Dinner on the Seine

John, Jenn, Aaron and I took a dinner cruise on the Seine when we were in Paris.  It was another thing Aaron and I had not done before, so we were looking forward to the experience.  My first trip to Paris as a teenager my family and I took a river ride on the Seine, but it was not a dinner cruise.

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We had a great time!  The waitress was so surprised when we told her we would not be having champagne or any alcohol.  She asked us quite a few times if we were sure we did not want something more than water and/or soda.  By the end of the evening she told us she was very impressed that we did not drink alcohol.  It is a very hard concept for the french to understand and respect.

We arrived at the boat around 8pm and we left the dock at 8:30.  It was a two hour cruise up and down the Seine.  We had a menu with 3-4 choices for each course.  We ordered our food at the start of the cruise and the courses, 4-5 total, kept coming until the ride was over.  We started with an apéritif, cheese/cauliflower puffs, with our drinks, then we had soup or a salad, our main dish, a cheese tray and then dessert.  I tried the duck and Aaron had a plate of veggies.  Their mashed sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes were so yummy!  We all really liked our food!

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It was fun seeing some of the sites from the boat.  For example, the Eiffel Tower was beautiful as we rode by.  When the sun goes down the Eiffel Tower has a light show on the hour and we happened to be passing by right at 10 pm.  It was so neat!  Also, Aaron was able to capture the Statue of Liberty, with the Eiffel Tower in the back ground!

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We loved being with friends and we had a night of laughter, good food, fantastic ambiance in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

Les Baux de Provence

One afternoon Rebecca, Alexis and I headed to Les Baux de Provence!  I recorded a visit we made to this beautiful village back in the Fall, but this time around we discovered an old church, Saint Vincent, dating back to the 12th century and a few other “nooks” that I want to remember.

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Les Baux de Provence has one of the best savon de Marseille, soap of Marseille, boutiques.  I absolutely LOVE the little shop and when Alexis and Becca went inside they couldn’t get enough of the perfume.  Savon de Marseille is a traditional hard soap made from vegetable oil around the area of Marseilles for over 600 years.  This particular boutique in Les Baux de Provence has soaps in beautiful colors and scents.

Wild Poppies

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There are wild poppies everywhere!  It is beautiful!  On the outskirts of Uzès I spotted this amazing field of wild poppies!  I had Aaron drive down a tiny dirt path so I could get a closer look!

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Some of the French consider the poppies weeds.  I, on the other hand, think they are bright and fun!  I love spotting the vibrant flower “popping” up everywhere I turn!

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Another view of Sanilhac

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This is another view of Sanilhac from the south side of the village.  Some of our favorite trails converge at this location!  I feel so grateful to have been able to enjoy all 4 seasons here in the south of France.  It is beautiful at any time of the year, but right now it is absolutely lovely!  I took the above photos a few weeks ago and already the vineyards are heavy with green vines, the countryside is greener than I have seen it all year!  Plus, there are wild flowers everywhere!  I am going to have a hard time leaving this place! :(

French Geraniums

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One of the common “french” traditions that appear everywhere, when the weather is warm, are the beautiful geraniums!  Potted geraniums adorn almost every window you see throughout France!  I decided to give in and get a few for the remaining months we will spend here.  I found a typical red and a bright pink to accent our patio area.  I love looking out into the yard and seeing these vibrant flowers.  I love having annuals potted and I just could not refuse!

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Spring, flowers and sunshine!

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I love the spring!  Our spring here in France is coming to an end and summer is beginning. The tourists are starting to arrive, roadside produce stands are appearing, the days are getting longer, the temperature is rising, pools are opening, fruit trees have blossomed and lost their flowers, gorgeous green fields of wheat cover the hillside, all the vineyards are getting their flowers, fields of colza for oil are dotting the countryside, the bugs are coming out of the woodwork, snails are appearing, rain showers are frequent, the french wardrobe is changing… c’est les choses que j’adore!

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One of my favorite things here in France right now is the Wisteria.  So many doorways great you with this beautiful violet flower!  It just screams romance and French country!  I wish we had some on our property!

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The Sound of Music

“The hills are alive, with the sound of music!”  I was like a kid in a candy store the morning we woke up in Salzburg, knowing we were going to be seeing the Sound of Music film sites.  As a little girl, I would anxiously await the once a year broadcast on TV of the movie, The Sound of Music.  Since a little girl, Austria has been on my list of places to visit. Salzburg was lovely.  Those of you who have seen the movie, as you look through these pictures see how many scenes and locations you can remember from the movie!  So fun!!!

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This was the “I have confidence” song location as Maria walks by the fountain and splashes water.  Almost all the fountains were covered in Salzburg.  This made me a little sad!:(  (Residenz Square and Residenz Fountain)

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“Do- Re- Mi- Fa-…”  I was disappointed that the stairs from the end of this song were closed off.  We could only see from a distance.  When the older kids saw the stairs they said, “look Mom, it’s where they filmed the song!”  (Mirabell Gardens and Palace)

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This residence was the back drop for all the outside Van Trapp home scenes.  For example, when Maria and the children capsize the canoes and fall into the water.  If you look close, you can see the stone balusters that are filmed numerous times in the movie. (Leopoldskron Palace)

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“I am sixteen, going on seventeen!”  (Hellbrunn Palace Gardens)

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Abbey Scenes!

