Friday, May 24, 2013

Ce n'est pas des vacances

We arrived back in Paris today after 9 days in the Basque region of Spain and France, seriously questioning our sanity in taking this trip with a 28-month-old and 4-month-old.  It turns out that traveling with kids is not actually a vacation - as one French woman we spoke with in Biarritz said, "C'est du travail!" - it's work!   Good friends of ours who also recently had a second child are planning a trip to Club Med in Turkey in a few months, and throughout our trip, we thought, "Gee, that sounds like a good idea."

Basque country is a fantastic place to visit, even with kids. And I will write much more about the trip.  At this moment, I am just too exhausted to do anything but pen this note about our questionable decision-making, and about how we spent most meals trying to ensure Baby Oil didn't break anything at the restaurant, and maybe ate something besides french fries.  Only one meal got to the point of embarrassment, after breaking a glass, a plate, and rolling a baseball around the floor.  The silver lining was that seated near to us was a French family with a little boy a few months younger than Baby Oil.  At first I thought to myself, "Great, I will now watch this child happily devour spinach and cod and vegetable soup, while mine tries to jump out of his booster seat." 

But no, it turns out that French toddlers may not all live up to their reputation.  I watched this French child eat apple juice with a spoon, stick his hand in his water glass, and then only eat his fries.  I felt much better about life after this. 

The genuine delight and exuberance expressed regularly by Baby Oil did add to our enjoyment - how long has it been since you were thrilled to the point of shrieking at the sight of a crane? Or a dump truck? Or a really big car carrier? He quickly latched on to saying "hola" around Spain, which never failed to elicit a smile.

We did learn some important lessons about travels with children.  For instance, now we know that snaps on pajamas from DPAM will set off airport metal detectors, but Petit Bateau jammies do not.  We know that there are really big sharks in San Sebastian's aquarium, but an outside seal pool at the aquarium in Biarritz.  We know that after two days of rain in a beach town, your toddler may very well resort to poking his little sister in the eye as a new fun game.  We know that Spanish formula makes Mademoiselle spit up even more than normal.  We know it matters less whether the town you stay in is historic, scenic, or charismatic - the real issue is, how good is the playground? 

So we traveled Basque country for 9 days.  We ate incredibly well, and felt like we really got a feel for the region, particularly in Spain.  It was a great trip - but it was not really a vacation. 

More to come...