Weekend of Feb 21/22: Saturday and Sunday here in Caen were days of productivity. First, let me start by saying all people under the Hotel de Than (the historic name of our apartment building) are better. Grace is healthy and Peter is fighting a cold, but not longer battling stomach flu. So thanks for all of your well wishes - they worked!
On Saturday, Peter and Suzie took the girls to Deauville, about 1 hour outside of Caen. Peter and Suzie finally enlisted the help of Leapsters for the ride in the car. They reported back at the end of the day to say how nice and quiet the car-ride was with the girls so intently playing their games with their headphones. I think they are now believers! Many thanks to all of you who donated to our Leapster cartridge collection before we left. The hits so far are Animal Genius, Pet Pals and Learn to Write and Draw. They arrived at the piers and looked around at the boats and surroundings. The temperature was very cold and windy, so not a great day for hanging out by the water. But they perservered!
Just a side-bar here. There is a photo above that looks like a store window with food for display. But this is actually a self-serve 7-11 type place. All of the items you see are for sale and once you put your money in the slot, you receive your items through a large hole from a large vending machine. Isn't that crazy?? I have never seen anything like it. How great is it that you can go get anything you need at any time of the day from milk to Doritos? And they don't have to pay people to run the store - the efficiency of it all just floats my boat. Would someone please bring this to the states? It is too cool not to spread around.
Andrew and I took the day on Saturday to go to IKEA, finally, after days of talking about the trip. IKEA is about 1.5 hours from Caen, in Rouen. So though the drive is easy, it is hard to just get going.... similar to driving to Montrose from Crested Butte for a Target run or driving to Valpo from Chicago for a family visit. You will probably not be surprised to learn that IKEA looks the same as the one in Chicago, Tempe, or anywhere else. It was a long few hours of picking out some rugs, kitchen stuff, towels, nothing too interesting. After IKEA, we went to a fast food restaurant called Quick, which I agree with the name - it was Quick. But is was PACKED. It is a very similar restaurant to McDonalds, but this place was so crowded that people (including Andrew and I) had to sit outside in 45 degree weather. Didn't make sense, this crowding, but in looking around the area there did not appear to be too many other dining options. That, plus the humongous play area for kids, probably make it a favorite. Anyway, after this gourmet treat, we headed out to look for a couch. Up until now, we have been sitting on dining room chairs to watch TV or just sit anywhere in general. We all missed being able to sit and lounge on a couch so this became a priority. We must have visited 10 stores and for no reason apparent to me, 95% of all couches sold within a 150 mile radius of Caen are upholstered in leather. Or leather and some other odd fabric. White leather, beige leather, red leather, green leather - you have never seen so much leather - Leather-Mania. Anything not made of leather was just plain ugly. This was going to be a difficult search. Along with criteria such as 1) not leather, 2) not ugly, we also wanted 3) not expensive 4) under 60 cm wide and 5) delivered TODAY. In the end, we ended up with fulfilling criteria #3 and #4. We ended up buying a huge (but low profile), ugly, leather couch that was 50% off due to some fabric issues on the cushions and had been rejected by the original customer. Why did we do this? Well, because it has good bones, I can repair the cushions myself and the cushions are red, so it might make the girls happy, being similar in color to our couch back in Colorado. I'll post a picture once the couch gets delivered Saturday.
On Sunday, it was market day. We all got up and walked the two blocks to the market. The market is along the river-way and very well attended. The weather was around 45 and rainy and still the place was packed. You see tons of fruits and vegetables, meats, rotisserie chickens being roasted and on display by the dozens. You can see from the pictures that Andrew found the only vendor selling Grateful Dead-like stuff where he bargained for three tapestries and some incense. Ella picked out some beads to make a necklace. I bought tons of clementines and bananas, some baguette's and two rotisserie chickens to serve for dinner. The market is a really neat place and what is even more beautiful is the setting, with the sailboats in the background on the water. The cold, rainy weather meant we didn't spend too much time shopping, but what the girls have come to realize is that Peter and Suzie buy them hot chocolate when the weather is bad. Here, that is almost daily. So cold weather doesn't always mean a bad, boring day - with the grandparents it means tasty hot chocolates!
The next day was the first day of school for the girls. After a long craft project of making puppets out of paper plates and a short puppet show from the girls, we got them off to bed. Then the adults rented an over-priced movie from the television, Fool's Gold. Harmless but in English. We were then off to bed to start a new adventure they next day - school.