we made it! our first europe trip with X has begun!
flight 1: got out of halifax 30 minutes past schedule which wasnt a big deal. our plane was quite warm and all the ass hats near us seemed to want their reading lights on. people werent really quiet, and as we neared iceland, people were putting up their window shades to let the 4a sun enter the plane! um, arent people supposed to want to sleep on overnight flights? not these folks! X slept (rather fitfully) for about 3 hours of the 4 hour ride and my legs were cramping and fidgety the whole time. it wasnt a great start to the trip.
iceland layover: we had a 2 hour layover in reykjavik which was our first ever layover with X. she angrily woke up as our plane was landing but gradually became a happy camper so that we could have a good time in the airport. the airport offers free strollers for use around the terminal and she (surprisingly) had a blast in one of those. we ate some food and milled around until boarding time.
train layover: we had a 2 hour wait for our train to rennes. we bought some food (i found a non-dairy sandwich, yes!) and waited in the outdoor area of the station. X made her first french boyfriend while we waited. he had a balloon (which may have greatly aided in the attraction) and they kicked it around together, picked it up and shared it between themselves for quite a while. she then waved bye bye to him when our train arrived (by now it was 3:30p local time).
train to rennes: the train ride from the airport to rennes is direct, but 3 hours long. X had worked up a sweat chasing the balloon around with her boyfriend and was now quite hot. we tried a number of things but ultimately just tried to help her fall asleep again. she agreed. we were able to lay her down on the train seats, which was the first time she was able to stretch out and sleep semi-normally. after her 1 hour nap, she woke up pissed. she was roasting. the damn train was doing a crappy job being air conditioned. we had been slowly baking all day. this sucked!! our blood has been too thickened by all the crappy cold weather of halifaxs spring.
(poor sweaty baby)
anyway, X quickly became inconsolable after her nap and we knew she was hot and needed to get cool. we gave her some rice milk, some water, and then, when we pulled into the le mans station, we stepped off the train to get some breeze and drop her temperature that way. it really helped. back in the train car we gave her more liquids and wet her hair down and put water on her arms and legs. and finally the normal color came back to her face and we knew she was feeling better. thats why she was nursing so much! i mean its not a stretch to understand it, but it seemed so excessive and i was so tired and hungry i wasnt putting two and two together fast enough. we had tried to offer her other liquid at other points of the day, but apparently we needed to be more persistent! ugh, and she was also SO done being cooped up on transportation by the time we pulled into the rennes station.
rennes: daves boss and his wife met us at the train station and carried some of our bags. such nice people! we walked the 10-15 minutes back to their place and let X get down all along the way to run off some of the energy she had stored up. she LOVED it! so much to see and hear and enjoy. i forgot about all the carousels and kid-friendly things there are around the city. i really wish we had more time here. even though we lived here only a short time, it feels like home. a place that i feel very comfortable in anyway.
i didnt know what to expect, but even as we landed at the paris airport i felt "old hat." i had to use french right away to attempt to order dairy free food and i wasnt even scared. what i needed came back to me. people didnt even switch into english to speak to me. i love that feeling. i cant believe i retained enough to feel confident in a country that doesnt speak my native language. im really impressed.
all the subtle and not so subtle differences in culture and life came back to me. the clothing of the people, the signage, the verbal exchanges with vendors, the toilets (you may recall that all the different european toilets left impressions on me). i'll be interested to see, by the end of the trip, how different things feel with X and/or since being away from europe for 2 years.
end of the day: we unloaded at daves boss' apartment and let X get used to the place. our hosts were very kind and thoughtful about X and her needs and their expectations of her behavior in their house. when they started to prep for dinner, we unpacked and (slightly) freshened up and took X back outside to run around.
the weather was gorgeous and people were everywhere. i was instantly smacked with the feeling of loss. ive been missing this. i didnt see anyone i knew on the street but i still felt connected to everyone. maybe its something exuded by the ancient streets, maybe its the joy that emanates from people as they enjoy the weather, their city, their loves, their life. i love it. i basked in the energy that was coming from this lovely city that is rennes. a wonderful recharge before dinner.
we dined on a simple, fantastic, and extremely local feast of pork fillet, warm applesauce and new potatoes (the seeming blandness of this menu doesnt really do justice to daves boss as gourmet chef and the gustatory delights of the quality of the food). my stomach sang to me "this is what youve been missing!" X politely tried a few bites before needing to leave the table early. i gave her some quiet time in the bedroom before she wanted to nurse...herself to sleep at 9p (france time, which was 4p halifax time. the poor kid only had about 7 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours).