Sunday, October 19, 2008

My wonderful sister-in-law

So while we were in Europe, my sister-in-law, Nicole (and her kids) came from Ohio and took on my life for over 2 weeks!! She took my kids to school, disciplined four children, went to our church, drove our cars and basically gave up her own life to live mine! Her gracious husband, Doug, allowed her to stay for 3 weeks total. Doug joined us at the end of her stay and when we got home. He was hoping to get some great Arizona weather, and instead it was cold and rainy the whole 3 days he was here !! She even helped the kids have a lemonade stand...she is much more patient than me!!

Check out the fine print on the says "we wash our hands!" too cute!! :)

The cool part about all this, is Nicole came and watched our kids so we could go on this amazing trip to Europe, which has always been her (Nov 2008), we just found out that she and Doug (and the kids of course) are going to get to live in France for 2 years for Doug's job! How cool is that??!!! We will certainly be visiting :) MY kids can't wait! Hope they can learn to walk without complaining before that.....

Nice (as in France) beaches!

And for the finale..the beaches of the French Riviera in's the deal, if you want great beaches don't come here!! I was told they were made up of "very small rocks" :), and "they" weren't kidding!!! I guess if this is all you have, you use it. That is why Monaco ships in their sand... so it will appeal to the rich and famous! Yeeeaaahhh..try fitting these in a bottle!!!

The last night in Europe we ate at a wonderful cafe in Nice, and we ran into the same two young ladies we met on the fact they were on the same bus home (back to Nice) as well. They were sitting at the cafe, and as we were standing there checking out the menu, we heard our names! It took us a moment to figure out what was going on, as one rarely hears their name called while travelling in Europe! So we joined them for dinner and sat and talked late into the night. We ended up walking them back to their hostel to make sure they got there safe. It was really wild to run into them yet again, it was definitely one of those ordained moments.

The cafe had ratatouille on the menu, and of course David had to order it even if to just tell our girls we had it. (Like the movie...Ratatouille....get it?) It wasn't horrible, it was just a bunch of vegetables in a beefy sauce...David liked it a lot, but I hated the texture.
Here is the train station where we boarded the train that took us to the much as I absolutely love to travel, by this time we really were missing our kids and were ready to go home! We'll be back...Europe was so much more accessible than I imagined....we are excited to be able to come back with our kids someday...maybe once they can walk further than a half mile without complaining!!!! :)


The second to the last day, we traveled by bus along the coast to Monaco. It was only one Euro each way...what a bargain! The bus was packed and we ended up sitting across from a couple of girls in their early twenties, who were taking a bunch of weeks to travel Europe with their backpacks. I thought that was a great adventure for them to be on at such a young age!! It was great to talk with some Americans as well. They had a surprisingly mature outlook on life for being so young. I guess you would have to, to be doing what they were doing. As it turned out they were also Christians. We had a really fun conversation on the way to Monaco with them.

The bus traveled along the coast, so here are some photos of the great villages we passed on the way to Monaco.

Now we are in Monaco...and the yachts became a lot larger!
It was a couple of days before the famous Monaco Grand Prix, so the whole city/country was preparing for it. It made for an interesting visit as many things were walled off for the race.

Of course we saw the famous Monte Carlo Casino (yes, this is the one in the James Bond movies)...we found out ahead of time that you cannot go in unless you can prove you have at least $5000 to play with and are dressed to the nines. ( I am not really sure how one would prove that you have $5000, but that is what we were told.) Having neither, we did not even try to go in.
The back of the casino that overlooks the water The hotel across from the casino
I have never ...ever ... seen so many expensive cars in one place in my life...many of the ones parked outside the casino were being dusted or cleaned by a "man-servant" while the owner was inside gambling :)

Had to get this shot: alongside all the Lamborghinis and Bentleys is this wonderful eco-friendly Prius :) (for those of you who don't know, we own a silver one just like this). So we may not have had enough money to even step inside the casino, nor expensive enough clothing, but our car fits right in....well kind of.....Monaco is built into the side of steep hills, so throughout the city there are indoor elevators that take you from one street to another that is lower or higher on the hill.

Much of the architecture looks like it is from the 1950's -1970's....which is very different from every other place we visited. We went to visit the castle, where the royal family still lives. It is on a hill overlooking the city. The area around the castle is much older and more classic. Many of the buildings are hues of pink!

Here is the is so plain compared to the other castles we had seen. Maybe this is why the people of Monaco never killed off their Kings and Queens!

More pink buildings in the courtyard surrounding the castle
The so very intimidating castle guard!!Old cannons facing into the Mediterranean. These cannon balls are all welded together. We wondered if they were concerned that people would try to use them :)
This kids playground was just beneath the castle, almost like it was part of the castle's yard area...I guess the royal children need a place to play!
Nearby the castle on a cliff overlooking the water is the famous Institute of Oceanography, this was home to Jacques CousteauThroughout the city are photographs of Princess Grace. It seems she is idolized by her people. For those of you who don't know Princess Grace was Grace Kelly and she married Prince Rainier of Monaco and became quite the icon ...Hollywood and royalty!!
So not only did Monaco have the most expensive cars I have ever seen, but also the most expensive shopping....the amount of money that exists here is crazy....

Some of these children's sandals were over $200 each!!!

There were amazing window displays....these are wash cloths!!! not food :)!

There were beautiful cafes down on the sand....the sand is imported in Monaco, but it is still small beige pebbles.