Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mini-vacation ... or not... but at least we had good scenery.

Monday we left for the Alps to check on our condo since we hadn't been up there in over a year. It's about a 7.5 hour drive up there - if we don't make any stops.

It looks on the map like there should be a shorter way to get there. The route in purple is with [expensive!] toll highways - we paid 44.40 € one-way in tolls, which is about $70, and that is not including gas which ranges from 1.44 €/L to 1.60 €/L ($8.56-$9.52/gallon, so you Americans can stop complaining about the gas prices already!). The other route is only a few km shorter, and still involves 32 € ($50) in tolls.

But of course we make lots of stops, including one in Lyon to have lunch with Pamela and Arlin Hendrix. They were kind enough to invite our friend Loïc Bonfré over as well so we could also visit with him.

Before you get to the pictures and think what a great time we must have had, let me ask you to remind us not to attempt this trip again too soon... Noah did not care too much for the car ride. He screamed for probably close to half of the time we were in the car. Benjamin did well in the car, but it took him about 3 days to adapt to his new surroundings, by which time we were about to head home. "Taking 3 days to adapt to his new surroundings," for those of you who may not have children and be able to guess, means "threw random 2-year-old tantrums for 3 days over anything and everything and refused to sleep when he was tired, which was quite often since he was sleeping less than he does at home."

As usual, we had some nice surprises the agency's renters left us, like the straw seats of the chairs having been apparently purposely cut, and the fondue set was missing. The agency of course didn't keep anyone's deposit for those things, and they didn't want to bother to check the inventory until before the winter season. (Never mind that there is also a summer season, and that they are paid to check the inventory at the beginning and end of EVERY rental.) They tried to blame it on the renters that we sent them - people who rent through our website - the problem with that is that we pay the agency for those people as well, and the agency takes a deposit from them also. So the source of the renters is a non-issue.

When we complained, and wanted the chairs and fondue set replaced immediately, they agreed to pay 50% of the cost (even though they should pay the whole thing) - and they would pay us when they pay for NEXT season's rentals! Well... it's July and we haven't even been paid for LAST season's rentals yet. Needless to say, we won't be staying with this agency, so we won't ever see the chair and fondue set replacement money.

We did go ahead and buy the new chairs, though, and were lucky enough to find some waxed light pine ones that match quite well with our table:

We also went shopping and found some fabric to redo the comforters and couch and chair cushion covers (thanks, Mom!):

Another purpose of this trip was to meet a Belgian woman who lives up there now. Frederic met her some time ago on a forum for condo owners in that resort, and we decided ago to let her take over the rental management for us. As a condo owner herself understands what we expect because she expects the same thing. So we are confident that our rentals will be handled much better this season.

Benjamin slept in a "big boy bed" for the first time during this trip, because we weren't about to travel with 2 portacribs - no room in the car or in the condo for both. So we put him in the bottom bunk and put these rectangular cushions we have up there into the opening between the bed and the floor so he didn't roll off. He was pretty excited by the novelty of it and even wanted to "read" his bedtime story by himself. Then he realized we expected him to sleep, and he found that much less fun.

We couldn't find Noah's "lovey" the first night. But at least the socks were clean! Noah gets swaddled to sleep. We never did that with Benjamin, and it's apparently not really done over here much, but we discovered he sleeps so much better that way that we started doing it routinely.
This is the view from our balcony.

There is a little playground at the resort, and this year Benjamin was big enough to play on it. He mainly went up to go down the slide.
Also taken from our balcony.

The weather forecast had predicted rain all week, but we were happy to see that they were wrong. It did rain one day, so Frederic made a "house" for Benjamin out of the boxes from the new chairs.
Noah just watched.

This is a lieu-dit, which is even smaller than a village. Ironically, it's name is "La Ville," or "The City."

This conversation took place in the car on our way back home:

Me: Benjamin, look, cows!
Benjamin: Cows!
Me: What color are the cows? [they were white]
Benjamin: Pink!
Me: Uh.... no.... those are white cows.
Benjamin: Pink cows!

So he's either color blind, or he's a 2-year-old that likes to contradict us. Maybe I should ask him if the sky is blue.


KJWilsons said...

Again, BEAUTIFUL pictures! I really like the fabric you chose, too.

Jesse said...

That view is gorgeous! I'm quite jealous right now...

Sandi said...

Traveling is always an adventure...I love the new blog look! Great pictures!