Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Our trip to Bordeaux (part 2 of our European vacation)

The second half of our European vacation was spent in Bordeaux.  This happens to be one of my favorite cities!  It's known as the little Paris-all the beauty, excitement and diversity without all of the crowds.  It is located in southwestern France and is a port city on the Garonne. It's known for the Gothic Cathedrale-St Andre-one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.

For part of the trip we stayed in city central on Cours du Marechal Juin.  Our room was super tiny but had all we needed, almost.  A bed, a fold out sofa, mini fridge, TV and bathroom.  After the first night of burning up, we realized it did not have AC.  (Bordeaux is pretty warm and humid this time of year).  We tied the window open, but were kept awake by the sirens going off all night.(we were right across the street from the Sapeurs Pompiers-the fire dept and just down the street from the hospital)  I had earplugs, but my girls didn't.

Our first evening there we just walked and walked!  Did I mention how beautiful this city is???  I love the architecture and the cobblestone walkways.  Every meal we ate outdoors.  It was just too pretty to be inside.

Right behind our hotel was the Hypermarche @ Meriadeck (the huge grocery store!).  I forgot to tell you that we first visited Bordeaux 10 years ago.  We stayed in a little apartment.  The grocery store was one of my favorite places.  It's not your typical store.  Not only are there all kinds of food, but cosmetics,  home goods and even books.  We bought items to stock our mini fridge, souvenirs for us and our friends and even some French books to place on our book shelves.

Another favorite place of ours was Gambetta Park.  Imagine a tiny central park.  Just a lovely place to stop for a picnic or a much needed break.

We had met a girl in Huemoz (from Australia) who happened to be living in Bordeaux going to the university.  She offered to hang out with us and give us a tour.  We met at our hotel and walked to the river- Port de la Lune where we all played in the shallow pool of water.  We then walked to the Palais-Galltien (Roman ruins-a former amphitheater) .  After 8 miles of walking at site seeing, we made it back to our hotel.  We went to dinner at Le Comptoir.  Busy, but pretty good food.

The next day we went to an outdoor market at cathedral square.  One stand was selling oysters, another eggs and spices, meat, flowers and pasteries.  I bought 6 small canneli for 3 euros.  This is the typical Bordeaux dessert.  So good!

For lunch we walked to Le Grand Cafe.  I had a fabulous salad with  smoked salmon, boiled shrimp, a small scoop of chicken salad, lettuce, arugula, tomatoes all covered with a citrus dressing.  So good!  There was a French couple beside us who struck up a conversation.  They even gave Emma their creme brule!

The next few days were not exactly as fun filled.  Our real reason for visiting Bordeaux was for my daughter to have a heart procedure.  We moved to a hotel a little south of Bordeaux in Pessac.  For the next 4 days, we stayed here and walked the 20 minutes back and forth to the hospital.  Grace was admitted to the hospital, had her procedure and discharged a few days later.

You may ask why we came so far for health care.  Well, my husband has been here twice.  Theses doctors are the best in world when it comes to these heart issues.  To top it off, it's much cheaper here.  Also they are so thorough.  In the states, you'd have the procedure and go home the same day.  Here, you stay for 4 days.  Beforehand you have tons of lab work, an EKG and a CAT scan.  Afterwards you have an ECHO, and a stress text.  None of these things would be done at home.  We felt that Grace was well taken care of here.  Plus, the doctors are so personable.  Grace's cardiologist spent so much time with her.  She even gave us her personal number and email.  How many times do we get that in the US?

Grace has a 2% chance of this reoccurring.  my husband on the other hand, will have issues all of his life.  Chances are we'll be back in Bordeaux again. If we have to be in a hospital, I can't think of a better place!   Until next time!

My next post will show you how to pack in a carry on for a three week trip abroad!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Travel-Our latest trip

Traveling is one of the things that gives me so much pleasure.  I love taking in new environments and cultures and appreciating God's diversity in our world.  It wasn't until I was married that I was able to travel.  My girls now have full passports!  I never wanted to leave them, so all 3 have always gone with us.  I think it's very important to get outside of our small community and somewhat protective bubble and see how other people live.

As I've alluded to, our family has had a rough year and a half.  My husband is so good to me and always wants to see me happy.  During this time, he has insisted that we girls get away and have fun, even though he's had to work.  This past May we did a 3 week trip to Europe to celebrate our middle daughter's (Grace) high school graduation.  There was also one other reason for the trip, but I'll post about that later.  The hardest part of the trip was deciding where we wanted to go!  The 3 of us sat down and listed 3 countries we were interested in and narrowed it down from there.  Our final destination....


