 2013. Just saying. 

Vive la France.