Wednesday, January 21, 2009

what keeps me awake

Last night I had one of those nights where I could NOT fall asleep (as a side note, this is one of the things I don't particularly like about being pregnant--I'm always tired, and I can never sleep longer than about forty-five minutes at a time).

Anyway, I found myself thinking about this trip to Europe that my family took the summer before my senior year in high school, and some of the funny things that happened. And since I wrote a very very careful and detailed journal of our trip, which I of course lost later, I thought I would write up a few of these things before I forget them.
  • When we were standing under the Eiffel Tower, and debating whether to go up, my little sister Rosalind (who was 8) asked how both elevators got to the top at the same time. My dad told her that they raced, and the loser got smashed, and the winner got to go to the top. She burst into tears and refused to go any closer. Needless to say, we did NOT get to go to the top of the Tower.
  • Another funny thing that happened to Rosalind--we were staying at this rustic (very rustic) farmhouse (in England? or Belgium? I don't remember) that had a strip of flypaper dangling from the light fixture. Rosalind asked what it was, and I told her it was the pull cord for the light. So she pulled it, and her hand got stuck, and lots of dead flies fell down all around her. My mom was really not pleased about that one.
  • It was kind of a hard trip for Rosalind. When we were walking to the Louvre (and all I saw there was the bathroom, because for some reason I was really sick that day), some crazy lady ran up and kicked her in the back of the knee and ran away. My mom started yelling at her in French and chased her away.
  • In Germany, the waitress acted out the menu for us, since none of us knew more German than "vasserfall." Our favorite was when she pretended she was a chicken. She was very animated.
  • In Luxembourg, I was feeling grumpy, so while everyone else walked around the town I sat in our hotel room and ate an entire baguette and most of a jar of Nutella.
  • We saw almost every catacomb in Europe. It was really insanely hot (they were having a heat wave), and let me tell you, those catacombs were sure nice and cool. Even if they did smell a bit...musty. In every city, we would immediately began pleading to visit the nearest cathedral and then run for the catacombs.
  • When we were in Canterbury, we visited this place that was a sort of retelling (with wax figures) of the Canterbury Tales. They gave you headphones, and you walked through, listening to the story (note: it was definitely the uncensored version. My mom made those who had not already read the Canterbury Tales in school listen to the kiddie version). It also boasted authentic smells throughout, so the stable where you started actually smelled like a stable...and it was not a clean stable.
  • We visited Warwick Castle in England, which was one of my favorite stops on the visit. The whole castle was full of wax figures (I don't know if they were made by Mme. Tussaud's, but they were impressive) and much of it was redecorated in period styles. My dad and I stood on the upper battlements over the gate and acted out the French knights' scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (you know, "your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!" kind of thing). They also had an archery festival going on, and Mary Beth was really impressed by the guy who was shooting seventy arrows a minute (or something like that).
  • One of the best parts of the trip was the evening we spent building sandcastles on the shore of the Irish Sea. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen in my life.
  • Another lovely seaside jaunt: we had a very long, leisurely French dinner on the coast near the Channel (I ate my way through an entire bucket of mussels and drank who knows how much apricot juice). Then we walked along the tide flats and looked over at England across the Channel while the sun set (and then after we all went back to our rooms, Mary Beth and I lay in bed and watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer in French with Swedish subtitles...just because we could).
  • And another favorite bit: we hiked through the mountains in Wales (in Snowdonia) munching on meat pasties. The mountains were foggy and misty, just like I imagined they would be from reading Susan Cooper's novels. We sat on craggy rocks and looked for heather and pretended that perhaps King Arthur would come riding around the curve of the hill.
lots more fun things, but those will do for now, because I'm out of time...sisters mine, anything you'd like to add?


Mary Beth said...

I thought that was Ruth who got Rosalind to pull the fly strip (which was in Belgium, btw. The places we stayed at in England were much nicer, even though one of them had a volcanic toilet of doom. (I think that was also the one where we stayed up half the night terrified that a prowler would come through the garden and the big French windows and into our bedroom.)

And Mom didn't just yell at the crazy lady--she threatened her with a water bottle. *grin* Dad and Julie chased the lady down and did the French yelling (during which they found out that the person was, indeed, VERY crazy, and insisted that Rosalind was the devil and had put the Evil Eye on her.)

My favorite part about that German restaurant was when we stumped the waitress with garlic bread. She eventually had to go to the kitchen to collect a garlic bulb.

And you did not eat a whole BUCKET of mussels! You had a plate, I think (and I ate some of them, too. So did Dad. He had a crab in his). I had a duckling and the most fantastic chocolate mousse I've ever had in my life. I liked the floor in that hotel, too; it was tilted weirdly and we tried rolling things down it, and made up stories about how the hotel was sinking on the sand.

Remember the story I told you in Salisbury, when you hurt your ankle so badly you couldn't sleep, and demanded I tell you a story instead? I think it was about a princess and a dentist, but I might be making that up, too.

My trip journal is in a box somewhere at home. I took copious notes. We should go back and reread them sometime!

Rachael said...

maybe it was the fact that I had a postcard of a mussel bucket...and the crab was in mine. Dad told me afterwards.

Elise Decker said...

this made me kind of sad because i realized how horrible my memory of my childhood is and that i can only remember snippets of this trip....

danielle said...

OK I totally commented on the wrong post...see below for my comment to this post. dumb.

Ruth said...

yeah, that was me who told rosalind it was the light switch. i always was the one with the best ideas. :)

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