1. Calanques National Park hike
2. Gorges du Verdon drive
3. Charming villages of Ventabren and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
4. Hospitality of our friends in their French villa
5. Overall European-ness of Europe
1. Missing our luggage
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Tuesday Oct 4 - We flew to Europe! Our early afternoon flight from SLC to Amsterdam was about 9 hrs.
Wednesday Oct 5 - We spent the night on the plane and landed in Amsterdam facing very a tight 1 hr connection. Our next flight to Toulouse lasted about 2 hrs. We landed safely, but our luggage didn't make it. We filled out the luggage report and picked up the rental car and saw a bit of downtown Toulouse including the Unesco site Saint-Sernin Basilica and the Place du Capital. Then we dragged our jet-lagged selves to a hotel near the airport to get some needed sleep and to hopefully pick up our lost luggage in the morning.
Thursday Oct 6 - We picked up our luggage bright and early from the airport (It arrived the previous night at midnight), then we drove about 4 hours to Ventabren to stay with our good friends the Aepli's, friends whom we met while living in the Netherlands. We took an evening walk to downtown Ventabren, a charming walking village on the hillside, and walked out to an overlook to see the Acquaduct de Roquefavour in the moonlight.
Friday Oct 7 - We drove south in the morning to Cassis (1 hr drive) and hiked in the Calanques National Park to two secluded beaches (4 hrs). On the way home, we picked up our friend's daugher Manon from her boarding school and took a tour of her school, then she took us on a tour of downtown Aix-de-Provence a cool, clean, French city in Provence, her "hang-out" city. Then dinner and bed.
Saturday Oct 8 - This was a chill down day, with a morning walk with the dog, and then an afternoon to get some work done, and online time. Megan went with Manon back to Aix to see friends, and we all went out to a nearby restaurant to eat.
Sunday Oct 9 - We headed out early to drive to Aix-de-Provence to attend sacrament meeting, then drove out to the Gorges du Verdon (2 hr drive) and drove the Route de Cretes along the many canyon overlooks (2 hr). On the way home we stopped for a stroll in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, another incredibly beautiful and charming hill town. Then we returned back to Ventabren for dinner and bedtime.
1. Calanques National Park hike - This was a stunning hike out on the limestone cliffs jutting out over crystal blue waters. The second beach we went to was a steep descent into a hidden canyon and then along the canyon bottom onto the rocky secluded beach. It was truly scenic and isolated, highly recommended.
2. Gorges du Verdon drive - The Verdon canyon is the largest, deepest canyon in all of Europe, and truly worthwhile site to see. The sheer cliffs tower up to 700 meters above the river below, and the soaring vultures glided overhead. We saw a high slackline stretched out over a portion of the canyon, and had the opportunity to talk to the hi-liners. Apparently Gorges du Verdon is a world-famous site for hi-lining.
3. Charming villages of Ventabren and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie - I love old medieval (or earlier) French villages, with narrow cobblestone roads and walking path between stone buildings, melding in with the rocky, hilly landscape. Everything is so old and historic and wonderful.
4. Hospitality of our friends and their French villa - We met the Aepli's while we lived in the Netherlands, and we've stayed in touch over the years. We stayed in their guesthouse in the French villa and had a wonderful and comfortable time. Our friend Isa was the perfect hostess with a very accommodating home to share.
5. Overall European-ness of Europe - It feels so fun to be back in Europe for an extended stay. The roads, and markets, and villages feel so familiar and comfortable after our 4-years in the Netherlands. It is great to be back.
1. Missing our luggage - The missing bags were a really big bummer, primarily because we had already booked a non-refundable hotel in Carcassone, but we didn't want to drive the 90 minutes there, if we would need to return to pick up our luggage. So we let the hotel room go, and chose to stay in Toulouse to return to the airport in the morning. It worked out in the end.
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Fall Semester 2022
Here we go again! Our 8 Suitcases have been whittled down to 4 suitcases as we take a four month world trip with our two youngest kids, Megan and Jacob. From Canada to Europe to islands in the Indian Ocean and finally to South Africa, from Sep to Dec 2022, here are our travels and experiences.