Christmas Eve

        At Bill’s insistence (and the recommendation of an ISE who travels Europe with 5 children), I carefully planned our trip. I made an itinerary for each day. We didn’t get to all of it. Not even close. We didn’t get to go outdoor ice skating. (too cold) We didn’t get to any caves to go wine tasting. (which means no additions to our little cave at home) We didn’t get to the accordion shop (I wanted to go see what they had.. research for Dad) We didn’t see the kids singing carols while floating on boats on the river. We didn’t take the nightwatchman’s tour. We didn’t get to a Christmas Eve service. We didn’t get to any of the things I had planned for Sunday, all because of the car. Well, see, I had scheduled things assuming that we would be able to fit everything into the car on the way there with room for things purchased on the trip. That didn’t happen. That meant our Tuesday plan couldn’t happen. It was supposed to be a stop at the French Railway Museum about a half hour towards home. But we couldn’t leave our car in the parking lot with luggage and bags visible. So we scratched the Bartholdi museum I wanted to go to in Colmar. Sunday was spent at the railroad museum that Bill wanted to see. I really only went along because there was no way that he could enjoy it even a tiny bit if he had to spend the whole time chasing Kaitlyn around.

        The first part of the museum is dedicated to teaching you all about the fight for the railways during World War Two. Some of the cars have life size dolls in them that have conversations – probably about how important trains are to them. I couldn’t understand. I could have tried to but Kaitlyn was scared and raced through it. She was scared because it was pretty dark in there and in one corner there was an engine on its side and every so often there would be a fake “explosion” and smoke would pour out of it. The next area was not heated and was filled with all sorts of engines and cars. I didn’t see much of it in detail, I chased Kaitlyn around. Since the place was almost empty, I didn’t really care if she hollered or ran, I just sort of monitored to make sure she didn’t get hurt. We ended up eating lunch at the museum’s restaurant which is not your typical museum restaurant. (the only other one I’ve been to that’s equally as nice is at the NC Art Museum in Raleigh)

        Our grand plan was for Kaitlyn to nap on the ride back to Colmar. That worked, she fell asleep trying to read a train book we’d gotten her in the gift shop. We extended her nap by stopping at one of the markets. Bill stayed in the car while she snoozed and I fought the crowds to go back to an artisan we’d seen selling beautiful wood carved lamps and bowls. We got two lamps for our bedroom. Bill thinks they can easily be re-wired when we move back to the United States, which made the decision to buy pretty easy. I spoke a little French, he spoke a little English and we managed the transaction. The artist showed me each lamp and pointed out a spot that’s an imperfection in the wood. I couldn’t think of the word “imperfection” at the time, when he kept asking me “what do you call this in English?” I also managed to find someone selling cookies and picked up an Alsacian gingerbread cookie to leave out for Santa. (He likes gingerbread)

Rather than try to cram in another stop between nap and dinner, we decided to just chill out in the hotel room. We let Kaitlyn watch some French tv. France’s Funniest Home Videos was on. Why is it that people falling down is good for a laugh no matter where you are?

        Bill had made our dinner reservation Friday night when we checked in. The hotel clerk told me that only a few restaurants would be open on Sunday and that they had a list and would help us make reservations. I sent Bill down to the front desk to actually handle the task. He said the list was four restaurants long. Two gastronomic places – both out because they didn’t sound like good places for a three year old. One where the wait staff sings. He crossed that off the list thinking the service would be slower than French slow because they’d want you to enjoy the entertainment. The last one was at another hotel. Sign us up. On the way out, Bill checked with the clerk to make sure he knew where the hotel was. He asked if there’s only one restaurant at the hotel. He should have asked if there were two Ibis Hotels in Colmar. We went to the wrong one. Some guy in the lobby waved his arms and explained how to get to the other one. Even though he gave his directions in English, we had no idea where he was sending us. We managed to find it (good thing for Bonnie after all). It was not what we expected. An Ibis hotel is kind of like a Holiday Inn. Pretty generic. The restaurant there was more like a coffee shop where you’d expect Flo to offer up grits than a French restaurant. Ok. First lesson of France: it’s never what you expected. The food was far better than a greasy spoon. Bill had veal. I had another steak. I asked for it well done, it came out more medium. One of my French teachers said I need to learn how to order my steak “well done, no blood.” Honestly, I prefer not to think about my food’s blood when ordering it. Very not French of me, I know. The woman at the next table chain smoked through her entire meal. I think she puffed on 10 cigarettes while we were sitting there. Sometimes, I actually miss California. Just when she put one out to eat, a most stinky cheese was delivered to the table on the other side. We just couldn’t win.

        After dinner, we went back to the hotel and told Kaitlyn that Santa would come and use his magic to get into our room even though it didn’t have a fireplace. We told her that his magic only works if you are asleep. That little girl fell asleep faster than I’ve ever seen her fall asleep. But she insisted on sleeping in our bed. Mostly on the spot where I should have been sleeping. I must have slept a little bit because Santa did visit….

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