2011 was a good year…

Oh, travel. This blog is a great place for me to document my trips, what I experienced, where I’ve been and where I’m going. As I wasn’t into posting at the beginning of the year, you’ve missed a lot. I carried over the 2010 travel summary post from another blog, and have decided to make it a tradition. So, without further ado, a little glimpse into my year, both inside and outside of France.

We started the year out right by buying our first house together, here in Gaillon, Normandy. We were worried that this purchase meant the end of our jet-setting around the world, but I’m glad to say that it did not get the best of us.

End of 2010: We had two lovely mini-vacations in November, 2010. This first was to Belgium, a short weekend in a five-star castle on a lake where were were pampered with massages and long walks in the cold, crisp autumn air.

The second was another spa weekend where we started in Mulhouse, France, then ventured into Germany and ended up in the charming town of Constanz, also a lake town. We meant to go from there to Switzerland (we could see the Swiss alps!) but forgot to bring our passports. As they aren’t part of the EU, we couldn’t risk it. Until one day we were walking around the lake and started to notice a lot of Swiss license plates… And then saw a border sign and realized we’d unwillingly entered into another country!

January: This month marked our habitual trip to celebrate Jé’s birthday (30!). We decided to continue in the style of last year, picking the Eastern European destination of Budapest, Hungary. The city was beautiful, albeit very cold. We had fun wandering the paved streets and admiring the Eastern-flavored architecture. As with Prague last year, the trip also involved us eating massive amounts of food and drinking good beer with every meal, without breaking the bank.

February: Our first trip to Les Andelys, an adorable little French town about ten minutes from here, and home to the ruins of the Château Gaillard, former home of Richard Lionheart!

March: The coming of spring saw us finally able to take advantage of our new-found proximity to the sea. We took off for the first time towards the coast, and decided on Dieppe, as it seemed to be the straightest shot from where we live. We weren’t entirely convinced by this port town, and ended up wandering and finding a hidden gem: Varengeville sur Mer. Monet knew all about this little town, and even painted the church there. We were luckily enough to stumble upon a path leading to a secluded little corner of beach…

April: A weekend in Montpellier was just what I needed. The best part was, two of my best friends has flown into Barcelona and were waiting for myself and my best friend to pick them up at the airport. After a very long car ride, the four of us spent four fabulous days together in Montpellier, despite the pouring rain. Since I’ve visited so many times, I didn’t take many pictures, but did manage to snap a couple of the delicious dinner we had one night.

The month of April also blessed us with our first house guests. We showed our guests around Normandy, including a lovely day trip to Giverny, and the house of Monet, along with its exquisite gardens.

June: This month marked the beginning of a fantastic voyage to America. It began with a stop in Boston, where I explored the city, visited Salem, the surrounding beaches and partook in some breathtaking whale watching along the coast. I also ate lots of greasy fried food, including but not limited to clams, fresh fish and scallops, and wandered aimlessly around antique shops, wishing I had a little more money and a little more space in my suitcase. The one thing I didn’t do, unfortunately, was take many photos.

Next came my big return to my native Iowa, where I caught up with old friends, spent long evenings drinking and laughing with them at the local pub, spent quality time with my family, drove a car and visited the surroundings, and ate way more food than I’d like to admit.

July: The American adventures continued into July, as we took a family trip to the Lake of the Ozarks… We braved the incredible heat and humidity to mini golf, barbecue and paddle boat on the lake, taking a short break to get wet while jet-skiing.

Back in Iowa, the 4th of July was spent boating at Lake Rathbun with two of my favorite people and their (new to me) daughter. A day of sun, culminating with a splendid sunset over the lake before heading home for fireworks.

The summer fun continued with a brief stop-over in sunny, humid Miami, before boarding my first ever cruise ship. Destination(s): Key West and Cozumel, Mexico.

Highlights included mojitos, sandy beaches, snorkeling with sharks in the open sea, the cruise ship restaurant, sunsets in the middle of nowhere on the deck of the ship, my first ever hotel suite in, swimming in salty ocean water, and relaxing.

August: After our return from America, we were surprised and delighted to be offered an impromptu vacation to Macedonia and Slovenia, thanks to my company. More details can be found here.

October: Yet another work-sponsored vacation that Jé was able to share with me, this time to Sevilla, Spain. The full post can be found here.

So, that was my year! Nothing else planned for the rest of it (there isn’t much left), but we’re already working on 2012. The first confirmed destination: Guadeloupe for Jé’s birthday! We’ll also have the pleasure to host a few members of my family around Bastille day, which means lots of exploring Paris, the D-day beaches, and the castles of the Loire Valley. I’m getting excited already!

See last year’s post, including Madera, Prague, and the Dominican Republic!


One thought on “2011 was a good year…

  1. Pingback: Paris restaurants: Rice and Beans | à l'américaine

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