Perfect vacation day

        As we laid in bed at the end of the very long, very busy, much more enjoyable day in Colmar, I asked Kaitlyn if she had fun. “Yes, Mommy.” Then she surprised me by asking what’s usually my next question. “What was your favorite part?” It was both hard and easy to answer, because we’d done so much. And in sharp contrast to the day before, we had so much fun. I didn’t tell her all that. I just said that my favorite part was riding the horse with her.

        The horse ride was one of the first things we found to do when we headed out and (thanks to daylight and a more careful examination of the little tourist map) found the children’s marche. As soon as Kaitlyn saw the line of life-sized plastic horses awaiting riders, she knew she had to do this. They straddled a track that wound around a little oval dotted with Christmas trees and lights and cut outs of snowmen. Kaitlyn knew immediately she had to ride the black horse. We put her on the saddle and told her to hold on tight. But then we realized there was no strap or buckle of any kind to keep her from falling off. Telling her to hold on tight just didn’t seem like it would be enough. So I climbed on behind her while Bill went to buy a second ticket. Once that ride started I was both glad and sorry I was on it. The horses are equipped with some small hydraulic system that simulates galloping. And on the corners, they tilt inward. Kaitlyn held tight to the reins, leaving me with nothing to hold onto but her. I’m so short my feet didn’t touch the footrest. One time around was pretty fun. The second time was ok, but a little much. The third time around I prayed it would be the last. The ride operator sprayed each rider with some fake snow as a “grand finale.” It was fun, because Kaitlyn loved it.

        After another ride around the track, this time with Bill, we peeled Kaitlyn away from the horses to see what we could find for sale in the booths. I figured the kids market would have kids things to buy. Kaitlyn is a careful shopper. She looks and admires a lot, but isn’t quick to insist on a purchase. At the stuffed animal vendor, she found her must-have item. It’s a stuffed bug. I don’t know if it is a roach or a beetle or what. It’s a six-legged, antennaed bug. She loves it. She cuddles with it and kisses it.

        I found my must-have item at a booth set up with rows of ceramic houses modeled after houses in Colmar – some exact and most simply the “feel.” I’d fallen in love with Colmar the instant I saw it in daylight. The town simply looks like something that Disney would build. The half-timbered houses, the overflowing flower boxes, the roofs with great detail, the house with 100 heads carved into the facade, the house with scenes painted on it, the windows that hang out over the cobblestone walkways. So when I found the ceramic houses, I knew I would bring one home. It wasn’t easy to choose. The vendor showed me how each one was unique, with small but carefully chosen differences in the details. I decided not to get one that’s supposed to be a replica of an existing house. I went with an adorable red one that reminds me of the spirit of the town.

        While I pondered my purchase, Kaitlyn went in circles and loved it. Near the booth of little houses there’s a kiddie ride. It’s a train, sort of. Whatever it is, Kaitlyn climbed in each car and rode around and around. We figured that it was better to fork over the euros for her to laugh and enjoy herself than to buy more toys that wouldn’t fit in the car.

        Fortunately, I’d managed to make dinner reservations before we left home. The Via Michelin guide suggested Aux Trois Poissons for a family friendly place. Multiple reviews raved about the place. I called and made reservations for Saturday night. We let Kaitlyn ride the horses a couple more times around on our way there. But when we walked up to the restaurant, Bill and I had reservations about our reservation. It’s a small restaurant, typical in France. Maybe 10 tables. White tablecloths. The menu posted outside was all fish. I was expecting more of a seafood experience. (scallops, anyone?) While we stood in the cold and debated whether or not to go on in, Kaitlyn started to cry. She thought she wasn’t going to get her fish dinner. She loves fish. So we went in. What the heck. It was suburb. The waiter and waitress paid special attention to Kaitlyn. He made her a paper turkey that flaps its wings. He brought her paper and a Santa pen that lights up when you write with it. She got a special glass with pictures of fruit on it. And her meal… wow. A rectangle shaped plate with noodles, veggies and two kinds of fish in a cream sauce. Incredible. Bill ended up ordering the grown up version of the same thing. Bigger with four or five kinds of fish. He practically licked his plate clean. We found out we like perch. Not something I’d ever order but I tried Kaitlyn’s and it was very good. I ordered steak in a red wine sauce, which was listed as an Alsacian dish. (I think it was a regional wine) That was delicious, too. Kaitlyn’s meal came with ice cream so we all ordered dessert. I skipped the chocolate fondue, because the menu warned it takes extra time. I knew things were going well but that we were starting to play beat the clock with Kaitlyn’s ability to sit there and behave. She managed, though. What a great meal. I’d recommend it to anyone.

        Back at the hotel, I stopped at the bar to get some tea for the room, since we did have to skip the coffee or tea course of our dinner. I thought I’d asked for some tea. The waitress went away for what seemed like a very long time to just get some tea bags, but here everything takes longer than you’d think so I shrugged it off. There were three people sitting in the lounge speaking English. Honestly, it sounded wonderful. While I was waiting, the big guy chomping on a smelly cigar said “bon soir.” He’s from France. The couple he was holding hostage in conversation is from Australia, currently living in Geneva. When they asked where I’m from, I answered a little bit in French, but finally gave up and switched happily to English. They all complimented my French. Before that had a chance to go to my head, the waitress showed up with my “some” tea – two cups of brewed tea on a tray for me to carry to my room. I thought I’d ordered du the. Apparently, I’d ordered deux the. Whatever. When she asked for my room number, I gave it in English because I was annoyed. I cannot believe they’d charge me for two cups of tea that I only had to order because they didn’t restock our supply of tea bags that came with the room that morning. Still… those other people thought I speak French well!

One Response to “Perfect vacation day”

  1. Debbie says:

    I can’t believe my little brother is trying all these new foods!

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