There were a few reasons we chose this country.  First, we've never been there and secondly, it's really safe.  This was one of the most beautiful countries I've ever seen!  The people were so incredibly kind and everyone spoke English.  The only downfall-it was expensive!  Especially the food.  Fortunately, we learned ways to save money.

We flew directly from Atlanta to Zurich, then took a short flight to Geneva.  From here we got a rental car and drove the (almost) hour to our hotel in Evian-les-bain, France.  (My husband accumulates lots of Hilton hotel points from work travel.  Therefore when we travel for pleasure, we try to use those points.  This was one of the Hilton's we stayed in).  This hotel was fabulous!  We had a small balcony that overlooked Lake Geneva (or Lac Leman) and a very large room decorated in my favorite color-purple!

One of the places we visited here in the southern part of Switzerland was L'abri in Huemoz.  If you haven't read the book L'abri by Edith Schaeffer, you must!  Such an incredible story of one family's ministry and their total faith in God.  I read the book for the first time about 8 years ago and have since read it 2 more times.  Finally, my dream came true and I was able to visit the actual site.  I was simply estatic!

After 2 days in Evian (the hotel was booked after that) we drove north to Zurich.  Our first day here was spent visiting Rhine Falls-Europe's largest waterfall.  It was raining and 8C (down south had been sunny and very warm).  Despite the weather, we had the most wonderful time!  The falls were amazing!  From here we drove to Konstanz, Germany and had lunch (much cheaper food here).

The following day we drove to Vaduz, Leichenstien.  This is the world's sixth smallest country (62 sq miles, population 37,000).  It also happens to be the richest country in the world by GDP per capita.  Obviously, it didn't take long to tour the country.  lol!  Next we drove into Austria, out in the countryside-way up on a mountain.  So beautiful!  Our final stop was downtown Zurich.  We visited a book store, tea room and several other shops.  We also got to see the Limmat River.

Day 2 up north, we drove the hour to Lucerne.  Here we took a gondola ride up to Mt Pilatus.  This cost 180 Swiss Francs but was so worth it!  The view were incredible!  Even though the ground was covered in snow and ice at the top, the air was sunny and warm.  There was a hotel, restaurant and shops at the top of the mountain.  Such incredible views in every direction!  Back at the car, we drove into the center of the city.  We parked and walked around Lake Lucerne.  Here we took Grace's graduation pictures with the beautiful Alps in the background.  We also walked a short distance to see the crying lion monument.  It was carved in the rock face in 1972 and is dedicated to the Tuileries war heroes.  So magnificent and amazingly moving.

Our final day (for now) in Zurich was spent in the city center.  We parked the car and walked all day. Bahnhofstrasse is one of the world's most exclusive and expensive shopping streets.  We mostly just looked on this street.  lol!  We did stop and toured a church-Fraumunster.  Then we went to Sprungli.  They supposedly have the freshest truffles.  They are also one of Switzerland's oldest chocolate companies.  We had lunch outside in a beautiful courtyard.  The weather was sunny and warm.  A perfect day to be outside.

The next day we flew onto Bordeaux, France-my favorite city.  I'll save that for another post.

He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains.  The sea belongs to him, for he made it.  His hands formed the dry land, too.  Psalm 95:4-5

Monday, August 15, 2016


I wanted to start this new blog as a place to reflect on the blessings all around me.  The last year and a half has been very difficult for me and my family.  Honestly it's been the most difficult thing I've ever been through.  When I was at my lowest, I had a decision to make-wallow in self pity or choose joy.  I decided on joy.  God tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to "give thanks in all circumstances".  There's always a reason why God allows His people to suffer.  We may not understand, but we have to continue to have faith.  In this season of my life I've had to truly learn how to live by faith.  It's been so very hard, but also the most freeing time of my life!  My faith and trust have grown by leaps and bounds.  I'm a stronger person because of what God is letting me walk through.  That doesn't mean I go around giddy everyday!  lol!  It just means that I have decided to focus on the positive.  It's all around me.  As Philipians 4:8 says, "Finally , brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things." (NIV)  Oh So Lovely is a place for me to share things that bless me and bring me joy.  In a world that can be so dark and negative, it's nice to sit back and see the loveliness in even the smallest aspects of our lives.