Sunday, October 19, 2008

Le Bon Week-end!

Hi all,

I want to say it is SO great hearing comments from some of you my friends and neighbors - it makes us all feel so loved (and reassures me that this isn't too boring!) Well, we will test that today with a long blog - with lots of photos for a long weekend.... (we did skip a few days)

As I pick up the kids from school on Friday we are happy to run into some natural wonders. I love the wildlife that abounds in Besancon, from the sublime of a mist tipped spider web to the mundane of a giant slug enjoying the remains of a foolishly discarded baguette.
The kids are happy, the sun is shining and we all sing a little ditty (composed by Callie):
It's le bon week-end! It's le bon week-end! (repeat in sing song voice whilst skipping merrily)

In France, that's how you would say, 'Have a good weekend' and the kids think that is the french word for weekend. That means no school (like on Wednesdays) and DADDY! Yippee!

So, on le bon week-end we are determined to have some fun - cheap fun, preferably free fun, but fun nonetheless. Being sans auto, we are now official Ginko bus card holders (Ginko is Besancon's equivalent of SEPTA and is pronounced jinko) - it's was another blunderful adventure to recieve these plastic coated wonders - but, as usual, I digress. We have them now and can go on any bus at any time for free (plus the musee de beaux arts)

So, we look at the book that Ginko gave us about local attractions and see there is a waterfall (cascade en francais) just a busride and 15 minute walk away. Great. We love hikes and waterfalls and shall be able to get there for free. Wake up, eat breakfast, switch laundry, and do our USA homework with the munchkins by 10:30 am - doing great - time for the fun stuff.

It is a gorgeous fall, Indian summer, day. (Should I say Native American summerish? What do they call this in France??) Anyway, the weather is delightful. I pack up a picnic while André looks up when the bus heads out there. We figure we'll go out there, hike, picnic and head to the local thrift store for some cheap platters and perhaps a French DVD player so I can survive the two week school break starting the 27th.

So we need the 85 bus to Buere. Buere is the village where the waterfall is - and also almost the word 'butter' in french (that's buerre). I am excited, picturing local delicacies slathered in extra yummy butter. Oh, and the waterfall.
Not so fast.
Turns out there are only 3 busses that go to Buere on Saturday - the whole day. The first left at 7:35am - the next not until 12:15 and we can't come home until the 6:08pm return - which would make us miss our scheduled appointment with (YES!) a babysitter beginning at 5pm! What to do?

Well, we are not going to let a little snag like this stop us. We give up the idea of thrifting and decide to head out on the 12:15 bus returning via taxi so we can still go out that night.

We get to the 85 stop and get on the bus. The 5 of us are the ONLY ones on this entire bus. We are dumped off on the street and look around hopefully for some signs indicating where we need to go. No such luck. André (aka - the only one of the 5 of us who can speak french at all) goes in the local convenience store (tobac) and asks for directions. We look around at the lovely street.
The shopkeeper reels off the directions as if he's been asked 1000 times. Thanks! says André and leaves. He rejoins our little crew and explains he only understood the first part of what the guy said but he's sure we will find it. Now, here is where I get irritated. We are not in a city where we can ask for help -- this is a little village!!! But, am I willing to go in and do these things myself? No - the humiliation would be too great. Therefore, we go on, hoping for the best.

It works out very well, actually. It is a beautiful day and we enjoy walking along - seeing the amazing gardens, beautiful vistas, a nearly vertical vineyard and old memorials to the glory of the French resistance during WWII.