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Both from children singing, skipping along the river and hanging from the trees!

Bäckerei, Hummel, Cuckoo Clocks and meandering Streets of Salzburg

The morning we woke up in Salzburg, we set out for the day on foot.  We left our hotel, Hotel Via Roma, and started for historical city center.  We were wandering around the quaint neighborhoods and came upon this bakery.  We were all hungry for breakfast and this is just what we love to do in a new place:  find a local bakery or delicacy specific to that area!

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Any time our family enters a small European establishment, we have heads turn and we never can go unnoticed!  This is exactly what happened as we walked into this bakery.  It was typical of European bakeries:  small, quaint and familiar.  There were about four other customers inside so we all felt a little cramped, but, nonetheless we proceeded to decide what might be good to try.  Everything and everyone speaks german in Salzburg so we did not understand what everything was.  A nice man in front of us overheard us speaking english and trying to make out what each item was.  He kindly turned and asked, in english, if we needed some assistance!  We happily accepted.  He then told us we were lucky because this particular bakery was the most famous and well known to all the locals. It is “the” bakery to frequent.  Jackpot!  I love when this happens during a new experience! This man then explained what each item was and we were able to make some choices. The ladies behind the counter were so friendly!  They even let me take a photo of them “on the job”.

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We all enjoyed some of their local delicacies.  They are also known for their pretzel rolls. They were good, but a little heavy for the morning!  It is always fun trying new things!  A lot of their pastries were filled with fruit or a custard.  They were heavier than most of the pastries here in France.  We enjoyed our “breakfast” so much we returned the next morning!  The outside of the bakery was so picturesque, yet simple, with the darling gold pretzel hanging from the wire hook.

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We proceeded to meander up and down the beautiful side streets of Salzburg and we came upon the largest retailer of Hummel figurines and collectables.  It was amazing!  My Mom has a small collection of Hummel figurines so it was a little walk down memory lane as I explained to my children about their Grandma’s collection and other memories associated with Hummel.  I wish I could have taken a picture on the inside!  It was incredible!  My Mom would have been in heaven!  I wish I could have afforded to get one for nostalgic reasons, but the price tags were a little too overwhelming!

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Right after we left the Hummel boutique we turned a corner and came upon an awesome little retailer of Swiss Army knives and Cuckoo Clocks.  The first was, of course, for the male members of the family.  They had a cool collection to choose from and the three older boys were able to enjoy a new knife for scouts/emergencies.  While the boys were looking at the knives, I could not keep my eyes off the cuckoo clocks.  Again, another childhood memory.  This time of my Grandma Wittwer.  She had a cuckoo clock that she got from Europe many years ago and I remember it so well.  I had no idea how many emotions would be felt on this day in Salzburg.  I hadn’t even seen one Sound of Music site yet, but my childhood memories were coming to the surface!  It was exciting and special for me personally!

Below are a few pictures I took of our walk from the hotel to the city center in Salzburg. We saw beautiful rooftops, Abbeys, Cathedrals and quaint little roads!  We all loved it, especially me!  I am grateful we did not stay in the city center.  We were only a 10-15 minute walk to city center and it was worth every step!  (Plus, it didn’t break the bank being a little further from city center!) :)

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Traveling to Austria

From Munich we went on to Salzburg, Austria.  This was another place on my list of “places to visit” while living here in France.  From the very first time I watched The Sound of Music, as a little girl, I have been smitten with Austria.  I had never been except until last month!  Another dream became reality!  We left Munich in the afternoon and approached Salzburg just at sundown (It was only 1.5 hour drive).  Some of the views from the road where incredible.

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We couldn’t see Salzburg from the auto route because it is nestled in the foothills/hills of the mountains.  But, I knew we had arrived when the Salzburg Fortress came into view!

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We located our hotel room, ate at a little italian restaurant next to our hotel, settled in for the night and tried to sleep, despite my excitement for the next day!!!!

Starnberg, Germany

After the Temple trip we headed to Munich, Germany area.  My dear friend, Kathleen Sneddon, has a son, Michael, and his family that live in Munich.  We have met them on previous occasions in Utah and met up with their son, Nathan, at a Stake Conference here in France back in November.  Michael, Jenny and children were so kind in opening up their home to all 7 of us.  They have a lovely home in Starnberg, about 30 minutes outside of Munich.  Each of the kids got along so well.  I think right from the start these kids had a common bond: living overseas and wanting to be with other Americans! :)  We all had a comfortable bed to sleep on and wonderful food to eat.

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The Sneddons live in a quaint little town on Lake Starnberg.  We happened to be there on Valentine’s Day, so the 4 adults/2 couples went out to dinner at a lakeside restaurant.  It was very pretty and the food was good.  I had real “wiener schnitzel” and was pleasantly surprised that I liked it.  I guess I never knew exactly what it was.  Now I do.  It is a deep fried piece of veal prepared Viennese style, meaning the veal is flattened, dipped in batter and fried.  Viennese referring to Vienna, Austria.  Interesting bit of information.  Anyway, the 4 of us had great conversation and we had to pull ourselves away to return to our children and to allow Michael to get some sleep before Sunday morning responsibilities. We had a lovely time!

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