Saturday, March 5, 2016

Traveling Wild: Amazing Annecy

Annecy - photo by Stacy Reeves
Our visit to Annecy was a relaxing departure from big cities. Through a fundraiser, Stacy and Jason had won a vacation rental of this chalet in the French Alps, super close to Switzerland. The house was huge, with enough beds to sleep 22 people, not even counting couches. Four floors, three bathrooms, a wraparound deck, a pool and a trampoline. The kitchen was spacious and fully appointed. Jashley, Grant, Zach, Wilder and I all joined Stacy and Jason for the week and we had a really great time!
Here is it! just kidding. This is not the house. I realized I never took a photo of the house! But we could see this chateau from where we stayed :-)
We stopped at the market on our way to the house, and we got Wilder fed and in his own room (!!) and then joined the crew for a quick dinner of sausage and spaghetti. Jason and Stacy's luggage was 80% wine so we cracked open a "magnum" and went to town.

Magnum of wine!

After dinner, the Gulledges taught us a complicated card game called "pennies." We played the continuing game every night! That night was the first time Wilder slept all the way through the night on our trip. It was such a blessing.  

The next morning, we just hung out at the beautiful house all morning and went to Annecy for lunch after Wilder's first nap. 

We walked around the lake--so pretty! And ate lunch on the water.

Eating out with a baby can sometimes be stressful, especially in another country.  Service in restaurants is typically slow, which is hard when you are with a kid. I feel like there is a timer set when you arrive with a child before your kid says DONE. The food was really good, but it was 45 min before we were able to order. Wilder ate all his puffs before we even got drinks, and was fussy pretty much the whole time. It happens. We found that loud or outdoor restaurants were better for bringing baby, or cooking at home.

Looking at the canopy with Dad and Uncle Grant!

He did try and like fois gras though! That's really one of the benefits of baby-led weaning when traveling. You can let your child try new cuisine. For Zach and I, eating local is the best part of travel!

fois gras!
We drove to the city center and it was packed! Wilder was fussy in the car, but once we got out and I put him in the Tula, he calmed down. He fell asleep and he got a good nap!
Lake Annecy - photo by Stacy Reeves

Annecy - photo by Stacy Reeves

All of us walked around the enchanting city of Annecy. It reminded me of Venice, but it was so much cleaner. There were a lot of people around, but we had a great time. The guys tried a beer they really liked called Genepe, and we got ice cream and just enjoyed the scenery.

The men. Photo by Stacy Reeves

Boatwrights. photo by Stacy Reeves

holding mama's hand!
That evening after I put Wilder down, we cooked a truffle risotto. We drank great wine and played pennies all night.

The next morning. Zach, Wilder and I had breakfast and explored the grounds. When everyone got up, we played on the trampoline outside. We watched some tv and went swimming. Even Wilder! It was a bit chilly, so he didn't last too long. The grownups played in the pool and played pennies after I put him down for his nap.

Trampolines are so fun when you're learning to crawl! These photos are by Stacy Reeves

playing pennies on the patio!

When Wilder got up, we went exploring in the neighborhood. It was so beautiful!

That evening we made pork tenderloin wth green beans and just hung out. 

Sometimes, especially with kids, it's really good to plan low-key days. Wilder got his two good naps and he was refreshed. I can't recommend enough renting a flat or a home--if we were in a hotel room, it would not have been fun sitting quietly in the dark during naps!

Wilder found a flower with Aunt Jashley!

The next day we saw a beautiful sunrise. Zach, Grant, Jashley, Wilder and I all went back to Annecy to explore a bit more. We saw the Bridge of Love, walked around the lake and enjoyed the city with a lot less tourist traffic. We walked around the town's chateau, but didn't go inside because it was about time to head back for another Wilder nap.

The view from the top floor of the chalet

That evening, we had a pasta dish that was Jason's specialty, cracked open champagne and finished our game of pennies!


The next day we went to Geneva (next post), and the following day Jashley, Grant. Zach, Wilder and I left for Florence! We really enjoyed Annecy. It was a relaxing few days with dear friends, and it was nice to spend the time in such a comfortable home.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Traveling Wild: All aboard the train!

Wilder enjoying the train! (thanks Stacy Reeves for the photos!)
Zach and I both love to travel by train. It's such a fun way to see the countryside, and it's a bit more spontaneous to plan than a plane ride. This trip was Wilder's first time to experience trains, and he was very impressed. Since then, he's become obsessed with transportation. I can't imagine what he'll think the next time we travel by train!

