Well, here in Besancon we are all a bit sad not to be going home for Christmas.
André's company will pay for us to fly home once per year and we have decided to go in the summer (probably all of July) so that we can stay for a whole month and get to see everyone without worrying about missing any school for the kids (mark your calandars now folks) but it is hard to wait so long. I, personally, have never been apart from my parents for this long before since I was born (and it has only been about 3 months!) and I will have to wait 6 more... argh! I guess you never stop needing your mom.
Anyway, this means we will be in France for the holidays. We thought we would probably just stay here at home but a tradgedy for one family has become an opportunity for ours. Olivier's spouse, Nadine, had an unfortunate run-in with a horse and badly injured her knee. (sad) This means she cannot drive at all for at least 2 months. Olivier has, in his typical enormously generous fashion, offered the use of their second car on weekends and during the holiday break as they will only be able to use one car, anyway. I feel bad about gaining vehicular transportation due to Nadine's injury, but glad we can have wheels during the break as renting a car for a week was going to beyond our means. We were going to try to take a train somewhere for an overnight (Griffin is actually very angry that we are not doing that - he wants to go on a train, by golly!) but, since we have wheels, we decided to try something that would really take advantage of them. We are still going to stay home for Christmas Eve, Christmas day and the day after and then have our adventure the week after Christmas. It turns out that there are some people who have vacation apartments in the Alps and rent them out weekly while they are not there. (nice way to finance your vacation home) It took lots of research but finally we were able to find a studio apartment (good thing the kids are small) that we can squeeze into for a week. This is much more affordable than a hotel and better than a hostel b/c we can stay there all day if we want, and do our cooking etc... there to save on eating out. It is about 3 hours drive from here, in the French Alps. That's right, the famous, the legendary, ALPS!
It is very close to the border ....we can drive an hour to Switzerland or an hour to Italy from this location. Also there is tons of great things to do while we are there - a dog sled race the first weekend and a New Years Eve party.... André wants to skii - but, as we don't have any skiis and I think the lift tickets, rental, etc... for 5 will probably cost more than our entire weeks rental, I will probably just send him on his own one morning (since he is the only one who can really (that means sort of) skii anyway). I am looking foward to hiking a bit (maybe snow shoes?), sledding and perhaps doing some dog sledding - that would be awesome - we'll see how much they charge for that experience.... The nice British couple we are renting from say there is also a local 'adventure park' for children - have to check that out too! But also I can't wait to simply go to some other countries (André is a bit apprehensive since he doesn't speak their languages - I'm used to that here - so not a worry for me!) We will probably end up visiting Milan or Torino in Italy for a day and Geneva (or if we are feeling up to a longer drive) Zurich in Switzerland. Mark may or may not show up for a night towards the end of our sojourn....
If you are interested in more detail - look at the wikipedia article - it has a map to show it:
And this is the website to the town we will be in: http://lescontamines.com/index.html
Anyway - it is exciting to plan for this stuff. Adventure - here we come!