France, Sabbatical, Travel

Cincinnati -> Carcassonne

We’re here. WE’RE HERE! At the very moment, it’s exactly how I would’ve pictured it. I’m sitting at a desk on the second level (attic style) with the windows and shutters open, only to look out to a park/square. I’m sipping on fruit tea and Brian is literally walking out the door to take Juliana to the carousel while Alexander naps. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

The view from the window mentioned above

Let me remind you that the keyword above is moment, because not all moments have been this perfect. While I’m absolutely ecstatic to be here and am already sad for when we leave, there have been many moments that were stressful, and overwhelming.

Our flight departed from Detroit and was about eight hours long. Having been on flights almost double that time, I figured this was doable. “What?” you say, “you were nothing but anxious for this!” Eh, yes, I was anticipating the worst but I chose to do that to avoid being disappointed in case something went wrong. And it worked! While nothing major happened, and we’re all safe and well, there were a few moments that we could’ve done without. The flight looked like this:

Brian anticipated staying up the entire time because going to sleep for two hours in his mind was a tease and would only make him more tired. I figured I’d do the sleeping so that one of us would be rested. It would be great, Alexander would go to sleep, next would be Juliana. I’d sip some champagne, watch the rest of my movie, and get a couple of hours of sleep only to wake up in Frankfurt. Some of that happened! Just not in that order. I ended up staying awake the entire time. We had a bassinette which truly helped, but Alexander thrashed around every moment that he caught his eyes closing to ensure that everyone was still in their correct seats and that he hadn’t missed a beat. Juliana stayed up practically the entire time while Brian an hour of sleep. I’m glad he did because he had/still has a sinus infection and could’ve used MUCH more rest. About two hours before landing, sweet Juliana was cuddling on Brian’s chest only to suddenly projectile vomit on him and her favorite stuffed animal, Bunny. Yikes. That’s when Brian and I literally stared at the situation and for what seemed like a full minute, we didn’t know how to approach it. “I’ll get paper towels!” I exclaimed, thinking that I was a fool to think paper towels would do the trick. I brought all the napkins (sigh) that they gave me and started cleaning up. Thankfully, we changed Juliana into pajamas just a few hours before so we just put her in her previous outfit. Nothing like a bunch of cold wipes in an airplane lavatory to make one feel sparkling clean and brand new. Poor thing. She was so confused and smelly.

She finally settled down and napped for an hour before the plane landed. Minus one major tantrum in Frankfurt, because I tried to brush her teeth, (how could I? I’m the worst) she did pretty well the rest of the trip! This girl deserves a gold medal in avoiding sleep and being a travel-trooper.

Frankfurt to Toulouse was a breeze compared to the previous flight. Thankfully, they practically threw toys and fruit snacks at us the moment we walked onto the plane. I can just picture the flight attendants saying “Alert, we have two jet-lagged toddlers boarding the flight. Man your station and be prepared for mayhem!” Minus a couple of sibling fights over the toys, it was a good flight. We were all on a second wind and excited that we were almost to our destination.

We boarded a bus heading toward the central train station and another hour later, we boarded a train to Carcassonne. Alexander and I slept on the train while Juliana played with some toys next to me, figures.

DING! “Nous approchons de Carcassonne” We are approaching Carcassonne blared on the intercom. Thank the Lord, almighty! WE MADE IT!

A very sweet lady, probably in her mid-twenties” helped Brian and I remove the luggage from the train. She even offered to help us get out of the train station. We sincerely thanked her and insisted that she be on her way, only to realize why she offered. Steps. Lots of steps. The entire trip, I was in charge of the kids (double stroller), a diaper bag, and the fun bag– a large black bag carrying simple and small travel toys to toss at a child at any moment to avoid boredom and tantrums. Brian, on the other hand, had the unfortunate role of being the luggage mule. I calculated that he had to schlep over 120 lbs around the train stations and city before we finally made it to our apartment. I wanted to take a picture but he insisted there’d be more opportunities in the future. Very true. By the time we made it to the apartment, we were hungry, tired, and spent. But we’re now in Carcassonne, and no one can take that away from us.

The rest of our first day consisted of heading to the square for lunch (only a five-minute walk), a quick trip to Carrefour (grocery shop), and an ever so simple dinner of fish, carrots, and gold potatoes. I had no desire to think of a menu that evening. For lunch, we enjoyed a large slice of broccoli (yum!) and blue cheese (what? not-so-yum surprise) quiche, a sandwich, and a small square of ham, sauteed onions, and olives pizza with Perrier. I’ve realized I like European sparkling water over what we drink in the USA. It has a subtle fizz rather than an explosion of carbonation that requires dwelling a few seconds in my mouth to avoid burning my throat.

We’ve unpacked about 70% of our belongings and are getting into the swing-of-relaxation. More on that next time!

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