The wonder of a child

I'll talk about packing on another post, but long story short, I'm no good at packing minimally, especially with a baby. Between Zach, Wilder and I, we had three suitcases (One each, and Wilder's was small), a car seat, a travel crib, Zach's backpack and a diaper bag. It was a lot to lug around, especially with public transit.

Selfie! With random cokes... But the coke is so delicious in France!

The pointer finger!

Brilliant idea. You have to bicycle to charge your phone!
We got on the train with all our luggage and settled into our seats with no issues. It was a bit challenging to keep Wilder entertained on the train, but it wasn't as bad as a car ride. He ate ALL of his cheerios and puffs, and like I mentioned in a previous post, I never found cheerios or puffs again on the trip, despite looking at numerous grocery stores! So just be warned, if your child has a certain snack they prefer, don't count on other countries having it. It wasn't the end ow\f the world, but Wilder was still a bit new to eating food at 9 months, so it was handy to have a guaranteed food he'll like. And it kept him busy. :-)

Read this book 1,000 times on this trip.

We read books on the train over and over and over. Wilder will always cheer up when you pull out a book. This trip was the beginning of us realizing how helpful the sleep sack can be as a lovey. Wilder connected the sleep sack with naps, so if we put him in his sleep sack, he would nap in my arms. It got a little warm, so I'm glad I brought a lightweight Aden + Anais muslin sack as well as his regular cotton Halo sleepsack.

Love this photo so much.
Sweaty baby bed head :-)

One thing I loved about the train we took to Annecy was the awesome childcare room. Yes, you heard me right! This train has a tiny (CLEAN) compartment with a padded bench, a fold-down diaper changing table, a bottle warmer (???) and a sink to wash your hands. It was really, really nice, and I used it on several occasions because as I mentioned already, walking to another area to change a diaper offers a great change of scenery time waster for babies.

Changing table and bottle warmer


comfy padded seat 

The scenery was the best part of our train trip. Loved seeing the French countryside, and we loved chatting with Stacy and Jason on the trip.

Once we got to Annecy, we rented cars. This was the only time we had a car on the trip, and the main reason we lugged along the car seat. While it's sometimes a pain to rent a car, it was handy for getting around Annecy and our day trip to Geneva, Switzerland! Zach's brother Grant and his wife Jashley met us all in Annecy and we caravanned to our lodgings.

By the end of the drive, Wilder was getting pretty fussy. I read him the same books over and over again. They helped, but as soon as I finished the book he wanted to read it again. I'm so glad we had something that could occupy him! We stopped at a market on our way to the chalet and stocked up on ALL THE FOOD. More about Annecy in the next post!

Our longest train ride was from Annecy to Florence. We left very early, which is a challenge with a baby! We made it to the train platform with minutes to spare, but no breakfast. The trip required switching trains (with all our luggage) several times and a delay that resulted in a layover. There were no seats, on the platform and we had no way of knowing how long the train was going to take, so I stood with our luggage, wearing Wilder in hopes he would nap while I held him (unsuccessful), for over an hour. All the train changing meant Wilder could never really get into a nap in my arms, so he got really tired. And bored of the toys we brought. So the only thing that occupied him was--can you guess? BOOKS. And we learned that at that point in time, when he was tired, he only wanted me to hold him.

Looking at the train station

Smiling at Uncle Grant and Aunt Jashley

Such a trooper! Love Jashley helping get a smile

Wilder trying to nap in our private car.

Wilder played with Daddy a little bit...

But mostly wanted me to hold him. Precious, precious time.

We had a private box--it was kinda like Harry Potter!

Our last train had a first-class ticket in an enclosed box for Zach, me, Wilder, Jashley and Grant. We got free snacks and drinks and wi-fi! Wilder was really getting tired, but he was such a trooper. By the time we got to the hotel, it was 6 pm and I had been holding Wilder nearly the entire day, keeping him entertained and occupied. And he was too young for a screen, so it was active on our part! I was exhausted!

I'm looking back on my journal about this trip, over a year later, and it's bittersweet because I don't get to hold Wilder nearly as much as I used to. Baby Felicity takes up my arms a lot these days. So I really am grateful for this trip and the time I got where I held Wilder for 16 hours in one day. I mean that wholeheartedly. But it is definitely challenging traveling all day with a little one! Layovers and train switches and lots of luggage--it's just really hard to be on the go with a baby.

If I could give any advice, I would suggest sticking to one or two locations if you're traveling with a kid, and know that travel days will be really hard on everyone. Once we got to places, we were good to go and had a great time. Just travel in between locations was tough.