Eventually we come to a sign for something that leads off into a woodsy path and (luckily) a runner happens by. He tells us to continue on to the cascade. We do so, finding the little path that leads down a very steep hill. Now, as many of you know, we love to hike and do so very often. The kids are experienced and sure footed. Callie and Griffin head gamely down the hill but Zander, for whatever reason, is terrified - we really have to help him alot to get down but we are catching glimpses of the waterfall through the trees and this helps inspire him to overcome his fear. Still, since it is now past 1pm all the kids needed a bit of encouragement:
What a beautiful waterfall - I have never seen one so high.
Here, Griffin, let me lift you up for a minute so you can see it - we'll be able to get closer soon
Can you hear the sound of the water falling? Isn't that amazing?
Ooh, look! It even seems as if the grounds around the base of it are groomed with flowers and benches - this will be perfect for our picnic....
Right now we are hugging this fence along the path, but we will get to the end of that and be able to go around it to the waterfall soon...
Yes, I know it seems like we are getting further away -but this fence must be a deer fence to protect the plantings around the waterfall....
Wow! Look at that big white castle type house at the end of the fence. I bet that must be the park office where you can get more information about this place and go in to see the waterfall better.
(Have you seen the handwriting on the wall?)
Yep - turns out the entire cascade is private property!! We can't see it closer than the glimpse through the trees that we already had. The kids are outraged - Zander insists that it is just plain mean and my thought is that this is totally unamerican (um, yeah).
I mean, this cascade is in the guidebook (they must have broken in to get the picture they did) as something to go and see. The shopkeeper knew where it was and so did the runner. I guess this is normal in France but the idea that we could be forbidden to take a good look at something so magnificent really ticked me off! On the other hand, it must be pretty nice for those people, owning their own waterfall. I wish I had the money to buy it myself so I could liberate it - as it should be!

The Trapped Waterfall

We headed back, passing some incredibly cute and curious sheep and found a lawn to eat our lunch on (bread, cheese and meat with apples from a friend's tree followed by chocolate bars - yum!) and headed back down the mountain.

When life gives you lemons - make lemonade! We decided to explore the path we had passed up earlier and had a great time hiking up the mountain. We saw some amazing views and took turns screaming echos down the mountain (seems Zander has inherited my ability to make one's voice carry incredibly far). The coolest part though, was that we got to walk along part of an ancient Roman road - we could see where the chariots had dug grooves into the rock -that was simply amazing. We probably ended up covering 3 miles - and Griffin walked the whole way until the very end - Zander and Callie did get tired and were carried for a few hundred yards by Daddy.

Called the cab and got home only about 5 minutes late for the babysitter. Her name is Flore and she speaks English. All the kids are so exhausted they are whining and fussing - a perfect time for us to escape! We headed to the thrift store. If we had a car it would be a 15 minute drive - but it takes over an hour on the bus - so annoying! We get there and find a DVD player with speakers and a bunch of platters and things for the party- we also see a fridge to replace our broken one and are relieved to see they are open tomorrow morning (most everything here is closed on Sunday)- we will try to borrow Olivier's car and transport it home then. Headed back to Centre Ville and went out for Chinese food -best meal out I've had so far in France.

Sunday (are you still with me?)
We get up and have French toast (what do they call that here?) and do some house cleaning - then Olivier heads over to drive us to the thrift store for the fridge. It is hard for us to always have to ask for help from him but we need a fridge so what can we do? He says, "I don't think they are open on Sunday" but we assure him that we were there the night before and checked the hours. He offers to drive us over himself. When we arrive the store is, you guessed it, closed! We misread the sign for the store next door. How embarrassing! Oliviers comment 'It is not a problem, now you will have another thing for your blog' Voila!

We head back home and Griffin works on another 5-6 pictures (he is prolific!) and Zander makes an incredibly cute ghost tram. We are getting excited for our upcoming pumpkin party and work on some of the decorations for it. Griffin is having a bad belly day and poops on the floor through his undies and pants 2x - poor little guy. Appointment on Tuesday about what to do about him and school stuff. Our DVD player and speakers work - now all we need are some French DVDs and a TV set.... I have been blogging but now the rest of the crew has returned from their visit to Olivier for a playdate with his kids - turns out Griffin had another huge poop while he was there and had to have a bath! Poor little guy!
Hope you are all well.



Shana Kennedy said...

just wanted to let you know I'm reading, sharing in the dramas!

HarvieFamily said...

Sounds like you had a nice hike despite the trapped waterfall. I'm glad you are still able to find "free" things to do as a family. Thats great that you found a thrift shop to get some extras at. We love you! -the harvie's


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